Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

Alcohol and breastfeeding

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Alcohol and BreastfeedingYou have waited many months and finally you have given birth to your beautiful baby! Now you want to celebrate with a glass of champagne, right? Don’t fill up your glass just yet. When you drink alcohol and then breastfeed your baby, she is exposed to a small amount of the alcohol you drink. Your baby eliminates the alcohol from her body at only half the rate you do. Therefore, it stays in your baby’s system, which is not good for her.

Don’t believe the myths

• It was once believed that drinking beer was a way to increase a mother’s milk supply, but that is not true. Research has shown that drinking beer does not increase your milk supply. In fact, drinking alcohol of any kind may decrease the amount of breastmilk your baby drinks. Alcohol can change the taste of your milk, which your baby may not like, and can result in your baby taking in less breastmilk.  Chronic drinking of alcohol may also reduce your milk production.

• Some people believe “pumping and dumping” (expressing breastmilk and then throwing it away instead of giving it to your baby) will get rid of the alcohol from your body quicker, but this is not true either. Pumping and dumping does not have any effect on how quickly alcohol leaves your body. However, if you miss a feeding session due to having had an alcoholic drink, then pumping and dumping will help you maintain your milk supply and avoid engorgement (when your breasts are swollen with milk to the point of hurting).

Bottom line

Avoid alcohol when you’re breastfeeding. However, if you have a drink, allow at least 2 hours per drink before your next breastfeeding or pumping session. This allows your body to have as much time as possible to process the alcohol out of your system before your baby’s next feeding. If you do drink alcohol, don’t have more than two drinks a week (one alcoholic drink is equal to a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine or 1 ounce of hard liquor.)

You may also want to pump after your feedings when you have not had a drink. This way, you will have extra milk stored to feed your baby if you have been drinking when you need to breastfeed.

You also can pass street drugs, like heroin and cocaine, to your baby through breast milk. Tell your health care provider if you need help to quit using street drugs or drinking alcohol.

Breastfeeding and returning to work

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Lactation room small photoMy girlfriend just returned to work last week after having her baby. I went to visit her yesterday to catch up and see how things were going. While she was glad to be back at work, she was stressing about how she was going to be able to continue breastfeeding. As a Certified Lactation Counselor, I happily told her that breastfeeding after returning to work can be a challenge, but it can be done successfully. Here are some tips to make things a little easier:

Before you return to work

• Talk to your employer and let them know what you need to continue breastfeeding. Employers with more than 50 employees are required to give you reasonable time and a private space (that is not a bathroom) for pumping when you go back to work. If there are less than 50 employees, your employer may still be willing to work with you to enable time and space for pumping breast milk.  It is best to familiarize yourself with the federal and state laws as they pertain to your company, and your specific job (exempt or non-exempt). Here are creative solutions to help you and your employer find ways for you to continue breastfeeding. You can search by industry to find the best solution.  Nursing moms who get support from their employer miss less work and are more productive and loyal to their company.

• Whether you have insurance through the ACA (Affordable Care Act) or private insurance, take the time to learn about your coverage. Here is a great tip sheet from the American Academy of Pediatrics that explains the federal guidelines, the differences in health plans and how it affects breastfeeding. This is a must read! Scroll down to the end for a helpful diagram.

• Start back to work on a Wednesday or Thursday. Consider working a few hours a day at the beginning. Having a shorter work week will allow you to get used to your new schedule and figure out your pumping, milk storage and new daycare routine.

• Get a breast pump. If you need help deciding if you should buy or rent one, read our blog. In many cases, breast pumps are covered through your insurance plan, so be sure to inquire. Proper cleaning of the pump is a must; follow the manufacturer’s directions.

• You will need somewhere to keep your breast milk cold. Make sure you have a small cooler with ice packs to bring to work if there’s no refrigerator, or a bag to keep in the fridge. Have labels handy to mark your bottles with the date you expressed the milk.  Learn guidelines for storing and thawing breast milk, here.

Once you have returned to work

• Express milk during the times you would normally feed your baby.
• Keep breast pads handy in case your breasts leak.
• Pump more on the weekends to increase your milk supply.
• Take care of yourself: get as much rest as you can, eat healthy foods and stay hydrated.

Keep talking with your employer about your schedule and what is or is not working for you.  Share the online resource above, and let them know you’d like to continue working together to make a plan that benefits you both.

Going back to work after having a baby can be a difficult transition for many women. Visit our website to learn tips on how to plan for and manage the transition.

Breastfeeding a baby with a cleft lip/palate

Monday, August 11th, 2014

mom loving babyA cleft lip is a birth defect in which a baby’s upper lip doesn’t form completely and has an opening. A cleft palate is a similar birth defect in a baby’s palate (roof of the mouth). A baby can be born with one or both of these defects. If your baby has a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both, he may have trouble breastfeeding. It is normal for babies with a cleft lip to need some extra time to get started with breastfeeding. If your baby has a cleft palate, he most likely cannot feed from the breast. This is because your baby has more trouble sucking and swallowing. You can, however, still feed your baby pumped breast milk from a bottle.

Your baby’s provider can help you start good breastfeeding habits right after your baby is born. The provider may recommend:

• special nipples and bottles that can make feeding breast milk from a bottle easier.

• an obturator. This is a small plastic plate that fits into the roof of your baby’s mouth and covers the cleft opening during feeding.

Here are some helpful breastfeeding tips:

• If your baby chokes or leaks milk from his nose, the football hold position may help your baby take milk more easily. Tuck your baby under your arm, on the same side you are nursing from, like a football. He should face you, with his nose level with your nipple. Rest your arm on a pillow and support the baby’s shoulders, neck and head with your hand.

• If your baby prefers only one breast, try sliding him over to the other breast without turning him or moving him too much. If you need, use pillows for support.

• Feed your baby in a calm or darkened room. Calm surroundings can help him have fewer distractions.

• Your baby may take longer to finish feeding and may need to be burped more often (2-3 times during a feed).

• It may help to keep your baby as upright as possible during his feeding. This position will allow the milk to flow into his stomach easier, which will help prevent choking.

How breastfeeding can help your baby:

• His mouth and tongue coordination will improve, which can help his speech skills.

• His face and mouth muscles will strengthen, leading to more normal facial formation.

• If your baby chokes or leaks milk from his nose, breast milk is less irritating to the mucous membranes than formula.

• Babies with a cleft tend to have more ear infections; breast milk helps protect against these infections.

If your baby is unable to breastfeed: 

• Feed your baby with bottles and nipples specifically designed for babies with clefts. Ask your baby’s health care provider for recommendations.

If you are concerned if your baby is getting enough to eat, or if he is having trouble feeding, speak with a lactation counselor, your baby’s provider or a nurse if you are still in the hospital.

If you have any questions about feeding your child with a cleft lip or palate, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging

Monday, August 4th, 2014

feeding in the NICUMost babies, even those born very premature can learn to breastfeed. Breast milk provides many health benefits for all newborns, but especially for premature or sick babies in the NICU. Feeding a preemie may be much different than what you had planned. If you must pump, you may feel disappointed that you are not able to feed your warm baby on your breast. But, providing breast milk for your preemie is something special and beneficial that you can give him.

Here are tips to help you breastfeed your preemie while in the NICU.

If your baby is unable to feed or latch:

• Start pumping as soon as you can to establish your milk supply. Ask a nurse for a pump and assistance.

• If your preemie is tube feeding, your baby’s nurse can show you how to give your baby his feedings.

• Pump frequently, every 2 to 2-1/2 hours around the clock for a couple of days and nights (or 8 to 12 times during the day, so you can catch some sleep at night).

• Practice skin to skin or kangaroo care if your nurse says it is ok. Both are beneficial, even if your baby is connected to machines and tubes.

If your baby is able to suckle:

• Ask to feed him in a quiet, darkened room, away from the beeping machines and bright lights.

• Many mothers find the cross cradle position very helpful for feedings. Start with kangaroo care. Then position the baby across your lap, turned in towards you, chest to chest. Use a pillow to bring him to the level of your breast if you need to.

• Preemies need many opportunities at the breast to develop feeding skills regardless of gestational age. This requires practice and patience.

• You may need increased support to breastfeed your preemie. Look for support from your nurses, the hospital’s lactation consultant, friends or family.

Not every tip will work for every mom. Try to find the feeding methods and solutions that work best for you and your preemie. More information on how to feed your baby in the NICU can be found here.

If you have questions about how to feed your baby, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding myths debunked – part 2

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

mom breastfeeding1. Your baby needs water too.

False: Supplementing with water is not recommended for babies. Breast milk or formula contains all the water a baby needs and will keep your baby hydrated even in hot, dry climates.

2. You don’t produce enough milk.

Often False: The amount of milk you produce depends on a number of factors, including how often you feed and how your baby sucks at the breast. You can check if your baby is getting enough to eat by the amount of wet or soiled diapers in a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics tells moms to “expect 3-5 urines and 3-4 stools per day by 3-5 days of age; 4-6 urines and 3-6 stools per 5-7 days of age.” Your baby’s health care provider will check if your baby is gaining weight at his well-baby visits.

3. Breastfeeding is easy

False: Breastfeeding can be very challenging. Many moms face sore, cracked and bleeding nipples. It can hurt when you try to feed your baby. It’s important that when you start to feel pain or discomfort you seek help from a lactation counselor or support group. Many times the soreness can be relieved if the latch or position is changed. Some moms are able to breastfeed right away and others experience discomfort for months. Breastfeeding is learning a new skill; it takes lots of practice, time and patience.

4. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS

True: Breastfeeding can reduce the risks associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Feed your baby only breast milk for at least 6 months. Continue breastfeeding your baby until at least her first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says “Breastfeed as much and as long as you can. Studies show that breastfeeding your baby can help reduce the risk of SIDS.”

5. My baby should always breastfeed from both breasts

Not always true: Babies, especially newborns may have periods of preferring only one breast. Your baby may cry, become fussy or refuse to feed on one breast. If your baby is getting enough milk and you are not having any other trouble, it is fine for your baby to feed from only one breast. If you are having problems with your milk supply, or experience engorgement or pain, there are tips to get your baby back on both breasts.  For example try starting your baby on the preferred breast, and then slide him over to other side without changing the position of his body. To learn more, ask a lactation specialist.

Did you have an assumption about breastfeeding that was false? Or did someone give you advice that helped? We’d love to hear from you.

Check out the first 5 breastfeeding myths from last week.

Breastfeeding myths debunked

Monday, June 9th, 2014

woman breastfeedingWhether you are currently breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed in the future, there are many myths that could lead you toward or away from breastfeeding.

1. Breastfeeding will ruin my breasts.

False: breastfeeding does not affect the shape of your breasts. Your breasts may become engorged while breastfeeding, but your breasts will return to their usual shape once you have weaned feedings. Aging and gravity are the culprits of changing breast shape!

2. Breastfeeding will make my nipples sore.

True and False: Breastfeeding may make your nipples sore, but there are things you can do to prevent or solve the soreness. Sore nipples may happen when the baby is not latched on properly. You can seek help and support from a lactation counselor or support group.

3. Breastfeeding may help you lose your baby weight.

True! Breastfeeding burns extra calories (up to 500 a day), helping you return to your pre-pregnancy weight in a gradual and healthy way.  Remember pregnancy weight was not gained overnight so it will not disappear quickly. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and to wait until you feel ready and for your health care provider’s OK to purposely lose weight.

4. You must drink milk to make milk.

False: You do not need to drink milk to make milk. However it is important for you to maintain a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins and water. These are the only nutrients you need to produce milk. If you are concerned about getting enough calcium, you can drink milk or eat non-dairy foods that contain calcium such as dark green vegetables or nuts.

5. My milk isn’t good enough.

False: Breast is still best. Breast milk composition changes within the feeding, within the day and over the course of lactation, but breast milk has higher amounts of nutrients than other foods or supplements, including formula. Your breast milk can help protect your baby from things like diarrhea and infections, and help brain development.

These are the first 5 myths debunked. Stay tuned next week for more.

Did you have an assumption about breastfeeding that was false? Or did someone give you advice that helped? We’d love to hear from you.

Inside your baby’s diaper

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

diapersThe following is an excerpt from Dr. Siobhan Dolan’s book, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

New parents are often surprised at what they find in their baby’s diapers. A newborn’s stool looks much different than the stool of an older baby, toddler, or child. New parents may also be surprised to learn that a newborn needs a diaper change as many as eight times a day. Every time you baby eats, his brain sends a signal to his digestive system to release urine and stool. But don’t worry – feedings and diaper changes go down in number as your baby grows.

Just after birth, your baby’s stools are loose, black, and sticky. After a day or two, the stools of breastfed babies turn loose and mustard-colored, and contain what look like small seeds; formula-fed babies have soft, tan stools. After about a week your baby’s stools become slightly firmer.

Normal newborn stools can look like diarrhea, so if your baby actually has diarrhea, it can be hard to detect. A change in frequency or consistency of stools, an unusual smell, or blood in the stools can be a sign of diarrhea. If you’re not sure whether your baby’s stools are normal, call your baby’s provider.

You can learn more about Dr. Dolan’s book, watch a video, read excerpts, and even order a copy through this link.

Keep your breasts healthy

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

breast self-examLadies, let’s remember to take care of the girls.  We have talked often about how breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby, how milk banking helps others, how you need to be careful with medications you take while you’re breastfeeding.   We have noted the weight loss benefits of breastfeeding, how employers now need to provide you with a place to pump when you return to work, and how some scientists think breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

These are all important things that you’ve heard more than once.  So, how come many women don’t receive or perform annual breast exams?  These should be performed at your annual well woman checkup. But you also should be protecting your health and your baby’s source of nutrition by doing breast self-exams.  Not sure how?  Click here for more information.

Breastfeeding is not easy

Friday, September 27th, 2013

breastfeedingIt seems like a secret that no one tells first time moms. Info abounds about how good breastfeeding is for your baby so you’ve decided that, since you only want what’s best for your baby, you’re going to breastfeed. You’ll be the breastfeeding champ – the poster mom for breastfeeding! And then after three or four days of trying it, you’re almost ready to give up. HELP!

Breastfeeding problems are extremely common among first-time moms, often causing them to introduce formula or completely abandon breastfeeding within two months, report researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The study found that although 75 percent of mothers in the United States initiate breastfeeding, only 13 percent of those women ultimately breastfeed exclusively for the recommended first six months of the child’s life. The most common concern was that the babies were not feeding well at the breast (52 percent), followed by breastfeeding pain (44 percent) and perceived lack of sufficient milk (40 percent). Education and support are key to turning these numbers around.

If you’re pregnant for the first time or planning a pregnancy, get some upfront facts about breastfeeding challenges. Talk to a lactation consultant, contact La Leche League, before you deliver as well as once the baby arrives.  The first two weeks of breastfeeding are crucial for getting good guidance and support. Don’t feel like you should be able to do this on your own. It’s not like falling off a log – it takes education and work. Prepare for challenges because there likely will be some. (Who would have thought breastfeeding could hurt?!) Don’t despair and throw in the towel. Be prepared to work through ups and downs. With help and after perhaps several weeks of effort, for most women, everything should click into place.

Breastfeeding chat

Monday, August 5th, 2013

breastfeedingBreastfeeding can be a wonderful experience, but it’s not as easy as it looks. It may be hugely beneficial to your baby, which it is, but there’s plenty to learn before your little one arrives. Join the experts: Robin Weiss, a doula, lactation consultant and author of Pregnancy & Childbirth at About.com; Dr. Abieyuwa Iyare, a pediatrician and co-chair of the Breastfeeding Committee and Paula Ferrante, R.N., lactation consultant at Montefiore Medical Center; and our good friends at Text4baby.

Let’s talk. Did you breastfeed? If so, for how long? Did you continue to breastfeed after going back to work? What tips can you share with others? Where can we go for help?

According to new data released by the CDC, nearly 1 out of every 2 women in the U.S. is breastfeeding her baby up to the age of six months. That’s excellent news, but it doesn’t mean we can’t use some help in doing it right and getting more support.

Aug. 1 through 7 is World Breastfeeding Week. Join the conversation on Tuesday, August 6th at 1 PM ET. Be sure to use #pregnancychat to fully participate and get your questions answered.