Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

Breastfeeding after a natural disaster

Monday, September 5th, 2016

breastfeedingBaton Rouge, LA recently experienced severe flooding in what has been called the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Every year nearly 850,000 people in the US are affected by a natural disaster. When a disaster strikes, power can go out, water supplies can become contaminated and food supplies may become limited. But continuing to breastfeed can give your baby protection against illnesses, which is especially important following a natural disaster.

How does breastfeeding help your baby?

  • Protects her from the contaminated water supply
  • Protects against illnesses such as diarrhea
  • Helps comfort and soothe
  • Reduces stress for both mom and baby
  • Your breast milk is ready when your baby needs it

Is my milk safe?

According to the experts at Mother To Baby, substances enter breast milk in very small amounts, so they are not likely to harm a breastfeeding baby. The benefits you are providing your baby through your breast milk usually outweigh risk from an exposure.

Some infections are common after a natural disaster, such as West Nile virus, hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus. Most of the time, mothers who have an infection can continue to breastfeed. However if you notice anything different about the way you are feeling, or you are concerned, reach out to your health care provider. If you need medication, be sure to ask your provider if your prescription is safe to take while breastfeeding.  For more information about breastfeeding after a natural disaster, please see Mother-to-Baby’s fact sheet.

Can I feed my baby formula?

If you need to feed your baby formula, use single serving ready-to-feed formula, if possible. Ready-to-feed formula does not need to be mixed with water so you won’t run the risk of contamination. It also does not need to be refrigerated, so you do not need to worry about electricity. Be sure to discard unused formula from an unfinished bottle after one hour of feeding. If you need to use powdered or concentrated formula, mix it with bottled water. If neither option is available, use boiled water. Just be sure you do not use water treated with iodine or chlorine tablets to prepare your baby’s formula unless you do not have bottled water and cannot boil your water.

How to breastfeed after a disaster

Feed your baby when she is hungry or expressing feeding cues. Keep in mind, breastfeeding is not only for nutrition; your baby may also nurse for comfort. And it’s good for you too – nursing will allow the release of hormones which can help reduce your stress.

Breastfeeding and your diet

Monday, August 29th, 2016

mom breastfeedingWe received a question from a new mom asking if there are certain things she should eat while breastfeeding. Or more importantly, are there things she should avoid? The answer is that most likely, your milk will be just what your baby needs, even if your diet isn’t perfect. But eating healthy foods is still important in order to take care of yourself and your new baby.

The dietary restrictions you had during your pregnancy will not apply while you are breastfeeding. But you will still need to limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and foods containing mercury.

What about allergies?

Most breastfed babies do not have allergic reactions to their mom’s milk. However, the proteins from foods such as cow’s milk and peanuts do pass through breast milk so if your family has a history of food allergies, you may want to discuss this with your Lactation Consultant. If you have a family history of food allergies, be sure to watch your baby for any allergic reactions such as green, mucus-like stools with signs of blood.

So what should you eat? The La Leche League International has these great ideas:

  • A well-balanced diet – choose meals with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and proteins (eg. lean meats, fish and eggs)
  • High-calorie foods – breastfeeding burns calories, so add in peanut or nut butters, olive or canola oils, whole-milk cheeses and yogurts
  • Easy to handle meals – with your baby in one arm you may find yourself only having one hand available to use for feeding yourself. Simple finger food types of meals will be easier to manage.
  • Large recipes – make or ask your family and friends to provide large dishes or casseroles so you can freeze leftovers.

Bottom line:

By breastfeeding you are providing your baby with the best start. And by maintaining a healthy diet you will be better able to take care of yourself, as you tend to your new bundle. if you have questions about your diet while breastfeeding, reach out to a Lactation Consultant.

Buying breast milk online – is it safe?

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Amy-Hair-MD-PFWToday we welcome guest blogger Amy Hair, MD, neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Hair specializes in neonatal nutrition.

Online shopping, in many cases, seems to be the way to go; it’s faster, cheaper and more convenient for the consumer than visiting the store. But, a study published in the May 2015 issue of Pediatrics shows convenience isn’t always best, especially when it comes to your infant’s health.

There are many reasons a mother may turn to purchasing breast milk. In the case of a premature birth, mothers may not be producing enough breast milk. In addition to lower production due to an early birth, the stress and shock that a mother feels after giving birth pre-term can be exacerbated by the requirements of expressing breast milk at all hours of the day and night. In many of these cases, a mother may think to buy breast milk online.

Online human milk donation and sharing has become more popular in recent years with an estimated 13,000 advertisements popping up annually on popular seller sites. Some mothers turn to the internet to obtain breast milk because purchasing it from milk banks can be expensive. Prices often range from three to five dollars an ounce, leading some people to refer to the commodity as “liquid gold.” Although many sellers may be posting and donating altruistically, not everyone has the purest of intentions, as proven by this new study.

Researchers tested 102 samples from donor milk advertised online and found that 1 in 10 samples were contaminated with cow’s milk. Of the 11 total samples which contained bovine DNA, 10 had enough contamination to be considered non-accidental. This contamination poses a large and dangerous risk to infants who may have an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk. Additionally, the researchers found that nearly all of the bags of milk they purchased online arrived without meeting the correct temperature requirements for breast milk and that 75 percent of the samples had high levels of bacterial contamination or detectable levels of disease-causing pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. coli, which would make the milk unsafe for infant consumption.

Unlike milk bank systems that follow the criteria set by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), online sharing systems do not usually include the rigorous screening and pasteurization required by HMBANA banks. Without proof of regulated and monitored screening, the risks and dangers in receiving contaminated and sometimes infected human breast milk are present.

The bottom line is that when you purchase breast milk online, you don’t know if the milk you are receiving is safe. The risks of inadequate screening and pasteurization include viral and bacterial infection and remind us about the reality that some potentially-transmitted viruses and diseases are asymptomatic. Talk to your infant’s pediatrician about if you have any questions and you are not able to produce enough milk to feed your baby. You can also consult lactation support organizations for advice. Though we often hear “breast is best,” it is safer to supplement your baby’s nutrition with formula than unscreened donor milk.

Since January 2009, all infants at Texas Children’s Hospital weighing less than 3 pounds are fed specially tested, processed and pasteurized donor breast milk if their mothers are unable to provide enough of their own breast milk. As a result of this initiative, we had a large drop in our incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating intestinal disorder, from the national average of 12% down to just 2-3%.

Whether your child is a patient in Texas Children’s NICU, a premature infant at another hospital or a healthy baby, try to take advantage of lactation support services in your area. The importance of mother’s milk to the health and development of newborn babies is priceless.

Feeling depressed when you breastfeed?

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Contemplative woman with babySome women experience feelings of depression during milk letdown and the beginning of breastfeeding. This experience is called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER and is caused by a drop in dopamine, a hormone that is released in the brain. Dopamine affects your mood, behavior, and the way you think and process information.

A mom with D-MER may experience a range of feelings such as sadness, depression, anxiety, irritability, anger or restlessness. Anything that causes a milk release, whether it is breastfeeding, manual milk expression, a breast pump, thinking about your baby or just having full breasts, can generate the negative feelings associated with D-MER.

D-MER is a reflex, which means the feelings cannot be controlled and symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Symptoms may decrease over a period of months or they may continue throughout the breastfeeding experience. D-MER is not the same as postpartum depression and is not associated with breastfeeding aversion, a severe lack of interest in breastfeeding.

D-MER is a newly diagnosed condition – receiving its name in 2008; more research needs to be done to learn about it. If you think you may be suffering from D-MER, speak with your health care provider. You can also visit Share Your Story, where you may connect with other moms, and perhaps start a conversation forum.

How to establish your milk supply while your preemie is in the NICU

Monday, August 8th, 2016

kangaroo-care-23If your baby is in the NICU, you may not be able to breastfeed the way you imagined. But providing your preemie with your breast milk will give her the best start in life.

Here are some tips to help establish your milk supply:

Ask for support

Seek out the help of a Lactation Consultant. She is a person with special training to help women breastfeed. A Lactation Consultant will be the best person to assist you with your breastfeeding goals. Your partner, friends and family are also there to support you during this important time.

Pump or express your milk early

Your milk is designed to meet your baby’s needs, so even though your baby was born early, the milk you make in the early days has a higher amount of antibodies to help her fight off infection. If your preemie is too small, sick or has birth defects that prevent her from breastfeeding, pump or hand express your milk as soon as possible. Your Lactation Consultant will be able to help you find the pump that works best for you. Ask your consultant if the milk you pump can be given to your baby in the NICU.

Spend time with your baby

If your baby’s nurse says it is OK, practice skin-to-skin or kangaroo care with your preemie. Not only is this beneficial for your baby, but having her so close will help you make more breast milk. Pumping or expressing your milk right after holding your baby skin-to-skin, or just smelling your baby’s scent, is an effective way to increase your supply as well.

Keep track & increase supply

Massage your breasts before and during your pumping session to maximize your output and improve the flow of your milk. Keep track of your pumping sessions with a log or notebook. This will help you remember how often you pump and how much milk you express. New moms get very tired – a log will help you remember when you last pumped. If you have questions or concerns, speak with your consultant and discuss your pumping log.

Where’s my milk?

After you give birth, you will start to see drops of colostrum, which is incredibly beneficial for your baby. In the beginning you may find it is easier to express your colostrum by hand into a spoon to feed directly to your baby. If you pump, these drops may get stuck in your breast pump parts. Have your consultant show you the best technique. Keep in mind, if you pump, you may not see any milk during your first few pumping sessions – do not be discouraged. Keep at it and ask your consultant for help and support.

Remember to avoid smoking, caffeine and alcohol. Speak with your health care provider about any medications you may be taking to be sure they are safe to take while breastfeeding.

Bottom line:

Stay positive. A pump can’t replace a warm baby at your breast, but any breast milk you supply your baby will help him get stronger and healthier each day. And soon he will be out of the NICU and in your arms!

Colostrum: why every drop counts

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

mom breastfeeding newbornI’ve heard many new moms say they “have no milk” after giving birth and are worried their baby won’t be able to feed. The good news is women have drops of colostrum after they give birth for several days until they start to see their milk come in. You may even see these drops during pregnancy; this is normal.

What is colostrum?

In the first few days after giving birth, your breasts will make a thick, yellowish form of breast milk. This liquid has nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs in the first few days of life before your breasts start to make milk.

Why is it yellow?

This is because colostrum has a higher concentration of protein and antibodies to help protect your baby in her new environment. Think of colostrum as your baby’s first vaccine.

Is it enough?

For healthy, full-term babies, your colostrum is the right amount of food in the early days. At one day old, your baby’s stomach is the size of a marble (5-7 ml), so she is not able to handle a larger amount of milk. Colostrum is easily digested and will help her pass meconium (early stools) which aids in getting rid of excess bilirubin to help prevent jaundice.

The small drops of colostrum you see in the days after birth are important for your baby, especially if she was born prematurely. So as you are bonding with your new arrival and getting acquainted with each other, know your colostrum is providing her with the best start.

Breastfeeding can reduce your stress

Monday, April 18th, 2016

2012d032_0483It’s true, breastfeeding releases hormones that help you feel more relaxed.

Oxytocin is one of the hormones your body makes to produce breast milk. Oxytocin is responsible for your milk letdown and also helps your uterus contract to the way it was before you became pregnant. But there’s even more that oxytocin does for moms; it helps you reduce your stress.

Oxytocin is often referred to as the “anti-stress” or “love” hormone and for good reason. Oxytocin is part of a complex interaction in your body that reduces stress and helps you bond with your baby. How does oxytocin do this? The hormone is associated with a decrease in blood pressure and cortisol levels (the hormone released in response to stress).  Oxytocin also increases relaxation, sleepiness, blood flow, digestion and healing. Studies have shown that moms who breastfeed also have a lower response to stress and pain.

So go ahead and take advantage of the benefits of breastfeeding. The deep relaxation may make you feel ready for a nap, so put your feet up while you nurse and take this time to refocus. After you put your baby back in her basinet or crib, take a cat nap to feel reenergized.

For even more benefits of breastfeeding, read our post.

Have questions? Email or text us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org.

Is donor milk right for your preemie?

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

feeding in the NICUFor premature babies, breast milk can be lifesaving. It is more easily digested and provides protection against many diseases. Providing breast milk, however, can be a challenge for some moms. Many moms are not able to provide their baby with their own breast milk for various reasons, they:

  • are recovering from surgery or have certain medical conditions that make it difficult to initiate and maintain a milk supply;
  • find it difficult to pump enough milk to meet their baby’s needs;
  • have chronic conditions and need to take medications that may make their breast milk unsafe.

In these cases, donor milk may be the best option for your preemie, and a better alternative to formula.

What is donor milk and where does it come from?

A milk bank is a service that collects, screens, processes and distributes safe human milk to babies in need. All donated milk goes through a pasteurization process to eliminate bacteria while keeping the milk’s essential nutrients. The milk is then packaged, stored and ready to ship to hospitals or individual recipients at home. Lactating women who wish to donate their breast milk may do so through a milk bank.

Does your preemie need donor milk?

The nutritional needs of each baby depends on many different factors. It’s important to talk to your baby’s doctor to see if donor milk is right for your baby. Some hospitals have their own donor milk bank or have a partnership with a milk bank near them. If your baby’s doctor indicates that your baby will benefit from donor milk, he can write a prescription. For more information about the milk bank closest to you, visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

Can you buy breast milk from another mom who has milk to spare?

There are risks with getting breast milk from a stranger or a friend; this milk is not tested or screened for infectious diseases or contamination. A study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that out of 101 samples of milk purchased online from different mothers, 74% of samples were contaminated with bacteria and 21% of samples contained cytomegalovirus (CMV) bacteria.

It’s important to be informed when making feeding decisions for your preemie. If you have any questions about donor milk or your baby’s nutritional needs, speak with your baby’s healthcare provider.

Benefits of breastfeeding

Monday, August 31st, 2015

sg_breastfeeding1Breast milk is the best food for your baby during the first year of life and we recommend exclusively breastfeeding for about the first six months. Your milk helps your baby grow healthy and strong and can protect him from many illnesses.

How does your breast milk do this?

Breast milk…

• has hormones and the right amount of protein, sugar, fat and most vitamins to help your baby grow and develop.

• has antibodies that help protect your baby from many illnesses. Antibodies are cells in the body that fight off infection.

• has fatty acids, like DHA (docosahexanoic acid), which help support your baby’s brain and eye development. It may lower the chances of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS, too (SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old).

• is easy to digest. A breastfed baby may have less gas and belly pain than a baby who is fed formula.

• changes as your baby grows so he gets exactly what he needs at the right time. For example, for the first few days after giving birth, your breasts make a thick, yellowish form of breast milk called colostrum. Colostrum has nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs in the first few days of life. It changes to breast milk in 3 to 4 days.

• is always ready when your baby wants to eat. Your body makes as much breast milk as your baby needs. The more your baby breastfeeds, the more milk your body makes.

What if you are sick? Should you still breastfeed?

In most cases, yes, you should continue to breastfeed. The antibodies your body produces to fight off an illness will be passed to your baby through your milk and protect him. If you stop breastfeeding when you are sick, you will reduce your baby’s protection and even increase his chance of getting sick. If you feel a cold coming on, rest, drink plenty of fluids and keep on breastfeeding. If you are uncertain about whether to breastfeed while sick, ask your Lactation Consultant or baby’s pediatrician.

Read our blog to learn how to keep your breast milk safe and other helpful posts in Breastfeeding 101.

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org. We are here for you.

Keeping track of feedings and diapers

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Mom breastfeeding (2)Did you know the March of Dimes developed a breastfeeding log just for busy moms? We hope it will make it just a little easier to see if your baby is getting what he needs to grow and thrive.

Being a new mom can be tough. You have so many things to think about and remember while caring for your little one, such as which breast your baby last ate from or how many wet or soiled diapers he had today. But it is important to keep track of this information to make sure your baby is eating well and gaining enough weight.

The breastfeeding log can be used to track:

• Day and times of your baby’s feedings
• How long your baby feeds from each breast
• Which breast you started nursing from at each feeding (so you can begin the next feeding from the other breast).
• How much breast milk you pump
• Number of wet diapers or bowel movements per day
• Breastfeeding problems or concerns

Our breastfeeding log is especially helpful if your baby is in the NICU. You can track how often and how much milk you express. Many moms struggle to make breast milk when their babies are sick and it may take a few days of pumping before you produce enough milk. If you have trouble making enough breast milk, ask for help and support. A lactation consultant can use the information in your log to make sure you’re on the right track.

To ensure your baby is gaining enough weight, bring your log to each of your baby’s visits with his health care provider. If your baby is slow to gain weight, the breastfeeding log can help you and your baby’s provider spot and take care of feeding issues before they become a problem.

See other breastfeeding posts here.

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org. We are here to help.