Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

Breastfeeding basics

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Today’s post is from Nancy Hurst, director of Women’s Support Services at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, who will be discussing #Breastfeeding101 with us on Twitter on September 28, 2017 at 1pm EST / 12pm CST.

Here is a brief preview of the breastfeeding insight she will be providing in our #Breastfeeding101 chat.

As a board certified lactation consultant at Texas Children’s Hospital, I have heard it all! No breastfeeding experience looks the same and moms, whether it’s their first or last child, generally have many questions. Here is a look at what to expect:

The first few hours:

It’s important for new moms, when they are able, to attempt breastfeeding as quickly as possible after their baby is born. It is in this first round of feeding that babies get colostrum, a valuable, immune-boosting fluid.

While most babies are eager to latch onto their mother’s nipple, some infants need a little help the first few times. Moms, if your baby isn’t latching right away, don’t worry! It will happen.

You can help encourage latching by giving your newborn the best opportunity with extended skin-to-skin contact. This contact helps your baby relax and, eventually, you will begin to see signs that he or she is ready to feed. These signs can include: light fussing, increased alertness or changes in facial expression, rooting (opening their mouth and searching to suck on contact).

Positioning the baby is also key. Mothers should make sure to hold the baby in a position that has them facing your breast with your nipple near their mouth. Once you see a wide, open mouth, pull your baby in close and they are likely to latch on.

The first few days:

In the first few days, many moms may wonder if their baby is getting enough milk.

Remember the old saying, “What goes in, must come out?” The easiest way to figure out if your newborn is getting enough milk is to keep count of their wet and poopy diapers each day. If you have a smartphone, there are many apps that can help track this.

In the first few days of life, the number of diapers should equal about how many days old your baby is. Then, by the end of the first week, moms can expect at least six wet diapers and several poopy ones a day that are yellow and seedy.

Some moms may find themselves unable to breastfeed. In these cases, I cannot stress enough how valuable your support team is! This includes your obstetrician, pediatrician, lactation consultant, hospital staff, and your friends and family.

If a mom finds herself unable to breastfeed for any reason, there are now more resources than ever to still provide breastmilk to babies, such as pasteurized donor milk from a milk bank.

My one note of caution for moms turning to donor breast milk is to use only donor milk. Without thorough screenings of both the donor mother and the milk, you may be exposing your newborn to risks such as bacteria or viruses.

The first few weeks:

After the first few weeks, moms may begin to plan their return to work – this is where pumping comes in!

I routinely recommend that mothers wait to introduce a bottle for four to six weeks until breastfeeding is well established. Ideally, moms would have another person introduce the bottle to get baby used to food coming from someone else.

In order to get the best results, moms should aim to start pumping right after the first morning feeding.

Finally, I recommend the following three pieces of advice to breastfeeding moms:

  1. Be informed. Learn about the importance of establishing milk production and the health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and mother.
  2. Build your support network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from any and all resources available to you.
  3. Have confidence in yourself and your body! Use this time to enjoy this special relationship with your baby. Remember that it is not unusual to feel some discomfort. You can always turn to your lactation consultant for advice and to answer your questions.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Breastfeeding is beneficial for moms and babies

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

In the United States, most new moms (about 80%) breastfeed their babies. And about half of these moms breastfeed for at least 6 months. You may know that breastfeeding is best for your baby, but did you know that you can benefit as well? Here is some information about why breastfeeding is good for both you and your baby.

For your baby, breast milk:

  • Has the right amount of protein, sugar, fat and most vitamins to help your baby grow and develop.
  • Contains antibodies that help protect your baby. In general, breastfed babies have fewer health problems than babies who aren’t breastfed.
  • Has fatty acids, like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), that may help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. It also may lower the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Is easy for your baby to digest. A breastfed baby may have less gas and belly pain than a baby who is given formula.
  • Changes as your baby grows, so he gets exactly what he needs at the right time. For the first few days after your baby is born, your breasts make colostrum. This is a thick, yellowish form of breast milk. Colostrum has nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs in the first few days of life. In 3-4 days the colostrum will gradually change to breast milk.

For you, breastfeeding:

  • Increases the amount of a hormone in your body called oxytocin. Oxytocin causes the uterus to contract. These contractions help your uterus to go back to the size it was before pregnancy and help you to stop bleeding.
  • Helps to reduce stress. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “anti-stress” hormone. It 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 have a lower response to stress and pain.
  • Burns extra calories (up to 500 a day). This can help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight in a gradual and healthy way.

Want more information about breastfeeding? Check out Breastfeeding 101.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Breastfeeding and support: two peas in a pod

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

sg_breastfeeding1You may have heard that breastfeeding is natural. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s why breastfeeding women need support. Support can come in many different forms and from different people. Studies show that with a supportive partner, women breastfeed longer and feel more confident about their ability to breastfeed. Whether you are a partner, friend, or family member, there are many things you can do to help support mom while she breastfeeds her little one.

How can you provide support?

  • If mom is experiencing a breastfeeding problem, offer to research the issue online to see if you can learn about solutions to relieve any discomfort.
  • Does mom need to schedule a visit with a Lactation Consultant or her health care provider? Find one in your area and offer to bring the phone, a notebook and pen and the phone numbers to her.
  • Be available to greet guests, run errands or bring mom items she may need such as water, snacks or pillows.
  • Before feedings, bring baby to mom and soothe her until mom is ready to feed. After feedings, offer to burp her.
  • Offer to cuddle baby with skin-to-skin, bathe, or read to her while mom relaxes.

Let the breastfeeding mom in your life know you are there to support her and help give her baby the best start.

Read about other helpful tips in our Breastfeeding 101 series.

What causes gas in breastfed babies?

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Dad calming babyEveryone has gas, adults and babies alike. Gas is a result of both swallowing air and the digestion process. If your baby has a lot of gas though, you probably have concerns about the cause and more importantly, how to fix the problem.

So what can cause gas in your baby?

  • Anything that could cause your baby to swallow air: This includes crying, sucking a pacifier and eating from either the breast or a bottle.
  • A forceful letdown: If you’re nursing and have an oversupply of milk, your baby may take in too much milk at one time and swallow air. Changing positions, nursing frequently or expressing some of your milk before latching can help.  Reach out to a Lactation Consultant for assistance.
  • An intolerance to proteins in your diet: Most breastfed babies do not have allergic reactions to their mom’s milk. However, if food allergies run in your family, you should discuss this with your lactation consultant. The proteins from foods such as cow’s milk and peanuts pass through breast milk.  Also, be sure to watch your baby for any allergic reactions such as green, mucus-like stools with signs of blood.

What can help your baby’s gas?

  • Change your position while feeding: Tilt your baby up so her head is higher than her stomach. This will allow air to come up and out and milk to go down more smoothly.
  • Burping more often: Try burping during as well as after a feeding. If you are switching breasts, try burping before moving your baby over to your other side.
  • The bicycle: Lay your baby on her back and move her legs in a bicycle motion. Tummy time can also help put pressure on your baby’s stomach to relieve gas.
  • There are over-the-counter medications that may help relieve your baby’s gas. Ask your baby’s provider for a recommendation.

If your baby has excessive gas, there may be other reasons why it is happening. Reach out to your baby’s provider or your Lactation Consultant for an evaluation.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Is breastfeeding a preemie different than a full term baby?

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

preemieThe answer is yes.

You’ve probably spent the last few months anxiously getting ready for your baby’s arrival. You’ve probably also thought about and decided how you are going to feed your baby after birth. Unfortunately, your breastfeeding plans may need to change in order to accommodate your baby, if you gave birth prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).

Breastfeeding in the NICU

If your baby is in the NICU, you may need to start pumping to establish your milk supply. Although you won’t have your warm baby at your breast, give your baby any expressed colostrum or milk you produce. Breast milk provides many health benefits for all newborns, but especially for premature or sick babies in the NICU.

Read our tips and tricks to breastfeeding your baby in the NICU.

Late preterm babies

If your baby was born late preterm, between 34 weeks and 0 days and 36 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy,  the good news is that she may not need to spend any time in the NICU. The bad news is that breastfeeding a near-term baby can be very difficult. Late preemies are often very sleepy and lack the energy they need to latch, suck and swallow. Also, late preterm babies are vulnerable to hypothermia (low body temperature), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), weight loss, slow weight gain and jaundice among other conditions, which may interrupt your breastfeeding progress.

Full term babies

Breastfeeding a full term baby has its challenges, too. But, compared to a preterm or late preterm baby, there are more opportunities to be successful with breastfeeding from the start, due to fewer health obstacles.

Stay positive

If your baby is spending time in the NICU or having trouble breastfeeding, the breast milk you provide your baby through expression or pumping is very beneficial to his growth and protection from illness and infection. Seek help when you need it through a Lactation Consultant, a nurse or your health care provider. If you are in the hospital, ask your nurse if they have a support group where you can connect and share with other moms going through the same situation.

Learn more in Breastfeeding 101.

Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Breastfeeding after a natural disaster

Monday, September 5th, 2016

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!