Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

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.

Breastfeeding and hair treatments

Monday, August 17th, 2015

breastfeeding and hair treatmentsYou’ve given birth to your little peanut, congrats! You may be thinking that now you can finally return to some of the activities you enjoyed before becoming pregnant. For example, you may have stopped dying your hair during pregnancy. The fall season is around the corner and a new cut and color may be in order, but if you’re breastfeeding now, is it safe to head to the salon?

Hair treatments include hair coloring, curling (permanents), bleaching and straightening agents. Low levels of hair dye can be absorbed through the skin after application, and the dye is excreted into the urine.

But, according to the experts at Mother to Baby, “There is no information on having hair treatments during breastfeeding. It is highly unlikely that a significant amount would enter the breast milk because so little enters the mom’s bloodstream. Many women receive hair treatments while breastfeeding, and there are no known reports of negative outcomes.”

Despite this good news, if you are still hesitant, you might consider highlights or streaks, as the dye is not placed directly on the scalp.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding, speak with a lactation consultant or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We are happy to help!

Breastfeeding 101

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

If you’re breastfeeding or thinking about breastfeeding, you’ve come to the right place. This post is your one-stop-shop for all things breastfeeding. Stop in for a quick glance or stay for a while and browse the different blog posts below. We’ll keep adding new ones as they are published. If you have questions, email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org. We are here to help.

• Breastfeeding myths debunked

Breastfeeding myths debunked part 2 

The do’s and don’ts of bottle-feeding 

• Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging 

• Breastfeeding a baby with a cleft lip/palate  

• Breastfeeding and returning to work 

• Formula switching, what you need to know 

• Alcohol and breastfeeding 

• Breastfeeding on demand vs. on a schedule 

• Keeping breast milk safe

 “Can I continue breastfeeding now that I am pregnant again?”

• Breastfeeding and hair treatments

Keeping track of feedings and diapers

Benefits of breastfeeding

Is donor milk right for your preemie?

Breastfeeding can reduce your stress

Colostrum: why every drop counts

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

• Feeling depressed when you breastfeed?

Breastfeeding and your diet

Breastfeeding after a natural disaster

Is breastfeeding a preemie different than a full term baby?

 

 

“Can I continue breastfeeding now that I am pregnant again?”

Friday, August 7th, 2015

pregnant woman and toddlerThis is a question we often receive from moms who are breastfeeding their child when they find out they are pregnant again. And the answer is yes, you can still breastfeed throughout your pregnancy depending on your medical history, your older baby’s responses, your milk supply and your own feelings. There is no documented danger to mother or fetus when a mother breastfeeds through a healthy pregnancy. There are some things however to keep in mind and consider as your pregnancy progresses.

Talk to your health care provider

There are a few medical reasons why a pregnant woman should consider weaning during pregnancy. Speak to your provider about continuing breastfeeding if you have:

• Uterine pain or bleeding
• Miscarried in the past
• A history of premature delivery
• lost weight during your pregnancy

Changes to your breast milk

After the first few months of pregnancy, your milk supply may decrease. As your milk changes to colostrum in preparation for birth the taste will change. These two things may lead your child to wean on his own. If your child continues to breastfeed though, make sure he goes to all his well-baby visits with his health care provider to ensure he is gaining enough weight throughout your pregnancy.

Make adjustments

As your body continues to change, you may experience emotional ups and downs with breastfeeding. Nipple tenderness, caused by hormonal changes, is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy and may make breastfeeding uncomfortable. As pregnancy continues, and your belly grows, it may also become difficult for your child to reach the nipple. It may help to experiment with different nursing positions, such as lying on your side while nursing.

Take care of yourself

Pregnancy and breastfeeding both require extra energy. Make sure you get plenty of rest. Putting your feet up while breastfeeding your child may also allow you to get some much needed relaxation. It is important that you gain the appropriate amount of weight during your pregnancy, eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of water. It may be necessary to consume extra calories while breastfeeding during pregnancy. Speak with your provider about what is right for you.

Stay positive

Take your pregnancy and breastfeeding day by day. As emotions and your comfort level continue to change, try to avoid expectations about how breastfeeding will go. Being flexible is the key to making breastfeeding during pregnancy a positive experience. If you need extra assistance and support, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Speak with your provider, a lactation consultant or a peer counselor to help you through your pregnancy. You can also look for a breastfeeding support group in your area. Read our web article for more information.

Thinking about maternity leave

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

pregnant woman with ipadHave you heard that Netflix is offering unlimited paid parental leave to their employees? During their first year as new parents, Netflix employees can take as much time off as they choose while still earning their normal salary. This is really an amazing policy. If you’re working and pregnant, you probably have thought a lot about maternity leave. Over the past 30 years, the participation rate in the labor force of women with children under age 3 has risen from 34.3% in 1975 to 60.9% in 2011. Half of all mothers work during pregnancy and return to work after their baby is born. And among women who worked during their pregnancy between 2005 and 2007, 58.6% returned to work 3 months after giving birth and 72.9% returned to work 6 months after giving birth. It is important to know what options are available to you so that you can plan ahead.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) employees can take time off from work without pay for pregnancy- and family-related health issues. The act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that you can keep your health insurance benefits during the leave. To qualify, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months, and worked at a location where the company has 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

In addition to the FMLA leave, your employer may have its own maternity leave policies. Talk to your boss or someone from human resources (also called HR). Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Does your employer offer paid maternity leave? Some employers offer paid time off for the birth of your baby. Talk with someone from HR to find out if you have paid maternity leave.
  • Does your health insurance continue while you’re on maternity leave? If you get your health insurance through your employer, your HR person can tell you about what your insurance plan covers. You may need to change your health plan after your baby’s born to make sure he’s covered, too.
  • Does your employer offer flex time or telecommuting for when you’re ready to go back to work? For example, can you work fewer hours each week or work from home at the beginning? And then increase your hours or your time in the office little by little over a few weeks?
  • Are there other programs or services that your employer offers to new moms? If you’re breastfeeding, find out if your employer has a lactation room. This is a private space (not a bathroom) that you can use to pump breast milk. Employers with more than 50 employees must provide this space for breastfeeding moms.

Finally, choosing a child care provider that works best for you can be tough. Try to explore your options and finalize your plans before your baby arrives.  If you can organize childcare before you deliver, it will make your time at home with your baby more relaxing and enjoyable.