Posts Tagged ‘lactation consultant’

Breastfeeding your baby in the NICU can be challenging

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Many 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 premature baby 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 premature baby 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 baby is tube feeding, your baby’s nurse can show you how to give your baby his feedings.

• Pump frequently, 8 to 12 times during a 24 hour span of time.

• 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.

• Babies born early 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 premature baby. 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 baby. 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 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 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.

Breast pumps – buy or borrow?

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Mothers who are returning to work or school usually need a breast pump. How often you’ll need to pump milk depends on whether you’re feeding your baby only breastmilk or if you’re switching between breastmilk and formula.

There are a variety of pumps available. Women who pump infrequently often prefer manual pumps, while working women commonly like electric double pumps because they shorten the time it takes to use them. There are “open system” and “closed system” pump designs. In both designs, breastmilk flows through the breast shields and tubing and is deposited into containers. In an “open” system, it is possible for some milk to come in contact with parts of the machine.  In a “closed” system, none of the breastmilk can enter the machine, so it is safe for several women to use it by simply changing the shields, tubing and containers. A lactation consultant can help you evaluate your needs and choose wisely.

Shop around until you find the pump that works best for you. Prices for breast pumps vary depending on their features. Be sure to compare costs. Some health insurance companies help pay for a breast pump. Find out if your insurance covers the purchase of a breast pump. Many women will add a breast pump to their baby shower registry so that a few friends can pitch in together. But don’t forget that you will also need to purchase bags or bottles to store the pumped breastmilk.

You may also want to think about renting a breast pump. For many families, this is a cost-effective solution. If you choose to go this route, make sure you rent a “closed” system pump. Talk to your health provider or hospital staff for more information about where to rent a pump. Reusing a friend’s pump is safe, too, as long as you buy new accessories (tubing, storage bags, bottles, nipples). Talk to your health care provider if you’re interested in this option.

Breastfeeding your newborn in the hospital

Friday, September 11th, 2009

15082589_thbDo yourself and your precious little one a favor and start off on the right foot with breastfeeding. If you’ve done any reading about it then you already know that it’s “a learned skill” and “if you’re doing it properly it shouldn’t hurt.” These statements (although vague and not helpful at correcting a problem) are VERY, VERY true. It takes time, practice and help. Yes, help! Its one thing to see a diagram in a book or online, but it’s much more effective to have someone with trained hands at your bedside. You have to be in the right position. The baby has to be in the right position. There are different holds to experiment with. If you don’t get things down right from the start you and the baby could develop poor posture and latching habits. Take it from me. I’m the queen of sore, cracked, bleeding nipples. I held that title for more than two months before we got it right and it didn’t happen on its own. I spent hours on the phone with a lactation consultant. It wasn’t until I actually went to see a consultant (twice) at a nearby hospital that I had any success.

I hope the following tips help. If anyone has any other suggestions, please share!

Find a lactation consultant in your area. LLLI has leaders that host monthly meetings. Attend some before and after your baby is born.

During your tour of the hospital ask about lactation support. What days and hours does she work? Is this person a nurse? If so, is she only available during her shift? (That happened to me. When I was settled in my room and asked if they had a lactation consultant I was told, yes, but she wasn’t working again until Saturday. It was Thursday when I was admitted.)

Even if the hospital doesn’t have a lactation consultant ask the nurses for help at EVERY feeding. They’ll know what to do. Once you leave the hospital you’ll be on your own so take advantage of their knowledge and support.

Ask the staff for lots of extra pillows. Hospital pillows stink. They’re flat and plastic-y. You and the baby need to be well supported on all sides when you nurse.

Nursing in bed can be difficult. If you’re hospital room has a chair, try that. Again, support yourself with lots of pillows and use a foot stool. You need to feel “locked in” and comfortable at all times to nurse properly.

For home, have some lanolin, ibuprofen, a soft nursing bra and the number of a professional to call if you run into any problems.

Breastfeeding is demanding when you’re caring for a newborn.  You’re exhausted. Don’t add pain to that equation. Ask for help in advance to avoid problems.

TGIF and have a great weekend. See you next Friday.

How often to pump while at the office

Monday, May 4th, 2009

There are oodles of women who have a baby, choose to breastfeed and go back to work feeling great that they can continue to provide breastmilk for many months to come.  It takes a little planning and work, but it’s done all the time so don’t be discouraged.

Most moms who work outside the home prefer an electric double pump because they are the most economical with your time.  If you have any questions about pumps, contact a lactation consultant to help you select one that works just right for you.  You will probably need to pump two to three times in a full workday, for about 10 to 15 minutes each time. If you are fortunate to work not far from your child’s daycare, you may be able to coordinate your lunch hour with one of the baby’s feedings.  Ask Human Resources about a flexible lunchtime schedule.

Be sure to wash your hands before pumping and make sure all pump parts and bottles are clean.  (Always keep a good supply of bags or bottles with your pump.)  Refrigerate your breastmilk as soon as possible.  If you don’t have a refrigerator handy, an insulted lunch bag with a “cold pack” in it will do. Your daycare probably has a refrigerator, so if you can stop by to feed the baby at lunchtime, the milk from the morning pumping can go into their fridge or be used for an afternoon feeding.  Freshly expressed breastmilk can be kept at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.  Breastmilk keeps in the refrigerator for 5 days and in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.  Always store the milk in the back of the fridge where it’s coolest.

It’s best if your employer has a private place where lactating mothers can pump, but not all do. Some women without a private office find themselves pumping in the ladies room or even in their car in the parking lot – not your optimal situation!  If this is you, talk to someone in HR.  Mothers of breastfed babies miss work less often because their babies are sick less often, so helping you to continue breastfeeding your baby is in an employer’s best interest.  Ask for help in setting up a private space.