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World Breastfeeding Week

3 Aug

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated around the world during the week of August 1st through the 7th.  In honor of breastfeeding moms and their babies across the globe, it is my goal to increase awareness.  If you have questions about the benefits of breastfeeding, I wrote a great blog about the ABCs of Breastfeeding – click here to read it!

Attend the virtual celebration on Facebook and join me in changing your profile picture to a breastfeeding picture or breastfeeding art:

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=141903235828603#!/pages/World-Breastfeeding-Week-2011/166402313405406

Support a breastfeeding mom this week!

Nursing Beyond a Year

29 Jun

Nursing my third baby has posed several challenges I never faced while nursing the first two.  Within the first few weeks, he developed symptoms of colic, where he would cry for several hours straight, for days on end.  It was exhausting, until we discovered he was actually experiencing an aversion to dairy.  Once I cut it out of my diet completely, his symptoms disappeared.

He has not nursed for comfort as much as the girls did.  If he’s hungry or thirsty, he nurses, if he’s not, he won’t.

He has continuously bit, whereas the girls went through a phase when they started getting their first teeth, but it ended as quickly as it began.  With my third, I have to be vigilant about recognizing when he’s done.  If I let my guard down and don’t pull him off right when he’s decided he’s done, he can surprise me with a painful chomp down.

He went through the “typical” nursing strike at eight months, but then had another right around his first birthday.  I started to panic that maybe he was trying to wean himself.  I became painfully engorged, but fortunately it was short-lived.  (I’m so thankful I have learned the art of self- or hand- expression this time around, because my pump broke amid my most recent engorgement mini crisis!)

Despite these challenges, I continue to want to breastfeed my baby, who is quickly becoming a toddler.  I’ve heard all sorts of comments about women choosing to breastfeed beyond a year.  Some people think it’s “gross”, that once a child can “ask” for it the child is “too old,” and I have even heard people say they believe that after a year the milk has no further nutritional value, as though breast milk has a shelf life which expires at some arbitrary date.

La Leche League International recommends continuing the breastfeeding relationship for as long as is mutually satisfactory.  The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years.

I want to continue nursing beyond a year.  My first daughter weaned herself on her 2nd birthday.  I weaned my second daughter halfway through my third pregnancy (my daughter was about 28 months).  I know that breast milk is healthy.  I know that breastfeeding my children will help increase their IQ.  I know that breastfeeding creates a strong bond between a me and my children.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce my risk of getting several different types of cancer.  I know that breastfeeding will reduce the likelihood of my children developing allergies.  Breastfeeding doesn’t cost me a thing.  It’s convenient and my breast milk contains no added chemicals.  For these reasons and more, I am choosing to breastfeed beyond a year!

Bite Me!

16 Feb

Some of you may know by now that I am involved in an international breastfeeding support organization. To date, I have breastfed my three children a combined five years and a handful of months. I breastfeed my children in public (a LOT) and oftentimes, I get approached by women.

Some congratulate me on breastfeeding. Some say they do not know how I do it, and then proceed to tell me how something or other caused their ultimate failure (their description, not mine). Lately, women have been commenting about how they nursed their baby until the baby got teeth. At that point, they usually say it hurt, or that the baby persistently bit, and so they decided to start bottle feeding their child formula. I never really had a good understanding of what these women have gone through, until now.

My first two children both started biting when they started getting teeth (at around 8 months). The girls were easy. When they would bite, I would say “Ouch. That hurts mommy. No biting!” and stop them from nursing and put them down. I literally remember only having to do it a handful of times, and the behavior stopped.

With my third child, it has been a whole different experience! He has been persistently biting me for the last two or three weeks, almost every single time I nurse him. I know he is cutting one of his upper front teeth, which is certainly a contributor. When I use my technique, he literally laughs at me. Then he fusses, letting me know he wants to nurse again, and when we start over, he bites all over again. It seems like he is trying to get a reaction from me. I have been persistent in my method, and now, three weeks into it, he is getting the message. When he bites, he stops nursing, so if he wants to nurse, he has to not bite me.

I have definitely developed more empathy for mothers who struggle with a child who is biting at the breast. I understand how, without proper information and support, it would be easy to give up. I just want to encourage anyone who is struggling with this same issue! You do not have to give up. It is a phase, and with some love, encouragement, and repetition, your baby will learn it is not ok!

The method I use with my children is described in more detail in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (P. 116). “If a baby shows a tendency to bite down when he is finished nursing, a mother can be alert to signs that he is ready to bite down. She should remove him from her breast immediately. This action, along with a firm, “No biting” is usually all that is needed to convince baby that this behavior is not acceptable. Having another more suitable object ready to offer him will reinforce the message.”

I started doing that with my baby. He likes to snuggle with a blanket when he is sleepy. I would have it handy while I nursed, and when he started to bite, I would remove him from the breast, say “Ouch. That hurts mommy. No biting!” Then I would let him bite his blanket. Sometimes it works, other times it does not.

Sometimes mothers will yell or scream when they have been bitten, because it hurts and can be surprising. I have heard from several mothers who report that this reaction actually caused a nursing strike for their baby, so be aware of that as well. It can also be helpful to pull the baby into your breast, partially blocking the airway. It can be effective if done quickly, because when this happens, they will release the nipple. Babies are very sensitive to even a slight blockage to their nose. Some women do this by gently pinching the baby’s nose, causing him to open his mouth, releasing the nipple. If you try to pull the baby away from the breast (which tends to be most women’s natural reaction), you can cause more damage to the nipple, especially if the baby is clamped on.

Another great resource is the La Leche League International’s The Breastfeeding Answer Book. This book offers the following tips for biting (pp. 478-479):

  1. Give the baby your complete attention while nursing
  2. Learn to recognize the end of a nursing session
  3. Don’t force a nursing session
  4. Give extra attention to positioning an latch on
  5. If the baby falls asleep, remove him from the breast
  6. Keep your milk supply plentiful
  7. Keep breastfeeding relaxed and pleasant
  8. Offer positive reinforcement when the baby does not bite

If the problem becomes more persistent, you can try:

  1. Stopping the feeding
  2. Offer an acceptable teething object
  3. Quickly put the baby on the floor
  4. Keep a finger poised near the baby’s mouth to quickly break the suction in case he turns his head

Sometimes, you can try any/all of these methods and the baby will continue to bite. Be consistent and eventually, the biting will stop. Know that this change in nursing is temporary and it is not necessary to wean when a baby’s teeth begin to erupt.

If you have any ideas that would be helpful for other nursing mothers to know with regard to nursing and biting, please feel free to share those ideas with us!

Do Fatty, Processed Foods Lower Children’s IQ?

11 Feb

From abcnews.go.com, an article about how children’s diet impacts not just their bodies, but their brains.  Click here to read it.

FAQs about Breastfeeding

15 Dec

If your mother breastfed you, you’re lucky in more ways than one.  Not only would that have increased your IQ by a few points, but you’d be less likely to be obese, you would be less susceptible to allergies, and you would be less likely to have certain forms of cancer.

If your mother breastfed you, you may have the added benefit of her support, education, & advice.  My mother did not, in fact, breastfeed my siblings and me, so when I got pregnant with my first baby, I knew I needed to find information/support somewhere.  I found the information and support I needed in my local La Leche League group.

I was able to observe other mothers nursing (for the first time), get my questions answered, and get to know the leaders.  I am glad I did too, because I ended up having a myriad of issues with breastfeeding my first.  As a result, one of the leaders came to the hospital (after the lactation consultant was nowhere to be found, despite my begs and pleads with other hospital staff) and helped me.  La Leche League offers a wealth of information on breastfeeding and support.

This Guide was put together recently, to answer a few really important and frequently asked questions.  Please feel free to pass it along to anyone you know who is pregnant and/or interested in more information about breastfeeding!

To view the Guide, click the picture above or click here.

Feeding Baby

1 Dec

My baby boy is six months old this week!  It’s hard to believe that much time has gone by since giving birth!  He is developing at a rapid rate these days!  He is sitting, rolling both ways, beginning to talk, and developing a wonderfully joyful personality!  What comes next?  Solid foods!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are breastfed exclusively for at least the first six months.  Well, we’ve met that mark; now baby is showing signs of readiness including: being able to sit independently, reaching out and grabbing for food & beverages, and loss of tongue reflex. (Instinctively, babies younger than six months will push things out of their mouth- to prevent choking- which is the tongue reflex.)

Many doctors will say that babies are ready for solids as early as four months; however, research shows otherwise.  According to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, there are at least two positive reasons for waiting to start a breastfed baby on solids:

“First, you want to maintain your milk supply, and the more solids the baby takes, the less milk he will want; the less he takes from the breast, the less milk there will be.”  (p.224)

“The second reason for waiting is that the younger the baby, the more likely it is that any foods other than mother’s milk will cause food allergies,”  (p.224)

Many physicians will tell parents to start the baby on rice cereal; however, rice is very difficult for a baby younger than about 10 to 12 months of age.  I’ve been told by a trusted IBCLC (lactation consultant) that if a parent insists on starting with a grain, that oats are preferable to rice.

With my first baby, I conceded to everything the doctor told me; then, certain things starting not “feeling” right.  Going with my instincts, I did more research the second time around and I’m certainly glad I did.  With all of the problems with processed foods, I have been preparing and making my own baby food for a few years now.  Sound complicated?  It’s really not.  If you know how to boil or steam food and how to turn a food processor on, you can do it in the comfort of your own home!

Making your own baby food is healthy.  You can purchase organic whole foods and know that your baby will not be ingesting any harmful pesticides, chemicals, or other artificial ingredients including preservatives.  Or even better, you can grow the fruits/vegetables yourself!

Even though organic food is more expensive, if you are making your own baby food, it’s actually cheaper than purchasing jarred baby food in most cases.  I got a coupon for a free bag of organic baby carrots from Kroger, so that’s what I decided to start with.  (Also, some doctors will tell you to avoid meats and start with vegetables, when really it doesn’t matter as long as you avoid the foods that trigger allergies – for at least the first year, sometimes longer if you have a family history of food allergies.)

I had a friend ask me once if you could somehow contaminate the food you’re preparing.  Her impression was that store bought baby food was somehow “safer”.  To that, I replied, prepare it as though you’d prepare a meal for yourself and there is no more risk of contamination.  For example, wash your hands, make sure you use clean utensils/cutting board, be careful not to cross-contaminate if you’re preparing more than one thing at a time, make sure you store the food properly, etc.

Preparing food at home means that you can tailor it to your baby.  You can expose your children to food from your culture.  You can provide them with a wide array of colors and textures, not to mention flavors!

Like I mentioned before, I decided to start with carrots, because I got the free coupon.  I got a bag of the organic baby carrots and boiled them in a pot for about 20 minutes, until they were soft and could easily be penetrated with a fork.  Once they were ready, I drained the water from the pot and poured the carrots into a food processor.  The one I have is a Cuisinart, with two speeds – “chop” and “grind”.  (You don’t need anything fancy or expensive.  It’s definitely something you could probably find pretty cheap at a garage sale or even Craig’s List.  Or, for an older baby, you could simply use a fork to mash up the table food.)

I ground the carrots until they were completely smooth.  I then hand expressed some of my breast milk and added several ounces, until I had a smooth puree.  If you don’t want to use breast milk, you can always add filtered water.  I then spooned a dollop of the carrots into ice cube trays.  I was able to get 24 servings from that one bag of carrots.  If I had paid for those carrots by purchasing bottles of baby food, it would have cost me just under $24, when the cost of an organic bag of baby carrots is $3.

I then froze the ice cube trays until the food was solid.  You can then put the individual cubes into Ziplock freezer bags and store them that way as well.  To thaw, I leave them out for a few minutes before dinner or run the baggie under warm water.

Keep in mind that when you first introduce your baby to solids, if you are nursing, you should nurse first, the try the solids.  It’s a good idea to go slowly and if your baby turns their head away, or pushes the food out, give it a few weeks and try again.  With my first daughter, she was about ten months old before I could really get her to eat solid foods.

Also, it is a good idea to wait 7 days between each new food introduced.  That way, if your baby develops a rash or sore bottom, you will have a good idea of which food caused the reaction.  And when babies first begin to eat, a teaspoon is a good sized serving!  Gradually, they will be able to eat more.

I decided to start my baby this week as he is turning 6 months, because I see that he is ready.  Remember that you are the best gauge for your baby.  You know your baby better than anyone else does, so don’t feel pressured by what anyone else says.  My baby had mixed feelings on the carrots.  I could tell he liked the idea of sitting in his booster seat and eating food (like the big kids), but I’m not sure he actually liked the food!  He ate it, and did not spit it out, but he made some pretty funny faces!  I will try again tonight and see how it goes from there!

Bon Appetit!

Tricks & Treats of Breastfeeding

20 Oct

This is a favorite topic for October breastfeeding meetings.  The following tricks and treats are especially helpful to new moms!

Treat: Getting the maximum amount of sleep possible while still meeting your baby’s needs at night.

Trick: Keeping your baby as close to you as possible at night, perhaps even co-sleeping.

Treat: Being able to breastfeed in public comfortably and discreetly.

Trick: Having a wardrobe of clothes that can be easily lifted from the bottom to nurse, or special nursing clothes with hidden openings.

Treat: Being confident about how much milk your baby is getting.

Trick: Counting wet diapers (at least 6 to 8 in a 24 hour period) and baby’s bowel movements (at least 1 to 2 daily in the early weeks).

Treat: Avoiding nipple soreness or pain.

Trick: Making sure your baby is latched on properly, breaking suction to correct latch if necessary; making sure your baby opens wide enough so that your nipple reaches the rear of his/her mouth; making sure your baby’s tongue is below the nipple and forward in his/her mouth when he/she latches on; and ensure your baby’s chin is touching the breast.

Treat: Avoiding the discomforts of engorgement.

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