Tag Archives: nursing

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:


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!

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.

Nighttime Parenting

9 Dec

I started to write this blog as sleep has evaded me for several nights in a row.  I’m not sick.  I don’t have insomnia.  I have a baby.  What is that old saying, “sleep like a baby”?!!  I don’t know about anyone else, but none of my kids have been good sleepers from the get go.  I don’t want to “sleep like [my] baby,” he’s completely restless, kicks all night, and wakes frequently to nurse!

Lack of sleep can make you do very strange things; crazy even.  I walk into a room and stand there, staring at a fixed object, knowing I had a purpose for entering, I just….can’t…figure…..out…..what….it….was!!  I go through my day in a hypnotic state.  Don’t even ask me to remember a date, not a birthday, not an anniversary!  My short term memory is a thing of the past! (I am SO glad I went straight to graduate school after college, I joke that I might not even be able to attain a Master’s Degree again at this point!)

I thought that bed sharing would be a great solution, but it hasn’t been for me.  My husband can’t sleep with a baby in the bed.  He says the baby snores too loudly and is too restless.  So, when I share a bed with the baby, we all play musical beds.  The girls bunk up, my husband is alone in our bed, and the baby and I share one of my daughter’s beds. (And this is only the most recent compromise….I’ve been all over the place, my daughter’s bottom bunk, a mattress on the floor in the baby’s room).

I find that for me, there have been several positive things about bed sharing.  I get to sleep (even if in short little spurts), when I otherwise wouldn’t.  When the baby is sick, cutting a tooth, or growing, I can nurse every thirty minutes if needed and not have to get up.  The downside for me has been the baby’s restless nature.  He wakes frequently, although does not always want to nurse.  He goes right back to sleep, but I am left lying awake for hours.  He kicks and flails his arms.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve woken in the wee hours of the night after receiving a sucker punch to the face! Talk about a rude awakening!

So, back to the crib the baby goes.  I recently had a visit with the pediatrician who advised the two main ways to get baby into the crib: something similar to the No Cry Sleep Solutions, in which the parent makes sure the baby is fed and not in need of anything, then touches the baby in the crib.  Day by day, the parent gets farther and farther away from the baby, and then eventually moves out the door.  The second way is the Ferber Method (invented by Dr. Richard Ferber) which in a nutshell is allowing the baby to self soothe by crying him/herself to sleep.

I literally get negative physical symptoms when my baby cries and therefore cannot even think about attempting the Ferber Method.  So, we’re in the midst of the other.  So far, with the support of my husband, it has not been too bad.  The first night we tried, my husband and I stood in front of the crib and patted the baby; we just didn’t pick him up.  He fussed, but didn’t cry.  He did wake up every thirty minutes to an hour though.  By two in the morning I was begging my husband to just let me bring the baby into our bed.  Fortunately, my husband was solid and encouraged me, and after the disagreement I relented and we continued on our mission.

Each night it has gotten a little easier and we are all sleeping a little better (I think).  It’s bittersweet.  While I’m sad I don’t have my little snuggle bug to cuddle with all night, the fact that I am getting a few hours of sleep consecutive is making me a better mother to all of my children during the day!  My husband is happy.  I am happy.  And the baby is perfectly fine and happy too!  The fog in my head is beginning to clear.

The baby still gets up to nurse during the night, just not as often.  I continue to enjoy that special time with him, and we get plenty of snuggles in!  He has more space to toss, turn, and stretch out as he needs to.  Nighttime parenting can easily be more difficult than daytime parenting.  I’m just glad I have the support I needed in the form of other mothers who nurse their babies and have gone through similar struggles (La Leche League meetings or playgroups are a great way to meet some of these moms) a pediatrician who reminded me that choosing to sleep separate from my baby does not make me a bad mother, and a husband who can tolerate me even in the early morning hours, when I’ve had no sleep, and become completely maniacal!

For more on the No Cry Sleep Solution, please see: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth/books/0071381392.php

I find that Dr. Sears has a lot of helpful information about nighttime parenting issues on his website too: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070100.asp

And La Leche League has a wealth of information on the subject as well: http://www.llli.org/NB/NBsleep.html

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.

Continue reading

Roundtable Discussion – Bed Sharing with Your Infant

18 Oct

When my kids were infants, I never slept with either of them.  Not once.  When they needed to nurse in the middle of the night, I would get them out of their crib, sit straight up, and turn on the TV (thank goodness for tivo!) to make sure I was wide awake.

At that time, I had never read any statistics on bed sharing or cosleeping that turned me off to the idea – I just felt like I couldn’t “trust” myself with caring for my babies if I was asleep.  Would I roll over on them?  Would I accidentally toss a blanket over their face?  I was basically so paranoid, I couldn’t have slept with them if I tried.

My husband and I also worried that if our kids slept with us as infants, they would never be able to sleep in their own beds.  We had panicked visions of never being alone together for the next 18 years – at least, not without a fight that would torment everyone in the household.

But I know that bed sharing is not uncommon among moms of infants.  Most who do it say that babies sleep much better with mom or dad next to them, and nursing is a breeze – you could sleep right through it!  For sleep-deprived parents, allowing your baby to fall asleep with you may be the answer to your prayers.

While some doctors advocate the “family bed,” many organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, have sounded the alarm against the practice of bed sharing.  I know I’ve heard several news stories about babies being suffocated while sleeping in the same bed with their mothers (though most of those cases involved the adult being intoxicated).

Now that my kids are both preschool age, they have started crawling into bed with my husband and me in the middle of the night.  And we love it, because we’re no longer worried about their safety during the night.

What are your thoughts about bed sharing?  Have you done it yourself?  We’d love to hear about your experiences.

And please, let’s keep our comments informative and not judgmental!

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