Breastfeeding can be difficult enough for many moms, but some aspects of the holiday season can make things even more so if she isn’t prepared for them – such as her body’s ability to produce breastmilk. Here are several things to keep a keen eye out for (while you’re watching for Kris Kringle of course), that can impact a mom’s milk supply:
As the holidays fill our homes and our lives, many new breastfeeding moms everywhere are probably asking – can I drink and breastfeed my baby?
Alcohol and breastfeeding have often been seen as oil and water – the two just do not mix. Women for years have been told to “pump and dump” any breastmilk after Continue reading
In the US, 41.1% of women of childbearing age (over the age of 20) are obese.
Women who are overweight or obese want the best for themselves and their children as much as any woman; and a good many women of childbearing age are considering bariatric surgery to help. Statistics report that Continue reading
The first breastfeeding of a newborn is often a magical, yet confusing experience for a new mom.
If you are considering breastfeeding your baby, I love that you have stumbled across this blog post. As a doula and breastfeeding counselor, I want to share some of these little understood facts about newborns and their first breastfeeding that have greatly helped prepare my clients. The more moms know, the better they are able to set realistic expectations and set themselves up for success as a nursing mom.
The Golden Hour is key. When helping my clients with planning their birth care preferences, I am quick to point out the value and importance of the “Golden Hour,” especially if they plan to breastfeed. This refers to the first hour after birth, when mom and baby are kept skin-to-skin immediately after birth. This contact with baby is what helps baby recover, normalize baby’s temperature and blood sugar levels, and triggers his instincts to search for the breast and feed for the first time. Having baby at the breast within an hour of birth increases a mom and baby dyad’s success in fully breastfeeding.
Baby’s instincts are strong! After resting on their mother’s abdomen for about an hour recovering from the birth process, babies start to show the first signs of hunger. At most of the births I’ve been to, either moms or nurses work to get baby to the breast, and mechanically latch baby themselves. I feel that so many of my clients miss out on one of the most amazing experiences, which is the instinctual “breast crawl” almost all healthy babies will do. A newborn, if allowed to his or her own devices, will crawl toward mom’s breast within the first hour and usually latch themselves – drawn by the scent of mom’s nipples that remind them of the smell of amniotic fluid. Nature is incredible.
But it’s still a learning process. I often hear from moms that they thought breastfeeding was supposed to be instinctual and “natural,” and are blindsided by the learning curve. Both you and your baby may take a a few days (or more!) to learn to nurse. While many babies may find the nipple and nurse like a champ, many babies take time to coordinate their suck and swallow reflexes. Moms also need time to find positions that work for both her and her baby’s feeding style and preferences. But stick with it, you’re both learning and trust that baby’s strong instincts will prevail.
Colostrum is enough. Your body has been manufacturing colostrum since the second trimester, and is ready immediately for baby upon birth. A newborn baby only needs about 1 oz of colostrum, or early infant milk, each day for the first few days. That means no more than a teaspoon or two at each feeding!
Fullness doesn’t indicate milk production. Many times when women don’t feel their mature milk come in “right away” after birth or that their breasts don’t feel “full,” they think that they are not making enough milk and immediately resort to formula supplementation. Soft breasts postpartum are actually normal and perfectly okay! Engorgement, when a woman’s breasts feel painfully full, is actually a sign of poor milk transference to baby. And the harder or fuller a woman’s breasts are, the more difficult it is for baby to latch on. This can compound the problem. Difficulty latching baby can also happen if a mom has had IV fluids through labor, and is retaining a lot of fluids in her breast tissue. But the longer this goes on, the more a woman’s body will start to reduce milk supply. Breastfeeding or expressing milk “early and often” in those first few days and weeks of life are what help alleviate that state of fullness, protect milk supply and keep mom’s breasts soft, and comfortably latchable.
You may not feel your milk let down. While some moms may feel a tingling sensation as their milk lets down to their nursing baby, it can be disconcerting to new moms when they don’t feel anything. Trust that as long as your baby is gaining weight, has the right amount of poopy diapers and is showing signs of satiety after every feeding, baby is getting everything he needs.
To pump or not to pump? Often my pregnant clients ask about pumping breastmilk and assume they need to start pumping right out of the gate after baby is born. It’s actually not necessary for most moms! Unless mom and baby are separated for any reason, such as baby is in the NICU or mom is sick, pumping is not needed. Note: For NICU babies, especially, it is recommended moms start pumping within 3 hours of birth. Keeping your healthy, happy baby skin-to-skin and nursing often is the best and easiest way to encourage mature milk to come in. Nipple stimulation is key, here. If a mom is pumping and baby is latching and nursing well, she could end up with more milk than she needs. That could could lead to engorgement and a risk of mastitis. So be careful! But if a mom is experiencing engorgement because baby is not latching well, she should make an appointment see an IBCLC to assess the latch, and start pumping or hand expressing in the meantime. Pumping every two hours for about 10 minutes protects milk supply and of course, feeds the baby.
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Okay, I’m going to address the elephant in the room: Hi, I’m Lindsey, I am a doula and breastfeeding counselor and I have not given birth. I am not a mother. I am childless.
*Awaits the anticipated collective gasp* Continue reading
Here we are in the dead of winter, and I want to talk about the importance of Vitamin D during your pregnancy.
Vitamin D is an essential chemical that in adults facilitates the absorption of bone and muscle strengthening ingredients like phosphorous and calcium. It’s also necessary for helping your baby grow healthy teeth and bones, as well. Vitamin D is also associated with lowering inflammation and risk of infection by bolstering the immune system for mom. It supports thyroid health, as well as nerve health that supports our brain’s ability to communicate with our body. Vitamin D has even been linked with cancer prevention, lowering blood pressure and risk of preeclampsia, preterm birth, and even reducing insulin resistance/risk of gestational diabetes.
It’s an amazing micronutrient!
Vitamin D is made in our skin through sun exposure or through certain foods such as mushrooms (grown under UV light), fish and fish oils (tuna, mackerel and salmon), animal livers/liver oils, and eggs, or fortified products like cereals, orange juice, soy and dairy products. Those unable to get enough Vitamin D from either of these methods may take supplements (specifically Vitamin D3 / cholecalciferol).
Sure it’s harder to avoid making Vitamin D living here in Arizona in the winter with 299 days of sunshine each year. Studies have shown, though, that about 10 percent of the American population (especially in higher latitudes) is deficient in this important vitamin (which is recommended at 800-1,000 IU/day) due to the long winter months spent indoors.
And for pregnant women, that need is higher than the average population with a daily recommendation of 4,000 IU. Some studies have even shown intake of 10,000 IUs to be beneficial.
While it’s impossible to “overdose” on Vitamin D from sunlight, care is needed when supplementing. Consult your primary care provider or dietitian before supplementing, though, of course. And take supplements as prescribed or recommended on the packaging.
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I went a little hog wild picking out some new magazines to read this month, but one I especially look forward to is my Food and Nutrition Magazine. I am also super excited to share a finding it published that relates breastfeeding and positive outcomes to lower risk of eating disorders in children. Continue reading
One of the saddest misconceptions of doula support today is that it’s a service only available for the well-to-do. This frustrates birthworkers like me, because we are so passionate about our work and that everyone deserves to have our services.
So here are some tips to try when looking for a doula to accompany you through your next journey to parenthood:
- Ask if your doula/doula agency has a payment plan
- Or, if your doula has a sliding fee scale based on income
- If you can’t afford most full-fee doulas, ask the certifying agencies such as DONA, CAPPA, or ProDoula for local contacts that may have names of recently trained doulas working toward their certifications. These doulas usually charge much less as they learn the trade, and are a wonderful low-fee option
- Check if your flex saving account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) covers the purchase of doula support (some do!)
- Have an online baby registry? Try listing doula support on it!
- Ask if your doula offers gift certificates, should a friend or family member be able to gift his or her services to you
Looking to inquire about doula services?
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Let’s work together to make doula support possible for you.
Essential oils are a fantastic addition to any labor or birth support kit for a doula. From helping a birthing person to relax and release, or to give a tired birthing person the kick they need to keep up the work, they can do amazing things.