Posts Tagged "breastfeeding"

A Breast Field-Trip

Posted by on Jul 6, 2015

A Breast Field-Trip

Many changes occur in a woman’s breasts during her pregnancy and after the baby is born. When new mothers come to me with breastfeeding difficulties, and I ask them if their nipples are “cracked”, they sometimes are not sure. “I don’t know what my nipples looked like before the baby started to suck on them. Do they look normal now?” To get a sense of what equipment you are starting out with on your breastfeeding journey, it might be a good idea for you to go on a “Breast Field Trip” at the end of pregnancy. (Please note: If you have concerns about your breast health, or if you have had breast surgery, some of this may not be relevant to you. Please see your doctor or midwife and consider setting up a prenatal appointment with a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to prepare for any challenges you may encounter when breastfeeding your baby.) 1. Take your top and bra off and stand in front of a mirror with good lighting. 2. Look at your breasts. You may notice: • Your breasts are bigger than before you got pregnant. Most of the glandular tissue you need to make milk grows during pregnancy. And all the little ducts that are needed to transport the milk grow then too. Some breasts grow a lot, and some grow only a little, but they almost all grow some. • One breast is larger that the other. As breasts grow, the difference in size between them (and there is almost always a difference in size) becomes more apparent. • Your breasts are not symmetrical. One nipple may be lower than the other. One may point more to the left, or more to the right. Knowing that your breasts are not symmetrical may help you figure out how to position your baby at the breast. 3. Look at your nipples. You may notice: • Your areola (pink or brown part of the breast around the nipple) has become bigger and darker. • You may have more visible or darker bumps on the areola. These are sometimes called “Montgomery’s tubercles” but they are more descriptively called sebaceous glands of the areola. They secrete an oily substance that keeps the nipple and areola supple and smells attractive for the baby. The smell helps the baby find the nipple. • Your nipples may be bigger and darker than before. They may stick out more. The skin may be crinkly (the anatomical term for the crinkles is “rugae”) (These crinkles are not “cracks.” When a baby attaches to the breast too shallowly, and the nipple get pinched, a blood blister may form and then a wound may develop. That is what people mean when they talk about “cracked nipples.”) • Your nipples may only stick out if they are touched, massaged or get cold. If that is the case, you may have “flat nipples.” • If your nipples retreat when you compress the areola, you may have “inverted nipples.” This is...

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How to get more sleep for mothers – Part 1

Posted by on May 19, 2014

Sleep. Once the baby has been born and feeding is going well, sleep becomes the primary issue for new parents. It’s understandable. Sleep is one of our basic needs. If we don’t sleep enough, we can’t function. New parents who are woken many time every night to feed and comfort a baby quickly become exhausted and that exhaustion contributes to post-partum depression and anxiety. And mothers, usually (but not always) the primary parent, believe that the only way they can get more sleep themselves, is to fix their baby’s sleep. They believe that if they are sleep-deprived it’s their own fault because they have given their baby “bad habits.” Perhaps they have nursed their babies to sleep, or rocked them to sleep, or held them while they slept, or, horror of horrors, taken their babies to bed with them! (I’ll talk another time about why the above “bad habits” are perfectly good strategies for caring for a small baby. But for now, let’s explore the issue of getting more sleep for mothers.) It takes a long time to “fix” baby sleep patterns. Many babies do not sleep long stretches until they are 6 months or a year. Some don’t sleep well until they are two or three years old. Some parents make the choice to sleep train, but even that does not always work and is not recommended for at least three to six months. And many parents feel that sleep training is too harsh for their children. So what is to be done? Sleep experts recommend setting up good sleep habits and bed-time rituals. Attachment parenting proponents recommend co-sleeping and bed-sharing. All of these can work. But they take time, and desperate parents wonder “When will my baby sleep?” The answer is, no one knows. Maybe the answer is, when you have babies and small children, you just can’t sleep the way you expected to until now. You are just not going to get 7-8 hours of undisturbed sleep every night. So how are you, as a family, going to manage this problem? Because this is a problem for the whole family. It’s not just the mother’s problem. Very often, the mothers who come to my baby groups tell me that they can’t ask their partner to share in the night-time parenting because “He has to work in the morning.” It makes me wonder what the mother does all day – is that not work too? Yes, she can sleep in a bit or take a nap during the day, but that doesn’t get her a long stretch of sleep. Sometimes, the lack of sleep for mom is blamed on the fact that she breastfeeds. I sometimes think, in my more grumpy moods, that breastfeeding is a great excuse for fathers or other parents to abdicate. “All the baby wants is the breast. I can’t feed the baby so I can’t comfort him. I can’t do anything for him at night, so I may as well sleep.” Really?...

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Every Drop of Breastmilk Possible

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014

The extra drop baby gets when the nurse or the midwife helps Mom to latch the baby on just one more time before she goes home. The extra drop baby gets from the extra five minutes Mom waits before putting baby back in her bassinet at 2am. The extra drop baby gets because a woman a hundred miles away donated her milk to the milk bank. The extra drop baby gets because Dad brings Mom a sandwich while she sits on the couch and feeds the baby. The extra drop baby gets because the breastfeeding educator made a house call on a Sunday. The extra drop baby gets because Grandma takes Mom out for lunch – with the baby. The extra drop baby gets because Mom and Dad decide to delay introducing solids until 6 months. The extra drop baby gets because Mom keeps on giving that 3am feed when the neighbours are asking “Isn’t he sleeping through the night yet?” The extra drop baby gets because Mom spends her lunch hour at the daycare centre, nursing the baby. The extra drop baby gets because Mom pumps while she is away at her high school reunion. The extra drop baby gets because Mom and Dad know the breast is a great way to calm a two-year-old’s tantrum. The extra drop baby gets when the big sister decides she’s not a baby anymore and the nummies can be just for the little brother. Each of these drops is a priceless gift the Mother has it in her power to give and the rest of us have it in our power to support – for as long as she...

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How to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby

Posted by on Feb 10, 2014

Let me start with a disclaimer. Not all babies need to have bottles. Babies who are doing well at the breast, and whose mothers are available and happy to provide the breast whenever the baby needs it, these babies do not need bottles. Not all mothers want to or need to spend time away from their babies. And some babies are peaceful and happy between feeds and can go 2-3 hours in the cuddly arms of the other parent or a grandparent while mom goes for a swim or a walk, or sings in her choir. But some babies and mothers need bottles. Some mothers need time away from their babies, for their physical, emotional, financial or professional health. These babies need bottles. And the mothers, having followed the best advice from breastfeeding experts which is to offer only the breast for the first six weeks, sometimes find themselves at 6, or 8 or 12 weeks, trying to get a very breast-imprinted and irritated baby to take a bottle. When babies are very new, in the first 4-6 weeks, they will suck on almost anything. A bottle nipple, or a breast, or a finger, or a pacifier, are all relatively easy for them to learn to use. But by 6-8 weeks, babies move on to using their mouths more for exploring and gumming and chewing. So when an 8-week-old baby is presented with a bottle nipple, that behaves in no way like a breast, the baby gets frustrated. Here is this thing in her mouth, it smells like milk, she can taste a little milk leaking out, but she can’t get it to work! Often, parents are given the advice to try the bottle with the baby when she is hungry, and that makes her even more irritated. And then Dad is holding her in his arms, in a position similar to the one in which she gets the breast, and instead she gets this hard rubbery thing which doesn’t work! So the baby howls, and the Dad or Other-Mother or Grandmother or Aunt feels very rejected indeed. So much for bonding with the baby by giving her a bottle! Very often, parents will try many, many different sorts of bottle and nipples, trying for the one which the baby will “like.”  They often ask me what nipple I recommend. My hunch is that no matter what nipples they try, no matter what the order they try them in, the baby will finally take the sixth or seventh one they try. It’s not that they have finally found the right nipple, but that the baby got some practice. So based on my basic knowledge of how to teach skills to children, and on some ideas I have gathered from clever, patient parents who have done this recently, here is the method I suggest. These instructions are intended for the Dad or other parent  – not the breastfeeding mom. This is a skill the baby needs to learn to do with...

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