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May 31, 2017

Bras to Breast Pumps: What do you really need for breastfeeding?

There are many products on the market for breastfeeding women. In this post, we will help you wade through the available accessories and give you guidance on what you will need to purchase.

If your budget is tight, we have good news! There is nothing essential that you MUST purchase. All you truly need for breastfeeding is a mom and a baby.

Here is our take on 7 commonly purchased products:

 

  1. Nursing bra

Nursing bras are very convenient but they are not an essential for breastfeeding. If your budget is tight, you can wear a regular bra. Simply unfasten and lift the cup for feeds.

If you plan to buy a nursing bra, we would suggest waiting until you are at least 36 weeks pregnant to better judge what size you will need. In the first few days after birth, your breasts will become larger as they fill with milk. This increase in size is temporary. Your breasts gradually adjust to the amount of milk your baby is taking. By 2 or 3 weeks after birth, your breast size will likely be close to the size at the end of your pregnancy.

Underwire nursing bras are not recommended for breastfeeding women. Pressure from the wire can prevent some of the milk ducts from emptying, increasing your risk for a breast infection.

 

  1. Nursing Pads

Nursing pads are pieces of absorbent material you can wear in your bra to soak up leaking breast milk. They help to keep your shirt from getting wet. There are both reusable and disposable breast pads available for purchase.

Some breastfeeding mothers will leak milk for a few days, others will leak for many weeks. Still others will leak very little or not at all. (Note: You can still have a great milk supply even if you do not leak.) Because you don’t know how many nursing pads you will need, we would suggest you limit the number of pads you purchase prenatally. You can always pick up more once baby arrives.

 

  1. Breast pump

There are many different breast pumps on the market. At prenatal breastfeeding classes, we are often asked what type to purchase. It is important to know that a breast pump is not a nursing essential. Maternity leaves vary in length and every family’s situation is different.

Even if you have to return to work soon after your baby’s birth, hand expression is a great option for your to explore. It is low cost, always available and for many moms, more effective than a pump.

If you are more comfortable using an electric breast pump, beware of purchasing used. Pumps designed for single use have an “open system”; there is potential for milk to accidentally enter the pump mechanism. Research has shown that some viruses and bacteria can be transmitted through breast milk. There is no way to disinfect these pumps between users, even if your purchase a new kit and tubing.

Note: Hospital-grade pumps available for rent are designed with a “closed system”. With a new kit and tubing, more than one woman can safely use them.

To learn more about breast pumps, read this post.

 

  1. Breastfeeding pillow

A breastfeeding pillow can be convenient when you are learning to breastfeed, but it is certainly not a necessity. Many women choose to use bedroom pillows instead.

If you plan to purchase a breastfeeding pillow, remember that all bodies are shaped differently. You may need to shop around for one that best fits your post-baby body. Women who are long-waisted may need a thicker pillow than those who are short-waisted or have larger breasts.


Learn more about why breastfeeding is important in our FREE 3 lesson video course. Download it here.


 

  1. Nipple cream

Nipple creams are popular but recent research has shown that they are not effective and may even delay nipple healing! A recent study tested lanolin-based nipple cream along with 3 other products. They found that rubbing a few drops of breast milk onto your nipples (or using nothing at all!) was more beneficial than using a cream.

A second piece of good news from this study was that no matter what treatment was used, most nipple pain was reduced to a mild level by the time baby was 7 to 10 days old.

 

  1. Nursing cover

Nursing covers are popular and may be something you are considering for purchase. Before you do, we want you to know that you have the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, without covering up. Have a look at the billboards and magazine ads around you. You will see more flesh exposed than you would ever see with a woman nursing her baby.

Some mothers, however, tell us that a nursing cover made them feel more confident breastfeeding in public when they were first learning. If this is the case for you, go for it. But feel free to discard it once you are able to latch your baby with ease.

 

  1. Formula samples

If you are planning to breastfeed, we would not recommend purchasing formula to have on hand. Research has shown that breastfeeding women who do not have formula in the house are more likely to reach their breastfeeding goals.

If you receive formula samples in the mail, consider donating them to your local food bank before your baby arrives. This will help you avoid the temptation to give formula unnecessarily during a long or fussy night.

 

Learn more about preparing to breastfeed in these posts: Preparing to Breastfeed during Pregnancy and How to Prepare to Breastfeed When you Have Inverted Nipples.

 

**If you’d like to learn even more, sign up for our Prenatal Breastfeeding Class.**


 

thumbnail cindy and jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.


 

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April 14, 2017

Breastfeeding – Getting Started

 A great start to breastfeeding begins during pregnancy. Knowing what is normal can help to smooth out some of the bumps you may encounter.

If your baby has not yet arrived, start by downloading our free ebook: 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding. Download it here.

Baby’s first 24 hours

Once baby arrives, snuggle in close skin to skin contact for at least an hour after birth if possible.

Breastfeeding can take a bit of practice. Both you and baby will be recovering from birth. Babies are often in a quiet alert state for the first hour after birth. This is a great time for a first feeding attempt.

Once baby latches, try to limit distractions. This is a special time and you have waited a long time for this first introduction! Most procedures, such as a baby bath, can wait.

The colostrum your baby receives in early breastfeeding is important for baby and has been referred to as “baby’s first immunization!”

After the first quiet alert stage, your newborn will enter a state of deep sleep and will be difficult to wake to feed. This may be a better time for mom and baby to get some rest. When baby wakes from this deep sleep, try breastfeeding again.

Rooming in is important as you start to learn your newborn’s feeding cues. Cues your baby may be ready to feed include:

  • stirring and stretching
  • turning the head with an open mouth (“rooting”)
  • bringing hands to his mouth
  • making sucking motions

Crying is a late sign of hunger. If your newborn is already crying, try to calm baby prior to offering the breast by holding close, talking quietly, or rocking gently.

If your baby has not latched by 6 hours of age, hand expression will stimulate your body to begin the milk production process. Drops of colostrum expressed can be fed to baby on a spoon.

Be patient. Most babies will eventually latch to the breast. It sometimes can take a bit of patience and practice!

24-48 hours after birth (Day 1-2)

During this stage you can expect your baby to have at least one wet and one dirty diaper. Baby will be passing black sticky stool called meconium (see photo here). You should start hearing the occasional swallow at the breast, a soft “cah” sound.

It is normal for nipples to feel “tender” as you get used to breastfeeding. If you would describe your nipples as “sore” or if you find yourself curling your toes with pain, please ask for help! The earlier you get help, the better for both you and baby.

48-72 hours after birth (Day 2-3)

adorable-22040_640On Day 2, baby’s feeding pattern changes and you may start to wonder if you have enough milk. Baby will want to be at the breast frequently, sometimes still rooting or chewing on hands after feeds. This may be tiring for you as you may feel like all you are doing is breastfeeding!

It is important to try to sleep when the baby does as baby may only have one longer stretch of sleep in 24 hours. The frequent feeding at this stage is a signal to your body to make more milk. When you express a drop of milk you may notice a change from the golden colostrum color to a whiter, watery appearance.

You may start to notice your breasts feeling heavier. As the breasts get heavier, your baby will begin to swallow more frequently during feeds. After a feed your baby will be content and relaxed and go to sleep. Your baby’s stools will enter the “transitional” stage (see photos here). You may notice a pinky orangy color resembling brick dust in the baby’s urine (see a photo here). It is normal at this stage. The urine should become colorless and free of brick dust in the next few days.

Day 3-5

During this time, your breasts may feel overly full and tender. This is normal. Your breasts will adjust to the amount your baby needs over the next few days. A few minutes of massage and warm compresses prior to feeding may help the milk to flow. Cool compresses after the feed may help with swelling.

If the areola (the brown area around the nipple) is too firm you may find your baby slips off the breast with latching attempts. Try moving the swelling away from the nipple and areola with counter pressure.

You will hear louder and more frequent swallows during this stage. After breastfeeding on the first side, burp baby and offer the second side. Do not be alarmed if your baby is not interested in the second side. Baby’s tummies can hold only a limited amount of milk. One side may be enough.

If your baby wants to eat an hour later, it does not mean that she did not get enough the first time. A full tummy of milk can be digested in 90 minutes or less!

Your baby’s weight will begin to increase. Newborns typically gain about 20-30 grams per day (almost 1 ounce). More than this is not a concern. A breastfed baby can never gain too much!

Baby’s stools will become watery, bright mustard yellow and curdy (see photo here).

If your breasts are heavier, the feeds are comfortable, and your baby is gaining, you are off to a great start! You have worked hard to get to this stage and are probably a bit sleep deprived. Sleep when the baby does, limit company and try to focus on caring for yourself.

If you are struggling with breastfeeding, seek help as soon as possible from a healthcare professional or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Surrounding yourself with other breastfeeding mothers can be invaluable! Ask your community health nurse if there are mother’s groups that she can suggest.


Learn more about why breastfeeding is important in our free video course, Getting Ready to Breastfeed.

Learn even more in our online Simply Breastfeeding course (12 videos that teach you everything you need to know about breastfeeding).


How-To-Get-A-Great-Start-With-Breastfeeding

 

References and More Information:

  1. Average Weight Gain for Breastfed Babies.” KellyMom.com. 11 Apr. 2016. Web.
  2. Bonyata, Kelly. “Breastfeeding your newborn — what to expect in the early weeks.” KellyMom.com. 01 Mar. 2016. Web.
  3. Establishing Your Milk Supply.” lllc.ca, La Leche League Canada, 2010. Web.
  4. Holmes, Allison V., Angela Yerdon McLeod, and Maya Bunik. “ABM Clinical Protocol #5: Peripartum Breastfeeding Management for the Healthy Mother and Infant at Term, Revision 2013.” Breastfeeding Medicine 8.6 (2013): 469-73. Bfmed.org. Web.
  5. Newman, Jack, MD, FRCPC, and Edith Kernerman, IBCLC. “Breastfeeding – Starting Out Right”, 2009. Web.
  6. When will my milk come in?” KellyMom.com. 15 Mar. 2016. Web.
  7. Weight Gain and Knowing Baby Is Getting Enough Milk.” La Leche League Canada. N.p., n.d. Web.

 

Learn more about breastfeeding in these posts:


 

IMG_9687 4

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



 

 

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March 31, 2017

Preparing to Breastfeed during Pregnancy

When you are expecting, it is easy to focus on labor and delivery and forget to prepare for what comes next. You are already ahead of the game by reading this post! Women who prepare before their baby arrives feel significantly more confident and encounter less problems breastfeeding their newborn. Check out our breastfeeding classes here.

Nipple preparation?

Good news! You don’t have to do anything physically to prepare to breastfeed. Your body is already doing the work for you, developing ducts and milk making tissue.

You also don’t need to prepare your nipples for breastfeeding. Years ago, friction with a rough towel was recommended prenatally but it was actually found to do damage.

Women’s nipples come in many different shapes and sizes. A breastfeeding baby latches to the breast, not to the nipple. Unusually shaped nipples are rarely an issue. If you have concerns about the shape of your nipples for breastfeeding, speak to your doctor, your midwife or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

 

Have a birth plan

Limiting medications and interventions during labor and birth (whenever possible) is a great first step in helping your newborn learn to breastfeed.

Talk to your healthcare provider about having your baby skin to skin immediately after birth. (Learn why it is important here.) Breastfeed as soon as possible, ideally within the first hour.

Parents delivering in a hospital have found it helpful to create a card for baby’s bassinet saying: “I am a breastfed baby… no formula or pacifiers please!”

Keep your newborn near you so that you can respond quickly to baby’s earliest hunger cues.

Make a plan for the first 2 weeks after baby’s birth

Breastfeeding is time consuming. Newborns feed often. Both you and your baby will be learning. Having the time and privacy to learn is essential.

New parents frequently tell us they had too much company in baby’s first few weeks. Take some time now to make a plan for handling visitors. We explore this further in video #3 of our free course Getting Ready to Breastfeed. Watch it now and download the PDF worksheet to get started.

Planning ahead will help to save your time and energy for the important task of breastfeeding.

 

Surround yourself with supports

Begin surrounding yourself with other moms who have had positive experiences with breastfeeding. Ask them to be your support team once baby arrives You may want to attend a La Leche League meeting (mother-to-mother support) prenatally.

If you prefer online mom-to-mom support, join our Simply Breastfeeding Moms Facebook group.

 

Arm yourself with good information

There is an overwhelming amount of information available both online and in print. Unfortunately, not all of it is good information supported by evidence.

A great place to start is knowing why breastfeeding is important. Sign up for our free mini breastfeeding course, Getting Ready to Breastfeed. (Note: If you already know the benefits of breastfeeding, skip ahead to video #2 to learn the truth behind some pesky breastfeeding myths.) Register here.

We also have a more detailed 12 video course, Simply Breastfeeding. Check it out here. (Note: you can preview the breastfeeding positions lesson for free. Simply scroll to the bottom of this page.)

 

Do you prefer to learn through books? These are some of our favorites.

5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding a FREE ebook by Cindy Leclerc and Jana Stockham.

Dr Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Dr. Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman. Written in a readable, no nonsense style.

Breastfeeding Made Simple: 7 Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.  How to avoid and overcome breastfeeding challenges.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger. La Leche League’s wonderful guide to breastfeeding.

Learn about normal newborn feeding behavior

Newborns feed often! It is easy to misinterpret frequent feeding as a sign of not enough milk. Feeding 10, 12, 14, 16 times or more a day is not unusual. Learn more by reading our post How often will my Newborn feed?.

 

Equipment for breastfeeding

There are many products on the market for breastfeeding women. Fortunately, all you really need is your breast and the baby!

Here’s our take on 5 common breastfeeding products:

  1. Nursing bras: You do not need a nursing bra to breastfeed. You could simply unfasten a regular bra when you breastfeed. If you chose to buy a nursing bra, wait until you you are at least 36 weeks pregnant to judge the size you will need.
  2. Nursing Pads:  Not all moms leak milk. Those who do may only leak for a short time. Begin with a limited supply of nursing pads and purchase more if you need them.
  3. Breast pumps:  Not every breastfeeding mother needs a breast pump. Many moms find they prefer to hand express for occasional  bottles or to establish a “stash”. To learn more about hand expression, see this post.
  4. Breastfeeding pillows:  Some moms find that a breastfeeding pillow is convenient but it is not necessary. You could use bedroom pillows instead. If you chose to purchase a breastfeeding pillow, remember that all bodies are shaped differently so you may need to shop around for one that best fits your body.
  5. Formula samples:  You do not need to have formula samples “just in case”. Not having formula in the house has been shown to increase breastfeeding success. Be wary of signing up for “free products” as you will often receive formula. If you receive free samples, consider donating them to your local food bank to avoid the temptation of using it during a long or fussy night.

Believe in yourself

A woman’s body is an amazing! Believe in your ability to provide the right food at the right time and at the right temperature for your baby.

Best wishes as you prepare for your breastfeeding journey.

(Banner photo courtesy of Flickr: Frank de Kleine)

Learn more about breastfeeding: Bras to Breast Pumps: What do you really need for breastfeeding? and Positions for Breastfeeding.


thumbnail-cindy-and-janaCindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



 

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February 16, 2017

What Foods Increase Milk Supply?

Lactation cookies… oatmeal…  spinach… salmon… flaxseed… brewer’s yeast… garlic….

These foods have all been suggested to increase milk supply. But do they actually work? If only it was that easy! While trying different foods can have nutritional benefits, there is no evidence that any one food that will increase milk production.

Many women worry they don’t have enough milk. It is the number one reason women stop breastfeeding. Most of the time, they actually do have enough milk. Learn how to know your baby is getting enough in this post.

Normal newborn behaviours, such as frequent feeding, ‘cluster’ feeding and growth spurts can be misinterpreted as having a low milk supply. If extra milk is given by bottle, baby will breastfeed less often. This becomes a downward spiral as breast milk supply relies on baby feeding more frequently during these times, not less frequently.

 

LactationCookiesAndFoodsToIncreaseMilkSupply

 

Breastfeeding your baby often and on demand is the very best way to increase milk supply. Learn other tips for increasing milk supply here.

There is some evidence that herbs, such as fenugreek, blessed thistle or alfalfa can act as a galactogogue (a substance that increases milk supply). Caution is recommended when using any herb, just as you would be careful when taking a medication. Two respected IBCLC’s (breastfeeding specialists) that have written about herbal galactagogues are Kelly Bonyata and Dr. Jack Newman. Read what they have to say here and here.

So go ahead and enjoy whatever foods you have heard may increase your supply, lactation cookies included! While there is no research indicating their effectiveness, it certainly won’t do any harm. But be sure to relax and breastfeed often as well.

 

Related post: Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding and How to Increase Your Supply of Breast Milk.


Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

 



 

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January 24, 2017

How Often will my Newborn Feed?

If you are a new or expectant parent, you are going to hear a lot of conflicting advice about how often to feed your newborn baby.

Never wake a sleeping baby!”

“Your baby must feed at least every 3 hours.”

So what is the right answer? Well, it depends. Babies change quickly over the first couple of weeks. Advice that makes sense for a baby at birth will not be the same as when he is a couple of weeks or older.

In this post, we will walk you through the first couple weeks with your baby, explaining how you can know how often to feed. (Note: This post refers to healthy, full term babies. If your baby was born prematurely or with medical issues, please check with your healthcare provider as your baby may have different needs.)

 

The first 24 hours

In the first hour or two after birth, babies are quiet and alert slowly taking in their new surroundings. They show interest in feeding by sucking on their hands and searching with an open mouth. Being  skin to skin against mom’s bare chest helps baby adjust to the outside world and be ready for the very first breastfeed.

After this first alert time, babies enter a drowsy period that lasts for most of the next 24 hours. They often need to be reminded to feed. If it has been three hours since your baby fed, try gently unwrapping him. Stroke him with your fingers. If these gentle reminders don’t work, usually a diaper change does the trick.

If your baby doesn’t latch, express a drop of milk onto your nipple. This may be entice your baby to lick and taste. Think of it as practicing breastfeeding. (Learn more in this post: When Baby Won’t Latch to the Breast).

 

24 – 48 hours old

Once babies turn 24 hours old, they typically become much more awake. They demand to feed, often! Parents wonder what happened to their content baby and they worry if mom has enough milk.

Baby’s non-stop desire to feed is normal, exactly what we expect for babies of this age. Follow your baby’s cues and feed as frequently as your baby wants. (This could even be every hour!) It may be tempting to use a pacifier but it is best not to. The frequent feeding will signal your body to begin making a larger volume of milk.

This stage is very tiring! You won’t be getting much rest. Limiting your visitors will help you to save your energy for the important job of breastfeeding. We talk about this in more detail in our free ebook 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding. Download a copy here.

 

2 – 4 days old

Around three days after birth, you will begin to feel your breasts becoming heavier. When you express a drop, you will see that it is changing from the golden color of colostrum (the first milk) to a whitish color. Your baby continues to feed often; 10 – 14 times or more a day is not unusual. Baby may sleep for a 3 hour stretch between feeds once or twice a day.

If your baby doesn’t wake to feed at least every 3 hours, go ahead and remind him to eat. Some newborns need reminders to eat in the early days, especially if they are jaundiced or were born prematurely. You won’t have to do this forever.

 

After 10 days

Once your baby is breastfeeding well and has regained his birth weight, you can relax. You no longer need to watch the clock. Simply follow your baby’s feeding cues.

Just when you think you have your baby’s pattern figured out, however, your baby will change again. Suddenly, he may be demanding to feed every hour again. This is referred to as a “frequency day” or “growth spurt”. Growth spurts can occur at any time but are common around 10 days to 2 weeks and again at 1 month old. They generally last only a day or two. The best way to get through these spurts is to feed as just as often as baby wants. Frequent feeding will boost your milk supply to meet baby’s fast growing needs.

There is no one right answer to how often a newborn baby should feed. It can depend on many factors such as your baby’s age, how quickly baby is growing and how well he is breastfeeding. Try not to compare your baby’s feeding pattern to that of other babies. Every baby is unique. In our prenatal breastfeeding classes, we ask parents to recall how often they ate or drank in the last 24 hours. It is fascinating to see how different adults can be (and how often we put something in our mouths). The same is true for babies. If your baby is having enough wet and dirty diapers, is content after feeds and gaining weight well, your baby is feeding on the pattern that is right for him.


Don’t wait until your baby arrives to think about breastfeeding. Download our free ebook: 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.


how-often-will-my-newborn-feed

You can learn more about newborn care in these posts: The Importance of Skin to Skin and 6 Keys to Surviving the First Week Home with Baby.


thumbnail-cindy-and-janaCindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



 

 

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October 22, 2016

How to Breastfeed: Getting a Deep Latch

It can take a bit of practice to get a comfortable latch when you are learning how to breastfeed.

Why latch matters

Baby’s latch is important for 2 reasons:

  • A ‘deep latch’ can help to prevent sore nipples. If your baby is latched ‘shallowly’ he will be mostly sucking on the nipple, compressing it with every suck. This can lead to sore cracked nipples. Ouch! When your baby is well latched, your nipple will be far back in his mouth, preventing compression.
  • A ‘deeply latched’ baby can draw more milk from the breast. Getting more milk will not only help your baby to gain weight but it will also help to ensure you have a plentiful milk supply as your baby grows.

Signs of a good latch

1. Your nipples are comfortable during breastfeeding

A bit of discomfort when baby first latches is not unusual.  Many women describe it as a tugging sensation. Tenderness, however, should ease off quickly once your baby begins to suck. If you feel pain or pinching after the first few sucks, take your baby off the breast. (Be sure to break the suction first by inserting your finger into the corner of baby’s mouth.) Try latching again using the instructions below.

If you continue to have pain despite getting a deep latch seek help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)There could be other factors involved such as a tongue-tie or a yeast infection.
2. Your baby’s chin touches the breast

When latching, tuck your baby in close to your body with his chin touching your breast. This will help him to take in as much breast tissue as possible. Baby’s nose can be touching the breast as babies can breathe from the sides of the nose. If there is dimpling in the baby’s cheeks or a smacking noise during the feed, re-latch baby as these can be signs of a shallow latch.

3. Baby’s lips are curled outward

When baby is latched deeply and has lots of breast tissue in his mouth, his lips will curl outward “like fish lips.” If despite your best efforts, your baby’s top lip doesn’t flange outward and you are having pain, talk to an IBCLC. There can sometimes be restrictive tissue under the lip (called a lip tie).

4. Your nipple is round after feeds

Your nipple should be round after feeding. If your nipple is slanted like a tube of new lipstick or has a white line across it, the latch is not quite right.

Run your tongue along the roof of your mouth from the front to the back. The “junction of the soft palate” is where the roof of the mouth goes from hard to soft. Ideally, your nipple should reach this spot, far back in your baby’s mouth. This will prevent too much pressure on your nipple during feeding.

5. Your baby is gaining weight

To effectively remove milk from the breast, babies need to be latched deeply. If your baby is not gaining weight as quickly as he should, have the latch assessed by someone skilled in assisting with breastfeeding. Sometimes a deeper latch is all it takes!

If a decreased milk supply is part of the problem, how to boost your milk supply.

How to get a deep latch

Being skin to skin helps to encourage your newborn’s natural feeding instincts. Having baby close to the breast helps him learn to feed. The darkening of your areola (the colored area around your nipple) during pregnancy helps your baby to locate your breast.

Some babies can latch themselves to the breast, while others require some gentle guidance.

A lot of mothers like the laid back nursing position. To use this position:IMG_1246-1

  • Find a comfortable place to lean back with lots of pillows for support. You want to be back far enough so that gravity will keep the baby close. The baby can be at any angle that is comfortable, as long as the baby’s chest and tummy is against your chest. (For best success, try this skin to skin rather than with a shirt on as in the photo.)
  • Use your arms to support your baby in whatever way feels most comfortable.
  • Your baby will “bob” around for a bit, using his arms and legs to reposition himself until he latches himself to the nipple.

If your baby needs more help latching, the cross cradle or football positions can work well. They provide extra support for baby.


Click here to watch a video about breastfeeding positions (scroll to the bottom of the page and select the preview lesson).


How to latch baby deeply in the cross cradle or football hold:

  1. Support your baby with your hand between baby’s shoulders, fingers at the base of baby’s head, just behind the ears.
  2. Hold your breast with the other hand, thumb and fingers forming a ‘C’; keep your fingers well back from the nipple.
  3. Baby’s head should be facing forward and not turned over his shoulder.
  4. Position your baby with your nipple across from baby’s nose.
  5. Tickle baby’s upper lip with your nipple.
  6. Baby should respond by opening widely and lifting his chin.
  7. Aim your nipple toward the roof of baby’s mouth.
  8. Baby’s chin should touch the breast first.
  9. Baby’s bottom lip should be further from the base of the nipple than the top lip (not centered in baby’s mouth). Baby’s lips will be curled outward.
  10. Baby’s nose can be touching the breast; baby can breathe from the sides of the nose. (Rest assured, your baby will unlatch if not getting enough air.)

To see step-by-step photos of a baby latching, download the Latch PDF accompanying Lesson 2 in our free online video course Getting Ready to Breastfeed.


Bonus Tips:

  • When you are learning how to breastfeed, keep your baby close. Snuggling skin to skin (baby in just a diaper on your bare chest) will help your baby learn to breastfeed.
  • If your baby needs extra help latching, gently shape or “sandwich” the breast by squeezing your thumb and fingers together with the hand holding the breast. If your thumb is opposite baby’s nose when you squeeze, you will then have the breast in line with baby’s lips.
  • If your baby is crying or upset, cuddle to calm her before trying again.

When to ask for help

  • If you feel pain or an uncomfortable pinching sensation during feeds and it is not improving.
  • If, after feeds, your nipple is flattened (like a tube of new lipstick) or has a white line across the centre.
  • If you have blistered, cracked or bleeding nipples.
  • If your baby is not gaining weight.
  • If your baby is not latching. Learning to latch may take time and practice for both mom and baby. Most babies will latch to the breast eventually. Learn what to do if baby is not latching in this in-depth article.

Want to learn more? We’ve created an online course, Simply Breastfeeding. The12 videos will teach you everything you need to know about breastfeeding to get a comfortable, confident start. Enroll today!
how-to-breastfeed

 

References and More Information:

  1. Ensuring Proper Latch On.HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web.
  2. Latching and Positioning Resources.” KellyMom.com. 04 April 2016. Web
  3. Newman, Jack, MD, FRCPC, and Edith Kernerman, IBCLC. “Latching and Feeding Management” nbci.ca International Breastfeeding Centre, 2009. Web.

Learn more about breastfeeding: Breastfeeding Should Not Hurt and Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?


thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

 



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October 14, 2016

Breastfeeding Tips: 6 Ways to Get the Best Possible Start

Breastfeeding can be a bit challenging at first for both you and your baby. Here are 6 breastfeeding tips to make the learning curve easier.

 

1. It’s never too early to prepare.

If you are still pregnant, there are things you can do now to make breastfeeding easier. Begin learning some of the basics of breastfeeding by reading a book or taking a class. Surround yourself with people who believe in breastfeeding. If you don’t have supportive friends or family, consider joining a local mom-to-mom support group or one of the many Facebook breastfeeding groups.

 

2. Think of the early weeks as the 4th trimester.

Skin to skin snuggling helps your newborn transition from the womb to the outside world. Your baby will be completely dependent upon you. Get as much help with your other responsibilities as possible. Freeing yourself from company and other tasks allows you to focus on breastfeeding and your own recovery from birth.

 

3. Find a comfortable position for breastfeeding.

You will be spending at least 8 to 10 hours a day breastfeeding. You will want to be comfortable! There is no one “right position.” The best position is the one that is comfortable for both you and your baby. Many women love the laid back nursing position. (See photos and a description here.)

 

4. Latch deeply.

“Latch” refers to the position of baby’s mouth on the breast. If your baby latches only on the nipple, it will be painful and your baby won’t be able to get enough milk. You will want your baby to latch deeply, with as much breast tissue in his mouth as possible.

 

5. Breastfeed often and on demand.

The best way to have a great milk supply is to breastfeed often, whenever baby seems hungry. A newborn feeds often; 10, 12, 14 times a day or more is not unusual! For the first two or three days after birth you will have small quantities of thick golden milk, perfect for a newborn’s small stomach size. This milk is invaluable for baby’s health. It is full of germ fighting properties.

About three days after birth, you will begin to make larger quantities of milk. The color changes to a whitish color, resembling skim milk. Continue to feed often. The more often baby feeds, the more milk you will make.

 

6. Get help if you are struggling.

If you encounter breastfeeding problems, don’t wait to ask for help. Most breastfeeding problems can be resolved. Look for someone skilled in helping with breastfeeding such as International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Many areas also have La Leche groups (mom-to-mom support) available for breastfeeding support.

 

Best wishes on your breastfeeding journey.

 

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Keep learning by reading these posts: Breast Milk and Formula: Is there Really a Difference? and When Does Breast Milk Come In?


phpTJhnGTPMCindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



 

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October 2, 2016

10 Breastfeeding Tips Every Pregnant Woman Should Know

After more than 20 years of working with breastfeeding families, we are convinced that pregnancy is the very best time to prepare for breastfeeding. Here are 10 of the most important breastfeeding tips we think every woman should know before her baby arrives.

1.Breastfeeding won’t always be easy.

There is nothing more natural than a woman breastfeeding her baby. But just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it will always be easy. Breastfeeding takes time for moms and babies to learn.

This is confirmed by research. In a recent study, 92% of women with a 3 day old baby reported having at least one breastfeeding problem. But there is also good news. Most early breastfeeding problems have an easy fix. Some of them, in fact, are preventable. Learning about the basics of breastfeeding and newborn behaviour, before baby arrives, can help to avoid many common problems.

If you find yourself struggling with breastfeeding, returning to the basics of skin-to-skin care, a laid back position and a deep latch can help you find your way.


You can make breastfeeding easier by preparing before baby is born. Download our FREE ebook to learn how: 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.


2. Breastfeeding gets easier.

In the first few weeks, breastfeeding is a lot of work. You may even envy your bottle-feeding friends, wishing someone else could occasionally feed your baby for you.

Good news! Breastfeeding quickly becomes much LESS work than bottle-feeding. The work of bottle-feeding (sterilizing, measuring, reheating, cleaning) remains constant. Breastfeeding on the other hand gets much easier. By 6 weeks, you and your baby will be latching like pros. Your breast milk will always be with you, ready to serve, at just the right temperature.

 

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3. Sore nipples improve in 7 to 10 days.

Some women develop sore nipples in the first days of breastfeeding. It can feel like it will never end but research has shown that most nipple discomfort is mild by 7 to 10 days after birth.

This same study showed that a few drops of your own milk on sore nipples is equally (or even more effective) than using nipple creams.

 

4. Skin to skin is magic.

Research has shown that snuggling your baby skin to skin immediately after birth helps your baby learn to breastfeed. A study divided new moms into 2 groups. One group had skin to skin contact with their babies immediately after birth. Babies in the other group were examined by the doctors, then bundled and brought back to the mother in blankets. The babies in the first group learned to breastfeed more quickly.

Research has also shown that skin to skin care with a newborn increases mom’s milk supply.

 

5. You are the expert for your own baby.

At first you may feel like a rookie and have lots of questions about how to care for your newborn. You will soon learn that you are the real expert on what is best for your baby.

You spend more time with your newborn than anyone else.  You will be the one to know how your baby likes to be held, bounced or rocked. You will be able to sense when your baby is hungry before anyone else has noticed. Trust your instincts.

 

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6. Getting help for breastfeeding difficulties can help to avoid postpartum depression.

Studies show that women who want to breastfeed but do not meet their goals are more at risk for postpartum depression. If you are having difficulties with breastfeeding, reach out for help. Look for someone skilled in helping with breastfeeding such as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

 

7. Sometimes the best latch requires no help at all.

If you haven’t learned about laid back breastfeeding, you will want to! This is a very relaxed, comfortable position; your baby will use his natural instincts to latch himself to the breast. Some women tell us their baby latches most comfortably in this position. Watch this video to see how it’s done. (It’s the free preview lesson from our video series Simply Breastfeeding).

 

8. To make more milk, breastfeed more often.

It may seem logical to wait a bit longer between feeds to give your breasts time to fill. But this is not the way milk supply works. Milk supply works on a supply and demand principle. Emptying your breast signals your body to produce more milk. The more often your baby removes milk, the more milk you will make.

 

9. Your partner CAN help with breastfeeding.

While partners cannot breastfeed for you, they can make your job easier. In fact, research shows that your partner’s support is critical for breastfeeding success.

Simple things such as taking charge of diapering and burping can save you 2 or 3 precious hours every day. Read more about ways partners can help in this post.

 

10. Trust your baby and your body.

The happiest babies are fed on demand, not according to a schedule or a feed-play-sleep routine. Trust your baby to tell you when he is hungry and trust your body to make the right amount of milk. (Note: Brand new babies may need reminders to feed for a few days but once baby is breastfeeding well and has regained his birth weight, let your baby take the lead.)

Many women worry they have lost their milk about 10 – 14 days after birth because their breasts feel emptier. Softer breasts at this time are natural as they will have adjusted to baby’s needs. If you are concerned, watch your baby. Is your baby satisfied? Is your baby having the right number of pees and poops?

 

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REFERENCES:

  1. Borra, Cristina, Maria Iacovou, and Almudena Sevilla. “New Evidence on Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: The Importance of Understanding Women’s Intentions.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 19.4 (2015): 897-907.
  2. Dennis, C., K. Jackson, and J. Watson. “Interventions for Treating Painful Nipples among Breastfeeding Women.” The Cochrane Library, 15 Dec. 2014.
  3. Hurst, N. M., C. J. Valentine, L. Renfro, P. Burns, and L. Ferlic. “Skin-to-skin Holding in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Influences Maternal Milk Volume.” Journal of Perinatology 17.3 (1997): 213-17. NCBI. Web.
  4. Moore, E. R., and G. C. Anderson. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Very Early Mother-infant Skin-to-skin Contact and Breastfeeding Status.” Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 52.2 (2007): 116-25. NCBI. Web.
  5. Wagner, Erin A., MS, Caroline J. Chantry, MD, Kathryn G. Dewey, PhD, and Laurie A. Nommsen-Rivers, IBCLC. “Breastfeeding Concerns at 3 and 7 Days Postpartum and Feeding Status at 2 Months.” Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics 132.4 (2013): E865-75. Web.

 


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Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



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September 24, 2016

Should Partners give a Bottle to Bond with Baby?

We know that breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with a newborn. On first thought, it may make sense that partners also should feed their baby to enjoy this special bond. But, giving a bottle in the first few weeks can interfere with breastfeeding.

Here are 3 reasons why we would caution against it.

Babies can get ‘hooked’.

Despite the clever marketing slogans on the packages, there is no bottle that resembles breastfeeding. (We have never seen a mother’s nipple that looks anything like a bottle nipple!) Milk begins to flow from a bottle immediately and continues to flow much faster than milk from a breast. Babies can get ‘hooked’; when put to the breast, they may search for something much firmer and longer than mom’s nipple with an immediate fast flow of milk. For some babies, this will happen after just one bottle, for others, after a few bottles. This has also been referred to as ‘nipple confusion’ (read more about it here).

It can affect mom’s milk supply.

In the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding, mom’s milk supply is becoming regulated. Removing milk from the breasts signals her body to produce more milk. The more often milk is removed the more milk is made.

When a bottle-feed replaces breastfeeding, mom’s body misses the signal to continue making milk. This can affect long-term milk supply. If at all possible, we recommend waiting at least 6 weeks before introducing a bottle.

It can alter baby’s protection from illness.

Breast milk contains healthy bacteria and infection-fighters that coat baby’s gut and jump-start baby’s immune system. This provides protection against common infections like Streptococcus,  Staphylococcus, E.coli, Rotavirus, and more.

Sometimes formula will be necessary for medical reasons. If, however, it is being given as a personal choice, families need to know it will affect the baby’s protective gut flora. Altering the gut flora affects baby’s protection from illness.

 

Feeding a baby is only one way to bond. There are many other ways to bond that will not impact breastfeeding.

  • Babies love being held skin to skin.
  • Burping a milk drunk baby against a bare chest is a wonderful way to bond.
  • Baby bath. Babies were in a liquid environment for 9 months and many love to be in a tub of warm water. An alternative is to shower with the baby snuggled to the chest.
  • Simply being there for baby, holding, talking or reading a book.

These are just a few of the ways partners can bond with their newborn while continuing to support breastfeeding. Do you have others you would add to the list?


Make sure you are ready for breastfeeding! Download our FREE ebook: 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.


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References and More Information:

  1. Bonyata, Kelly, BS, IBCLC. “How Does Milk Production Work?” KellyMom.com. 03 Apr. 2016. Web.
  2. Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Birth to Six Months.” hc-sc.gc.ca. Health Canada, 18 Aug. 2015. Web.
  3. Why Breastfeed?” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web.

 

Keep learning with these posts: 7 Important Ways Dads can Help with Breastfeeding and Can You Spoil a Newborn?


thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



 

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August 15, 2016

How to Better Understand Baby Sleep

When I was pregnant with my first child, someone told me that having to pee often at night was God’s way of preparing me for the frequent night feedings to come! My fear of sleep deprivation and quest for a good night’s sleep began before my baby had even arrived.

My newborn did feed often. Especially at night. I am convinced he fed every 2 hours at night until he was well over a year old. While I enjoyed nursing my baby to sleep (and it seemed to be the best way to get him to sleep), I had the nagging feeling I was doing something wrong and that he would never learn to sleep on his own.

I know I am not alone. Sleep is a huge issue for new families. Parents of babies only two or three days old ask me if they have started a bad habit because the only way their baby will sleep is tucked into bed beside them.

Desperate for sleep, parents look for a baby sleep solution. I know I did. None, however, felt right to my parenting heart.

I love what IBCLC Meg Nagle (aka The Milk Meg) had to say about one of the common sleep training methods. She graciously allowed us to reprint her article below. We would love to hear your comments and learn what worked for you.

-Cindy   

How-to-Understand-Baby-Sleep

 

Why “Feed, Play, Sleep” routines make no sense for a breastfed baby…

 

*Just to clarify, I don’t think it makes sense for ANY baby, bottle or breastfed to be on this routine…however it makes even LESS sense for breastfed babies. Also, if you are doing this routine and it’s working for you then great! This article isn’t for you (although I’d love for you to keep reading anyway)! This is for the millions of women who are told they “should” be doing this routine but know it’s just not working for them and they are wondering why. Because the reality is that for most women who breastfeed on demand, it doesn’t work! Here’s why…

If you live in a western culture you will have definitely heard of the “Feed, play, sleep” routine. This is a well known and frequently suggested method of getting your baby into a little pattern of eating, playing and then yes, you guessed it…sleeping. Every day. Now as a exhausted pregnant woman (or new mother) how awesome does this sound?! Sounds great until the baby actually arrives and they are on and off the boob constantly.

We find ourselves reading these books and websites about this wonderful routine wondering, “What is WRONG with my baby?! He won’t sleep longer than 40 minutes and half that time my boob has to be in his mouth! He wants to breastfeed before waking, after waking, during his play time and then to fall asleep again! Why is my baby not fitting into this schedule?! What is wrong with me? Why is this happening?!”

I’ll tell you why this is happening…because your baby is normal. Your baby is born incredibly prematurely compared to other mammals. Your baby is an actual person. A person who cannot do anything for themselves. Your baby needs cuddles, breastfeeds, cuddles and breastfeeds. Breastfeeding is not meant to be scheduled. It’s makes no sense from a biological, cultural or evolutionary perspective.

 

Here is why this little routine does not make sense for breastfed babies…

  • Breastfed babies have virtually all of their needs met by breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is not just about “feeding” but is about comfort, hunger, thirst, pain relief, boredom buster, tantrum stopper and basically answer to everything elixir. You may not know what is wrong with your baby but chances are…boob will fix it. So throw out that book that’s telling you to stretch out the next breastfeed until it’s “time”. Just whip it out. “When in doubt…whip it out”!

  • Your baby is actually a person…not a cookiecutter clone.

This is something that gets my panties in a bunch…your little baby is a person. This little person is going through many changes. They’ve just gone from a nice warm womb to a cold, crazy world. Your little person is not going to follow a schedule…if they do then pat yourself on the back and do a happy dance that you have a little weirdo (and I mean in a good way) baby! But it’s definitely not the norm.

  • Your breastmilk is MADE to put your little one to sleep.

As I’ve mentioned in my book and in my blog countless times, your milk has components in it to help put your child to sleep! It’s amazing! Just pop them on and watch them fall asleep. Most babies do this. This is not a habit that needs to be broken. It is what they are meant to do. It is important. It is the biological norm.

  • A breastfed baby on a routine means less frequent draining of the breasts which means less milk production.

Breastmilk production is simple…supply and demand. The more well drained your breasts are…the more they will make. Trying to distract a baby to not breastfeed since it’s not “feeding time” can affect your supply and put you at risk for needing to supplement or pump. Even though these routines stress how you can be “flexible” with some of these times, books and websites state that at a certain age you can stick to these routines by the minute…try telling that to most breastfed babies or toddlers and they will respond with a cry asking to be breastfed!

  • Breastfed babies need a breastfeed to help them work through feelings and to help calm themselves.

Breastfeeding is not just about “the milk”. Breastfeeding will happen at various times throughout the day and night that have NOTHING to do with hunger or the need for food.

  • Bottle fed babies find comfort through a pacifier…breasts ARE a breastfed baby’s pacifier.

This is one of the biggest differences in doing these routines with a breastfed baby compared to a bottle fed baby. A baby bottle feeds because they are hungry. When they are no longer hungry you can give them a pacifier and either rock them to sleep or put them down to sleep where they nod off by themselves. Cue the breastfed baby…this baby breastfeeds TO ACTUAL SLEEP because this is how they pacify themselves! They’ll breastfeed to wake up, breastfeed during their play time and then breastfeed back to sleep. They are calmed at the breast.

Here is the typical recommended schedule for people on how to do the “feed, play, sleep” routine…

When your baby wakes up:

  • Offer a feed.
  • Change your baby’s nappy.
  • Take time for talk and play.
  • Put your baby back down for a sleep.

And here is how it usually goes for a breastfed baby who is fed on demand and is with their mother 24/7…

When your baby wakes up:

  • Feed.
  • Change nappy.
  • Talk, Play, Feed
  • Carry around.
  • Feed.
  • Feed/sleep/feed.
  • Play/feed/play.
  • Feed.
  • Sleep.

Or to be more exact for the breastfeeding woman (because breastfeeding is not just about “FEEDING”…)

Now don’t think for one second that I don’t think routines are good ideas…Babies and children LOVE routines. They thrive on knowing what is going to happen when. However, I strongly believe that breastfeeding can happen before, during and after these rituals you do every day. Before sleep times you can read a book, sing them a song, give them a bath…all of this can happen while breastfeeding here there or everywhere in between these rituals you do. Remember your baby is a little human. A little person…and this little person needs frequent breastfeeds and frequent cuddles day and night. You are mothering through breastfeeding…not creating a soldier for the next graduating class of military cadets. Relax and just enjoy your baby.

xx

Meg

 

Learn more about newborns and sleep: 11 Ways to Cope with Sleep Deprivation and Baby’s “Days and Nights Mixed-Up”

 

Meg Nagle. The Milk Meg. Photo


About Meg:

In between breastfeeding her youngest boy, chasing after her oldest two boys, blogging and occasionally sleeping  …Meg Nagle works with women to help them reach their breastfeeding goals! Meg has also written a book, “Boobin’ All Day…Boobin’ All Night. A Gentle Approach To Sleep For Breastfeeding Mothers” which can be found HERE.

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