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Your baby is slowly discovering how to breastfeed and find comfort outside the security of your womb. You are learning how to communicate with your baby and offer comfort and nourishment.
Be patient with yourself and your baby; it will get easier, particularly once your milk supply becomes established. Having questions is normal. Trust your instincts, but also try to prepare yourself by understanding what to expect in the first few weeks. Below we’ve compiled some breastfeeding basics and tips from Day 1 to Week 6.
Even when breastfeeding is going well, you may experience some of the following:
One thing that we can not stress enough is, be patient with yourself. Breastfeeding is natural but it’s also a skill, and like all skills there is a learning curve involved. You are not expected to know it all and there is no shame in asking for help and reaching out. Seek out the support you need.
Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Consultant, Ameda Breastfeeding Products
Coauthor of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers
There are countless articles, books, and websites that explain everything you need to know about how to breastfeed. These instructions, however, often ignore the fact that breastfeeding is an interactive experience, dependent on the communication between you and your baby. It’s not a matter of placing Point A (baby’s mouth) over Point B (mother’s breast) and commencing breastfeeding. It’s much more like a dance that engages the whole body. Each breastfeeding duo sets its own rhythm and pace.
There are some things in life that are best learned by tapping into our left-brain, the analytical, rational hemisphere where logic is king. Then there is the right brain, a more holistic and intuitive way to learn. Some things you process best by intellect, others by experience. Breastfeeding falls under the latter.
Mothers and babies have physiological responses that draw them to each other, encourage them to look at each other, touch each other, and interact. Much of this behaviour is guided by the right side of the brain. We need to listen to and trust this more.
How exactly do you use a right-brained approach to learning to breastfeed? First, take some deep breaths and let go of those worries about doing things “wrong.” Instead of thinking of breastfeeding as a skill you need to master, or a measure of your worth as a mother, think about breastfeeding as an expression of you and your baby’s relationship. As you spend time with your baby, you’ll become more adept at reading their cues. As you hold your baby, they will become more comfortable seeking your breast.
Breastfeeding will flow naturally out of your affectionate relationship. And your body dynamics can make breastfeeding easier or harder. Here are some specific things you can do to help:
These cues could include turning their head when someone touches their cheek or a hand-to-mouth motion. Take note of when baby starts smacking their lips or putting their hands to her mouth. This is an ideal time to try breastfeeding.
One mistake that many women make is waiting until their baby is screaming to try breastfeeding. Do you learn best when you are upset? Probably not. The other reason to start with a calm baby comes down to physics. When a baby is screaming, their tongue is on the roof of her mouth. You will never get your breast in their mouth when their tongue is there.
Unfortunately, it may not always be possible to catch your baby in the early hunger stages (such as when you’re sound asleep!) and you will have to deal with an upset baby. Some babies go from slightly hungry to very hungry in the blink of an eye. Sometimes offering your breast will work to calm your baby. But if this doesn’t work, don’t force the issue. First, try soothing your baby by holding, swaying, rocking, or walking. Then try these suggestions:
Rather than worrying about doing things wrong, focus on your relationship with your baby and think of breastfeeding as a part of this larger whole. Breastfeeding often flows naturally from this attitude. Sometimes your baby may try to take the breast even when they’re not really hungry, just to try out this new behaviour. Practice times are good and will help them breastfeed better when they are hungry. Try out different latching and breastfeeding positions and feel out which ones work best for you and your baby. Remember, instinct is key, trust it.
Adapted from the book Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC
If you would prefer to avoid drugs or other medical interventions and are opting for natural labour pain relief, a TENS machine may be just the thing for you. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. The machine itself is a small box with a clip on the back that you can attach to your clothing. It releases little pulses of electrical energy.
Leading out of the box are four wires connected to sticky pads. Ideally, your birth partner will place the pads on your back for you. Put one pad on each side of your spine, at about bra-strap level. The remaining two pads should be placed further down your back, near the base of your spine. The pads are covered in a gel to help the electrical pulses pass through your skin more easily.
There are dials that allow you to adjust and control the frequency and strength of the pulses. There’s also a boost button for you to hold in your hand and press when you want maximum output from the machine to help you with a difficult contraction. Always follow the instructions that come with your TENS machine.
There are several theories on what makes a TENS machine effective. One is that the electrical pulses prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. Another is that the pulses stimulate your body to release its own natural, feel-good substances, called endorphins.
It’s most likely that various factors interact to make TENS work. It may give you a feeling of control over your contractions, it may help you to feel less anxious, and it also may provide a distraction from your contractions.
TENS seems to work best and give you the most effective pain relief when you start using it at the very beginning of your labour. TENS machines are available to rent or buy, so will be able to use it at home before you transition to the hospital (if you’re having a hospital birth).
It generally takes about an hour for your body to respond to the electrical impulses by releasing endorphins, so start using it when you’re getting regular contractions or backache. You may find your machine works better at relieving your back pain rather than abdominal pain.
Start with the controls at their lowest settings and gradually turn them up as your contractions or back pain gets more intense. You can use the boost button at the peak of your contractions for a little extra relief.
· Don’t give up right away if you think your TENS isn’t doing anything. It usually takes at least an hour of using it for your body to build up endorphins in response to the stimulation.
· Take the pads off every three hours and reapply the gel to ensure good contact with your skin.
· Keep mobile. Moving around during labour helps women feel more in control and should, therefore, enhance the effect of TENS.
· If you don’t feel like it’s helping you, take it off and don’t feel bad. You’ve lost nothing. All other forms of pain relief, both medical and non-medical, are still open to you.
You may need to call a midwife clinic to track a TENS machine down. Or if you are lucky enough to have an obstetrical physiotherapist in your town, try calling her office. Your doctor or midwife should be able to help you track one down; ask for their help during a prenatal appointment.
Once you find a TENS machine, the midwife will show you how to use it during your labour. Prices will vary but generally hang around $100. You can usually find TENS machines at midwife clinics, select pharmacies, or online.
All babies and mothers are unique, and your differences affect your baby’s need for night feedings. Some babies need to breastfeed at night, whether they’re six months, eight months, or beyond. Night feedings are particularly common for moms with small “breast storage capacity”. Understanding the basics of how milk production works will help clarify what this means and if it applies to you.
The first, “degree of breast fullness,” refers to a simple concept: drained breasts make milk faster and full breasts make milk slower. Whenever your breasts contain enough milk to feel full, your milk production slows.1 The fuller your breasts become, your body receives the signal to slow down milk production. This is why pumping can help increase milk supply.
How quickly your body produces breast milk is directly related to whether your breasts are full, or drained. When your breasts contain enough milk to feel full, your milk production slows.1 If they are fully drained, your body then increases milk production. This concept explains how pumping helps increase your milk supply.
The second dynamic refers to a physical characteristic known as breast storage capacity, which varies among mothers. This biological difference is the reason why feeding patterns among mothers differ, and why some breastfed babies do not need to breastfeed at night while others do.
Breast storage capacity is the amount of milk your breasts contain in your milk-making glands at their fullest point of the day. Storage capacity is not related to breast size. Breast size is mainly determined by how much fatty tissue is in your breasts, not by your milk-producing glands. So smaller-breasted mothers can have large-capacity storage, and larger-breasted mothers can have small-capacity storage.
Whichever amount of storage your body has, it will produce plenty of milk for your baby. But babies will feed differently to get the daily volume of breast milk they need.3
If you have large storage capacity, you may notice that after the first month of breastfeeding, your baby:
• Is satisfied with one breast at most or all feedings
• Is finished breastfeeding much sooner than other babies (sometimes just five minutes
• Gains weight well on fewer feedings per day than the average eight or so
• Sleeps for longer-than-average stretches at night
If this describes your breastfeeding experience, your baby may already be sleeping for longer stretches at night than other babies you know.
Alternately, you most likely have a storage capacity on the small to average side if after the first month of breastfeeding you notice that your baby often:
• Takes both breasts at feedings
• feeds on average longer than about 15 to 20 minutes total
• typically takes eight or more feedings per day
• wakes at least twice a night to breastfeed
The most important factor contributing to your baby’s healthy growth is not how much milk he receives at each feeding, but rather how much milk he consumes in a 24-hour day. Breastfed babies of both large and small-capacity mothers receive plenty of milk, but their breastfeeding patterns will differ to gain weight and thrive.4 For example, a baby whose mother’s breasts holds six ounces or more (180 mL) may grow well with as few as five feedings per day. Whereas, if the mother’s breasts hold three ounces (90 mL), their baby will need to feed ten times each day.
Breast storage capacity is much less of a factor if you are pumping. You can measure pumped milk much easier as bottles and storage bags all have markers to indicate the number of ounces (mL’s) a baby is taking.
How does this all apply to night feedings? A mother with a large storage capacity has the room in her milk-making glands to comfortably store more milk at night before it exerts the amount of internal pressure needed to slow her milk production. On the other hand, if the baby of the small-capacity mother sleeps for too long at night, her breasts become so full that her milk production slows.
In other words, if you have average or small breast storage capacity, night feedings may need to continue for many months for your milk production to stay stable and for your baby to thrive. Also, because your baby has access to less milk at each feeding, night feedings may be crucial for them to get enough milk overall. What’s important is not how much milk a baby receives at each feeding, but how much milk he consumes in a 24-hour day.
Note: If you have small storage capacity and are using sleep training strategies to encourage baby to go for longer stretches between feedings, this can result in decreased milk production and slower growth for your baby.
Each mom and baby duo is unique, and babies will outgrow the need for night feedings at different ages. Trying to apply a standard rule of thumb doesn’t take into consideration the emotional needs of the baby nor their physical need for milk.
Adapted from Nancy Morbacher, the Breastfeeding Reporter
1Daly, S. E., Kent, J. C., Owens, R. A., & Hartmann, P. E. (1996). Frequency and degree of milk removal and the short-term control of human milk synthesis, Experimental Physiology, 81(5), 861-875.
2Cregan, M. D., & Hartmann, P. E. (1999). Computerized breast measurement from conception to weaning: clinical implications. J Hum Lact, 15(2), 89-96.
3Kent, J. C., Mitoulas, L. R., Cregan, M. D., Ramsay, D. T., Doherty, D. A., & Hartmann, P. E. (2006). Volume and frequency of breastfeedings and fat content of breast milk throughout the day, Pediatrics, 117(3), e387-395.
4Kent, J. C. (2007). How breastfeeding works. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 52(6), 564-570.
Here we’ll answer some frequently asked question as well as offer a few tips and tricks for storing and making the most out of your breast milk.
• Glass bottles with a leak proof lid or hard BPA-free plastic bottles work really well.
• Breast milk freezer bags are great if you’re travelling or have limited storage space available. Ameda Store n’ Pour bags are an excellent option and compatible will all Ameda kits. They allow you to pump directly into the bag, write the date, and pop it into your fridge or freezer.
Avoid thin bottle liners. These are meant to be used as feeding bags, but not for freezing milk. The liners will often split when frozen.
• Divide your milk into the smallest amounts your baby might take (e.g. snack size). You can always add milk if needed, but don’t save leftover milk after a feeding. When your baby takes a bottle, their saliva mixes with the milk which makes it unusable for future feedings. Storing smaller portions will reduce the possibility of having to discard any breast milk.
• If you follow the times on the chart below, you can keep your milk at room temperature, refrigerate it, then freeze it.
• Write the date and time on your milk container with a sticky label or non-toxic marker. Add your baby’s name if they are in daycare or in the hospital.
• You can combine milk pumped at different times. When combining milk from different days, write the date of the oldest milk on the container.
• If you plan to use your milk within 8 days, you can keep it in the fridge. Otherwise, freeze it in the coldest part of the freezer. Avoid storing in the door, the deeper into the freezer the better.
• Fresh is best. If you have just finished pumping, give your freshly pumped milk to your baby before thawing a previously frozen milk.
• Fresh milk can be added to cooled milk. If you are using frozen milk, you can add to it but be sure it’s cooled first and there is less fresh than frozen.
• Before freezing large amounts of milk, start with just a batch or two, thaw, and smell it. Some moms make milk high in lipase, an enzyme that digests fat. This type of breast milk has a strong, soapy smell when thawed. If this happens and your baby refuses the milk, you can deactivate the lipase before freezing by scalding the milk first. To scald your milk, heat it in a pot on the range until bubbles form at the edges, cool, and freeze.
Why can’t the experts agree? First, research confirms that your milk will not spoil before the times in the table below. But the longer your milk is stored, the more vitamins and antioxidants are lost. That’s why some breastfeeding books list shorter storage times. Those experts prefer you to use your milk sooner rather than later. But this doesn’t mean that your milk will spoil if you wait longer. It’s never a bad idea to give your milk as soon as you can after pumping. But what should you do if you find some stored milk in the back of the fridge that has been there for up to eight days? When in doubt about the freshness of your milk, smell or taste it. Spoiled milk will usually smell spoiled.
An older, larger baby can handle drinking chilled milk. But milk needs to be warm for a tiny baby. If a newborn is fed cold milk, it can bring down their body temperature. Younger babies need their milk warmed to between room and body temperature.
• Whether you’re warming chilled milk or thawing frozen milk, keep the heat low. High heat kills the live cells in your milk that help keep your baby healthy.
• Warm your milk to between room and body temperature under cool then warm running water. Be sure to keep the water away from the lid of the bottle so that it doesn’t mix with the milk. One method is to put the bottle in a bowl with sides lower than the bottle’s lid. Run warm water in the bowl. The warm water against the sides of the bottle warms the milk.
• Frozen milk can be thawed in the refrigerator.
• Your milk is not “homogenized” like the milk you buy at the supermarket so it may separate into layers. This is a natural occurrence and if it happens, simply give it a gentle swirl to mix.
• Don’t warm breast milk in the microwave. It changes the composition of the milk and causes hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth and throat.
• Don’t heat the milk in a pot on the stove. High heat can make your breast milk too hot for your baby, and it destroys the antibodies your baby needs.
When you’re engorged, you may also experience flattening of the nipple, breast tenderness, warmth, redness, throbbing, and swelling. It can sometimes even cause a low-grade fever and may be confused with a breast infection. It can happen at any time during your breastfeeding journey, but it’s most common during the third to fifth day after birth.
Engorgement can sometimes lead to plugged ducts or a breast infection. So it’s important to try to prevent it before it occurs. When treated properly, you should feel relief within a couple of days.
A way to help reduce the risk of engorgement is to breastfeed often in the first few weeks. Allow your baby to feed as long as they like, ensuring they are latched on well with good suction. Some people suggest waking your baby to feed if four or more hours have passed since the beginning of the last feeding. However, opinions on this vary. You know your baby best and if they need to sleep longer, trust your gut and your killer “mom instincts”. They are usually right!
• Make sure you have a good latch. If you are having trouble or you feel things are not going well, contact your nearest Lactation Consultant or La Leche League.
• Breastfeed often on the affected side to remove the milk, keep it moving freely, and prevent the breast from becoming overly full.
• Avoid overusing pacifiers and using bottles to supplement feedings.
• Hand express or use a manual pump to release a little milk to first soften the breast, areola, and nipple before breastfeeding. You could use an electric breast pump if you have one, but not for too long. Remember: more milk out = more milk made! Your body is trying to adjust and make the right amount for your little one.
• Massage the affected breast. Don’t be surprised if you notice milk leaking out. It’s completely normal and will most likely provide some relief. This method works well in a warm shower or after applying a warm compress.
• Use a cold compresses in between feedings to help ease pain.
• If you are returning to work, try to pump your milk on the same schedule that your baby breastfed at home. Or, you can pump at least every four hours.
• Get enough rest, proper nutrition, and fluids.
• Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight.
• Use some breast pads if you feel that you might leak!
Engorgement usually doesn’t last more than a couple of days. In the meantime, the above tips should help provide some much needed relief. Once your body adjusts to the demands of your baby, you might have some leakage and a bit of soreness but not to the same extent and only for a short period. If you find you’re continuing to have pain or engorgement, contact a healthcare professional or your local breastfeeding support person.
It may sound obvious, but when we step out of our regular routine, things can go a bit haywire and basics can get overlooked. It’s not unusual for a baby’s schedule to change when you’re away from home and you may notice that they want to nurse or be fed more than usual. This is normal. Try to avoid too much handling and over-stimulation to reduce the chance of them becoming overtired and cranky. And if you’re heading to a hot climate, make sure you stay hydrated and baby stays cool.
Self care is key. Schedule plenty of time for relaxing and unwinding for both you and your baby. Even the most enjoyable trip can be tiring with a baby. Pay careful attention to your own needs for nutritious food, plenty of liquids, and rest.
If your trip involves air travel, be sure to pack a spare set of clothes in your carry-on for both you and baby in case your luggage gets delayed or there are unexpected spills or accidents. Choose a travel outfit that includes a loose-fitting top and have a light blanket or nursing poncho that you can use for privacy in tight quarters (if that’s what you prefer). This will help make breastfeeding or pumping during your flight feel much less overwhelming. For pre-flight, read up on the latest airport security rules regarding trasnporting breast milk for the applicable check points, whether it be USA or Canada.
Your baby may feel some temporary discomfort during the plane’s descent as the air pressure changes. Sucking (or more specifically, swallowing) may relieve this discomfort, as it helps the ears to ‘pop’. If possible, breastfeed during take off and landing. As an alternative, you may wish to offer a pacifier, bottle, or sippy cup. If you have an older child, hard candy (e.g. lollipop), chewing gum, or jerky can help alleviate the pressure. Air travel can also be dehydrating, so remember to drink plenty of water.
Use an extra-large resealable bag and include a clean towel, dish soap, disinfecting wipes, bottle cleaners, and spare pumping parts. The wipes and towel will allow you to create a clean surface to lay your freshly washed pump parts no matter where you end up. Also, a washable marker for labelling the lid with the date is helpful.
If you are staying with friends and family this shouldn’t be a problem, but you still may want to give them a heads up of what space you’ll need. If you’re staying in a hotel, call ahead to ensure your room comes with a mini fridge. Most hotels will provide one on request if it isn’t standard in the room, though it may be an additional charge. Many hotels will often waive the fee since breast milk is considered a medical liquid.
Breast milk will normally stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 8 days maximum. Generally, it’s best not to freeze your milk during travel as once thawed, it needs to be consumed very quickly.
Important: Breast milk that has been frozen and has thawed needs to be used within 24 hours. For safety reasons, you cannot refreeze breast milk.
For travel, skip the storage bags and instead opt for bottles with seal-able lids. If bottles aren’t available, you can use any hard plastic or glass container. Just ensure that whatever you use is clean (wash with hot, soapy water, rinse well, and air dry) and tightly sealed. Glass bottles can add quite a bit of weight, so if you do decide to use storage bags, wrap them in a towel or newspaper to avoid tears and leaks.
When stored in a cooler with ice packs, your milk should stay fresh for up to 24 hours. If travelling by car, choose an electric cooler that can be plugged into the power outlet of your car.
Note: If you’re travelling by air, freeze your ice packs to solid to reduce the potential for further screening through security. Also, keep your breast milk separate from your other allowable liquids.
It’s a good idea to divide your milk into small amounts (2 to 4-ounce portions per container), so you have single servings available and don’t end up wasting precious breast milk should your baby only want a snack. If you’re freezing your milk, leave about an inch of room at the top of each container to allow for expansion.
This could very well be some of your best money spent, other than on the breast pump itself. A hands-free pumping bra means that you won’t be tied down for every pumping session. Whether you’re in the car, on a plane, or in your hotel room you’ll have the ability to read, relax, or care for your child all while you pump. You are also able to massage your breast while you are pumping to help increase milk production.
Choose a bra that connects in the front for easy accessibility and has front openings for the breast pump flanges to fit. It should also work with any breast pump, and keeps the flange(s) snug on your breast, freeing up your hands to do what ever you like.
• Wash your hands before expressing or handling breast milk.
• When collecting milk, store it in clean containers such as screw cap bottles, hard plastic cups with tight caps, or storage bags.
• Clearly label your milk with the date it was expressed.
• Preferably, breast milk should be refrigerated or chilled immediately after it’s expressed.
• Do not add fresh breast milk to previously frozen milk. It is best not to mix the two.
• Do not save milk from a used bottle for use at another feeding.
• Have extra breast pump parts and keep used parts together in a bag to be washed at the end of the day. This will reduce the amount of time you spend washing. Do not reuse unwashed parts.
• If you have time, thaw frozen breast milk by transferring it to the refrigerator or by swirling it in a bowl of warm water. For air travel, ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water.
• Microwave ovens do not heat liquids evenly. Uneven heating could easily scald a baby or damage the milk
• Bottles may explode if left in the microwave too long.
• Excess heat can destroy the nutrient quality of the expressed milk.
Important: Do not re-freeze breast milk once it has been thawed.
Milk Storage Guidelines
At room temperature (fresh milk)
66° to 78° F (19° to 26° C)
4 hours (ideal) up to 6 hours (acceptable)*
Contents should be covered and kept as cool as possible; covering the container with a damp towel may keep milk cooler.
Insulated cooler bag
5° -39° F (-15° -4° C)
Keep ice packs in constant contact with milk containers; limit opening cooler bag.
In a refrigerator
<39° F (<4° C)
72 hours (ideal) up to 8 days (acceptable)**
Collect in a very clean way to minimize spoilage. Store milk in the back of the main body of the refrigerator.
Freezer (compartment of refrigerator)
5° F (-15° C)
Store milk away from sides and toward the back of the freezer where temperature is most constant. Milk stored longer than these ranges is usually safe, but some of the fats break down over time.
Freezer (compartment of refrigerator with separate doors)
0° F (-18° C)
3 – 6 months
-4° F (-20° C)
6 – 12 months
* refrigerate or chill milk right after it is expressed, unless you are using it right away.
** Eight days is acceptable if collected in a very clean, careful way.
***Adapted from LLL.org
Even though it is common, urine leakage and frequent urination is not a “normal” part of ageing. For those of you that have had to book an aisle seat so you don’t interrupt your neighbouring passenger five times on a two-hour flight, have found yourselves having to ask “what did I miss” because you just can’t hold it and had to leave the theatre, or if you have an uncanny knowledge of all acceptable restrooms that are quickly accessible, you’re not alone. And if you’re not going through it, someone you know is. Approximately 3.5 million Canadians, mainly women, suffer from incontinence and are planning their lives around the bathroom. And while we often make light of the situation, for most of us, it’s really not that funny.
In addition to frequent urination, there’s also its ugly cousin, leakage. Contrary to popular belief, urine leakage is not “normal”. It’s more common with age but it’s not a normal part of ageing. And it shouldn’t impact our lives in such a major way. Many people just put on a pad and “suck it up” (literally), but it doesn’t have to be this way.
It’s a good idea to first rule out all potential medical causes with your doctor such as a UTI, pregnancy, diabetes, uterine fibroids, or interstitial cystitis. Then you’ll want to consider any non-medically related factors. Are you drinking copious amounts of water? Have you been unwittingly loading up on diuretics like alcohol or caffeine?
If none of the above applies to you, you’re most likely suffering from stress incontinence, the most common cause of urine leakage and the frequent urge to pee. More often than not, a weak pelvic floor is to blame for those cough, sneeze, and trampoline leaks.
Your pelvic floor is made of the major muscles that support your pelvic organs. Namely your vagina, bladder and rectum.
What can you do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles? They are just like any other muscles and they need exercise to work to max potential. Kegel exercises work if they are done properly, but many don’t know how. And what if the muscles are so weak that you can’t engage them? There is a device called a Pelvic Floor Exerciser that works to contract these muscles for you.
You insert the small probe into your vagina (no, it doesn’t hurt). Select the pre-programmed setting for stress, and increase the intensity until you feel your pelvic floor muscle contract. Then let the machine cycle through for 20 minutes. You’ll feel the exerciser helping your body do the contractions and relaxation it needs, in order to strengthen the pelvic floor. The machine will turn off after 20 minutes and…you’re done. That’s it. That’s how it works.
Generally, it takes only a couple of weeks for most people to feel less bathroom stress and notice a difference in the amount of leakage, or the frequency of the occurrence. The goal is that eventually, it won’t even be something you think about any more. Because let’s face it, no one wants to wear any more pads than we already have to, do a mad dash to the bathroom every hour, or go through 3 pairs of underwear in a day.
For more information and to shop, visit www.leakybladder.ca
Maintaining a nutritionally balanced diet is the best way to ensure that both you and your baby are getting what you need. As with most things parenting-related, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Together you will find what works best for both you and your baby. If you are concerned, you should consult your doctor or breastfeeding professional.
In short, no. There are no foods that all mothers must avoid. Contrary to popular belief, in most cases, there is no need to avoid chocolate, spicy foods, onions, garlic, broccoli, or cabbage. Moderation is the key.
In one study, mothers consumed an abundance of garlic—more than anyone could eat with a meal. And their babies actually breastfed more because they liked the taste! In countries such as Thailand and Mexico, where spicy food is a part of their cultural diet, moms continue to breastfeed their babies with no ill effects. It’s also worth noting that your breast milk tends to carry the flavours of the food you eat. So enjoying a varied diet may result in your baby having a more diverse palate later in life!
Absolutely. We all know that eating a balanced and nutritionally rich diet is good for you (it boosts energy and your resistance to illness). But maintaining an ideal diet is not necessary when it comes to producing good quality breast milk. According to breastfeeding expert, Ruth Lawrence, MD, “All over the world women produce adequate and even abundant milk on very inadequate diets.” Studies have found that it takes several weeks of famine conditions before a mother’s milk is affected.
With that being said, if you feel like your diet is lacking you may want to consider taking supplements. There are vitamins and supplements available such as Prenatal Ease Nursing, that are formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms. Look for a supplement that will aid in replenishing the minerals and vitamins lost during breastfeeding (e.g. iron, zinc, and calcium).
Firstly, keep in mind that almost all babies go through fussy periods. Reactions such as this being in direct correlation to your diet would be considered very unusual. Your baby’s fussiness is probably unrelated to your diet.
A few more relevant signs that your baby is having a reaction could include dry skin, congestion, bloody stool, rash, or wheezing. If you suspect that something in your diet is affecting your baby, the first step is to eliminate that food from your diet. (Note: cow’s milk takes two or so weeks to clear.) Then try reintroducing it. If your baby’s reaction reappears, you’ll know to avoid that food for a few months.
The older your baby gets, the less likely they are to have a reaction to your diet. (Most babies will not react after approximately six to nine months of age.) The most likely culprits are often protein foods such as dairy, soy, egg whites, peanuts, and fish. Changing your diet using the process of elimination will tell you if something in your diet is causing your baby’s symptoms.
No. Just “eat to hunger.” Extra calories do not seem to be as important as was once thought. Your fat stores at your baby’s birth provide much of the fuel needed to produce breast milk. Research has found that your metabolism may be more efficient while breastfeeding than at other times which may reduce your need for extra calories. More active mothers will need more calories, but they will likely also feel hungrier . Listen to your body, it will tell you if you need more calories.
The biggest concern for mothers that follow vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, or other diets that don’t include animal products, is the risk of a B12 deficiency. Usually, vitamin B12 is transferred through the placenta to the fetus during pregnancy and through breast milk subsequently. So if a breastfeeding mother is deficient, her infant may also become deficient. Vitamin B12 is essential in supporting brain development and producing healthy red blood cells in infants.
Ensure either your diet includes foods that are rich in vitamin B12 (such as eggs or dairy), you eat foods with vitamin B12 added, or you take supplements. Consult your healthcare provider to determine which supplement is best suited for your needs.
Nothing we are aware of has been scientifically proven to increase breast milk production. Again, breast milk production is based on how many times per day your milk is drained well from your breasts. The more times you breastfeed or express your milk and the more drained your breasts are, the more milk you will make. For information on herbal and prescribed medicines that increase milk production, consult your lactation consultant.
While we don’t necessarily advocate for “dieting” but rather adopting a more healthy lifestyle and balanced nutritional diet, the answer is yes. If you are considering dieting, this may in fact be the best time, as breastfeeding helps burn fat stores. It’s best to go slowly and lose weight gradually. Your chosen diet should include at least 1800 calories per day. Talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight should be for your unique frame. Any diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables and lean protein.
If your meal plan includes artificial sweeteners, use them in moderation, one to two servings per day.
As with all parts of your diet, moderation is key. One or two cups of coffee (or other caffeinated drinks such as teas or colas) are not likely to cause a reaction. Unless your baby is unusually sensitive, there is no need to abstain.
“Drink to thirst” is the simple rule of thumb. Research has not yet found a link between the quantity of fluids a mother drinks and her milk production. Rather, milk production is based on the number of times per day your milk is drained well from your breasts. A tell-tale sign that you need more fluids is if your urine is dark yellow. Keeping a container of water or juice at your usual nursing spot makes it easier to grab a drink when you’re thirsty.
Moderate to heavy drinking is risky for your baby. However, a little alcohol in the milk now and then has not been found to be harmful.
Moms who want to avoid any alcohol in their breast milk should keep to having their drink right after nursing. Research shows that alcohol passes quickly into a mother’s milk, peaking within 30 to 60 minutes (60 to 90 minutes when taken with food). But it also passes out of milk quickly. For a 120-pound woman, it takes approximately 2 to 3 hours for the alcohol in one glass of beer or wine to leave your milk. And there is no need to pump to make your breast milk alcohol-free. As your blood alcohol levels drop, alcohol leaves the milk.
Note that if you are having a stronger drink or more than one glass of beer or wine, it will take much longer for the alcohol to leave your milk.
This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away.
Adapted from: Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Consultant Co – author of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers
Some moms assume pumping should be painful. Not so! “No pain, no gain” does not apply here. Painful pumping means something needs to be adjusted. What’s causing the pain? The following are the two most common culprits.
The strongest pump suction is not always the most efficient and does not always pump the most milk. In fact, too-high suction can actually slow your milk flow. Instead, set your pump at the highest suction that feels good to you…and no higher. If you’re gritting your teeth, turn it down!
Pumping milk is not like drinking through a straw. With a straw, the stronger you suck, the more you get. But with pumping, most milk comes only when a let-down or milk release happens. Without a milk release, most of your milk stays in the breast.
What is a milk release? Hormones cause muscles in the breast to squeeze and milk ducts to widen, pushing the milk out. Some mothers will feel tingling while others will feel nothing.
A milk release can happen from a touch at the breast, hearing a baby cry, or even from thinking about your baby. Alternately, feelings of stress, anger, or upset can block milk release.
During breastfeeding, most mothers have three or four milk releases, often without knowing it. To get more milk with your pump, you need more milk releases, not stronger suction.
Many mothers pump comfortably with the standard size flange (25 mm diameter nipple opening). But if pumping hurts even on low suction, this is most likely a sign that you need another size. If the standard flange is too small or too large, a better-fitting flange will feel more comfortable and may even allow you to pump more milk.
Flange size – and your fit – is determined by the width of the flange opening. To check your flange fit, watch your nipple during pumping. Your nipple should move freely in the breast flange tunnel. If there is a little space around your nipple as it’s drawn into the flange’s nipple tunnel, you have a good fit. If your nipple rubs against its sides, the flange is too small. And if too much of the areola is being pulled in or if your nipple bounces in and out of the tunnel, it is too large.
Nipple size changes with birth, breastfeeding, and pumping. This may mean that the pump flange that fit when you first started pumping may need to be changed the more you pump. For that reason, you’ll want to recheck your flange fit from time to time. Thankfully, Ameda has several different flange sizes available so you can go larger or smaller, as needed.
There are other possible causes of pain during/after pumping that are related to breast and nipple health. If your pain doesn’t seem to be caused by a high breast pump suction or a poorly fitting flange, it is time to ask more questions and seek assistance from a professional.
Do you have nipple trauma (broken skin on the nipple)? Could you have a bacterial infection of the nipple (can occur with a history of nipple trauma)? Do you have an overgrowth of yeast (also known as thrush or candida)? Is mastitis a possibility? Does your nipple turn white, red, or blue after pumping? If so, see your lactation consultant or another health-care provider to rule out other possible causes, including Raynaud’s Phenomenon.
Adapted from Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Consultant, Ameda Breastfeeding Products
Coauthor of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers
Keeping your breast pump clean is not time consuming. But there are a few things you can do to simplify your pump care — so you can spend more time with your new baby.
Sanitize Your Ameda parts Before the First Use
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If your pump kit package is not marked “sterile,” put all the pieces that come into contact with your milk in a pot, cover them with water, and boil for 20 minutes before using the pump for the first time. It is best to let the parts air dry so make sure you have a bit of time for this. With an Ameda pump that would be the bottle, flange (part that goes on your breast), clear valve, and silicone diaphragm. All Ameda pumps use the same kits so this will apply to any personal use pump or rental/hospital pump. Unless your doctor or hospital has told you otherwise, there is no need to do this again.
Everyday Cleaning of Your Ameda Breast Pump
With an Ameda pump, you don’t need to boil, microwave or wipe your pump pieces with disinfecting wipes on a regular basis. After every use, rinse the pieces that come in contact with your milk with cool water then wash them in warm, soapy water (using mild detergent), rinse with clear, warm water, and air dry. You can also clean pump parts in the dishwasher. You may want to get one or more extra pump kits and wash them all once at the end of the day. That way you don’t need to wash your parts every time you pump.
To clean your pump motor or bag, just wipe it with a clean, damp cloth. This is also a good way to clean the outside of your pump tubing if milk drips onto it.
No Tubing Care
For mothers using a pump with tubing, any moisture in the tubing can contaminate their expressed milk with bacteria, mold and viruses. That’s why Ameda breast pumps have Proven Airlock Protection™. During pumping, Ameda’s diaphragm keeps the air from your pump from coming in contact with your milk. For mothers using a breast pump without a barrier at the flange there is a chance to get moisture in the tubing. Any moisture in the tubing can contaminate expressed milk with bacteria, mold and viruses Ameda has the world’s only breast pump with a proven protective barrier.
Adapted from Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Consultant, Ameda Breastfeeding Products
Coauthor of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers
Pumping a lot in these early weeks tells your body that you had triplets. Your body will then reciprocate by producing an enormous amount of milk. Remember: more milk out = more milk made! While this may sound like a good thing, it will increase the likelihood of breast problems such as clogged ducts and engorgement.
When your baby is a little older (2-3 weeks), and you are ready to start pumping regularly, you will most likely get very little milk. This is normal. After all, you’ve just spent the first weeks of your baby’s life getting your milk supply into an exact balance with your baby’s needs. It’s the basics of demand and supply, your body is providing what your baby requires, there isn’t supposed to be any extra. What you’re doing by pumping in these early days is building a little bit of a stash, and getting used to pumping. You’re also increasing your milk supply bit by bit.
Note: It is important to ensure that breastfeeding is progressing well before you start incorporating pumping.
The first step in pumping regularly is to start including it into your daily routine. To do this, start by adding a pumping session at about the same time each day. By pumping at about the same time each day, you’re telling your body that it needs to make a little more – tricking it into thinking that your baby has really taken to that 10am feeding! Even if you pump and no milk comes out at all, you’re placing the order for milk to be made later.
It may take you a while to get the hang of pumping. You may be tense and worried about whether you’ll be able to pump enough (don’t worry, you will). You may be uncomfortable with a machine hooked to your breasts (imagine!). Don’t worry, that’s why you practice. This time pumping at home teaches you how to set up your pump, how to set it so that you get the most milk in the least time, and most importantly, how to relax when you’re pumping. A hands free pumping bra can help you if you are double pumping and find it hard or awkward.
When you’re pumping at home to build up your supply and milk stash, once a day is plenty. Don’t make yourself crazy with it!
If your baby nurses every two hours, you may need to spread out your pumping sessions a little more, but make them a bit longer than your baby typically nurses.
If you don’t have enough time to include pumping sessions during the day, pump when you get up, before work, after your baby goes to bed, or during the night – it can be done, you may just need to get creative! Having an extra set of collection kits can help so the washing and drying doesn’t get overwhelming.
If your baby nurses very infrequently, you may need to pump more often, since the baby is usually more efficient at getting the milk out.
In short, you should pump until milk isn’t coming out any more. You don’t need to watch the clock, but it is a good idea to check the bottle to see if it is still flowing. In general, pumping for 15 minutes should do it for most people. (If you’re having trouble letting down for the pump, read Better Pumping, below.)
Or, if you’re trying to boost your supply, pump for a few minutes after the milk stops flowing. There is no harm and it’s a great way to send your body the message that more milk is needed (if it is).
Contrary to popular belief, your pump does not get the milk out of your breasts by brute force alone. Stronger suction does not necessarily result in more milk. It may however, result in excruciating pain or damage to your breasts. What your pump needs to do to get the most milk out is imitate your baby. Pay attention to how frequently your baby sucks and the strength of that suction. Then try to adjust your pump to match your baby. From there, you can experiment to see if slightly more, less, faster, or slower suction feels better and produces more milk. What’s the best setting? The one that works for you. So don’t pay attention to how other people’s pumps are set, it’s a personal thing. Custom Control makes this easy for you to adapt as your baby changes and grows.
A few tricks can increase your pumping output without increasing the amount of time it takes. The most effective ways to increase your output (aside from ensuring you have the best pump for your needs) are good relaxation skills and breast compressions – both described here.
Doing breast compressions during pumping can help stimulate additional let-downs, and helps to thoroughly drain all of the milk ducts. While you are pumping, use one hand to massage your breast from the armpits towards the nipple (or as close as you can get without dislodging the pump flange). Gradually increase the pressure, and finish with a few firm squeezes of your breast, like you do when you are hand expressing milk.
For some people, relaxing while pumping is akin to asking them to relax during a root canal. But it can be done. Relaxing is important, because it’s really hard to have a let-down if you are tense. Here are some tips for relaxation:
Sit back in your chair, don’t tense your shoulders, and support the bottles so that you don’t have to lean forward.
Play relaxing music, have a comfortable chair for pumping, have a cup of tea before you start – in general – be comfortable!
If you are away from your baby when you are pumping, bring some cues to help you think about your baby. Some mothers respond very strongly to the smell of your baby, so bring whatever your baby slept in last night (as long as there’s not too much spit-up on it!) Other moms respond better to pictures or sounds – you can put photos of your baby right in many of the pump carriers, or bring a tape of your baby’s “hungry noises” (all out crying doesn’t usually work – it’s too stressful)
For me, the best way to stop a let-down in its tracks was to watch the bottles. I always had trouble pumping enough, and the stress of watching the ounces was enough to severely limit my ability to pump. Look at something else – anything! Say to yourself “any breastmilk at all is a precious gift to my baby” and visualize waterfalls, spilled milk trucks, your baby’s contented face after a feeding – whatever relaxes you.
Some people like to work while they are pumping – for me, pumping time was when I rewarded myself for the hard work of the rest of the day. Find something you enjoy doing while you pump. Maybe it reading the latest Janet Evanovitch novel, the paper, or your favourite tabloid magazine. Or maybe it’s scrolling through social media.
Do whatever makes it a relaxing time for you. And if you’re stressed about the work you’re missing, pick yourself up a hands-free pumping bra and keep on working – whatever relaxes you best.
Adapted from Kristen Berggren, PhD, IBCLC
author of Working Without Weaning and creator of the website, www.workandpump.com
As we all continue to navigate the current global COVID-19 pandemic, Mothers Choice Products would like to share and re-confirm to all of our clients that our supply chains have been maintained and we are able to provide readily accessible products throughout Canada. We continue to maintain stable inventory levels and do not foresee any disruption, delay or limited access of any of our products due to our frequent and focused communications, with our partners.
Our team has also evaluated and confirmed with Ameda that there is a full supply of pump kits on-hand. This was critical information to share as we wanted to ensure that all of our clients could confidently encourage utilization of their pump kits with Ameda pumps. This is strongly recommended as it will maintain warranty status and ensure optimum pump performance and safety. Mothers Choice also has healthy inventory on hand to provide stable supply of kits.
If you come across material sharing news counter to this, please let us know right away to ensure that we are all dealing with accurate and up to date information.
To re-confirm, Mothers Choice Products has all Ameda pumps, HygieniKits, consumables as well as our Sterifeed bottles well stocked in our Canadian warehouse.
Mothers Choice Products team is set up and working remotely, including our customer service and product experts that are available to ensure that you have the resources and support needed.
Our communication and support may be mostly digital at this time but be assured we will continue to strive to provide the exceptional service Mothers Choice Products is known for.
If you have questions, concerns or support related inquiries, please keep the following contact information handy:
Hours: 8:30AM – 4:30PM PST
Thank you from the entire Mothers Choice Products Team.
We will get through this together.
Your breastfeeding comfort depends on where your nipple lands in baby’s mouth, and that depends on how your baby takes the breast, or latches on. Learning the correct latch takes practice for both you and baby and can be the difference between a painful, or wonderful, breastfeeding experience. To understand this better, use your tongue to feel the roof of your mouth. Behind your teeth are ridges, and behind those ridges the roof of your mouth feels hard. When your nipple is pressed against this hard area in your baby’s mouth, it can hurt. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a Lactation consultant.
Further back in your mouth the roof turns from hard to soft. Near this is the area some call “the comfort zone.” Once your nipple reaches your baby’s comfort zone, there is no undue friction or pressure on your nipple and breastfeeding can become a pleasant experience.
To make this happen, let gravity do the lion’s share of the work.
• Lean back with good neck, shoulder, and back support and move your hips forward.
• Lay your baby tummy-side down between your exposed breasts.
When your now calm but hungry baby feels your body against their chin, torso, legs, and feet, it will trigger their inborn feeding reflexes. And as their chin touches your body, their mouth will open and they will begin to search for your breast. In these “laid-back positions,” gravity will help your nipple reach the comfort zone.
In other positions, you may need to work a little harder to help encourage a good latch and bring your nipple more deeply into your baby’s mouth to find that comfort zone. Use the following tips to help get your nipple to where you want it to be:
• With your baby’s body pressed firmly against you and their nose in line with your nipple, let their head tilt back a bit (avoid pushing on the back of her head).
• Allow their chin to touch your breast, then move away.
• Repeat the first two steps until their mouth opens really wide, like a yawn.
• As they move onto the breast chin first, gently press your baby’s shoulders from behind for a deeper latch.
That last gentle shove will help your nipple reach the comfort zone. Breastfeeding tends to feel better when your baby latches on off-center, so the lower jaw lands far away from the nipple.
In the process of mastering the latch, you may experience pain and sore cracked nipples. If you feel nipple tenderness or discomfort, gel pads can prevent clothing friction and help soothe and heal your nipples. When choosing a gel pad, look for ones that you can wear in your bra like a nursing pad and that won’t stain your clothing.
It is also worth investing in a good lanolin cream to provide immediate relief and soothe your sore nipples. We suggest choosing a cream that is natural and hypoallergenic so it’s safe for your baby. This way there is no need to remove it prior to breastfeeding. The cream should create a thick barrier to protect against further soreness.