The first few weeks of breastfeeding can feel quite overwhelming. It’s a learning time for both you and your baby, each of you getting a feel for each other.

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.

What to Expect

  • Your milk production grows from about 1 ounce (30 mL) to about 30 ounces (900 mL) between Days 1 and 40.
  • Most mothers start to make noticeably more milk starting around Day 3 or 4.
  • Your baby should be back to birth weight by 2 weeks. You can then expect baby to gain about 7 ounces (210 g) per week or 2 lbs (900 g) per month.
  • Most babies feed 8-12 times per day, but not at set times. They may bunch feedings close together for part of the day (cluster feed).
  • Your baby may want to feed again soon after breastfeeding. This is normal in the beginning.
  • By Day 3-5, baby’s black stools (meconium) turn first green, then yellow. You can then expect 3 or more yellow stools every day.
  • Also, expect 5-6 or more wet diapers a day by Day 5.
  • If your breasts feel very full, breastfeed more or express milk. This will make you feel better, not worse.
  • Most babies sleep for one 4-5 hour stretch each day. This may not happen at night, unfortunately.

Fun Facts

  • A baby’s stomach stretches from the size of a shooter marble on Day 1 to a chicken egg by Day 10.
  • Babies may take one breast at a feeding, or they may need to feed on both breasts. Let your baby decide.
  • Drained breasts make milk faster. Full breasts make milk slower.
  • Breastfeed only if possible. Avoid pacifiers and any other liquids

General Breastfeeding Tips

  • Breastfeed whenever your baby wants to. You’ll know it’s time when your baby’s head turns from side to side with an open mouth. Or when she puts her hand to her mouth.
  • Ideally, don’t wait until your baby fusses or cries. When upset, it’s harder to feed well.
  • Use a position that feels good for you and your baby.
  • Learn to sleep while you breastfeed. Practice during the day.
  • If breastfeeding hurts, get help. A small change in how your baby takes the breast may be all you need to feel better.
  • Find a mother’s group near you and spend time with other breastfeeding mothers. We are stronger together!

You Know You Have Plenty of Milk When

  • Baby is gaining weight well on breast milk alone.
    • 0-4 months: 7 ounces (210 g) a week or 2 lbs. (900g) a month

When to Seek Help

  • If breastfeeding hurts.
  • If your baby loses more than 10% of birth weight or after Day 4, gains weight too slowly.

Even when breastfeeding is going well, you may experience some of the following:

  • Your baby has fussy times – Most babies do.
  • She wants to feed again soon after breastfeeding -Most babies do.
  • She wants to feed more often – This adjusts your milk production
  • Your breasts no longer feel full – Usually at about 3-4 weeks
  • She wants to feed less often or for a shorter time – Babies get faster with practice
  • Frequent night feedings – Babies need to do this to get enough milk
  • She will take a bottle after breastfeeding – Babies like to suck, this might not be related to milk supply
  • You can’t express much milk – This skill takes practice

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.

Instinct is still the key.

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.

It’s time to take a right-brained approach to breastfeeding.

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:

Watch for early feeding cues.

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.

Start with a calm baby.

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:

  • Lean back in a comfortable position. Semi-reclined positions in which your back, neck, shoulders, and arms are well-supported are sometimes referred to as laid-back. breastfeeding. These may be the same position you use to watch your favorite TV show.
  • Lay your baby, tummy down between your breasts. Your baby can be either dressed or stripped down to her diaper. Then make your breast accessible. Your chest is a very calming place for your baby. She can hear your voice and your heartbeat. She can smell you and get the feeling of your skin. Talk with her and make eye contact to bring you closer to your baby.
  • Follow your baby’s lead. When a calm baby lies tummy down on her mother’s laid-back body, this triggers instinctive feeding behaviours such as head-bobbing and movements toward the breast. If she is lying between your breasts, she probably won’t need much help. Encourage her with your voice. Babies can’t understand your words at this age, but they can understand your tone of voice. And feel free to touch and stroke her as the spirit moves you.

Play while you learn to breastfeed.

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

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The pain experienced during labour is different for every woman and can vary pregnancy to pregnancy. Preferences on how to manage that pain also differ, and each expecting mom will have her own ideal plan. Researching the available options is an important step in preparing for your labour.

What is TENS for Labour?

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.

How does a TENS machine work?

women on exercise ball with TENS pads on back

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.

How does a TENS machine reduce pain?

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.

When and how should I use TENS?

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.

What are the advantages?

  • It’s portable and non-invasive.
  • It’s under your control.
  • It’s easy to use.
  • You can keep moving while using it.
  • You can use it for as long as you want and then take it off. There are no lasting side-effects.
  • It’s safe for your baby.
  • You don’t need an anesthesiologist, doctor or midwife to administer it, so you can start using it as soon as you want to.
  • It can be used for a home birth.

What are the disadvantages?

  • You will need someone to help you put the pads on.
  • It may only help in the early stages of labour.
  • It may be difficult to find a TENS machine in your area. (http://www.motherschoiceproducts.com/) you can purchase or find a store.
  • It may have to be removed if your baby’s heart has to be monitored electronically.
  • If you want to use a birthing pool or have a bath, you can use TENS before you get in the water, but not when you are in the water.
  • It can make it more difficult for your birth partner to massage your back, which can be an effective form of pain relief.

Useful tips

· 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.

Where do I find a TENS machine?

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.

Have you been told that your baby doesn’t need, or shouldn’t be breastfeeding at night past a certain age? The age in question tends to vary depending on the well-meaning advisor. However, science tells us that in many cases, this simply isn’t true.

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 two basic dynamics that influence your milk production

Degree of Breast Fullness

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.

Breast Storage Capacity

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

Large Storage Capacity

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.

Small Storage Capacity

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

How storage capacity affects breastfeeding patterns

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 These Dynamics Affect Night Feedings


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.

There is no standard to follow

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

References
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.

Whether you are an exclusive pumper or you only pump occasionally, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of properly storing, freezing, and thawing your breast milk.

What do I need to know about storing my breast milk?

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.

What container should I use?

breast milk storage bag

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.

How much breast milk should I store?

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.  

How long can I store my breast milk?

If you follow the times on the chart below, you can keep your milk at room temperature, refrigerate it, then freeze it.

Breast Milk Storage Chart
*Storage times may vary for preterm or sick babies. Sources: Jones, F. , Best Practice for Expressing, Storing and Handling Human Milk in Hospitals, Homes and Child Care Settings. Raleigh, NC: Human Milk Banking Association of North America, 2011; Mohrbacher, N. Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple: A Guide for Helping Mothers. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing, 2010.

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 do some milk storage guidelines differ?

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.

Why do I need to warm my milk before feeding it to my baby?

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.  

What should I know about warming and thawing my milk?

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.

HERE ARE SOME “DON’TS” TO KEEP IN MIND:

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.

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier, and a little tender when they begin making more milk. Engorgement, however, results when your breast milk builds up and the fullness leaves your breasts feeling hard, lumpy, and painful.

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.

How to get relief

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! 

Tips & Tricks

• 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!  

How long will it last?

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.

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Summer has finally arrived and for many of us, it’s the perfect time for a family getaway. But whether that means staying local and enjoying the outdoors with a hike or day trip, or something more adventurous, like a cross-country road trip – travelling as a new mom can seem daunting and overwhelming. Don’t let the fear of pumping or breastfeeding while travelling deter you from satisfying your wanderlust and enjoying your summer.

Here are a few tips we put together for travelling with your small baby or newborn.

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.

For our pumping moms, here are a few things you can do to reduce the stress and make your trip more enjoyable:

Create a “pumping kit”

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.

Plan for a fridge at your destination

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.

Good storage bottles, freezer packs, and a cooler are essential

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.

Portion your breast milk

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.

Invest in a hands-free pumping bra

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.

Safely Preparing and Storing Expressed Breast Milk

• 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.

Safely Thawing Breast Milk

• 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.

Avoid using a microwave oven to thaw or heat bottles of breast milk

• 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

Where

Temperature

Time

Comments

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)

24 hours

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)

2 weeks

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

Deep Freezer

-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

Recently a friend of mine was telling me about a road trip she took with three of her girlfriends. She joked about how many times they had to stop for bathroom breaks. For some women, particularly those having gone through childbirth, this is considered normal. Just plan your day and schedule around bathroom stops and make sure you cross your legs when you sneeze.

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.

Why do I pee so much?

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 I do?

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.

How does a pelvic floor exerciser work?

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.

Chart explaining Elise effectivness

Related Products

pelvic floor excerser with vaginal probe
Elise Pelvic Floor Exerciser by TensCare
Vaginal Probe for Elise Pelvic Floor Exerciser
Vaginal Probe Replacement Part

For more information and to shop, visit www.leakybladder.ca

We know that breast milk is the best food for your baby, but what about you? Are there certain foods that affect the quality of your breast milk? It’s a valid question and one that doesn’t have a simple answer.

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.

Are there foods I should avoid while I’m breastfeeding?

ANSWER:

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!

My diet isn’t even close to perfect. Will my breast milk still be good for my baby?

ANSWER:

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).

How will I know if my baby is reacting to something I’ve eaten?

ANSWER:

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.

Do I need to increase my calories to increase breast milk production?

ANSWER:

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.

As a vegetarian, is there anything special I need to know?

ANSWER:

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.

Are there certain foods that will increase my breast milk production?

ANSWER:

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.

Can I diet while I’m breastfeeding?

ANSWER:

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.

Is caffeine safe while breastfeeding?

ANSWER:

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.

How much should I drink while I’m breastfeeding?

ANSWER:

“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.

Can I have an occasional glass of beer or wine while I’m nursing?

ANSWER:

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

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Are you experiencing pain during or after breast pumping? Even though sore nipples are a common problem, pumping should not hurt.

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.

Breast Pump Suction Set Too High

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.

Flange Fit Issues

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 fit properly inside flange
Good Fit
flange too tight around nipple
Too Small
too much space between flange and nipple
Too Big

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.

Circle diameters of various nipple data-lazy-sizes
Nipple Size Chart

Other Causes of Breast or Nipple Pain

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

Simple Steps to Keep Your Ameda Breast Pump Clean

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

Once you have your breast pump, you can start breast pumping and collecting milk any time. But be mindful, in the first two weeks after your baby is born, it’s best to pump occasionally to relieve engorgement – don’t get carried away!

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.

When to pump:

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.

Learning how to pump:

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.

How often to pump:

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.

How long should you pump?

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).

Breast Pump Settings

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.

Better Pumping Results

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.

Breast Compressions

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.

Relax while Pumping

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:

Positioning:

Sit back in your chair, don’t tense your shoulders, and support the bottles so that you don’t have to lean forward.

Environment:

Play relaxing music, have a comfortable chair for pumping, have a cup of tea before you start – in general – be comfortable!

Baby Cues:

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)

Bottle Watching:

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.

Activity:

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

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Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a common, complex, and distressing problem that has a profound impact on individuals and society. It frequently presents as a result of a disease or an injury; however, it is not merely an accompanying symptom, but rather a separate condition in its own right.

Worldwide, the burden caused by chronic pain represented by conditions such as low back pain and osteoarthritis is escalating. Measuring years lived with disability, lower back and neck pain have consistently been the leading causes of disability internationally, with other chronic pain conditions featuring prominently in the top 10 causes of disability.

It affects between one-third and one-half of the population of the UK, that’s just under 28 million adults. The overall cost to the UK economy of back pain alone was estimated to be £10,668 million in 2000.

Chronic pain reduces your ability to take part in daily life activities and can create many difficulties in your professional and personal life. Quality of life and mental wellbeing are heavily impacted and can lead to sleeping problems and disorders, anxiety, depression, and deterioration of close relationships.

Treatments For Pain

Over the past few decades there has been a dramatic increase in use of prescription opioids for chronic pain, despite concerns about their adverse effects and potential for addiction.

Many healthcare professionals and researchers have expressed the need for non-pharmacological treatment options. TENS therapy is a safe option that comes without any serious side effects and/or complications. It is widely accessible, affordable, and allows you to take control of your treatment in your own home.

The Evidence For TENS

TENS provides relief for pain from a wide variety of causes. Clinical research over the past 20 years has provided support that it works by intercepting pain signals travelling to the brain and promoting the release of endorphins. In addition, TENS therapy can often be used in addition to other treatments if desired.

Through our clinical evaluations for our TENS machines, our quality and regulatory team has assessed over 100 clinical research papers on TENS and its ability to provide pain relief. The following are short extracts and conclusions from these papers that have inspired us and confirm the effective of TENS.

  • Using TENS As First Line Of Pain Relief May Reduce The Need For Postoperative Opioids. In Addition, TENS Appears Preferable As The First Line Of Treatment Due To Its Association With A Shorter Time Spent In The Post Anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU) If The Patient Responds To The Treatment.
  • Effect Of TENS On Patients With Acute Low Back Pain Is Beneficial.
  • The Addition Of TENS To The Physical Therapy Program Was Seen To Make A Significant Contribution To Clinical Recovery In CRPS Type 1.
  • TENS Can Reduce Postoperative Pain In The Early Hours After Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgery.
  • TENS Is A Valuable Strategy To Alleviate Post-Thoracotomy Pain.
  • TENS Is A Safe, Non-Invasive, Easy-To-Administer Therapy To Use For Chronic Facial Myalgia.
  • Pain And Fatigue Were Further Improved When Two Active Devices Were Simultaneously Applied At The Low Back And Cervical Area, Reflecting Its Usefulness As Adjuvant For Fibromyalgia Pain.
  • TENS Has Shown A Significant Improvement On Neuropathic Pain In Diabetic Neuropathy.
  • TENS Is An Effective, Easy To Use And With Minimal Side Effects In Patients Suffering From Trigeminal Neuralgia Not Responding To Conventional Therapy.
  • TENS Promoted Significant Postoperative Pain Relief.
  • Our Study Results Suggest That TENS Is An Effective And Safe Non-Invasive, Non-Pharmacological Treatment Modality. It May Be Preferred As An Alternative Method In Pain Control In Postpartum Women After C-Section Delivery.

In summary, TENS is a simple, safe, and effective pain relief method for those suffering from various pain conditions.

Blog sourced from TensCare UK.

Dimpleskins Naturals products were started from the kitchen of Jen Casey (CNP, Holistic Nutritionist), in 2001. After the birth of her first child, Jen noticed that chemical-free products were not readily available in the marketplace at the time. So, with her background in Make-Up Artistry, Aromatherapy, and Holistic Nutrition, she began to develop her own balms and salves. Originally Jen just intended them for her own use. But as she began to share them with friends, word spread. Soon moms everywhere were starting to make Dimpleskins Naturals their go-to product and it was featured in magazines and winning awards.

Still today the original formulas have not changed. They continue to use natural, chemical-free and organic ingredients and Dimpleskins Naturals has signed the PETA pledge, promising that their raw ingredients and finished products are cruelty-free. All of Dimpleskins Naturals products are manufactured in British Columbia and distributed across Canada.

Bum Bum Balm Diapering Salve

Pure, unbleached, Canadian beeswax provides a nice barrier on the skin, helping to keep moisture away, while organic calendula oil provides natural healing properties for rashes. All you need to do is apply it to diaper area as needed. It’s zinc-free and won’t ruin your cloth diapers.

It’s made of: coconut oil, pure unbleached beeswax, organic jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, organic calendula oil (infused in sunflower oil), cocoa butter, vitamin E oil (derived from pure soybean oil), and pure lavender essential oil.

Basically Bare Everywhere Balm

Finally, an unscented balm to use all over the body, from lips to tiny toes! It’s not just for baby, this balm is for those who prefer no scent and like one product for the entire body. Contains all natural and organic ingredients, including organic calendula oil to help soothe roughness and itching due to dry skin.

The ingredients are: pure beeswax, coconut oil, Apricot kernel oil, organic jojoba oil, organic calendula infused sunflower oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E (tocopherol)

Sweet Cheeks Body Balm

A delicious blend of pure lavender and vanilla oils make this balm an essential for dry skin, chapped cheeks, and hands. Also works perfectly as an after-bath massage balm on baby. It’s 100% natural and cruelty free like all Dimpleskins Naturals products.

Ingredients: coconut oil, pure beeswax, organic jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E oil, pure lavender and vanilla essential oils.

Boo Boo Goo Soothing Salve

Great on bug bites, eczema, scrapes and boo-boos of all kinds. A combination of pure and organic essential oils that are recommended for use on children aged 1 year and up.

What’s in it? Coconut oil, pure beeswax, organic jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, organic calendula oil (infused in sunflower oil), cocoa butter, vitamin E oil, pure lavender, geranium and tea tree essential oils.

Get your Dimpleskins Natruals from the Mama Bear Shop today.

Prenatal Ease is a line of products that help mothers from pre-conception through breastfeeding. Offering supplements, nourishing creams and oils for stretch marks, Prenatal Ease takes care of you and your baby’s bodies. These carefully formulated vitamins and high-quality, plant-based skin care use both science and traditional herbal remedies. Want to know more? Here we do a roundup of their products and what they are made of.

The Prenatal Ease Vitamins

Prenatal Ease Preconception

Prenatal Ease Preconception is a multivitamin specially formulated for women trying to get pregnant. The scientifically-based formula contains 23 essential vitamins and minerals to prepare your body for conception.

It’s a good idea for you to try to build up nutritional stores before getting pregnant as certain nutrients are important in helping to support women’s reproductive health. Prenatal Ease Preconception contains zinc, selenium, choline, inositol, iron, and vitamin D; all which contribute to fertility and the regulation of hormones.

The formulation also has powerful antioxidants such as beta-carotene, E, and C, to help neutralize free radicals that are generated from normal processes like ovulation, oocyte maturation, implantation, and embryogenesis. It also has beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A and is difficult to take too much of, unlike pure vitamin A.

Prenatal Ease Preconception also has the full suite of vitamin B complexes. Studies show that vitamin B12 can help the chances of ovulating while vitamin B6 has a role in helping with implantation and early placental development. Each capsule also contains 800 mcg of folate to help prevent neural tube defect. It has everything you need for a pre-conception vitamin.

Prenatal Ease Stage 1

Prenatal Ease Stage 1 is a prenatal multivitamin specially formulated for pregnant women in their first trimester (weeks 0-13). It contains 20 essential vitamins and minerals to support your developing baby, including vitamin B6 and ginger to help alleviate morning sickness and provide digestive comfort. It’s also recognized by The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC).

During the first trimester all the baby’s major organs take shape and your body will also undergo significant hormonal changes to accommodate the new baby. As a result, this is when you will start to notice common symptoms of pregnancy such as breast tenderness, fatigue, increased vaginal discharge, and morning sickness. Prenatal Ease Stage 1 does not use any drugs to help with the morning sickness but uses premium grade ginger.

Ginger has been used for thousands of years by many cultures and is known to be effective in treating motion sickness, postoperative nausea and morning sickness. Ginger is also recommended by The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) in managing morning sickness.

Some studies have suggested that the high levels of iron in many “one-size-fits-all” prenatal multivitamins might be another cause of morning sickness. With the biggest demand for iron being in the second or third trimester where your blood volume increases dramatically; having vitamins tailored to your pregnancy stage can be helpful.

Prenatal Ease Stage 1 contains just enough iron for a healthy pregnancy, but not high enough to cause morning sickness, and constipation. Prenatal Ease Stage 1 follows all the latest recommendations by The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada for supporting prenatal health and helping to alleviate morning sickness.

Prenatal Ease Stage 2

Prenatal Ease Stage 2 is specially formulated for pregnant women in their second trimester (Weeks 13-26). This advanced formula is scientifically based and contains 19 essential vitamins and minerals to support and nourish both mom and the growing baby. It contains important vitamins like A, B, C, D & E to support your immune system and that healthy pregnancy glow.

During the second trimester, all the baby’s major body systems are in place and will continue to grow. Their skeletal system will begin to strengthen, creating a greater need for calcium. Prenatal Ease Stage 2 provides significantly more calcium and vitamin D than Stage 1 to help both of you get the calcium you need.

Luckily it is during the second trimester when morning sickness and fatigue start to settle down. As the baby matures, there is an increase in blood volume and blood flow to the womb to nourish the baby. Prenatal Ease Stage 2 provides just the right balance of iron to support increased blood production, but not enough to cause side effects like constipation.

Stage 2 contains powerful antioxidants such as vitamin A, E, and C, carefully balanced for the second trimester. These antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and are also critical for the formation of many different systems.

Prenatal Ease Stage 3

Prenatal Ease Stage 3 is a comprehensive multivitamin formulated for pregnant women in their third trimester (Weeks 26-40). This scientifically-based formula contains 21 essential vitamins and nutrients with a special herbal blend to help prepare your body for giving birth. It contains important nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin B, D and K to maintain your vitality and keep you healthy.

During this phase, your baby begins to gain weight rapidly by storing fat and other minerals like iron, and calcium. Blood flow to your womb increases significantly to accommodate your baby’s growth spurt. Prenatal Ease Stage 3 ensures that you get the right levels of iron and calcium to support your baby’s growth.

Some mothers may experience abnormal blood sugar levels during the third trimester. Prenatal Ease Stage 3 contains essential minerals like chromium to help your body maintain normal blood sugar levels and glucose metabolism.

Many moms suffer from indigestion, bloating and constipation during this time due to the extra progesterone being created by your body. Progesterone helps to relax your muscles, but it can also relax the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract. Prenatal Ease Stage 3 contains peppermint to help relieve indigestion and bloating and it contains just the right amount of iron so that it doesn’t aggravate constipation, but still satisfy your body’s needs

Prenatal Ease Nursing

Prenatal Ease Nursing is a comprehensive multivitamin specially formulated for new moms who are breastfeeding. Containing 21 important vitamins and minerals essential for nursing your growing baby this scientifically based formulation will help replenish your body’s store of vitamins B, C, D, E & K, and iodine lost during nursing. It is a rich source of plant-based vitamin A, beta-carotene.

Breastfeeding can be nutritionally demanding on your body. A typical mother will need to consume an extra 500 calories to meet her body’s energy requirements. Your vitamin and mineral requirements will also change during this time. Many minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium need to be replenished as they are consumed by your baby for their growing body. Prenatal Ease Nursing will provide you with all the essential minerals and vitamins that are lost during breastfeeding.

Vitamin A is essential for the proper development of the baby’s eyes, heart, ears, limbs, bones, skin, and immune system. Unfortunately, newborns have very low levels of vitamin A and get all of it from breast milk. Prenatal Ease Nursing is a rich source of beta-carotene, a source of vitamin A. One of the benefits of taking beta-carotene instead of vitamin A is the difficulty of overdosing. Your body will only create more vitamin A from beta-carotene if you need it.

When babies are just born, they are deficient in vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential in making sure blood clots properly. Because of this once the baby is born they will typically receive a vitamin K injection. In addition to this injection, babies will continue to absorb vitamin K through breast

milk. Taking Prenatal Ease Nursing will help ensure you and your baby will get the necessary vitamin K.

Prenatal Ease Omega3 DHA

Prenatal Ease Omega 3 DHA is the perfect companion to all the Prenatal Ease products. You can take it before, during and after pregnancy. And it is great for dads too, especially when trying to conceive.

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to your nutrition and can only be obtained through diet. The richest sources of Omega 3 are from oily fish, but unfortunately most women do not eat the recommended amount. Prenatal Ease Omega 3 DHA provides you with all the recommended Omega 3 fatty acids. Our fish oil is first made from fish that is naturally low in contaminates and then it is further purified through molecular distillation. They are then tested in house and by a third-party laboratory to ensure maximum purity and quality.

Within the Omega 3 fatty acids, the two most beneficial fatty acids are DHA and EPA. DHA is essential to fetal growth and development and is particularly important to visual and cognitive development. EPA supports the development of the cardiovascular, immune and inflammatory system. Studies also show that EPA is essential in helping the transportation of DHA through the placenta to the baby and it helps DHA get through the fetal cell membrane. Many studies have shown the benefits of taking both EPA and DHA together. Each serving of Prenatal Ease Omega 3 DHA has both DHA and EPA to ensure you get the maximum benefit of the Omega 3 fatty acids.

The Fight Against Stretchmarks

Stretch marks are partly related to the rapid weight gain and expansion of the abdominal wall. The collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis are rapidly thinned and stretched. The Prenatal Ease Belly Therapy line is designed to repair and nourish the stretching skin and sooth the itching that can occur during this process.

Prenatal Ease Ultimate Oil

Ultimate Oil is formulated with a nutrient-rich botanical blend to improve the skin’s appearance of stretch marks and relieve itchy, dry skin. It contains nourishing oils of Borage, Rosehip and Calendula, and highly purified extract of the Centella Asiatica herb and is packed with nutrients including Vitamin E, Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) and Ferulic Acid. This advanced formulation promotes skin elasticity and resilience. When it is applied it is instantly absorbed, leaving your skin noticeably nourished.

Prenatal Ease Ultra-Nourishing Cream

The Belly Therapy Ultra-Nourishing Cream was designed to repair and nourish the stretching skin. It is made with a special blend of plant-based ingredients to promote skin’s elasticity and improve the skin’s appearance from stretch marks.

It has both Shea and Cocoa butters to alleviate chapping and itching due to dry skin and helps to protect the skin’s moisture barrier. The blend of highly purified extract of the Centella Asiatica herb and nourishing oils of Borage, Rosehip and Calendula helps to repair and revitalize skin. This advanced formula is non-staining and penetrates deep into the skin, leaving it nourished, soft and supple.

Prenatal Ease Hydrating Lotion

The lightweight and non-greasy lotion is made with a special blend of plant-based ingredients to help improve the skin’s appearance from stretch marks.

Like the Ultra-Nourishing Cream, the Hydrating Lotion contains both Shea and Cocoa butters to protect the skin’s moisture barrier, along with a highly purified extract of the Centella Asiatica herb and nourishing oils of Borage, Rosehip and Calendula to help repair and revitalize skin. This advanced formulation is light and non-staining and upon application the skin is instantly hydrated and refreshed.

by Claire Smith

After hearing so many positive birth stories with using TENS, from mums and midwives, I felt reassured knowing I had my perfect mamaTens machine ready and waiting. I was hoping for a natural birth following an emergency caesarean with my first baby.

Two days before my due date, I was sitting with my friend, late in the evening, chatting and feeling really relaxed, when I felt my water break. My friends face made me laugh when I told her, “I think my waters have gone”, her eyes went really wide and she said, “shall I make you a cup of tea?!”

Knowing its best to start using TENS as early as possible during labour we stuck the pads on my back, and I started using the machine on the first programme, A, increasing the intensity so I could feel a gentle pulsing. We called the hospital and they asked us to visit, in order to monitor my progress for a little while, to make sure all was well with me and the baby. After an hour I was relieved that the midwife was happy for us to continue with my labour at home. It was around midnight, and I was only getting a few small twinges, so my husband took himself off to bed. But I really did not feel like sleeping and wanted to keep upright and moving around, so with my TENS machine attached to the neck cord, I slowly walked around, packing and repacking my hospital bag several times. I felt so calm and relaxed and with it being the middle of the night it was lovely and peaceful.

As my labour progressed, I increased the intensity of the TENS machine and used the boost button to help me through the contractions. When you press the boost button, the stimulation changes from a pulsing feeling to a more constant buzzing, then when the contraction has passed you turn the boost button off to return back to the pulsing. Having this to focus on really helped me when my contractions became stronger. I switched the TENS to programme B, which is similar to A, as it works by building your endorphins, but the feeling of the stimulation is slightly different. Having the back-lit screen was also helpful, so I could see what I was doing with the machine when pottering about in our dark bedroom.

At Around 6.30am my contractions became strong and frequent; it was definitely time to make our way to the hospital. When we arrived at around 7am I was so happy to hear I was 9.5cm dilated! Still using the TENS machine, now along with gas and air, our beautiful Chloe arrived at 8.16am!

I was so happy I could enjoy those first cuddles and spend time skin to skin with my precious new baby, and able to hold my little one straight away. With no side effects from the pain relief, I could really enjoy the moment.

It was an amazing birth experience, very different from my first and the recovery time was very different too. We were able to go home the same day.

My tips for using TENS, practice with the machine first and start using the machine as soon as you can during labour. And remember you can also use it for general back pain from 37 weeks and to help ease any after pains.

Blog provided by TensTalk with TensCare.

Going into labour and having the perfect birthing plan takes a lot of time and preparation. There is tons of advice floating around over the web and undoubtedly friends and family will have advice to share with you as well, however, there is no one solution that fits all. All women are different and should be celebrated as such.

We have compiled a list of 5 drug-free pain relief options during childbirth so you can decide how to feel better naturally.

Hypnotherapy

Often to numb out the pain we try to shift our focus somewhere else. This is the foundation of the hypnotherapy approach. In its essence, the practice is self-hypnosis that relies on finding distractions that provide support. In succeeding to do so, tension, pain and fright will be numbed by concentration.

The thought behind this drug-free pain relief method is based on a study that proves correlation of fear and muscle tension. Entering labour being frightened will force your body raise adrenaline levels, which will in turn cause tension of the cervix and muscles.

Unlike most drug-free pain relief in labour practices, hypnotherapy doesn’t rely on outside forces and gives you full control over its effectivity. Common practices to prepare women for childbirth such as breathing and visualisation classes are aimed at usage of hypnotherapy.

TENS Machine

TENS translates into Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and is a medically proven drug-free pain relief measure, widely used in different stages of labour. A Maternity TENS machine is a small stimulator that runs on a battery. It sends barely noticeable electric impulses to override the pain signals to your brain through your skin, using self-adhesive pads.

TENS machines are most effective when used in early labour; they not only help you manage your contractions but also give you support in maintaining mobility. TENS equipment can be used by virtually anybody, with an exception to those suffering from epilepsy, heart rhythm disorders or those using a pacemaker.

Massage

Humans generally find comfort in touch. And, of course, physical contact is just as important in labour. A touch of someone dear naturally makes us relax. Muscle tension is what stops production of endorphins, thus making contractions more painful than they should be.

Studies and research shows that women that were massaged during childbirth had shorter labours and had a lower probability of developing postnatal depression. Additionally, they weren’t as anxious and had experienced less pain. Other findings showed that something as little as handholding or patting does miracles to one’s ability to cope.

Water Birth

When it comes to drug-free pain relief in labour, water birth is one of the oldest practices. Our affinity to water begins in the womb, where we spend 9 months in water, and thus babies can swim upon being born – and it is genetically ingrained in us to naturally relax when our body is submerged.

Even in labour water is able to help you relax, and thus release more endorphins that contribute towards relaxation and taking the edge off of pain. Being relaxed means having more control over your pacing and reserving energy for when you actually need it.

Reflexology

Last but not the least on our list of drug-free pain relief methods is reflexology. It is an alternative medicine practice consisting of applying pressure on different spots of one’s feet to stimulate various body parts.

It is usually done by a trained specialist that knows the right spots to stimulate which helps by releasing hormones that can speed up labour. This can be practised either as a one-off or continued in timed intervals, contributing towards a feeling of calm and helping ease the pain.

It is important that all expectant mothers consult with their health care practitioners when deciding on the right pain-relief option for them, ultimately it is about selecting the right

environment and solution that will help you feel better naturally and assist you in welcoming your new bundle of joy.

Blog provided by TensTalk with TensCare.