In the early weeks of breastfeeding, you may experience sore or tender nipples. Tender nipples from breastfeeding are normal during the first week or two. Establishing a proper latch from the start will minimize nipple soreness and help you and your baby get the most from your breastfeeding experience. 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. The “Comfort Zone” 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. Laid Back Approach 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. Alternative Positions 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. Sore Cracked Nipples 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. Happy Feeding! Related Products
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? • 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. • 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. Related Products
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 […]
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 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. 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 ProductsCoauthor of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers