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 References1Daly, 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 […]
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
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. Related Products 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 […]