Congratulations on your new baby! As a mother of a December baby, I understand the courage and the divinely appointed energy that is required to get through the holidays with a newborn.
Pardon the cliche, but it truly is a magical time, especially for families with littles. The lights! The music! The decorations! The gifts! The food! The parties! The… visitors! There are endless things to dazzle and delight us, but with all that dazzling and delighting comes exhaustion and anxiety… and germs. Is it possible to get to January healthy and sane? I don’t make any promises, but these tips might help.
Bonus tip for breastfeeding mothers!
Breastfeeding mom, are you ready for a break? Are you dreaming of a night out without your baby, or a night of sleep? Are you returning to work soon?
First of all, congratulations on exclusively breastfeeding your baby! That is a huge accomplishment and you deserve a medal! But now, you may have some questions about introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby.
These tips are not meant to be rules, or make you feel guilty if you do bottle feeding a different way. They are just meant for you to pick what works for you to make bottle feeding easy and pleasant for you and your baby.
Keeping it Safe
For Babies who are Like, Nah, I Only Eat from the Breast!
If your baby is not taking a bottle, try these tips:
Keep it Fun!
Can I nurse with a pierced nipple?
Nursing mommas ask lactation consultants all kinds of things. Other faqs include: Can I drink coffee? and How does a pump work?
But by far, the most common question we get is:
Am I making enough milk for my baby?
Here are 5 signs your baby’s GOT (enough breast) MILK:
1. Baby likes to eat. A LOT.
Feed your baby very frequently. As in, every time she acts hungry. Typically, 8 to 12 times (or more) a day. Even if baby just finished a meal, she might need more (otherwise known as cluster feeding). Frequent feedings help establish your milk supply and get nursing off to a great start!
Frequent, on-demand, unlimited feedings at an early age ensure baby gets all the milk she needs. This also triggers your body to MAKE LOTS OF MILK in the coming weeks and months. Every time baby latches, your baby is telling your breasts to make more milk. More feeds in the early days means more milk in the coming months.
But how do you know baby has a good latch and is actually getting milk?
2. You can hear baby swallowing.
All that chugging? That’s the sound of baby getting lots of milk!
If you can hear baby swallow frequently from Day 5 on, baby is drinking. Babies who get plenty of milk from breastfeeding suck once or twice, then swallow.
Baby repeats this suck-swallow pattern until…
3. Baby is content and relaxed.
Baby gets tense when she shows hunger cues. Because, um, she’s hungry. (Can you relate? Remember how crazed you felt when you were pregnant and hungry? Like, drop everything and FEED THIS MOM-TO-BE NOW?!) Before they nurse, many babies clench their fists and pull their arms in tight against their bodies.
As you feed baby and you hear that lovely, frequent swallowing, watch her arm and hand. They will begin to loosen and relax, and her fingers will splay open. A hungry baby will pull her arm in if you (gently) pull her hand away from her body. A full, satisfied baby has wet-noddle arms. Baby’s arm is a good gauge as to how satisfied she is after eating.
And a contented momma is another good sign.
4. Your breasts and nipples feel good.
Your baby needs to have a wide mouth and a deep latch to make sure she gets enough milk. If baby has a shallow latch, you can experience sore, painful nipples and engorgement.
You might notice your breasts fill up right before you nurse, and then they get softer during a feeding. This is a good sign that baby is getting lots of milk. She’s emptied the tanks.
In the early days and weeks of breastfeeding, a little discomfort and tugging on the nipples is common, but toe-curling pain is NOT normal. If your nipples hurt so much that it takes your breath away, seek help to adjust baby’s latch. Resources include International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, your OB, baby’s pediatrician, a home health nurse, La Leche League, Mommy & Baby breastfeeding groups at your local hospital.
Healthy, comfortable nipples are a sign that baby is latching well.
Happy baby = happy nipples
Besides frequent feeds, lots of swallowing, a content baby, and content nipples, there’s one other thing to look for.
5. Baby likes to pee and poop. A LOT.
And thus begins your parenting adventure with all things potty related.
What comes out of baby says a lot about what went into baby. If you’re changing a lot of wet diapers and at least a few yellow poopy diapers every day, congrats! Those diaper blowouts, plus all the great signs we’ve already covered, mean you’ve got a happy, satisfied baby. You can be confident she’s getting plenty of milk and your body’s making exactly what baby needs. Your baby definitely has GOT (enough breast) MILK!
Now you can stop worrying about baby’s feeding habits and spend your time trying to catch a little extra sleep. (Good luck with that!) I promise one day baby will sleep through the night – and you can kick sleep deprivation to the curb.
In case you’re still anxious, here are some BONUS TIPS!
Seems like baby wants to eat all.the.time? See #1 above. This is not a sign baby is starving. It’s normal for baby to want to feed very frequently, which ensures she gets fed enough and your body makes enough milk. More sucking = more milk!
Your friend’s baby takes more formula than you pump for YOUR baby.
YOU BE YOU. Moms are valuable resources for each other, but comparing YOUR baby to another baby isn’t a good idea. Babies who drink formula require more than babies who take breast milk.
If you aren’t seeing all 5 signs that your baby’s GOT (enough breast) MILK, or if you have any concerns about it, call baby’s pediatrician or a lactation consultant and get some help. It’s always ok to call and request a weight check.
Nurse on, momma!
This blog post was originally featured on MothersRest.com. Go ahead and check it out for more great articles on all things momming!
I am very excited to now provide expert breastfeeding help at the office of Carolina Pediatrics of the Triad!
If you are looking for a pediatrician for your new baby, Carolina Pediatrics is now the only pediatric office in Greensboro offering Lactation Consultation services.
Carolina Pediatrics understands the importance of on-site breastfeeding help, and they have opened up office space for Greensboro Lactation Consultants to see families at the first weight check, or whenever concerns arise. Appointments are available on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings, and drop-ins are welcome.
Call, text, or email if you'd like breastfeeding help at Carolina Pediatrics.
Got (Enough) Milk?
As a Lactation Consultant, I have been asked everything under the sun that has anything to do with breastfeeding, from “can I drink some coffee?” to “can I nurse with a pierced nipple?” to “how does a pump work?” But by far, the most common question I get is, “am I making enough milk for my baby?” Weighing the baby over time is the best way to know if the baby is getting enough milk, but it’s impossible to weigh the baby every feeding or every day. There are some other great ways, besides weighing the baby, to know that breastfeeding is going well.
Here are 5 tips to help you know if your baby is getting enough breast milk:
1. You are feeding your baby very frequently, every time your baby acts hungry. If you are feeding your baby every time your baby acts hungry, 8 to 12 times (or more) every day, even if your baby just finished a meal, you are getting off to a great start. By offering very frequent, on-demand, unlimited feedings at an early age, you are making sure that your baby gets all the milk he or she needs, as well as triggering your body to make lots of milk in the coming weeks and months. Every time your baby latches, your baby is telling your breasts to make more milk. More feeds in the early days results in more milk in the coming months.
But how will you know that your baby has a good latch and is actually getting milk?...
2. You can hear your baby swallowing. All that chugging? That is the sound of your baby getting lots of milk. If you can hear your baby swallow frequently from day 5 on, you can be sure that your baby is drinking. Babies who are getting plenty of milk from breastfeeding will suck once or twice, then swallow, and they will repeat this suck, swallow pattern until…
3. Your baby is content and relaxed after a feeding. Babies are usually tense when they are showing hunger cues. Before the feeding, many babies have their fists clenched up and their arms pulled in tight to their bodies. As the feeding progresses, and you hear frequent swallowing, watch your baby’s arm and hand. The arm and hand will began to loosen and relax, and the fingers will splay open. A hungry baby will pull their arm in if you (gently) pull the hand away from the body. A full, satisfied baby will have a relaxed arm and hand, and when you lift the hand away from the baby’s body, the arm will drop like a wet noodle. The baby’s arm is a good gauge as to how satisfied the baby is after eating.
Your baby needs to have a wide mouth and a deep latch to make sure that he or she is getting enough milk. If your baby has a shallow latch, you could experience sore, painful nipples and engorgement. Another good sign that your baby is getting enough milk is that…
4. Your breasts and nipples are not in pain. Some women feel their breasts fill up every feeding, and some women don’t feel the filling as much. If you generally feel your breasts fill up with milk, and your breasts get softer during a feeding, this is a good sign that your baby is getting lots of milk.
In the early days and weeks of breastfeeding, a little discomfort and tugging on the nipples is common, but toe-curling pain is not normal. If your nipples hurt so much that it takes your breath away, get someone to help you adjust your baby’s latch. Healthy, comfortable nipples are a sign that your baby is latched well.
Besides frequent feeds, lots of swallowing, a content baby, and comfortable nipples, there is one other thing to look for…
5. Pees and poops What comes out of your baby says a lot about what went in your baby. If your baby is having lots of wet diapers and at least a few yellow poops every day, AND you are experiencing ALL of the above, you can be confident that your baby is getting plenty of milk and that your body is making enough.
Bonus Tips! Things that do NOT mean that your baby is starving:
1. Frequent feeding. If it seems like your baby wants to eat all the time, see tip #1 above. This is not a sign that your baby is starving, it is normal for your baby to want to feed very frequently, which ensures that your baby gets fed enough and your body makes enough. More sucking = more milk!
2. Your friend’s baby takes more formula than you pump for your baby. You be you. Moms are valuable teachers for each other, but comparing your baby to another baby isn’t always a good idea. Babies who drink formula require more than babies who take breast milk. Use the tips above to be sure, and when in doubt, it’s always ok to call for a weight check.
If you aren’t seeing all 5 signs that your baby is getting enough milk, or if you have any concerns about it, call your baby’s pediatrician or an IBCLC and get some help.
Nurse on, mama!
Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. A little discomfort may be normal in the early days, but toe-curling pain is not normal. Positioning errors cause about 95% of severe pain in the early weeks of breastfeeding, and often, small adjustments can make a big difference! I would love to help you breastfeed without pain. I will do a full breastfeeding assessment in your home, including a weighed feeding with my hospital-grade baby scale. If there is something else going on besides positioning, I will work with you to come up with a plan that will help you reach your breastfeeding goals while reducing your pain and keeping your baby thriving.
Call or email if breastfeeding is painful. You don't have to continue to suffer - I am available for in-home breastfeeding help usually within 24 hours of your request.
Help! Breastfeeding is Painful! Is Something Wrong?
The early days and weeks of breastfeeding can be difficult as mom’s hormones are shifting dramatically and she is getting less sleep than she is used to. Sore nipples can make the adjustment even more stressful. Some well-meaning friends or family members might tell moms that they need to “toughen up” their nipples, or advise them to give up and just bottle-feed. If your nipples are hurting, it is important to find the cause of the pain and to make the necessary adjustments so you can continue breastfeeding.
Discomfort in the early days of breastfeeding is not uncommon and might be normal, as long as it is mild, it lasts only a few seconds at the beginning of a feeding, and the nipples look normal after feeding. Toe-curling pain that lasts throughout the feeding and/ or between feeds, and nipples that are misshapen, white, scabbed, or cracked are not normal. Moms who are experiencing these things are encouraged to seek help from an IBCLC right away.
Most of the time, sore nipples can be resolved by making some adjustments in how the baby is positioned at the breast. The vast majority of nipple pain is caused by positioning and latch errors. Sometimes, small adjustments can make a big difference in mom’s comfort!
Could My Baby Have Tongue-Tie?
If you are experiencing pain while breastfeeding, it is important to seek help from an IBCLC who can help you with positioning, evaluate your baby’s latch, and evaluate your baby for anatomical variances such as tongue or lip-tie. If your baby does have a tongue or lip-tie, and you are having breastfeeding difficulties, there are some very affective treatment options that your IBCLC can discuss with you. Sometimes a tongue-tie is hard to see. Sometimes, a baby might have an obvious-looking tongue-tie, but a full evaluation is necessary to make sure there are not other problems going on.
If it’s Not Tongue-Tie, What Could it Be?
Some other things that can cause severe nipple pain include Raynaud’s Syndrome, skin conditions, or infection. The baby may have difficulty with sucking and require suck training. Some babies have misalignment that causes sucking difficulties, and can be helped by a specialist in Cranio-sacral therapy.
If you are hurting, get help right away! There is no need to continue suffering, when an IBCLC can help you find out what the problem is and what to do about it.
How Can I Get This Baby Weight Off Safely?
Safe weight loss is healthy and realistic for breastfeeding women. Breastfeeding uses calories stored up during pregnancy, and a breastfeeding mother will lose 1-2 pounds a month with a normal, healthy diet (eating to hunger) and normal activity. If you want to lose weight faster, you can safely lose 1 pound a week through changes in diet and moderate exercise.
A weight loss of 1 pound a week with a healthy diet (at least 1500 to 1800 high quality calories) and moderate exercise has no effect on the fat content of the breast milk or on the baby’s growth. When you make healthy nutritional choices like eating lean meat, and cutting sugary or salty, high-fat junk food, refined flour, and high calorie drinks, you will experience healthy weight loss. Small changes can make a big difference. For example, cutting out a can of soda per day eliminates 140 calories, or 14 pounds a year!
You may begin a moderate exercise program after getting clearance from your OB or midwife 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. You can safely cut 500 calories from your diet and add a moderate 45 minute exercise routine 4 days a week and lose weight without affecting the quality of your breast milk or the growth of your baby.
I recommend slow, healthy, natural weigh loss through healthy nutrition and moderate exercise. If you have questions, or would like a personalized plan, I can help you! Call or email me if you would like to discuss healthy postpartum weight loss.
Even though breastfeeding is natural, it is not always easy, especially in the early days and weeks. Speech and walking are also natural, but it takes some practice and some pretty good coaching before speech or walking become easy for us.
It is also natural to have difficulties with breastfeeding at first. If you are having any difficulties with breastfeeding, I make lactation consultations in your home, and I can help you on the path to a breastfeeding experience which feels natural and comfortable to you. Call or email me, I can help you usually within 24 hours of your request!
Help! My Baby is Feeding All the Time! Is This Normal?
In the early days of your baby’s life, between the hormones, the visitors, the other children and pets, and the exhaustion, it’s easy for moms to feel overwhelmed! Add to this a baby who seems to want to breastfeed all the time, and moms can despair and lack confidence.
On your baby’s first day of life, he will take an average of 1 to 2 teaspoons of colostrum per feeding. Those tiny meals allow your baby to lose some of the extra fluids that are in his body at birth, empty his bowels, and practice lots of feedings without taking in too much.
Your baby might not have many meals in the first 24 hours, but by the second day of life, he will be eating 8 to 12 times or more per day! Most babies cluster feed in the evening and nighttime hours during the first few days of life. Cluster feeding simply means your baby wants to have several meals back to back. It’s important to understand that when your baby cluster feeds, this is perfectly normal and expected, and it does not mean that something is wrong or that your baby is starving.
If everything is fine, why is my baby sucking so much?
Each time your baby latches, even though he isn’t getting a large meal, he is doing a very important job: telling your body to make lots of milk for him. As he sucks at the breast, your breast is changed and milk production is triggered. The more he latches in the first few days, the more milk you will be making in the first weeks and months.
More sucking now = more milk later!
Your colostrum is all your baby needs, and it’s really important to not despair and give your baby formula during those few nights of cluster feeding! Continuing to offer him your breast when he is acting hungry, even if he just had a meal, will:
1. Give baby everything he needs and wants
2. Trigger your breasts to make lots of milk
3. Help prevent engorgement
4. Help calm you and increase your confidence.
Anytime you are not sure if things are going well, make sure to consult your pediatrician or an IBCLC. I can visit you in the comfort of your home to assess a feeding and make a customized feeding plan for you. I will weigh your baby with my hospital-grade baby scale before and after he eats, so we will see how much he's getting. I am available to come to your house to help you usually within 24 hours of your request! Contact me here.
Beth Sanders, BSN, RN, IBCLC