Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reaching Your Breastfeeding Milestones

In our modern world, breastfeeding has become this thing for so many that you might try, but you'll keep your can of free formula in the pantry, "just in case." In those instances, you give yourself goals, milestones that you'll reach and feel good about:

"I'll breastfeed exclusively for 6 weeks."

"I'll try to make it to 6 months before giving any formula or solid foods."

"My goal is 1 year. I really want to make it to at least a year!"

"I plan to let the baby self wean, whenever that happens."

No matter what stage you and your baby are in your breastfeeding relationship, pat yourself on the back, because YOU ARE BREASTFEEDING! You have succeeded, no matter what your goal was. Now, keep going, because you've come this far, so why stop now? (Also, if you haven't yet, go throw away that can of formula. You don't need it.)

For us, formula wasn't really an option. Not that I was super gung-ho about breastfeeding from the start, but from what I could see in my family, breastfeeding is just what we did. I didn't set a goal, per se, I just kept on breastfeeding. 6 weeks, 6 months, a year, 2 years, 3 years, tandem nursing, tandem nursing while pregnant... once you let go of your milestones and just let it happen, it happens so beautifully and so quickly!

If you're struggling with breastfeeding, having one problem after another, I urge you to keep going! At some point, you'll have mastered every issue and will be all the better for it! When you reach your milestones, celebrate! Be proud of yourself, tell the world what you've accomplished, because you have given and you are giving your baby the absolute best, and that is something to be VERY proud of!

Happy breastfeeding!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Breastfeeding Diet

Hi again!

I wrote about colds in breastfeeding babies last time, and today was going to be about stomach aches, but I got a special request. The breastfeeding diet, what's allowed, what's not, and how to find a happy balance with your babe on those things that are a little iffy.

I want to start off by saying that no matter what you eat, as long as it sustains you, it will be turned into adequate milk for your baby. Be it a diet of McDonald's or completely raw and vegan, your milk is perfect for your baby. A lot of moms think that they can't have foods while nursing: dairy, wheat, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, onions, chocolate, and coffee are ones I hear all the time. Yes, those are common problem foods for nursing babies, but nothing says that YOUR nursing baby is going to have sensitivities to those foods.

Anything that you want to eat, eat. Basically, that's it. You should be around 2500 calories a day to make sure you and your baby are getting enough. If you find your baby has a reaction to something, think back 6-8 hours and try to remember what you ate/drank/took. Vitamins and medications can cause issues just as well as food, so don't forget about those.

For the longest time, I thought that baby Allie couldn't stand me drinking coffee. After discovering that she had a seafood sensitivity (sigh, no more sushi), I did an experiment of continuing to take my fish oil pills, but not drinking coffee for a few days, and she was just as fussy. Cut out the fish oil, and no more fussy baby (except for when those darn teeth start acting up)! When she's a few months older, I'll slowly introduce seafood again and see if she's outgrown the sensitivity. If not, we'll go another few months. All it takes is a bit of reading the labels and avoiding my favorite food (sushi). It is a sacrifice, but one I will absolutely make for my baby.

Some babes have fussiness from birth, and their mothers just toss and turn trying to diagnose the issue. Sometimes the simplest (and most trying, it seems) thing to do is an elimination diet: boiled chicken, white rice, and water. After that, you start adding back in ONE thing every few days. I'd start with a prenatal vitamin, so you're getting nutrients that you might be missing by not eating a large variety of food. Watch carefully as you reintroduce foods, keep a strict journal, and don't overdo anything. You'll likely find something in your daily menu that your baby can't stand, and all you have to do is cut it out. Everything else is a go! In my experience, it helps to focus on the things you can have (ice cream and coffee for me!) instead of the thing you can't (any kind of seafood or fish oil pills).

I mentioned once to a friend who was worried about her diet being "good enough" for her baby's milk that there are malnourished mothers in 3rd world countries that are able to breastfeed, and their babies LIVE because of that milk. If they were on formula, they would (and do) die.

Any breast milk is better than none, and breast milk is almost always better than formula (except for when mom has to be on a medication that has no lactation friendly alternative). As you work to find what ails your baby's tummy, just remember that you're doing this for your baby and for you. It might take a while to get things just perfect, and find that balance (I can have as much coffee as I want as long as I drink plenty of water to go along with it), but once you do, you're going to be able to truly enjoy your breastfeeding relationship as you deserve.

Happy breastfeeding!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting Back to Blogging (and Breastfeeding)

Hi all! I've missed writing, and I'm so sorry for skipping 6 months worth of blogging, but I've been a bit overwhelmed lately. What with the birth of my 3rd baby, having my husband home (he was away for the first 7 months of this year for military training) and wanting to spend every second with him, and then beginning to plan our World Breastfeeding Week celebrations... time has just slipped through my fingers. But I'm back now, so be prepared to have your noggins filled with breastfeeding knowledge!

I have a book called "Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple." I refer to it as my big book of answers, and it really covers EVERYTHING in its 864 pages (index not included). Starting now, I'm going to be flipping to a random page and writing about the issues printed. My goal is that by reading this blog, you'll learn everything you need to know to successfully breastfeed and get over any hurdles that may block your path.

The topic: Illness In the Breastfeeding Baby. Colds, flu, ear infections, and breathing problems. I'm obviously not a doctor, so take everything here and use some common sense. If your babe is sick for more than 3-5 days, and seems to get worse over time rather than better, go to your doctor. My solutions here are to get your baby to nurse, which should help him/her get better. If it doesn't, it might be more serious than just a cold.

With colds, flu, and ear infections, there's usually a lot of fluid build up in the sinuses, which may make nursing difficult. But don't worry! There are solutions to nurse your stuffed up baby. To start, keep baby upright in a sling or in your arms so the sinuses can drain a bit. If that doesn't quite do the trick, use a bulb syringe to suck out the ickies.

You can breastfeed in an upright or laid back position to facilitate breathing, and I've even found that nursing for a short while in a position where baby's head is tilting back slightly can cause the milk to come out the nose, thus clearing out some of that fluid build up. Looks gross, but it is quite effective.

If baby is refusing to nurse because (s)he is struggling to breathe, you might try pumping and feeding baby with either a bottle or a cup, and still frequently offer the breast. Squirting your breast milk up baby's nose can help clear it up, and squirting it in baby's ears (many times a day) can help kill the infection within.

A warm, steamy shower can help loosen up those fluids, and it's a lovely experience to sit in the shower and nurse a babe. One of my favorite things to do when my kiddos have gotten colds.

My next post will be on stomach illnesses, so stay tuned (and if I fall behind, somebody poke me!).

Happy breastfeeding!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Milkin' Cookies

For our LLL meetings, I like to bring lactation/milk/milkin' cookies along. They're not just for those who need a milk supply boost; packed full of healthy and delicious goodness, they're a fairly guilt-free snack, and good enough to share with the kiddos!

There are several recipes floating around; most contain flax and oatmeal, which have been shown to increase milk supply. Here's my mash-up of several recipes, which happen to make quite moist, delicious, nicely shaped cookies. Enjoy!

Happy breastfeeding!

Milkin' Cookies

1 cup flax meal

4 tbsp water

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

½ cup melted butter

2 cups Agave nectar

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup crushed cranberries

1 cup crushed nuts of your choice (I used walnuts)

3 cup old-fashioned oats

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 350* F.

In a bowl, mix flax and water until thoroughly mixed, set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

In a large bowl, beat butter, ONE cup of Agave nectar, sugars, vanilla, and eggs together.

Add flax.

Add in flour mixture and combine well.

Mix in cranberries, nuts, and chocolate chips.

Mix in oats.

After everything is blended together well, add

the applesauce and final 1 cup of Agave nectar and stir through.

Scoop onto greased cookie sheets, press down lightly on each with a fork.

Bake 12-14 minutes.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Breastfeeding Supply Issues and CCK: Your Supply Is Fine, It's Your Timing That's the Problem!

Here's a post I want to share with you, which I originally wrote for Daily Momtra, and can be found here.

"My baby eats all the time! I think I need to give him formula to satisfy him.”

“When my baby falls asleep with a pacifier, he seems much more satisfied, but I’m always engorged.”

“No matter how often she eats, I feel like she wants to eat again in 10 minutes! I must not have enough milk.”

It’s a very common issue: mommies think that because their breastfed baby just wants to eat and eat (and eat and eat), that they’re either not producing enough milk, or the baby just needs way more than mom can make. I’m here to tell you, in most cases, it’s just not true!

Babies have this neat hormone in their system that tells them when they’re full (high levels) and hungry (low levels). It’s called cholecystokinin (CCK), and it aids in digestion and gives feelings of satiation and well-being in mom and baby. When a baby nurses for a good amount of time, their levels rise and they may get that milk drunk look or just fall asleep. After a nice little nap, their CCK levels drop a bit, so they want to nurse again. They may not actually drink, but just suck until they fall back asleep.

Giving a pacifier can trick this hormone, since it’s created by sucking, but can mess with your supply, and make baby cranky when she wakes up. Breastfeeding your baby when she’s fussy is the best way to restore those full CCK levels and make a happy baby once again. It’s been found that babies with colic have lower levels of CCK in their systems, usually because of an abnormal amount of spitting up. These babies may need a pacifier to help calm them and raise their CCK, when nursing just won’t cut it. The most important thing to remember when using a pacifier is “If you have to, use it, don’t abuse it, quickly lose it.” (Dr. Sears)

CCK is nature’s alarm clock; a very well organized “schedule” to keep your baby well fed and build up your supply. So keep feeding that baby on cue, don’t give that unnecessary bottle or pacifier, and you’ll find yourself in a happy nursing relationship for months (or years) to come.

Happy breastfeeding!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Your Birth and Breastfeeding

How your baby comes into the world can have a large effect on your initial success with breastfeeding. More and more information has come out about how birth affects breastfeeding and hospitals are becoming "Baby Friendly," to encourage and support breastfeeding immediately after birth.

Mothers are having out-of-hospital births (in birth centers and at home), because the chance of them having interventions that hinder breastfeeding are slim to none. I'm going to share with you how each part of today's "normal" births can put a roadblock on your path to successful breastfeeding.

Induction: When a mother is induced, there's a chance her baby is not yet to term, which can cause a delay in the mature milk coming in. Inductions can also double the chance of a c-section, which can give a whole new set of problems.

Pain medication (especially the epidural): When a mother gets an epidural, she must remain in bed until well after the baby is born. She also must have a saline IV, which fills her body with extra fluids that can cause pathological engorgement (breasts not overly full of milk, but of saline [which can't pass through to the milk]) and make latching extremely difficult. The saline can also raise the baby's weight, distorting the actual birth weight and causing unnecessary concern over weight gain.

Cesarean- Mothers can successfully breastfeed after a c-section just as they can after a vaginal birth, as long as they remain committed and have the baby near them as soon as possible after delivery. Some may still struggle, and the milk may have a delay in coming in, but it's just as possible, and even more important for a baby born via c-section to breastfeed.

With determination, education, and support, every woman can have a fighting chance at successfully breastfeeding from birth. Check out Breastfeeding 101: Surviving the Hospital and Newborn Days for more tips!

Happy breastfeeding!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The ABCs of the Consequences of NOT Breastfeeding

Last week was our monthly La Leche League meeting, and we discussed the ABCs of breastfeeding. You can "like" the La Leche League of Canyon County, ID page on Facebook to see the ABCs that our group members came up with... they'll be posting one letter a day for the next few weeks.

I'm going to share with you the ABCs of the consequences of NOT breastfeeding, taken from my CLEC course. Everything listed here can happen to breastfed babies, but the risk is MUCH higher if the child is given artificial baby milk (formula) instead of being exclusively breastfed.

The benefits of breastfeeding are endless, but the risks of NOT breastfeeding are so much more important to take into consideration.

A- Asthma
B- Bronchitis
C- Celiac Disease
D- Diarrhea
E- Eating Disorders
F- Food Allergies
G- Gastro-intestinal issues
H- Hodgkin's Disease
I- Immune-regulatory diseases
J- Jaw development problems
K- Kidney transplant failure
L- Leukemia
M- Meningitis
N- Neurological Disorders
O- Otitis Media (middle ear infection)
P- Pneumonia
Q- Quantifiable IQ deficit
R- Respiratory problems
T- Tongue Thrusts
U- Ulcerative Colitis
V- Viral infections
W- Water intoxication
X- eXcessive weight gain
Y- Yucky diapers
Z- Zinc deficiency