Saturday, July 20, 2013

Say No To Supplementing

Any time you may supplement your baby with formula or anything other than your breast,
it can harm your breast feeding relationship. In the first 6-12 weeks of your baby's life it can
be even more detrimental. We all have heard how breast feeding is a supply / demand
relationship. What that means, simply put, is that what your baby demands to be fed, your
breasts will make. But how does baby " demand"? Your baby demands by sucking, plain and
When he is first born he will suckle almost constantly, to lay down those pathways that signal the brain to make milk - previously discussed on Nursing Your Newborn. Your body responds by creating an over abundance of milk, what we term as your milk 'coming in'. We all know that painful, uncomfortable feeling of hard, engorged breasts soon after birth( between 3-10 days) Typically your breasts settle down, as they adjust to what your baby is drinking. And at around three months, your milk production is considered established. This results in your breasts not feeling as full, sometimes they leak less, sometimes they appear smaller. This is typically a time a mother will think she is losing her milk and start to supplement. But we'll come back to that.

In your baby's first days / weeks, it's very important to let baby suckle often and a lot.

When a bottle is given in place of baby suckling at the breast, there are no
signals for that particular feed going to the brain to
signal to make milk. So your supply drops. Add
another feed, and another, and the cycle continues.
The more the bottle is given, the less milk you will
make, by not having your baby at the breast. By assuming you're not making enough milk to
feed your baby, you make sure you don't by offering the bottle - breast feeding is not fully

Then we get to nipple confusion. Draining milk from the breast is hard work. Newborns sleep
often at the breast because it is tiring work. Work that is extremely beneficial to your baby,
muscle growth, jaw control, tongue control are just a few of the ways it actually helps
development! How awesome is that? Your baby is getting so many physical benefits just by

When you offer a bottle, even a slow flow nipple, is so much less work. Tip a bottle up and
watch it drip, trickle or pour out. Imagine then the force that the infant usually needs to drain
the breast, and the little effort it would take to drain a bottle. Who wouldn't like to do less work to score a feed?

Baby may take one bottle fine and continue happily at the breast, keep giving a bottle and
baby will prefer to drink from a bottle. He will scream and fuss until mom gives in and gives
another bottle. Again taking away that stimulation at the breast needed to make the milk. See the pattern?

Now when we get to the three month mark, where your breasts have 'evened' out. You no longer feel engorged, you don't leak so much. So you figure you're losing your milk. This is the furthest thing from the truth, and because we live in such a formula pushing society, typically there's some formula laying around. You just want to test and see if the baby will act more satisfied,if he's satisfied after formula, surely that means my milk is gone?

Well in a word .... No. If your baby falls asleep faster, or goes longer between feeds. That just means his little belly is full of something that takes much longer to digest. At his age, his belly is only made for your milk. It has a hard time processing that formula, it requires energy, he sleeps.

If you fall into that booby trap, you will believe he needs a suplemental feed, because he just wouldn't settle like he did with that formula last time. So you make another bottle, and baby doesn't go to the breast. No signal to the brain, no milk being made for that feed. Each time you put a bottle in his mouth, is time your brain has not been stimulated. You had a milk supply before - now you don't. You just created your own self fulfilling prophecy.

Unless you have a baby that is not gaining weight, doesn't have 6-8 wet / poopy diapers a day, is not gaining length or head circumference, his nails and hair are not growing, your baby is getting exactly what he needs. His own super food packed full of vitamins, minerals, fats, anti bodies. Designed especially for him. To introduce any kind of suplements can be dangerous and harmful to your breast feeding relationship.

As mothers we all worry, endless lists of worries bounce around in our heads for our babies. As long as you put your baby to your breast, you don't need to worry about a supplement. Remember to go through your check list of output, weight gain, etc, before you turn to a bottle that nine times out of ten was not needed in the first place.

Rice Cereal is Unnecessary

Rice cereal is a very common first food, in fact, it was my oldest's first solid food. I remember tentatively spooning watery mush cereal into his mouth. He seemed so confused by it, half the time he spit it out, and he didn't seem to enjoy it. I know now that he wasn't ready for solids, let alone rice cereal. My second baby never got rice cereal, and subsequent babies will not either.

Why not rice cereal, you may ask? Plenty of reasons -

- Rice cereal is nutritionally void: Rice cereal is very heavily processed. When the rice is processed it is stripped of all vitamins and minerals. When it it stripped of all of these important nutrients, it turns into, well basically, sugar in the body. It raises blood sugar and insulin, it can even be addictive over time!

- The added vitamins are harder for the body to absorb: The best thing anyone can do for their body is eat whole food in it's natural state. Your body can pull the most nutrients out of food that way. Since rice cereal is stripped of it's nutrition, it has some nutrients added back to it. These vitamins are not all of the vitamins and minerals that were taken from the rice, but some of them. They are not added back in to the cereal in the abundance that they are available from the whole rice form. Our body does not absorb supplemented vitamins as regularly as it does from whole food, so even if the box says it contains 50% of your babies Vit A for the whole day, their body will most likely not absorb the full amount of Vit A that it could have if it had been from a whole food substance.

- Young babies do not contain the enzyme in their gut that they need to digest grains: Yes, that is right. The intestines contain amalyse, an enzyme to help break down grains. In fact, babies don't make this enzyme in large enough quantities to help break down grains until over a year old! It is not produced until molars show up. When the gut can't break down grains, it can do a number on your baby, causing behavioral issues, food allergies, and many more problems.

- Rice cereal fills the belly: Sometimes when our babies start to go through their 4 month growth spurt, we start to worry. "Baby is eating all the time, is my milk gone?" "My baby is fussy constantly, he must be so hungry that he needs more then milk". No, this is not the case. 4 months is the age of a huge growth spurt. It is normal for baby to be fussy, grumpy, and eat a TON. That's okay, just sit back and nurse your baby. Moms will sometimes turn to rice cereal to help "fill up" the baby. That's bad, very bad. Infants need breastmilk as their main source of nutrition all the way to 1. Yes, even at 11.5 months your baby should be nursing more then he should be eating solids. Rice cereal sits in the belly and takes the place of nutrient rich breastmilk. That means that your baby is missing out on vital nutrients that he needs, because he is filled from a nutritionally void, starchy, sugary substance.

- Rice cereal does not make babies "sleep through the night" : This is a myth, a very large spread myth. True, some babies will sleep through the night after having rice cereal, but again, as the previous paragraph says, this is because it sits in the belly and is very hard to digest for a young baby. Babies need to wake in the night, in fact studies show that waking is the way a babies body prevents SIDS. Co-sleeping can help moms cope with night waking, cereal does not.

-Rice cereal contains added, artificial iron: This is the reason most pediatricians tout giving rice cereal to breastfed babies. They say that breastmilk does not contain enough iron. Breastmilk is low in iron, but the iron in breastmilk is very bio-available, meaning more gets absorbed then from cereal. The artificial iron in rice cereal actually blocks the iron from breastmilk from being absorbed! A much better choice is adding iron rich foods to your babies diet as they get older. Iron stores don't just magically run out the night baby turns 6 months.

Really there are not a lot of good reasons to start rice cereal, in fact I can't think of a single one. It is really not a healthy substance for anyone, but especially babies, to be eating.

Pathways to Becoming an IBCLC

When my oldest was born, I had no idea what I was doing. In the hospital I had a nurse help me latch him. It was uncomfortable, but I knew it was what needed to be done. The next morning (he was born in the middle of the night) an IBCLC came to see us. She was so kind, giving me lots of tips and encouragement, she helped latch him, checked his latch, and made sure I was comfortable nursing. When I told her I had no clue how to do this, she set up an appt with me, for 2 days later, to make sure things were going well.

I saw that lactation consultant every three days for 2 weeks. When my baby developed jaundice,and it kept going up, and not down. The lactation consultant started testing him in her office. She let me know that if the Dr wanted to me to supplement I should, but I should pump and use my own milk to supplement, not to give in and give him formula. That lactation consultant saved my breastfeeding relationship, she taught me a bit about nursing, and she spurred on my passion for nursing, and learning more about it.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that not every mom has such a helpful lactation consultant; that some moms are lucky if they even see a lactation consultant at all while in the hospital. As my baby got older I learned of more and more moms that were being incorrect information by their Dr’s, and being booby trapped into no longer nursing. My passion overtook me and I began to seek out ways to help moms become more aware of what their body was capable of.

A lot of moms feel the same way. They learn, they grow, they become passionate and they want to help out their fellow moms. A great way to help out other moms, and really nurture growing breastfeeding relationships, is to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

The path to becoming an IBCLC is a long one, but it is definitely do-able. There are three pathways to becoming an IBCLC.

Pathway 1 is for those who are already in a field of work that deals with breastfeeding moms, women who have worked or volunteered with breastfeeding moms in the past five years, or women who can easily volunteer with breastfeeding moms or be employed where they would be working with breastfeeding moms. You need at least 1000 hours of volunteer/employed work directly helping breastfeeding moms.

For pathway 1 you need at least a general education in health science, 14 subject minimum, 90 hours of education in human lactation and breastfeeding, plus the 1000 hours of clinical practice with breastfeeding moms.

Pathway 1 is best suited for health care professionals (nurses, Ob’s, midwives, physicians, dieticians, etc.) or breastfeeding/mother support counselors.

Pathway 2 is for moms who, within the previous five years, have taken a course through 1 of 4 accredited academic institutions (4 institutions can be found through the link at the bottom of the blog), plus you will need at least a general education in health science, 14 subject minimum, 90 hours of education in human lactation and breastfeeding, plus the 300 hours of clinical practice with breastfeeding moms, supervised by an IBCLC who will report back to your academic institution.

Pathway 3 is designed for women that would not be able to find volunteer or work positions helping breastfeeding moms. You must have a file with IBCLE, and construct an apprenticeship/mentorship with them. You will need plus you will need at least a general education in health science, 14 subject minimum, 90 hours of education in human lactation and breastfeeding, plus the 500 hours of clinical practice with breastfeeding moms, supervised by an IBCLC who will report back to your academic institution.

If you want to pursue an IBCLC accreditation further please visit It is the official website, and goes much more in depth with the ways to become an IBCLC, the financial cost, the test, and everything else you will need to know. Becoming an IBCLC is a fantastic way to support women and babies in the breastfeeding community.

Nursing a Newborn

What is normal nursing behaviour? What nursing schedule should my new born be on?

Have you had these questions? Are you stressed thinking your baby is nursing too much, not nursing enough? Is he getting enough milk? My milk must be gone because he feeds so often?

Lets start off by saying that, in this day and age of measurements, charts, bottles and pre conceived ideas of what " normal " new born behaviour is, it's totally understandable for you to have these questions and feelings. In days of old women birthed and then simply fed their babies. In rare cases when a woman was unable to feed or cases of maternal death, a wet nurse was sought. And she simply fed. If the baby gained weight, and grew, mama was happy or the wet nurse kept her job.

The easy answer to these questions, is that there is no " normal" mould. There is a general guide of what newborn behaviour likely will be. But even that gets a little hazy, because new borns just like kids, just like adults, are all different. Personally, I've given birth to 10 babies, and yes, they've all been different.

What should you expect from your newborn? Once your baby is delivered, you should optimally start his first breast feed within half an hour of his birth. If left to 'find' the breast, a new born will have a crawling shuffling movement and will eventually find the breast on his own. This is something that is starting to be encouraged, if you have your breast readily accessible, encourage him to latch as soon as possible. His first feed can last anything from 10 mins to over an hour. A newborns stomach is the size of a marble, the amount of colostrum in your breast is around 5 - 10 ml. Absolutely perfect amount for baby. Absolutely no need to feed your baby any kind of supplement. Be it formula, water or sugar water. Your body is designed to nourish your child, let it do its job!

*REMEMBER*:- This is your baby, no one has the right to supplement your baby. Make it quite clear to all hospital staff, that supplements will not be tolerated, scare tactics are unwelcome!

Since your baby's stomach is the size of a marble, he will need to feed often. Sometimes he will suck vigorously for a couple of minutes and doze off. Other times he may suck and suck what seems like all day, as soon as you take him off the breast, he wakes and wants to feed again! This is normal, throw out all of your preconceived notions of your baby waking to feed every three hours. Babies have no notion of schedules. They get hungry, they want to be fed. They don't understand that everyone thinks they should go longer between feeds. When you're hungry, you eat. Your baby wants to as well. The only difference being is that your stomach is much bigger and your food takes longer to digest.

Another reason you should put your new born to the breast as often as possible in the early days. The more the baby suckles, the more "pathways" are sent by your brain to your breast to stimulate milk production. The more you feed, the better capacity your breasts have to make a great milk supply. I always say that my babies are born, then spen the next six weeks attached to one or the other nipple. It certainly feels like that at times!

These are usually the times new mothers think they mustn't be making enough milk. So keep in mind, your baby will gain weight on his own schedule. Typically a lot at first, then slow down some after six months. As long as he is having 6-8 wet/ poopy diapers a day, he's getting enough. As long as he gains in length and head circumference, he's getting enough. If his hair and nails are growing, he is getting enough. You can never measure the amount of what your baby drinks by expressing with a pump or by hand. Your baby efficiently and effectively removes the milk from your breasts, better than anything else. What you pump is no indication. Don't mistake fussiness, baby wanting to be held, close to mom, not sleeping without mom, as signs of not getting enough at the breast. Your baby has been hard wired by instinct to want to be 'attached' to you, figuratively and literally. You are his key to survival, his instinct tells him that to be away from mom is a death sentence. Keep this in mind, your baby isn't going to be spoilt or over fed or underfed. You're not setting up a life pattern of clingy ness. He is behaving the way all baby animals do. A mother lion does not push her cubs away because it hasn't been three hours since their last feed. We who are more evolved shouldn't either. If your baby wants your breast, give it to him, simple as that! Keep in mind also that he has known nothing but a snug, warm, dimly lit environment. Then he's born into such a bright, loud, confusing world. He needs to adjust, he needs comfort. He will have no better comfort, nor a better place to explore the world than at your breast.

The broadest model of newborn behavior I have to offer is that he will feed, feed, feed, then feed some more. He will want to be in your arms, at your breast the majority of the time. It's unnatural to be away from your baby, it's not how we were designed. If you keep in mind that that is what your baby need, you will find the stress will fade away. He will sometimes cry for what seems to you, no reason. There is always a reason, when your milk comes in for instance, his belly is full and uncomfortable. When you put him in his bed he will cry because he needs to be with his mom. He may have gas or he may just need a cuddle.

As long as you view your newborn as a being who is totally dependent on you for his every need, you will view his behaviour as " normal".

Nursing in Public is Necessary

How many times have we heard that, or even thought it? Have you asked yourself these questions, and come up with answers like : “I don’t want to be a Lactivist” or “I just want to feed my child”, what about “What I do with my breasts and my baby is my business”, Or even “I’m not out to make a statement”.

All of these are valid answers. But here’s the thing; we all need to be able to have the choice. We need to be comfortable, knowing that if our newborn / infant / toddler / child wants to nurse when we’re not at home, we can with dignity. Not with fear or shame.

No one has to be a ‘ lactivist’, but everyone does need to feel comfortable and accepted to NIP, no matter the space, or occasion.

Personally, I have nursed everywhere I have been with my 10 kiddo’s. Why? Not to make a statement,not to offend, certainly not to push my beliefs on others. The answer is simple - my child was hungry. But here’s the beauty in that; Each and every one of my children knows - not accepts, not puts up with, but KNOWS that breastfeeding is normal; No matter the situation, or venue, they don’t bat an eye when the baby needs to be and is fed.

My extended family are now the same way. It isn't even close to an issue. Because the people that surround me see it as no issue, it therefore flows on to the people around them.

If nursing my children has affected acceptance and change in so many people’s lives. How many could you affect? Not by making a scene, not by making a statement. Just simply doing what needs to be done - feed your baby.

We often fail to realize how quickly we as individuals and we as a society, grow accustomed to something. So much so, that it becomes normal.

Ask yourself this: When you first saw your partner naked, was it a little uncomfortable? Did you feel shy? Did you avert your eyes because you were a little embarrassed?

Roll on 12 months, hubby is naked snoring his head off. Still embarrassed? Do you even look up? or do you shake your head and have a little giggle?

Ask yourself this: When bare breasts first came onto our movie screens, do you remember the uproar? The banning of films, the family groups outrage? The parents forbidding families to watch?
Roll on a few years, can you even turn the television on these days without seeing boobs? Or booty shots of booty’s in booty shorts EVERYWHERE?

Why is that? It’s because the more we are exposed to something, certain people, certain images, certain places. It becomes mundane, we accept it as individuals, we accept it as a society, that these things are now just normal to us. whether we like it or not, we accept it. Whether we find it offensive, we accept it. As there is nothing offensive or wrong about breast feeding, we need others to just simply accept it.

It is important to NIP so it once again becomes ‘normal’ to our society- and to each individual our society is made up of. No need to make statements, no need to become an activist trying to prove a point. Plainly and simply feed your baby when he’s hungry, then you too may find you have helped normalize what should be.

Where have you NIPed? 

The Lowdown on Night Waking

What's the first thing you think about when you think about having a baby? For me it's the cuddles, that sweet little baby giving me gorgeous smiles. I forget all about the hard work of having a baby, and glory in all the good stuff. Of course, that is what we are meant to do, if we remembered the hard stuff as we do the good stuff, well, we probably wouldn't keep having babies would we?

One of the hard things about having a baby is sleep, or more aptly the lack thereof. I function well on low sleep, but I know many people (my husband included) who need sleep to function well. They get grumpy, agitated, and unmotivated. It's one of the hardest aspects of having a baby after all, isn't it? Sleep is essential, for both baby and parents. Night parenting though, is very important. As hard as it can be, night parenting is unavoidable, important, and should be embraced. (I know, you think I'm crazy don't you?)

When a baby is born they are programmed to wake up, they wake when they are hungry, and when they are wet, and if they want snuggles. These are all very valid reasons for babies of any age to wake, not just newborns.

When your sweet little baby is born they need 3 things, a clean diaper, a full belly (which is where breastmilk comes in) and their mama to cuddle. Often newborns don't want to be put down, if they are it won't last long. They seem to sleep best on mom's chest, and sometimes, nowhere else. We buy lots of "things" to put our babies in, swings, bouncers, cribs, bassinets, etc, but the one place they want to be is with mom. You carried your baby for nine months, they are used to your voice, your heartbeat, the whoosh of blood running through your veins. We refer to the next few months after being born as the "fourth trimester". It's an important time of bonding, cuddling, and meeting babies needs whenever they need them met.

A few common myths about this time - 1. Babies manipulate us and don't always need us when they cry. 2. You will spoil your baby by holding them often. 3. Babies must learn to self soothe early. None of these things are true. Not a single one.

The truth is that it is normal for newborns, babies and even toddlers to wake in the night. In fact, you don't even sleep through the night! You may not remember it, but we all go through periods of wakefulness and deep sleep. Sometimes we arouse and then fall back asleep, other times we arouse and go to the bathroom, or get a drink of water, I occasionally wake up and cuddle up to my husband. That is normal. It is normal for babies to do the same thing. Needing a change, a drink or snack, or even a cuddle from mom, is a normal, biological response to night waking.

The problem stems from the western world declaring there was a problem with night waking. Before this it was seen as normal and parents dealt with it. It may seem like night waking goes on forever. You may seem sleep deprived and find yourself thinking "Is this every going to end?" and the answer really is, well, no. Your 5 year old may wet the bed and need help cleaning up at 2 am. Your 10 year old may have a nightmare and need a cuddle at 5 am. Your teenager may have a problem with friends, and need help mulling it over at midnight, when you would be just as happy to be in bed. That's part of being a parent. That's what we sign up for when we have babies.

If you look at it from a new perspective, 2 years of night waking and breastfeeding, 18 years of loving your child and gaining that trust for a life long good relationship, is such a short short time in a 100 year life span. It's barely a blip on the screen. For me it's not worth it to "train" my babies or see them as an inconvenience, I'd rather stick to WIO "Waiting it Out".

Did you wait it out with your babies? What do you think about night waking?

How Dad's Can Bond with Breastfed Babies

We quite often hear of, or get told of women who are discouraged from breastfeeding their babies, because Daddy wants to bond with the baby too. As silly as this may sound to some, in some families, this is a legitimate concern. Especially so for the mother who already has a great breastfeeding relationship established. As nursing mothers, we know that breastfeeding does give us great bonding time. We also know that feeding isn’t the only time we bond with our babies. Any time spent with your baby, giving him attention, is bonding time.

As soon as your baby is born, both Mum and Dad, can start to bond. After baby has had skin to skin contact with mum, and her first breastfeed, baby can then be handed to Dad for his own skin to skin contact with baby. When you get home with baby (if you had a hospital birth), Daddy can take baby after each feed, to burp and cuddle. In fact, my husband was better at burping our newborn then I was!
Daddy holding his bundled newbie.

Many Dads find that their special time with baby, is bath time. This is especially nice for Dad’s who work away from home all day. Dad gets home, has a bite to eat, and gives baby her bath (also a welcome break for mum).

Most families will have already invested in some form of baby carrier or wrap. Consider the investment if not. Dad’s can babywear as much as Mum can, around the house, out shopping, running errands.
Don't mind the expressions, it was bright and baby was tired.

If Dad does feel as though he’s missing out or feeling left out by not being able to feed baby. He can be in charge of bringing baby to mum to feed and taking baby back when the feed is finished - many a mother would be grateful that Daddy is getting up 4 times a night too.

Reading to your baby can never start too early. Daddy can read to baby from the day of his birth, be it a newspaper or a child’s picture book, it doesn’t matter the material, baby will enjoy listening to the rise and fall of Daddy’s voice and the time Daddy has taken to spend with them.

Dad’s can take the baby at anytime day or night, to cuddle,lay down on the bed with,talk to, or watch football with. Anytime spent with Daddy is special time.

Personally I have breastfed all of my babies, Daddy has never suffered neglect from the kiddies. He’ll walk the floors with a gassy baby, cuddle the baby while watching footy, take them shopping, take them to the park, fall asleep with them - any number of things. His relationship with the kids has always been great. Not because he’s got boobs to feed them with, but because he’s always spent time with them and included them in his everyday activities. Whether they’re 3 days or 3 years old. And now that the bigger kiddies are getting older, Daddy has a line of them following him around the yard like a row of ducklings, while he works or takes them out to play.

If you can think of an activity that Daddy and baby can do together, they will bond. All of these suggestions work just as well for Grandma's and Grandpa's, Aunts and Uncles, and Friends as well!

What activities did your hubbies enjoy doing with your baby? Did they feel like they bonded well with the baby?