Make mine a double! Caffeine and breastfeeding

This picture kinda reminds me of “the girls”… if you know what I mean…

“I’d like a skinny vanilla latté, extra foam extra whip cream!!” One of the first questions I get from a lot of nursing moms is, “when can I drink coffee again?!?” Some doctors don’t have a problem if moms drink one a ounce cup of coffee throughout the entirety of the pregnancy. Other moms because of risk factors are told not to have any until after the babies born. Whether you have coffee or not during your pregnancy, there are a few things to know before introducing it after your baby is born. The first is that it affects infants differently than adults. The following chart was taken from Kelly mom.com. It shows the half-life of caffeine in the bloodstream. I was surprised that Caffeine will stay in the bloodstream of the brand newborn for an average of up to five days!

Their sensitivity to caffeine decreases as they age. Signs of sensitivity are hyperactivity, difficulty sleeping or sleeping for long periods of time, jitteriness, irritability, and fussiness. If you drink coffee during your pregnancy, you might not see as much of an impact on activity levels in your baby if you continue to drink after birth. However if you have stained from college and your pregnancy, you may notice changes in your baby. Per Medications and Mother’s Milk (Hale 2017, p. 139-140) caffeine is in Lactation Risk Category L2 (safer); milk levels are quite low (0.06-1.5% of maternal dose) and usually peak 1-2 hours after ingestion. The American Academy of Pediatrics has classified caffeine as a “Maternal Medication Usually Compatible with Breastfeeding.” If you’re iron deficient or iron deficiency rubs in your family, be extra careful. One study indicated that chronic coffee drinking might decrease iron content of breastmilk (Nehlig & Debry, 1994). We actually routinely give caffeine directly to premature babies in our neonatal unit for lung stimulation!

Remember caffeine isn’t just in coffee! Tea, soft drinks, sports/energy drinks (including the “sports water” products), some over-the-counter and prescription medications, and foods containing coffee or chocolate can also have caffeine!! I can’t have Haagen Daz coffee ice cream late at night because it keeps me up!!! Herbal products containing guarana/paullinea cupana, kola nut/cola nitida, yerba maté, or green tea also contain caffeine. Each food and liquid has varying amounts of caffeine. Different roasts of coffee and the way that the coffee is made also impacts caffeine level. Make sure to check the caffeine level you’re ingesting by serving size to see how much you’re getting!! According to Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple (Hale Publishing 2010, p. 521), excessive caffeine consumption by the mother (more than 750 mg per day) can result in a baby who shows signs of caffeine stimulation.

I typically recommend no more than one 8-ounce cup of coffee a day for nursing mothers (but as a note!! An 8-ounce Starbucks coffee has 250mg of caffeine while a non-gourmet brewed 8-ounce cup of coffee only has 120-160mg of caffeine!!!!!!) The important thing is to know your body and know your baby. Be informed of what you are putting into your body and what is going into your baby. Watch for how your baby reacts to that 1st cup of coffee and if you need to, cut out coffee for a little while longer or switch to decaf.

I personally have my one cup of Costa Rican drip coffee with almond milk every morning. If I’m really lucky, my husband will make me an Italian latte before I leave for work. I can only have one cup. The few times I’ve had a 2nd cup early afternoon, I am up all night. So far my daughter has never had a reaction to coffee. Although, I drink a cup of coffee through most of my pregnancy with the blessing of my midwife. As with anything you consume, if you have any concerns talk to your primary care physician or your pediatrician. You may still want to avoid the Unicorn Frap…

Product review

It finally came!! My Mrs. Patel’s mothers milk tea!!! I’ve used the grocery store brand but it didn’t really seem to have a big impact on my supply. In researching teas, I came across this brand. They’re Milk Water tea comes in two tasty flavors : herbal and Chai. The Chai has an amazing sweet taste and when I drink a cup consistently at night I do see an increase in milk the next morning. I just got the herbal blend and am so excited to try it!!! Check out the website here. Take note, the shipping is expensive, so if you have a friend or two who are also nursing it will help distribute the shipping costs.

 

Growth charts

Did you know that breast-fed babies and formula fed babies have different growth charts? Breast-fed babies tend to be leaner and gain weight at a slower rate than artificially fed babies. Make sure your pediatrician uses the correct growth chart when weighing and measuring your little one. Many a well meaning pediatrician has inadvertently recommended supplementation to exclusively breast-fed babies bexcuse they’re using the CDC growth chart which was standardized on formula fed babies. In 2006, the World Health Organization released revised growth charts that are representative of healthy breastfed babies throughout the world. Until our doctors are familiar with them, we need to keep ourselves informed so that doctors don’t undermine our confidence to breastfeed our babies.

Healthy breastfed infants tend to grow more rapidly than their formula-fed peers in the first 2-3 months of life and less rapidly from 3 to 12 months. All growth charts available before 2006 (which are still used by many health care providers in the US) included data from infants who were not exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months (includes infants fed artificial baby milk, AKA formula, and those starting solids before the recommended 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics revised their  guidelines on introducing solids for parents to wait until 6 months. A lot of. pediatricians will push to start solids at 4 months because they’re not current on the latest guidelines). Since many doctors are not aware of this difference in growth, they see the baby dropping in percentiles on the growth chart and often jump to the wrong conclusion that the baby is not growing adequately. At this point they often unnecessarily recommend that the mother supplement with formula or solids, and sometimes recommend that they stop breastfeeding altogether. This is often a cause of unneeded stress. Next time you’re at your peds office, ask which chart they’re using. For more information on growth charts, see kellymom.com

Make it a double

They say you can’t over feed a breast fed baby. They’re usually pretty good about taking what they need and stopping when they’re full. This is because of stomach and breast anatomy. Remember how sucking and milk flow rate at the breast are different than the bottle? This directly links to stomach anatomy.

There are two kinds of receptors in the stomach: density and stretch. Density receptors tell you how calorically dense or fat-rich your food is. It’s why at the Cheesecake Factory your belly starts to feel really full after about ten bites of Godiva chocolate Cheesecake but you can eat 3 bags of popcorn at the theater. Chocolate is much richer and calorically denser than popcorn. Stretch receptors tell you how full your stomach is from a volume perspective. Your stomach at rest is on average the size of your fist. That’s true throughout your entire life. But the stomach can stretch. Just like my stretchy pants at Thanksgiving. It can still only fill to a certain capacity. The only problem is, it takes approximately 20 minutes for your stretch receptors to tell your brain that the stomach had stretched to capacity. This is what I call the twenty minute phenomenon. You know, when a group of college boys order a pizza, they each eat a whole pizza in ten minutes and then twenty minutes later feel over full and sick. They as much as they could as fast as they could but paid for it in the twenty minute window. Exclusively breast fed babies don’t typically over eat because again, breast milk flow varies over a feeding. It starts slow, mommy goes into let down, then milk shows, mommy changes the baby to the other side, milk starts slow, mommy goes into let down, 15-20 minutes later the baby’s stomach tells the brain it’s full and the baby stops eating. Anatomy and physiology in perfect harmony.

Unfortunately bottle fed can be over fed. Bottles have these lovely ounce markers on them that tell us how much the baby needs to eat to be full. At every feeding my baby NEEDS to get a full 5 ounces of she will be hungry. She NEEDS to eat 24 ounces in a day or she will starve to death. And when baby stops eating at 3.5 ounces, I just jiggle the bottle or wait a few minutes and jiggle the bottle until baby takes that full feeding. Jiggle, wiggle, look at that she took the full feeding. Instead of listen to baby’s cuts that she’s full, we let the bottle dictate how much baby needs. And we wonder why formula feed babies have a significantly higher rate of obesity. Here’s the thing. Bottles are not the enemy. My daughter takes breast milk from a bottle five days a week while I’m at work. They are lovely devices that do an essential job. But we need to be mindful to not over feed our bottle fed babies.

Tips to not over feed a bottle fed baby (regardless of what’s in the bottle)

1. Always use a show flow nipple until 1 year of age. Slow flow most closely mimicks the flow at the breast. It also shows a baby down so the brain can keep up with the stomach (aka be mindful of those stretch receptors).

2. Watch your baby’s cues. Does he push the bottle away? Did he become sleepy? Do his hands and body relax? Does he release his iron grip on the nipple? These are signs he’s done. Over fed babies tend to spit up or vomit more because their tummies are at capacity. Don’t try to force in that last half an ounce. Respect your baby and stop feeding. Your baby will let you know if he’s still hungry.

3. In reality, babies only ever need 3-5 ounces of milk per feeding. In the first four to six months when your baby isn’t eating any solids, here’s a simple rule of thumb: Offer 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight each day. For example, if your baby weighs 6 pounds, you’ll give her about 15 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period. Once a baby is six months of age and starting solid foods, offer the breast or bottle first (3-5 ounces), then offer well balanced, nutritious, solids. The solids will provide them the additional nutrition they need. (**Disclaimer : if your baby is not ready for solids at six months, that’s FINE. Your baby is ready to start solids when they can sit unsupported for a good amount of time, uses a pintcher grasp, and has the hand eye coordination of hand to mouth. If your baby is over six months and not taking solids, your baby may need additional milk per feeding.)

4. It is OK for volumes of feedings to be didn’t throughout the day. We take for granted that babies can know their bodies. They can tell us when they’re hungry and when they’re full. Sometimes I’m really hungry in the morning and I eat a Grand Slam breakfast. Other times I only want a piece of toast. It’s OK to have your baby eat a ton one meal and very little the next. Remember, there are no ounce markers on the breast. Exclusively breast fed babies do this all the time. And there’s no amount of nipple jigging that will get them to take more in a feeding.

Here’s the big take away: it’s OK to take the pressure off feeding, especially if your a working mom trying to keep up with pumping. As long as your baby is following their growth curve, making enough wet and dirty diapers, and happy, keep doing what you’re doing. If your baby is not getting enough nutrition, not gaining weight, or unhappy, please have your pediatrician write a referral to a pediatric clinic ASAP or give me a call and we can dialogue through a plan of action.

Happy feeding!!

Tongue Tie and Breastfeeding

Tongue tie, technically known as ankyloglossia, is a condition present at birth that affects an estimated 2-5% of all babies born. It is characterized by a short, thickened, or abnormally tight lingual frenulum, which is the tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Depending on the severity of the tongue tie, range of motion of the tongue can be restricted. In very severe cases, the tip of the tongue can appear to be heart shaped. Because of this anatomical difference, sometimes tongue tied babies can’t maintain a latch for long enough to take in a full feeding. Others may appear to breastfeed for long periods of time without actually be effectively transferring milk. Some tongue tied babies will successfully breastfeed only during “let-down”, when the milk flows on its own from the breast into the babies’ mouths, but won’t be able to actively express milk out of the breast on their own. Many babies with tongue tie also have a lip tie, an abnormally tight membrane attaching their upper lip to their upper gums. This can be seen by rolling the upper lip upward. Babies with lip tie often have difficulty flanging their lips properly to feed which impacts their ability to latch well. This can cause them to take in excess air during breastfeeding which often makes these babies gassy and fussy.

While many pediatricians do not see tongue tie as an issue, current research and literature suggests that it can have a significant impact on breastfeeding. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others, have documented the negative effects of tongue tie on breastfeeding. The most common complaint of mothers with tongue tied babies is sore nipples, which is due to poor latch and inefficient sucking. Other breastfeeding problems for the mother can include recurrent plugged ducts, mastitis or thrush, vasospasm, and supply difficulties. Babies with tongue ties typically have difficulty latching, make click sounds while nursing, may be gassy and fussy during feedings, and have slow weight gain despite having mothers who use correct positioning and nurse frequently.

Some babies with very short or thick lingual frenulums are able to compensate well and breastfeed without difficulty. Tongue tie needs to be diagnosed by function and not just appearance, so what the baby’s tongue looks like is not as important than what it can do. According to one study, simple inspection of a tongue-tie is not enough to determine which infants will need medical intervention. However skilled professionals will complete a clinical assessment which includes observation and measurement of the effectiveness of feeding to help determine appropriate action to improve breastfeeding skills. This is not a comprehensive list for tongue function, but it may give you an idea for why your baby is having breastfeeding difficulties:

  • Does the tongue elevate? When the baby cries the front edge of the tongue should come up at least as high as the corners of the baby’s mouth.
  • Does the tongue extend? The baby’s tongue should be able to protrude or stick out at least past the lower gum  if not to the border of the lower lip
  • Does the tongue lateralize, or move side to side? Tracing the baby’s bottom gums triggers a reflex for the tongue to follow the finger..
  • The baby’s tongue should be able to lift towards the roof of the mouth and touch behind where the upper teeth will come in. Is there a membrane there that prevents the tongue from lifting? When very tight from tension, the membrane may appear white.

If it is determined that the tongue tie is indeed the culprit for breastfeeding difficulties, some pediatricians, ENTs and dentists can perform a frenotomy or frenectomy. This is a quick procedure to cut the frenulum which returns the full range of motion of the tongue and upper lip. Specialized scissors may be use to simply cut the tongue or lip tie. Some prefer to use lasers, which have the benefit of minimizing the amount of bleeding during and after the procedure and decrease the chance that the frenulum will grow back. Many practitioners use a local topical anesthetic to numb the area before the procedure and some use an injection of anesthetic as well. Babies can breastfeed as soon as the procedure is done. Post-procedure care should be done to minimize the frenulum from growing back. Current research shows this is a safe, easy procedure with minimal risk to the baby. The majority of mothers notice an immediate difference in breastfeeding effectiveness and a significant reduction in nipple pain.

When should the frenotomy be done? Current research shown between 2-6 days after birth to establish proper breastfeeding patterns. This same study showed that waiting more than four weeks for frenotomy drastically increased the likelihood that mothers would abandon breastfeeding all together.

If you suspect your baby has a tongue or lip tie, set up a consultation for a full assessment of your baby’s oral motor skills.

For more resources and articles, see Breastfeeding a Baby with Tongue-Tie or Lip-Tie at kellymom.com

  1. Lalakea, M. Lauren; Messner, Anna H. (2002). “Frenotomy and frenuloplasty: If, when, and how”. Operative Techniques in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 13: 93. doi:10.1053/otot.2002.32157. 
  2. Wallace, Helen; Clarke, Susan (2006). “Tongue tie division in infants with breast feeding difficulties”. International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology. 70 (7): 1257–61. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2006.01.004. PMID 16527363.
  3.  Emond A1, Ingram J, Johnson D, Blair P, Whitelaw A, Copeland M, Sutcliffe A. “Randomized controlled trial of early frenotomy in breastfed infants with mild to moderate tongue-tie.” Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2014 May;99(3):F189-95.
  4. Jack Donati-Bourne, Zainab Batool, Charles Hendrickse, Douglas Bowley “Tongue-Tie Assessment and Division: A Time-Critical Intervention to Optimise Breastfeeding/” Journal of Neonatal Surgery 2015; 4(1):3
  5.  Jain E. Tongue-tie: its impact on breastfeeding. AARN News Lett.1995;51 :18
  6. Huggins K. Ankyloglossia: one lactation consultant’s personal experience. J Hum Lact.1990;6 :123– 124
  7. Messner, Anna H.; Lalakea, M. Lauren; Aby, Janelle; Macmahon, James; Bair, Ellen (2000). “Ankyloglossia: Incidence and associated feeding difficulties”. Archives of otolaryngology—head & neck surgery. 126 (1): 36–9. doi:10.1001/archotol.126.1.36. PMID 10628708. 
  8. Tongue Tie – What Do Parents Need To Know? Submitted by jessicabarton on
  9.  Rosegger H, Rollett HR, Arrunategui M. [Routine examination of the mature newborn infant. Incidence of frequent “minor findings”]. Wien Klin Wochenschr.1990;102 :294– 299

Food for Thought

How long should I breastfeed my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be EXCLUSIVELY breastfed for about the first six months of life. This means that your baby needs no additional food (except Vitamin D) or fluids unless medically necessary. Babies should continue to breastfeed for one to two years or for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.

When should I start solid foods with my baby?

How do you know when your baby is ready for solid food? After six months of age, they should be able to do these three things:

  1. They sit unsupported for an extended length of time
  2. They are starting to use a pincher grasp (thumb and forefinger together to grab little objects)
  3. They start to have eye-hand coordination to bring their hands to their mouth