Where are you getting your feeding advice from?

Feeding “advice” we would never tell an adult:

⌚️It hasn’t been 3 hours yet. You can’t possibly be hungry again

⏱It hasn’t been 3 hours yet. You can’t possibly be thirsty again.

🧊You need to drink all 64oz of your daily water intake in 4 equally portioned cups. If you can’t drink 16 ounces in one sitting, something is wrong with you.

🍽Clean plate club. Finish everything on your plate regardless of how full your stomach feels.

🍏Eat food purely for their nutritional value. 🍦Never have food simply for the comfort or enjoyment of it.

🔦Eat alone in a dark room and never with anyone else

💡How could you get so distracted while eating? Focus and pay attention.

🪑Eat until you’re done then leave the table immediately. Don’t hang out at the table for longer than needed.

🛌Never eat a bed time snack

🛏Wake up in the middle of the night thirsty? Too bad. Go back to bed you can have some water in the morning

⏰You have 15 minutes to eat. Tic toc. When the clock hits 15 you need to stop whether you’re done or not

🍴3 meals, 2 snacks. That’s it. 7, 9, 12, 3 and 5. Hungry or thirsty at a different time? Here’s a pen cap to chew on

🍔There’s only one way to eat and if you don’t eat like me and my family you’re doing it wrong

Do you get where I’m going here? Too often we analyze the science of breastfeeding instead of considering the art of feeding and eating. We try to make a literal formula for how our baby should eat when some times we have to appreciate feeding for what it is: an enjoyable and pleasurable sensory experience that is social and includes more than just calorie intake.

Cluster feeding

CLUSTER FEEDING. Two words when paired together that drive fear and trembling to parents. Cluster feeding is NORMAL for ALL breastfed babies. It has nothing to do with your supply. It has nothing to do with the clock. It has nothing to do with what you’re eating or drinking or those supplements you just took. It may not even have anything to even do with being hungry. Babies typically cluster feed in the afternoon/evening. When your milk supply naturally and appropriately dips. When your milk is a smaller water concentration with a higher fat content. As long as baby is happy to feed the rest of the day, is making plenty of wet and dirty diapers, is content and sleeping routinely between feedings, and gaining weight over time, DON’T BLAME THE BOOB!! Even if baby seems like they want to feed constantly. Cluster feeding is normal. It typically happens MORE when baby is going through a growth spurt (body growing), developmental leap (mind/skills growing), or teething/illness. Why does baby want the breast more?

• Preparing for a longer sleep: Some babies just prefer to fill up on milk for a few hours before a longer sleep.

• Milk flow is slower at night: Some babies nurse longer to fill up due to the slower flow.

• A growth spurt: they usually occur around 3, 6, and 8weeks of age.

• They need of comfort. Breast milk has hormones to develop baby’s circadian rhythm. At nighttime baby may just seek comfort to help them sleep.

• Developmental leap: Mental and emotional growth spurts when they acquire new skills.

• Baby is sick, thirsty, or teething: breast feeding is a pain reliever, medicine and hydration all in one

Know that it’s normal. Be patient through the process. Be prepared with snacks and water for yourself, a comfy spot, a good pillow for support and the remote and your phone charger close by to get you through. You’re not alone and it doesn’t last forever!!

How to build a breast milk stash

You don’t need to have a stash. If you want to exclusively breastfeed and are never away from your baby, you don’t need any milk in your freezer. You don’t need a huge stash if you’re going to be gone from baby. It’s nice to have stored up milk, but that milk is extra milk. Feed the baby, not the freezer. You only need enough milk for when you’re away from baby. If you’re only going to be gone for 2-3 hours, you may not need any milk at all. Feed your baby immediately before you leave. If baby becomes fussy before you get home, have your caregiver take baby on a walk, distract with toys or use a pacifier and feed them as soon as you walk in the door. If you’re going to be gone more than 3 hours, you only need to have enough milk for the time you’re gone. Optimally if baby is being fed by bottle, to maintain your milk supply, you should be pumping, thus replacing the milk from your stash that was used.

There are several ways to build your stash

🍼Passively collect with a milk catcher like a Lacticup or Milkies Milk Saver. No extra work needed, this works great in the early weeks if you leak

🍼Use manual silicone breast pump like the Haakaa. While these look passive, the vacuum created does stimulate the breast and can increase leaking and milk supply

🍼If you have a large to very large storage capacity and only feed from one breast at a time, pump the other breast during or after feeding baby

🍼Pump with a double electric pump, after breastfeeding, for 10-15 minutes. Only expect to get 1/4-1 ounce as this is “left over” milk that your baby doesn’t need.

🍼Pump with a double electric pump in between breastfeedings when you think baby may take a longer nap. Aim to pump half way between when you think baby will want to feed again. If you think baby will go 2 hours, pump after an hour, etc. try not to pump too close to the next feed as baby may get fussy at the slower flow of milk.

Remember:

🥛Decide how often and how much you want to pump/collect. Know that the more you empty, the more you will make as you’re telling your body baby needs that milk.

🥛Too much pumping or frequently changing your pump routine does increase your risk of plugged ducts and mastitis

🥛You can combine 24 hours of milk into one batch

🥛Breastfed babies usually only need 2-4 ounces every 2-4 hours. Aim to leave 1-1.5 ounces for every hour you’re gone

How do I drop a pump session?

Have you been exclusively pumping for your baby and want to decrease the number of times you pump? Are you working and pumping and now baby is older and not drinking as much milk during the day while you’re gone? Here are 4 ways to drop a pump session

  1. Cold turkey. Just stop pumping at the to-be dropped pump time. You may need to shift the times of your other pump sessions to reduce the gap between the dropped pump times (for instance going from pumping 8 times every 3 hours to pumping 7 times every 3 &1/2 hours
  2. Slowly reducing the pump time. Pump a few minutes less at the session you want to drop until you’re pumping for less than 5 minutes. Then stop pumping at that time.
  3. Slowly reduce the amount you pump. Watch your pump output volume. Try to aim for pumping 1/2 ounce less every day (or every few days) until you’re only pumping 1/2-1 ounce at that session. Then stop pumping at that time.
  4. Gradually move 2 pump sessions closer together until they merge into one pump session. Move two pumping sessions closer together until you can cut one out. Example: if you pump at 9 and 12, move to 9:30 and 11:30 for a few days. Then 10 and 11 for a few days, and then just pump at 10:30.

Trust yourself

Too often we look around to see what everyone else is doing and it makes us feel incomplete, incompetent, like we’re doing something wrong or not doing enough. We see the success of others in parenting, sleep training, their milk supply, pumping, whatever, and it makes us feel like we’ve failed. Comparison is the number one way to have your joy and peace stolen. Stop looking at Becky over there with her oversupply and thinking your normal supply is inadequate for your content and growing baby. Stop looking at Gina over there whose baby has slept through the night since two months and thinking there’s something wrong with your happy child. Stop comparing your tiny but mighty that looks like the rest of your flock to my giant giraffe babies that look like the rest of my herd. You’re not getting a grade. Breastfeeding is not a pass/fail activity. Trust your baby. Trust your body. You’ve got this.

Yoga Increases Breast Milk

A study in 2011 by Caldwell & Maffei found that mothers who did yoga six consecutive days in a row boosted their breast milk supply by an average of 3.5 ounces per breastfeeding. They studied 30 mothers who had babies 1-6 months old and found the increase in milk supply across the board. They hypothesize that this happens because Yoga can affect the mind, soul and spirit of the mothers, in which Yoga gives peace of mind, relaxation and a sense of comfort as well as increasing mothers’ confidence. This in turn affects the release of prolactin and oxytocin hormones for optimal breast milk production. Yoga promoted increased blood flow to the muscles around the breast, strengthening the muscles of respiration, stimulating the hormonal glands associated with milk supply and release, and relaxation with increased self-awareness. Yet another way our bodies are magical and when we include self care into our routine, not only do we benefit, but so does our milk supply.

Choices

Feeding and sleep are like commuting. Each and every day there are choices in which route to take. Neither is right or wrong, just different. Both get to the final destination. Some days I feel like I made good choices and got to my destination smoothly and easily. Other days feel like a wreck happened that was out of my control. Your commute will look different than mine, just like your baby’s (breast)feeding and sleep look different than my baby’s. Know that every day you will need to make choices related to that. Some days you may feel like you chose wrong, but get up tomorrow and know you can chose to try a different route. Your choices are not right or wrong, good or bad. They all will eventually get you to your destination of a well fed, rested child. If you need someone to help you chose your route, there is help. Set up your consultation today.

Forever milk

Did you know that you will ALWAYS be able to make milk? You’ve had the milk making glands in your breasts since puberty. They’re like little empty clusters of balloons at the back of the breast. Pregnancy activates your milk making hormones, allowing the glands to expand and start filling with milk between 16-20 weeks gestation. In the early days after birth, the more stimulation the breast has (from feeding or pumping), the more the milk making glands and their corresponding hormone receptors multiply. The milk balloons fill and empty milk multiple times per feeding.

After at least 40 days of not expressing any milk, once you completely wean, your milk making balloons deflate and become dormant, like before pregnancy. But they aren’t dead. Pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones caused a permanent change in your body. Your milk making glands will FOREVER remember how to make milk. They can ALWAYS make milk again, no matter how long it has been. They just need enough of the right stimulation to turn on and start filling again. Some times years after breastfeeding a mother may feel the tingle of let down if she hears a baby cry. Or she may leak if her partner does enough nipple stimulation. There are grandmothers in other cultures who bring back milk to breastfeed their grandchildren! Our bodies are AMAZING!! Now you know!

Low Milk Supply

One of the biggest fears of mothers is having a low milk supply. Many moms worry their baby won’t get enough milk and either be hungry or won’t grow adequately. This in turn leads to anxiety, stress, and even shame.

When I meet with moms who ask how to increase their supply, I first like to ask WHY they are worried about their supply. Have they gone back to work and are pumping during the day? Is there a new stress in the house? Is the baby more fussy? Many times moms fear a low supply when in reality the baby is signaling to increase feeds because of a growth spurt rather than a problem with supply.

Below are a few tips for increasing milk supply. Remember that any one of these might make a difference with you, but usually a combination will be the most effective. And I cannot stress enough that increasing breast stimulation and keeping well hydrated are the most important for having an adequate milk supply. Water, water, water!!!!

  • Ensure an optimal latch. If the latch isn’t great, milk is not being removed efficiently and thus ineffectively signaling the body to make more.
  • Increasing frequency of feeds. Frequency is more important than overall time spent expressing.
  • Double pumping after a feed. Do as many times as you can throughout the day, start small and work up.
  • Use a combination of the electric pump + hand expression. This combination has been proven to be the most effective. Using a hands-free nursing/pumping bra can be really helpful with this.
  • Consider trying “power pumping.” This is when you pump for ten minutes, rest for ten minutes, and so on, for a total of 60 minutes making up the ‘power hour.’ (This can be done a few times a day.)
  • Watch what you eat! Getting enough protein is key. Plus water, water, water, water. Oats, mother’s milk tea, and herbs such as Fenugreek are known to increase supply. In my own breastfeeding journey, I noticed having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast everyday really helped keep my supply up. Watch out for peppermint, sage and parsley. These herbs are known to decrease supply. Peppermint candies, desserts, and teas can drastically reduce supply. Follow the link for more information on foods to eat and avoid or attend one of my classes.

And if you want to know more about how to produce more milk or how to keep your milk supply up (if, for example, you’re returning to work or planning mother-baby separation time) see the links for consultations and more information! Or attend one of my classes.

Nipple shields

Not all nipple shields are created equal. Nipple shields are a great tool that can be used to help baby latch and stay latched, help you heal from nipple damage or trauma, or transition baby back to breast from using a bottle. Nipple shields are a great tool and can be used as long as needed. There are risks to long term use, the biggest one is a decrease in milk supply if baby isn’t able to trigger let downs or remove milk efficiently. If you weren’t given a plan for transitioning off the shield, a qualified lactation consultant can help!