In honor of Mother’s Day, here is a tribute to all of the ways we have fondly nicknamed are breasts. No matter what you call them, please make sure to love them. They are the only ones your baby will ever know. Happy feeling! And happy Mother’s Day 💋
“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…
Everyday is a new day with its own stresses and joys. The more we can take time to enjoy each day, the less we are prone to worry and stress, the better it is for our overall health as well as our milk supply. The past few days I have been working in the neonatal intensive care unit at my hospital. It is my favorite place to work. I love coming alongside mommies and their new babies and helping them feed them in their most critical time. My job on the acute floors can sometimes be stressful. I am helping elderly patients and families make end-of-life decisions. I assess patients feeding skills and decide if the patients can still eat and the options they have for nutrition and hydration. This definitely impacts my milk supply. I always see more of my own milk when working in NICU. Of course when some of those hungry babies cry I can occasionally feel my mommy hormones stimulating my own letdown. Where is your happy place? Have you noticed certain aspects of your environment or work impacting your milk supply? Where do you find your peace when pumping? This really does make a big difference. Happy Pumping!!
In a previous blog I talked about my work pumping room. It has two chair separated by two curtains. I would say about 50% of the time I pump alone. It is a great time to FaceTime with my husband and see the baby to help my milk supply or a nice quiet rest to be able to write a blog. The other 50% of the time when I walk in there is the distinctive whirring of another breast pump.
Every pump and every brand has a very distinctive sound. Nine times out of 10 I know exactly who is behind that curtain based on the sound of their pump. Yesterday was no exception. Usually through the course of time and conversation, I get to know the other moms behind the curtain. I’ve pumped with nurses from every floor and unit, chaplains, administrative assistants, and students. We talk about everything related to our babies: their ages, their developmental milestones, and how much they’re sleeping at night. The biggest topic of discussion, though, always is milk supply.
Typically there is only ever one other mom in the pump room. However yesterday at least 4 other mothers tried to come in and pump at the same time. It was like the 405 at 8am! The entering mom’s knew it was me pumping from the quiet drone of my spectra pump. In trying to be effective, twice I left the in coming mother behind the curtain with me so I could clean up while she could set up. Both times we talked milk supply.
There’s such a weird pressure to “perform” in our culture. Even with pumping milk. We are told by “them” how much to feed our babies and if you don’t reach certain milk goals during certain months of development your baby is going to starve and fall off the growth curve. That it the whole point of this blog.
I want to normalize breastfeeding. I want to normalize milk supply and help reduce even a fraction of stress pumping mothers feel. Your baby is unique. Your story is unique. The amount and fat content of your milk is unique and specifically tailored to the individual needs of your baby. Remember breastmilk can vary from 13-35 calories per ounce! One mom I talked to yesterday could pump TWENTY OUNCES in one sitting first thing in the morning. I don’t think I’ve ever pumped more than 18 in a day across four pump sessions!! And yet my daughter is growing and healthy and following her 75 percentile growth curve.
We need to stop letting “them” tell us how much and how often our baby needs milk and listen to our individual babies. Let’s support each other and encourage each other in our unique breastfeeding stories. I hope if you get nothing else out of these blog posts it’s encouragement to keep going, stop worrying, and own your personal breastfeeding story. Happy Pumping!!
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.
Unfortunately breasts do not come with markers on them. When you are an exclusively breast-feeding mom you never really know how much your baby is getting. We teach in lactation to watch for the signs that tell you your baby is getting enough milk. You look at swallowing patterns, wet diapers, and the overall health and weight gain of your baby. When you are pumping mom though, we are meticulous in knowing how much milk comes out of our tatas. Have you ever actually stopped and looked at that milk? I’m sure you have. I’m sure you analyze every drop that comes out of your body. Did you know that the left and right breast can make different amounts of milk? One research study found that stereotypically moms always make more milk out of the right breast. Which is interesting in light of the fact that most women have a slightly larger left breast. (Click on text to read the research articles) It really goes to show that size does not matter for production. Size is related to fat in the breast tissue and not the actual glandular tissue that produces milk. I love breastfeeding. And I try really hard to rotate which side I start on when I’m breast-feeding my daughter. When I am at work or use a double pump to pump both of the girls at the same time. It has been always consistent for me. My right always make slightly more than my left. Usually not very much more, but enough to be noticeable. And science still doesn’t really know why!! Oh, our fascinating bodies!!! Happy Pumping!!!
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
Us pumping mamas tend to freak out about how much we pump. Can I get an amen?!? When our supply drops we freak the freaky freak out. But what if we weren’t pumping. Would we actually notice any of these drops, or what our babies just happily do what they do and not even give us education that something has changed? Would we even have periods because we would be exclusively nursing And supply changeseould be a non issue? Yesterday I took my deep breaths and talked myself off the “I have no milk” ledge. Today my period is officially over. And low and behold my milk supply is back up. Remember, hormones do funny things to our bodies. Do what you can but don’t freak out over every little change. Stay the course. Love yourself. Love your body.
Is been one of those days. Let me tell you about it. I found a cockroach on my breast pumping bag this morning (I had it next to our 1920’s era fireplace where I was pumping last night). I lost my employee badge and can’t find it anywhere. I forgot my lunch on the counter. When I got to work I realized all my pump parts were sitting in the bottle drying rack at home. My stress was so high I pumped less than 3 ounces my first session (I was thankfully able to use the lactation room in the NICU) which only made me stress more. Then I remembered my own advice. Don’t partner with worry or stress. I have to actively choose joy and peace. I made myself a cup of mothers milk tea and a cup of oatmeal (at least those are always in my pumping bag) and took a deep breath. I made sure to eat a good lunch (I had a certificate for a free lunch in the hospital cafeteria) and treated myself to an ice cream for dessert. I’m already up to 3 ounces at my second pumping. Peace comes from within and not from external circumstances. Joy is a choice that needs to be embraced. Breathe in, breathe out. You’ve got this, mama.
More specifically, having a period because you’re a woman sucks. Not only are there mood swings and cramps to deal with, there’s also my monthly dip in milk production. Time to make some lactation cookies with extra chocolate chips and a cup of Mrs. Patel’s Milk Water Chai Tea. At least my daughter hasn’t seemed to notice. I was with her the past four days on a mini vacation and she’s been more interested in eating off my plate than my chest. Today I went back to work and knew it would be a lower volume day. Although I always note thamy the milk I pump during my period is a little creamier and more fat sticks to the sides of the bottle. I hope showing these pictures encourages you that is OK to have high and low volume days and not get discouraged. Love your body. Love the process. Worry and stress don’t help anything. Keep eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, taking your prenatal vitamins and taking supplements as needed. Happy pumping!