Do I need to night wean because of cavities?

Were you told by your dentist to night wean your breastfed baby for concerns of it causing cavities? Extensive research has proven that there is no link between breastfeeding (nighttime or otherwise) and cavities. Breastfed babies can get cavities, though, so good dental hygiene is still needed.

Over three dozen studies have proven that cavities found in toddlers and young children (also called caries) were not caused by nursing – breastmilk is not cariogenic – but by an infectious disease classified as Early Childhood Caries (ECC). Furthermore, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), breastfed children are less likely to develop ECC than children who are bottle-fed, and population-based studies do not support a link between prolonged breast­feeding and ECC.

According to La Leche League International (LLLI), “Breast­feeding is typically assumed to be a cause of dental caries because no distinctions are made between the different compositions of human milk and infant formula or cow’s milk, and between the different mechanisms of nursing at the breast [with the nipple at the back of the mouth, not allowing for breastmilk to pool around the teeth] and sucking on a bottle with an artificial teat. We have only to consider the overwhelming majority of breastfed toddlers with healthy teeth to know that there must be other factors involved.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also stopped using the terms “bottle-mouth” and “nursing caries” in 1994, thereby acknowledging early childhood caries as an infectious disease not caused by breast- or bottle-feeding. Most current studies now focus on the true causes of cavities in children, contributing factors, and prevention or cures.

Early Childhood Caries (ECC) appears on teeth as white spots, plaque deposits, or brown decay and can lead to teeth chipping or breaking in children under five. They are formed by bacteria sitting on the teeth which feed off of the sugars found in formula, juice, milk, and food. These and other factors, such as the frequency of feedings, oral hygiene, medications, other medical and dental conditions, determine the risk of your child developing a cavity. Once the pattern of decay begins, though, it can be extensive.

The CDC and the dental and medical communities consider ECC to be the most prevalent infectious disease of American children (5-8 times more common than asthma). Approximately 8.4 percent of all children will develop at least one decayed tooth by age two, and 40.4 percent by age five. Of these cases, 47 percent of children between the ages of two and nine never receive treatment. According to the CDC, “Untreated decay in children can result in chronic pain and early tooth loss … failure to thrive, inability to concentrate at or absence from school, reduced self-esteem, and psychosocial problems.”

While researchers have recognized S. mutans as the primary bacteria responsible for ECC, there are other surprising risk factors which make children more susceptible to cavities than others. Significantly high correlations have been found between ECC and pregnancy complications, traumatic birth, and cesarean sections. Other risk factors on the maternal side which increase the risk of ECC include maternal diabetes, kidney disease, and viral or bacterial infection. Babies born prematurely, with Rh incompatibility, allergies, gastroenteritis, malnutrition, infectious diseases, and chronic diarrhea are also at increased risk of cavities. Diets high in sugar AND/OR salt (such as French fries and chips), iron deficiency, pacifier sucking, and prenatal exposure to lead are also ECC risk factors.

Along with these risk factors, what can cause cavities are nighttime bottles and not brushing teeth before bed once baby has teeth, and especially if they are also eating solid foods. Bottles allow liquids to pool in baby’s mouth and sit on baby’s teeth for long periods of time. Breastmilk doesn’t pool in the same way because milk only flows when baby is actively sucking. When baby is latched appropriately to actually express breastmilk, it enters the baby’s mouth behind the teeth. If the baby is actively sucking then he is also swallowing, so breast milk doesn’t sit in baby’s mouth like it can with bottles. Sugars from table foods can sit on the teeth and bacteria in saliva uses these sugars to produce acid, which in turn causes tooth decay. Actively brushing baby’s teeth twice a day helps reduce these sugars from sitting on the teeth.

So no need to night wean for cavities… but if you need the sleep I completely understand.

When can you take your child to the dentist for the first time? As soon as they have teeth! This is Peachy’s first cleaning at 19 months. We went a little later than when I took her sister for the first time, but #COVID. I highly recommend finding a pediatric dentist who have staff that are highly trained with working on tiny tots. It will make the experience so much better. Having movies on the ceiling didn’t hurt 😉

Best bottle for the breastfed baby

DON’T FALL FOR THE MARKETING

There are lots of bottles on the market. And so many of them are marketed to be “most like the breast”. Let me tell you a secret. There is no bottle that works like the breast. Don’t fall for the marketing. The breast is a complex organ that works with hormones, compression, suction, positive and negative pressure. It is controlled by the baby and how the baby sucks. Baby can make your milk flow or not depending on how they suck. It is never empty and constantly making more. It is hormone driven. A bottle is passive. It has a hole that will drip when turned over. Your nipple changes shape to fill baby’s mouth. Your nipple can help fill a high palate. your nipple and a good portion of your areola/breast also need to be in baby’s mouth in a deep latch for milk to be transferred. Your nipple should go in round and come out round. Baby’s tongue should cup and protrude past the lower gums and stay out to massage your nipple/breast in their mouth Baby has to change the shape of their tongue to accommodate the firm bottle nipple. Baby can chomp or mash the nipple and doesn’t need to keep the tongue out because they can compress milk out. Baby can also latch just to the tip of the bottle nipple and still get milk.

We can make the bottle work like the breast, though. By slowing the feeding down or “pacing” the feeding, we can help baby go back and forth between bottle and breast. You want a straight nipple that tapers wide at the base for a “deep” latch. If your baby is just latched to the tip of a bottle nipple they can still get milk. But then their muscles will learn to latch shallow and that’s often why you’ll get a shallow latch with a “small” mouth at the breast. The bottle nipples that are already pinched or tapered are also not good choices. If your nipple came out of baby’s mouth looking like, that you’d have damage within a few days. If your baby struggled at the breast and will only take a bottle nipple that looks flat and pinched there is usually something going on in baby’s mouth and the bottle nipple is compensating for it. Tongue tie is the most common culprit.

LATCHING TO A BOTTLE

Having an optimal latch at the breast reduces nipple pain and prevents damage. Your nipple should go in baby’s mouth round and come out round. If we want to encourage good latch when breastfeeding, we want to do the same when bottle feeding. This helps baby go back and forth without “confusion”.

This can be difficult when a bottle nipple abruptly changes in shape from narrow to wide. Bottle nipples like the Playtex Baby Ventaire Bottle,Tommee Tippee, Avent Natural, Nuby Comfort, and Chicco Naturalfit have narrow nipple tips and wide bases. Babies usually end up latching onto the tip and sucking it like a straw. If baby’s cheeks dimple or suck in when feeding from these bottles, they’re drinking but not demonstrating a wide latch and optimal mouth posture. If they had that same mouth posture on your nipple, they would cause pain and damage. Baby’s don’t drink from the breast like a straw. Conversely, they may try to fit the base of the nipple in their mouth and end up with air pockets where the tip meets the base. This can result in breaking the suction and swallowing excess air while feeding. Nipples like the Nuk Simply Natural and Mam are not round, but pinched or flat. If your nipple looked like that coming out of baby’s mouth we’d be talking about deeper latch or tongue tie.

Bottle nipples that gradually change in shape from narrow at the tip to wider at the base promote a deeper latch. If the nipple stays narrow at the base, like the Similac nipples many hospitals give at birth for supplementing, you’ll want baby’s lips to be able to come up almost to the collar (plastic o-ring base). If the nipple is sloped to gradually widen at the base, baby will be able to get the nipple deeper into their mouth with no air pockets. My favorite sloped nipples include the Pigeon SS Nipple, Lansinoh, Dr Brown’s Original Narrow, Dr Brown’s Wide Neck, Munchkin Latch, and Evenflo Balance, which promote a deeper latch mouth on the nipple.

So what does this mean?! If your baby is already bottle feeding and going back and forth from bottle to breast, don’t sweat it! No need to change anything! If your baby is struggling at the breast and preferring a narrower or non-round nipple, having a full oral motor assessment may help you get back to breast.

If Goldilocks Needed a Breast Pump

IF GOLDILOCKS PUMPED

What pump do you have? What size flange are you using? The answer can make a huge difference in pumping success.

Not all pumps are created equal. Prior to the ACA, there were few pump choices. Once laws said people needed to be provided with a breast pump, and insurance would fit the bill, lots of companies flooded the market with pumps. Not all of them are good, and some will even sabotage your supply. You want a pump with a good motor in it that has lots of variability in the cycle (how fast or slow it pumps) and suction (how strong it sucks).

You also need to be mindful of the flange you’re pumping on. Most companies will send a standard 24mm flange. Sometimes they’ll send a larger size as well. In reality nipples, and thus flanges, are not one size fits all. And in my practice I hardly EVER use the 24 or bigger flanges. For almost all of my families we’re sizing down. Some times significantly smaller.

Flanges are the horn shaped part that actually touch the breast. The fit of the flange can make or break your pumping experience. Too small and friction can cause pain and even damage (and pain makes it difficult for milk to let down). Too large and the breast may not be stimulated well, which inhibits your let down to have milk flow. When too much areola is pulled into the flange, the tissue swells around the nipple pores and can prevent milk from efficiently emptying from the breast, resulting in plugged ducts, pain, tissue breakdown, and eventually a reduced milk supply. Using too large of a flange from the beginning may even prevent you from bringing in a full milk supply. Do you ever pump for 20+ minutes and still feel like there’s milk in there? Most likely too large of a flange. The stimulation from the pump is triggering you to make more milk, but the size of the flange is preventing you from emptying that milk efficiently. Poor flange fit can also impact the suction of your pump and how well it functions with your body. If you have the suction all the way to the highest level and aren’t emptying well, you flange is too big.

Flange fit tips:

Some of the flanges I tried

🗝Flange fit isn’t based on your breast or areola size, it is JUST the size of the nipple and how it changes with suction. Some nipples are dense and don’t stretch much. Some are super elastic and swell a lot. How your nipple responds to suction can make a difference in which flange you select and if other products are needed to happy pump

🗝Proper fit isn’t as simple as measuring your nipple, but it’s a start. See a trained IBCLC to help if you haven’t found the right fit or are struggling with poor output, pain/damage, or plugged ducts

🗝A small amount of space around your nipple in the flange tunnel is good. There should be no space around the areola or in the larger bell part of the flange. If your breast tissue recoils back into the horn part of the flange with every cycle, the flange is too large. If the tissue is white where the tunnel meets the horn, the flange is too small

🗝Pain or blanching means it’s the wrong size

🗝Nipples rubbing against the sides of the flange tunnel mean fit needs to be improved and there is a risk of pain and damage

🗝There should only be a small amount of areola pulled in the flange tunnel space. The bell or horn part will have most of the areola held back so it doesn’t get pulled into the tunnel

🗝The nipple tip shouldn’t hit the back of the flange. This means you have an elastic nipple. Sizing up isn’t necessarily the right answer. Using a pump insert, cushion like @beaugenmom or @pumpinpalofficial may be a better solution

🗝Evaluate as you pump. You can changing flange size mid-pump to improve comfort if you’re between sizes. You may also need to change the flange size the longer you pump. Our nipples can become more elastic and larger or smaller with time.

🗝Every nipple is unique and each side may use a different size (or shape/brand!). There are all kinds of flange sizes, inserts, and cushions to improve the pump experience

Why can’t I put my baby down to sleep?

SLEEP IN THE FOURTH TRIMESTER

I was going back through pictures when peach was a tiny baby. I have so many pictures of her sleeping on me. Babies don’t like to be put down, especially in the first 3-4 months. All their instincts and reflexes are designed to get them on a body. Their neurological system is immature at birth and still needs time to develop. Being on your body:

🧠 Accelerates Brain Development: Holding baby on your body increases the development of essential neural pathways, which accelerates brain maturation

🧘🏽‍♀️ Calms, Soothes & Reduces Stress: Having your baby on your body soothes baby so much that babies’ cortisol levels (stress hormone) are measurably lowered after only 20 minutes of being held skin to skin. Babies who are held cry less

🛌 Improves Quality of Sleep: Development of mature brain function in infants depends on the quality of their sleep cycling. During skin to skin, most infants fall asleep easier and achieve “Quiet Sleep” for longer

⚖️Stimulates Digestion & Weight Gain: Reduces cortisol and somatostatin in babies, allowing for better absorption and digestion of nutrients. With a reduction of these hormones, baby’s bodies preserve brown fat (the healthy fat baby was born with), helping to maintain birth weight and maintain body temperature. As a result, baby’s body does not have to burn its own fat stores to stay warm, leading to in better weight gain

💪🏻 Enhances Immune System: Your mature immune system passes antibodies through your skin to baby. Being on your skin also increases baby’s skin hydration

❤️Synchronizes Heart Rate + Breathing: You are a pace maker and a respirator. Your body sets the pace for baby’s body

🔑Promotes Psychological Well-Being: As our babies touch our skin, oxytocin levels rise and stress hormones fall, causing us adults to relax

🥛Milk production: Placing baby in skin to skin on your body for 1 hour a day will show an immediate increase in milk supply

🔥Regulation of Body Temperature: Woman’s breast tissue regulates a baby’s temperature, and can either cool OR heat, a man’s breast tissue only heats baby. Female is thermostat and male is radiator

How often should I breastfeed or pump?

BREAST STORAGE CAPACITY

The size of your breast has nothing to do with the amount of milk you will make. The size of your breast is determined by the amount of fatty tissue in the breast. The amount of milk you will make is determined by the amount of glandular tissue in the breast that makes milk. This glandular tissue starts growing during puberty. It increases during pregnancy and is part of what accounts for the increase in breast size during pregnancy. Everyone’s storage capacity is different.. just like every breast size is different. However breast size does NOT equal breast storage.

Small capacity: Approx 2-3 ounces per feeding/pump. Baby may need frequent feedings: 10-12 per day. Baby usually takes both breasts and may want each breast twice. Parent feels uncomfortable quickly between feedings and sees a supply drop with more than 3-4 hours between feedings

Medium capacity: Approx 3-4 oz per feeding/pump. Baby may feed 8+ times per day. Baby may take one breast or both breasts each feeding. Parent feels uncomfortable and see a supply drop with more than 4-5 hours between feedings

Large capacity: Approx 4-6 oz per feeding/pump. Baby may feed 6+ times per day. Baby may only take one breast per feeding. Parent may go up to 6 hours without seeing a drop in supply

XLarge capacity: 8+ oz per feeding/pump. Baby may feed 6+ times per day. Baby may only take one breast and parent may still feel full in that breast. Some babies may be gassy from higher foremilk intake as they may not drain the breast fully. Parent may go 6+ hours without seeing a supply drop. Parent may still feel uncomfortable between feedings depending on how quickly the milk fills the breast

All capacities have the same ability to feed baby well as long as the breast is routinely being emptied.

Do I need a breast milk stash?

NO STASH NEEDED

If breastfeeding is going well and you’re planning on being home with your baby or only gone for a few hours at a time there is no need to have a huge freezer stash. Having milk in the freezer is a nice security, especially is your have to work or will be away from your baby. But if you’re always with your baby or are only gone for a short while, there is no need to have a stash.

Having the right stash for your family means having enough stashed for when you’re away from your baby. If you’re gone for one feeding, you only need one feeding worth of milk. If you’re gone 2-3 feedings, you need 2-3 feedings worth of milk. If your baby is being bottle feeding while you’re away, you would pump while you’re gone to tell your body the milk is needed. That milk then becomes the stash for the next time that you’re gone.

If you want to have a big stash, great!!! You can absolutely have that as an option. Just don’t feel pressured from other people’s journeys on social media to have something you may not need or use. I’ve had several moms who spent countless hours pumping and stashing only to have to donate or throw out the milk stash because they never used it and it was going to expire. I’ve also had several moms who thought you had to have a stash and were relieved to know they didn’t! Do what is best for you and your baby and not based off of anyone else.

You’ve got this. Trust your body. Trust your baby.

Can I breastfeed while sick with COVID?

Breast milk for COVID+ mothers contains protective antibodies and no live virus.

There are multiple studies being conducted on breastfeeding mothers who are COVID+. What happens to their milk? A recent multi-institutional research team led by University of Idaho found that breastfeeding women who have COVID-19 transfer milk-borne antibodies to their babies without passing along the virus.

It was a small study where researchers analyzed 37 milk samples submitted by 18 women diagnosed with COVID-19.

🦠None of the milk samples were found to contain the virus

🦠2/3 of the samples did contain two antibodies specific to the virus.

🦠The results indicate that it is safe for moms to continue to breastfeed during a COVID-19 infection with proper precautions.

If you’re actively sick with COVID and still breastfeeding:

🧼 Wash your hands before feeding your baby or pumping

😷 Wear a mask while feeding to prevent coughing directly on your baby

💧 Drink plenty of water

😴 Rest and sleep to let your body heal

💊 Taking Vitamin C, D and zinc have been found to be very beneficial

IUDs and Breast Milk Supply

Where did my breast milk go?

BIRTH CONTROL AND MILK SUPPLY

An IUD is a form of birth control that’s put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. One of the most common forms of birth control, it’s long-term, reversible, and considered one of the most effective birth control methods. Many doctors will encourage new mothers to have them placed between 4-6 weeks postpartum checkup to prevent pregnancies too close together. The Paragard IUD is wrapped in copper and doesn’t have hormones. The Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Be aware that each IUD has a different amount of progestin. They are not created equal. Progestin is also the hormone found in the mini pill.

Hormonal IUDs and the mini pill are often recommended by doctors as the best form of birth control for breastfeeding mothers because most of the research that is available says that they don’t impact breast milk supply. And many who use these methods don’t experience any drop in supply. For some, though, both the mini pill and the hormonal IUDs will drop breast milk supply, some times drastically. Every body is sensitive to different levels of hormones. If you have an IUD placed and notice a drop in supply, the only way to increase supply again is to remove the IUD. Increased pumping or herbal supplements will usually not be enough to increase supply again because you’re working against hormones. The only way to rebound supply would be to remove the IUD. If you’re considering a hormonal based IUD and aren’t sure if your supply will drop, consider taking a few rounds of the mini pill (progestin only) which is the same hormone as the IUD. If your supply drops, you only have to stop taking the pill and your supply will rebound much quicker.

Did you use a hormone based birth control? Did you notice a change in your breast milk supply?

Breast milk supply drop at six months

SIX MONTH DROP

For the first six months after birth, baby is supposed to be on an exclusive breast milk diet. At six months and beyond your breast milk goes through a major change. The volume of milk slowly drops because baby is eating and drinking other foods. They may also be sleeping longer at night and are more active during the day. Your milk is super smart and shifts with this drop to have more antibodies and a higher fat content. The breast makes milk based on how it is emptied and what your hormones are doing based on how old baby is. Your hormones are also shifting and you may start your monthly cycle again. Many experience a further dip in supply around the time with their period. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you may notice baby pulling or tugging on your nipple or using their hands to beat your chest while feeding. If you’re pumping, you may slowly start to see less milk each pump session. Usually months 5-7 are the hardest from a baby behavior perspective and it settles out again as baby eats more table food and your hormones adjust. If breastfeeding is your goal, just keep offering the breast and pumping often.

Tandem breastfeeding

It’s common for a toddler, or an even older child, to ask to breastfeed after a new sibling is born. Toddlers who were weaned immediately before or during pregnancy may be especially curious. Many just want to know if you’ll say yes – or they may just want your attention or “babied” themselves. Continuing to breastfeed, or letting them try to breastfeed again after weaning, can ease the transition of gaining a sibling. They are less likely to be jealous of the baby who is always with mommy if they can nurse alongside them. Nursing your older child once the new baby arrives can reduce engorgement when colostrum transitions to mature milk and can protect milk production if your newborn is not feeding effectively. If you say yes to a weaned child, many will just touch, lick or kiss the nipple, some will have forgotten the mechanics of how to breastfeed and won’t have further interest. Others can successfully breastfeed again. If you are happy to nurse your toddler, go for it. If it is overwhelming, it is still your body and you get to decide when and for how long toddler is allowed to breastfeed. You may prefer nursing your baby and your toddler separately or together. Breastfeeding is normal and it is normal for children to be curious and want to breastfeed at 2, 3, or even 4 years old.

When you give birth your body will continue to produce colostrum, with milk becoming plentiful after around 3-5 days. As with your first baby, breastfeed at least 8-12 times per day to establish your milk supply. Some will feed their newborn baby first or encourage the older sibling to nurse less until breastfeeding has been well established to ensure the newborn has full access to breast milk. Look out for feeding cues and give your newborn unrestricted breast access to help ensure they get plenty of milk.

Some times if your toddler is breastfeeding frequently, they may lose interest in solid foods for a while from increased milk intake. They may have looser stools. This is normal and should regulate with time.

It can take a while before your body adapts to the needs of two different feeders. You may feel lopsided if one breast drains more than the other. Eventually things will even out and you’ll find your rhythm. Alternating breasts for each feed helps with development of newborn vision and keeps the size of your breasts balanced. However, some mums find that giving a toddler his ‘own side’ works for them.

You will not run out of milk, your body will make more to accommodate however many nurslings there are.