What’s up with my baby biting, gumming, chomping, hitting, pulling and pinching the nipple/breast while breastfeeding?

Babies are masters at breastfeeding. They will exhibit all kinds of behaviors at the breast that will make you question if you have any milk and wonder what’s wrong with the baby. Most babies discover they have power and control over the breast and that different behaviors get different things. Biting, tugging, gumming, pulling, patting, chomping, shaking the nipple and breast are normal infant behaviors. Repeatedly latching on and off can also be normal when it doesn’t happen all the time. They happen during growth spurts, cluster feeding and teething. And may increase when baby discovers they can get a reaction from you for them. These behaviors increase or decrease the flow rate of milk and help stimulate supply and let down during growth spurts and teething.

What can you do? Stay calm. Most likely it’s normal and will change with time. Lots of skin to skin time between feedings can help keep baby calm and will naturally increase your supply during growth spurts. Using breast compressions while feeding can help increase flow and help trigger let downs. If baby is teething, give plenty of opportunity to chew and bite on appropriate toys and food items outside of nursing times. If baby is biting to slow flow, try a laid back position and make sure you’re not promoting an oversupply from over use of the Haakaa or pumping at sporadic times. Continue to watch for wet and dirty diapers and know that usually these behaviors are normal and don’t last.

If baby is having these behaviors all the time and isn’t making the amount of wet and dirty diapers you would expect, schedule a lactation consultation immediately.

Breastfeeding weaning

There is no right or wrong age, it is completely up to you. Breast milk does not lose nutritional value (ever), so you get to decide how long you want to breastfeed. You also get to decide when you stop and all reasons for wanting to stop are valid. It is OK to wean for your emotional or mental well being and you do not have to justify your choices of how you feed your baby to anyone.

The age of your baby and how quickly you want to wean can play a role in how you wean.

Be prepared that some may experience mood changes and feelings of depression when weaning as your oxytocin and other hormones are dropping to stop milk production. If you need a specific plan to help you quickly wean, schedule a consultation with me to develop a plan that works for you.

Tips for gentle weaning:

✏️Start when your baby has already naturally started to wean, ex. only a quick snack before nap or waking up at 2am to pacify to sleep

✏️If transitioning from breast milk to formula, you can add formula to your breast milk bottles in slowly increasing amounts to make the transition easier on baby’s tummy (ex mix 2oz of breast milk with 1oz of prepared formula for several days, then mix 1.5oz each if breast milk and formula for a few days, then 2oz of formula with 1oz of breast milk)

✏️Don’t offer, don’t refuse

✏️Wear clothing that makes accessing the breast/chest more difficult.

✏️Distract child with favorite activities or offer alternatives like a favorite snack

✏️Change your routine

✏️Postpone: “After we play”

✏️Shortening the length of feeding or space feedings out

✏️Talk to your toddler about weaning. Older children (2 years and up) can be part of the process by talking to them about what is happening.

✏️Alternate between offering bottles and the breast

✏️Be consistent – this is a hard one but it can be even more confusing to your baby if you allow them to nurse one time and not the next.

✏️Lots of cuddles. Your breast/chest is more than just food but also a great source of comfort. Showing them you are still a source of that comfort despite not nursing is incredibly important

Ways to quickly wean:

⚓️Empty the breast only to comfort, trying not to stimulate the breast to make more milk

⚓️Breast gymnastics/“milk shakes” often to keep milk from sitting in the breast and clogging the ducts

⚓️Epsom salt soaks of the entire breast for soothing

⚓️Drinking 2-4 cups of sage or peppermint tea per day

⚓️Green cabbage leaves in the bra until they are soggy and then replacing the leaves

⚓️Cabocream (an alternative to the cabbage leaves

⚓️Cold packs on the breasts after feeding or pumping to reduce swelling

⚓️Starting on a hormone based birth control, especially The Pill (estrogen based) will drop supply

⚓️A last resort would be to take an antihistamine like Benadryl or Claritin-D as these are also notorious for dropping milk supply. This should be done with caution and under the direction of your primary care physician

True SELF-weaning by the baby before a year old is very uncommon. In fact, it is unusual for a baby to wean before 18-24 months unless something else going on (work, inefficient feeding, tongue tie, etc). A self weaning child is typically well over a year old (more commonly over 2 years) and getting most nutrition from solids, drinking well from a cup, and has been cutting back on nursing gradually.

Reasons a baby under a year may be perceived to self wean:

🔑Solids were introduced too soon

🔑Scheduled feedings/sleep training/pacifier use (all decrease time a baby would naturally want to be at the breast/chest)

🔑Lactating parent loses a lot of weight fast which can decrease milk supply

🔑Medications or hormonal birth control which will decrease supply

🔑Lactating parent is pregnant

🔑Baby taking lots of solids before one (human milk should be the primary nutrition source through one year of age)

Empty breasts make milk faster than full breasts

FULL/EMPTY BREASTS

While it seems counterintuitive, the emptier your breasts are, the faster they make milk. A full bread has no place to store or hold the milk, so milk production slows to prevent plugged ducts and breast discomfort. Cluster feeding on an emptier breast actually tells the body to make more milk at a faster rate!! Some incorrectly assume you have to wait for the breast to “fill up” before feeding your baby or for pumping while at work. This will eventually lead to less milk, as a fuller breast tells your body baby isn’t eating very often and to slow milk production. The more frequent you empty the breast, the higher the fat content in that milk and the faster milk is made. The longer often you wait and the fuller the breast, the higher the water content in that milk and the slower your body will make milk overall.

W atch the baby, not the clock. Breasts may feel really full between feedings in the first few weeks after birth, but they’re also not supposed to stay engorged. There will come a time when they stay soft and don’t feel full between feedings or pumping, so waiting for that as a cue to feed will also sabotage your supply. Don’t be alarmed when your breasts no longer feel full between feeding. You’re entering a new stage where you’ll still make plenty of milk for your baby as long as you’re routinely emptying that milk. Trust your body. Trust your baby.

The science vs the art of breastfeeding

SCIENCE AND ART

Breastfeeding is the perfect blend of science and art. There are basic principles that apply, but within those principles is a lot of variation

🔬Science says you should switch which breast you start with at each feeding to keep milk supply balanced

🎨Art says this mom always starts left to try to increase supply on the slacker boob while that mom only feeds one breast per feeding. This mom needs to block feed and that mom offers whatever breast passes the boob shake fullness test

🔬Science says babies should poop at least once a day

🎨Art says some babies poop every time they sit in the car seat and others in the bathtub🤷🏽‍♀️ Some babies poop after every feeding and others have just one a day (or every other day)

🔬Science says eat whatever you want

🎨Art says one can eat dairy without a problem for baby and for another it causes a rash and digestive upset in baby

🔬Science says having baby in a good position will get you a deep latch.

🎨Art says you over here love koala hold a rolled up wash cloth supporting your breast to help reduce reflux. While you over there do better in cross cradle sitting up.

🔬Science says as baby ages they can sleep in longer stretches at night

🎨Art says many babies still wake up 1-3 times a night to nurse until 18 months and need help from an adult to transition back to sleep

🔬By understanding the science behind breastfeeding, we can understand typical patterns of behavior which helps guide us when things aren’t going well.

🎨By appreciating the art of breastfeeding, we can celebrate the unique differences of every feeding baby within its own family dynamic.

🔬If you’re struggling with the science of breastfeeding, find help.

🎨If breastfeeding is going well, appreciate the art of your own masterpiece that you’re creating with your little one.

Does breast shape impact making milk?

We come in all different shapes and sizes, and so do our breasts/chests. They can be large, petite, round, tubular, wide, narrow, symmetrical, uneven, teardrop shaped, or droopy. All of these types of breasts/chest are normal.

The size of your breasts/chest is based upon the amount of fatty tissue in it. Those with smaller breasts have less fatty tissue, and those with larger breasts have more fatty tissue. The fatty tissue doesn’t make breast milk. Glandular tissue inside the fatty tissue produces the breast milk.

Unlike fat, the amount of milk-making tissue in your breasts is not necessarily related to the size of your breasts. People with all different breast sizes are fully capable of producing a healthy supply of breast milk for their babies.

Smaller breasts does not necessarily mean smaller milk supply. As long as the small size is not related to hypoplastic breasts (not enough glandular tissue), there shouldn’t be an issue. While you may have to breastfeed more often due to the amount of breast milk that your breasts can hold, you can still successfully produce enough milk.

Breastfeeding with large breasts has its own unique challenges, usually related to position and how to hold or support the breast. Side lying or rolling a towel to put underneath the breast to lift it can be very helpful. Some worry that their breasts will block baby’s nose. Pulling baby in the opposite direction of the breast and compressing the breast from the back can help pop baby’s nose up off the breast. If your baby’s nose gets blocked while nursing, they will open their mouth and let go of the breast so they can breathe.

If you were told your breasts were too big or too small to breastfeed, I am so sorry. Your body is perfect just the way it is.

If you’re concerned that you’re not producing enough milk, pay attention to your baby’s wet diapers and bowel movements. Generally, small infrequent bowel movements or less than six wet diapers a day, are cause for concern. Contact a lactation consultant (🙋🏽‍♀️)right away.

Maternal vaccines and breastfeeding

Did you know babies routinely get antibodies to anything you’ve been vaccinate against? Babies get temporary disease protection from you in this way. When you are vaccinated, your body has an immune response that makes antibodies to what you were vaccinated against. Antibodies are then secreted in breast milk to your baby. The type and quantity of these antibodies, and whether they provide any protection for baby after they are swallowed, are dependent on the vaccine received and maternal factors that influence immune system function such as genes, age and health.

Antibodies in breast milk have not been shown to reduce baby’s response to their own immunizations. However, some studies suggest that breast milk may improve baby’s immune response to some of the vaccines they receive.

If you do decide to be vaccinated while breastfeeding, there is no need to pump and dump your milk. Or to stop breastfeeding for any amount of time. When considering the vaccine, or any medication, most want to know whether a dangerous amount of a substance will be filtered into our milk and cause harm to our baby. For most drugs, so little gets to the baby that there’s really very little theoretical risk. Even if a drug or vaccine does end up in breastmilk, anything that goes through breastmilk also then has to go through baby’s gut before reaching baby’s bloodstream. The mRNA molecules in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if they made it into your milk, would have to survive baby’s stomach acid first.

While breastfeeding, it is highly unlikely that an intact lipid from the vaccine would enter your blood stream and be passed directly into your milk. If it does, it is even less likely that either the intact nanoparticle or mRNA could be transferred into your milk. In the unlikely event that mRNA is present in your milk, it would first go through baby’s digestive system and would be unlikely to have any biological effects. The vaccine is supposed to trigger an immune response in your body. It helps your body recognize the virus when you’re exposed and fights the virus early, reducing the severity and length of illness. Once your immune system recognizes the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, antibodies are made to protect you and those antibodies may pass into the breastmilk. Researchers have already found Covid antibodies in the breastmilk of previously infected women, though they don’t know yet how much protection these antibodies give babies.

Choosing to be vaccinated is a personal risk/benefit decision to be made between you and your health care providers. If you do chose to be vaccinated with the COVID vaccines, there is no need to pump and dump for concerns of your milk harming your baby.

The Second Night

Second Night Syndrome : What absolutely every parent should be warned about in pregnancy.

Second night syndrome. I hate the word syndrome. It implies something is wrong. For nine months your baby has been in your belly. Heard your voice. Felt your body move. Listened to the rush of your blood flow past and heard the gurgle of food digesting. Their existence controlled by the cycles of your body. Then the intensity of labor and delivery propels them into a new world that sounds, smells, and moves differently. The sheer exertion of being born often makes babies as tired as their mothers. It is typical for babies to have a deep recovery sleep about 2 hours after birth (after their 1st breastfeed).

On the second night, however, most babies will want to frequently nurse. This helps with two transitions: meconium to soft, seedy yellow poops and colostrum to mature milk. This cluster feeding catches many parents by surprise and leaves them wondering if baby is starving. Unless baby is not latched well or efficiently feeding, this is normal and the cluster feeding will help transition your milk.

Many babies, though, don’t want to be put down during this process. Each time you put them on the breast they nurses for a little bit, go back to sleep and then cry when placed in the crib. A lot of moms are convinced it is because their milk isn’t “in” yet, and baby is starving. It isn’t that, baby’s awareness that the most comforting place is at the breast. It’s the closest to “home”. This is pretty universal among babies. When baby drifts off to sleep at the breast after a good feed, break the suction and take your nipple gently out of their mouth.

This is also protective of SIDS. You’re exhausted from labor and delivery and just want to sleep. But night time is when newborns are most vulnerable to respiratory complications and SIDS. By waking you frequently at night, you are waking frequently to check on the well being of your baby when they’re at their greatest risk of infant death. Waking regularly at night for the first few months to feed also helps babies from getting into too deep of a sleep state which can cause them to stop breathing. Instead of seeing the loss of sleep as a negative for you, consider the positive reason it has for baby.

Don’t try to burp baby, just snuggle baby until they fall into a deep sleep where they won’t be disturbed by being moved. Babies go into a light sleep state (REM) first, and then cycle in and out of REM and deep sleep about every ½ hour or so. If they start to root and act as though they want to go back to breast, that’s fine… this is their way of comforting. During deep sleep, baby’s breathing is very quiet and regular, and there is no movement beneath the eyelids. That is the time to put them down.

Second night syndrome. As described above, when all is going well it is normal for baby’s to cluster feed on the second night to help milk transition and poop out meconium. Some babies do not efficiently feed, though, and intervention may be necessary.

🩺Medical interventions and pain relief during labor and delivery, maternal health complications like PCOS, uncontrolled diabetes or hypothyroidism, or large blood loss during delivery may delay the transition of your milk.

🧸If your baby not latched well, has a tongue tie, or hasn’t figured out how to coordinate sucking to actually transfer milk from the breast, intervention may also be necessary.

🖐🏽The first line of defense is hand expressing your milk frequently. Hands are better at expressing colostrum than a pump, although a pump is a great way to stimulate milk to be made.

🥄Dripping your milk into baby’s mouth from a spoon or small syringe can help jump start the feeding process.

❓If you have any doubt about either your milk supply or your baby’s ability to breastfeed well, reach out to a qualified IBCLC ASAP to get to the root issue and get you back on track.

♥️There is no shame in supplementing your baby if needed during this time of learning. Remember, you can always use your milk first by using your hands or a pump if baby hasn’t figured it out yet.

Where has my breast milk gone?

Some times we can sabotage our own milk supply from little things that we don’t understand will make a difference. Here are the top ways to accidentally drop your milk supply:

😳Putting baby on a feeding schedule in the first 3-4 months

😳Watching the clock instead of feeding baby on demand

😳Sleep training in the first 3-4 months after birth

😳Waiting for your breasts/chest to feel full to pump or feed

😳Not pumping when baby is getting a bottle

😳Letting partner feed a bottle in the middle of the night to get more sleep (and not getting up to pump)

😳”Topping off baby” after feeding, especially during the witching hour phase. (I’m not talking about when supplementing is necessary or if you’re on a triple feeding plan because of true low supply or baby weight gain. Supplementing after breastfeeding can be needed, but you would also be pumping at that time)

😳 Not pumping enough when returning to work

😳Using the wrong size pump flanges

😳Using a poor quality pump (insurance companies have to provide you with one, but that doesn’t mean they’ll give you one of quality)

😳Going back on hormonal birth control at your 6 week postpartum checkup

😳Taking nasal decongestants or allergy medications

While these seem like normal recommendations from many parent groups or even your health care providers, these subtle things can sabotage milk supply. Your body works on a demand and supply basis. The more you empty or demand from the breast/chest, the more milk it will make. Want to increase supply? Increase the number of milk removals, give young infants free access to feed on demand, and watch out for medications, hormones, of pumping traps that can sabotage your success.

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.

My baby mouth breathes: when should I be worried?

Babies are obligatory nose breathers. They should be breathing through their nose all the time. This is how they can have their mouth full with a nipple during breast or bottle feeding and still breathe. Mouth breathing isn’t as efficient as nose breathing — especially when it comes to oxygen absorption in the lungs. And breathing through the nose helps to filter out bacteria and irritants from entering the body. Babies should be breathing through their nose all the time, especially during sleep. And snoring with mouth breathing is NEVER normal.

Mouth breathing as an infant can indicate several things:

🤢Nasal congestion from an illness or allergies

😛Tongue tie

👀Large tonsils/adenoids

👃🏽Deviated nasal septum

🧠Learned habit

Prolonged mouth breathing can cause:

Atypical development of the mouth, nasal passages and face

• Poor quality sleep

ADHD

• Increased risk of asthma

• Swollen tonsils

• Dry cough

• Inflamed tongue

• Teeth issues, like cavities and bad alignment

• Foul-smelling breath

If you notice baby mouth breathing regularly (other than when sick), please make an appointment with a health care provider to help figure out the root cause.

• Stay away from your baby’s known allergens

• Gently push the chin upward to close baby’s mouth when sleeping

• Consult with a doctor as soon as you notice baby breathing through their mouth consistently

• Put a humidifier in their room to prevent their mouth from drying out

• Have tongue tie revised and work on suck training exercises, tongue posture, and body work for proper body posture to correct habits baby made from compensating for the tie