Cabbage for engorgment

Cabbage is not just for Cole slaw. Did you know that cabbage leaves have been used for decades to help reduce breast engorgement? A handful of studies have shown that placing a chilled green cabbage leaf against the breast has been effective to reduce breast swelling and pain. It is suspected that the compounds found in the plant leaves have strong anti-inflammatory properties that help improve blood flow, decrease swelling, and allow milk to flow more freely.


Using Cabbage Leaves for Engorgement:

✏️Chill the cabbage, green cabbages are best

✏️Wash off one or two inner leaves, be mindful to remove any dirt, pesticides or residue

✏️Gently pat dry with a towel

✏️Crush the center stem for maximum potency

✏️Wrap a leaf around the affected area of the breast, exposing the nipple when possible.

✏️Use a bra or lose wrap to hold the leaves in place

✏️Leave for 20 minutes

✏️Discard the leaves

✏️Cautions:20 minutes seems to be for most the right amount of time

✏️Repeat no more than 1-2 times a day for engorgement, as cabbage leaves used more often can actually decrease milk supply!

✏️This process is also used for weaning breast milk, such as when quick weaning is needed or when mothers are done breastfeeding.

Can I empty my breast?

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!

Sunflower lethicin and plugged ducts

Lecithin is used in food to provide a smooth, moist texture and to keep ingredients from separating. Lecithin can naturally be found in green vegetables, red meat, and eggs. Commercial preparations are often made from soybeans, egg yolks, or animal products. It is also commonly used in eye drops, skin moisturizers, and food emulsifiers (agents that keep ingredients from separating).

Sunflower lethicin, a specific kind of lethicin, is often taken during breastfeeding to reduce plugged ducts or to help increase milk flow. Sunflower lethicin is thought to reduce the “stickiness” of breast milk by thinning out the fats in the milk and keeping them from clumping together. There are no known contraindications for breast-feeding, and lecithin is “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA. However, people with a preexisting tendency to depression may become depressed if taking high doses of lecithin. While very rare, if you begin to have a fish-like odor while taking high doses of lethicin, stop taking it immediately and notify your physician, as this is a serious sign of liver damage. As there is no recommended daily allowance for lecithin, there is no established dosing for lecithin supplements. Different brands might have different amounts of lecithin in each pill or capsule, so be sure to read labels very carefully before taking lecithin or any other dietary supplement. Per Kellymom.com, the maximum dosage recommended for recurrent plugged ducts is 4,800mg/day. As always, consult with your doctor before trying any dietary supplements while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Why should I see an IBCLC or lactation consultant

If you broke your foot you wouldn’t go to your local nail salon to have your pedicurist look at it. Yes, they work with feet. I just wouldn’t trust their expert opinion on whether I need a cast or some physical therapy. If my car engine was making smoke and my gauges were outside the appropriate ranges, you wouldn’t go to the car wash to have it looked at. Yes, they work with cars. I just wouldn’t trust their expert opinion on whether my engine block is cracked or not. So why when we’re having lactation problems do we turn to mom groups or even pediatricians? Yes, moms have babies. Yes, pediatricians work with babies. But neither are the experts in lactation (ok, occasionally a pediatrician will seek additional training, but honestly it’s rare). To become a board certified lactation consultant, you need to take advanced college level coursework specifically in human lactation. You need to spend hundreds to thousands of hours being directly mentored by someone who already is board certified. And you have to pass a FOUR HOUR board exam. To be board certified. IBCLCs spend thousands of dollars and years of their lives training to become experts in breasts, babies, and feeding. If you’re struggling, please find the correct help. There’s a lot of bad information out there that may inadvertently sabotage your breastfeeding journey without you even being aware.

Breastfeeding and lactose, dairy, food intolerances and allergies

Lactose is the number one sugar in breastmilk. It is the protein in cow’s milk that is difficult to digest for some babies. Human milk has human protein. It is easily digested by the stomach and absorbed in the intestines. The protein of cow’s milk is shaped different and not easily absorbed by the stomach and intestines as it’s designed to be absorbed by calves. It can sometimes make babies gassy or have poops that have bloody or mucous in them. Cow’s milk sensitivity or allergy can cause colic-like symptoms, eczema, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea (including bloody diarrhea), constipation, hives, and/or a stuffy, itchy nose. Which can also be signs of other things. You could always try decreasing your dairy intake. Baby’s symptoms will usually begin to improve within 5-7 days of eliminating a problem food. Baby may not improve immediately, however, especially if the reaction is to a food that has been a regular part of your diet. Sometimes symptoms get worse before they begin to improve. It usually takes 2-3 weeks to see an improvement.

If baby is sensitive to dairy, it will not help to switch to lactose-free dairy products or put your baby in formula, which is cow protein based.

While culture may dictate what you can and cannot eat while breastfeeding, science does not. Most babies have no problems with anything that you eat. It’s generally recommended that you eat whatever you like, whenever you like, in the amounts that you like and continue to do this unless you notice an obvious reaction in your baby.

There is no list of “foods that every nursing person should avoid” because most of us can eat anything we want, and because the babies who are sensitive to certain foods are each unique – what bothers one may not bother another.

Babies’ guts are also constantly developing. So what bothers them as a newborn may not bother them the closer they get to a year.

Unless there are known food allergies in your family history or your baby is having severe reactions to what you think you may be eating, there’s no need to restrict what you eat. Remember: fussiness and gas is normal for a young baby, and is not usually related to foods you eat. If your baby is sensitive to something you are eating, you will most likely notice other symptoms in addition to fussiness, such as EXCESSIVE spitting up or vomiting, colic, rash or persistent congestion, crying inconsolably for long periods, or sleep little and wake suddenly with obvious discomfort. Other signs of a true food allergy may include: rash, hives, eczema, sore bottom, dry skin; wheezing or asthma; congestion or cold-like symptoms; red, itchy eyes; ear infections; irritability, fussiness, colic; intestinal upsets, vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea, or green stools with mucus or blood. Fussiness that is not accompanied by these other symptoms and calms with more frequent nursing is probably not food-related.

Comparison will steal your peace

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.

One Breast or Two?

SHOULD I OFFER ONE BREAST OR TWO WHEN BREASTFEEDING?

Just as no rule says you must eat the same amount at every meal, there’s no rule that says your baby must eat from both sides every feeding.

  • Factors that play a role in offering one side or two include your individual breast storage capacity, and milk supply, when your last feeding was, and your unique baby’s volume needs.
  • Storage capacity is not indicated by breast size, but by glandular tissue in the breast. People with lots of glandular tissue have a higher storage capacity in each breast regardless of the actual breast size. Their babies may only want one side per feeding as each side makes plenty of milk. Some people have smaller storage capacities and their babies will want to feed off of both sides (maybe even multiple times!) to get what they want.
  • You will get to know your breast storage capacity and how quickly your breasts make milk as you get to know your body and your baby.  Every feeding can also be different. There’s no right or wrong. Sometimes a baby will want both breasts if they’re really hungry and sometimes they’ll want only one when they just want to comfort nurse to sleep. Some times you may feel like you’re offering each breast 5 or 6 times in a feeding, rotating constantly!! NORMAL!!! Trust your baby and your body. You can always offer the second breast/side but don’t feel stressed if your baby doesn’t always want it. 

BREASTS ARE SISTER, NOT TWINS

You may also feel like baby always prefers one side or even does better feeding on one side!! That’s because breasts are sisters and not twins!!!! One side can be bigger, one side can make more. Nipples can even be different shapes and sizes, making one side easier to latch to from purely an anatomical perspective.

  • Around 70% of us produce more milk on the right. Which means 30% make more on the left. 
  • It is VERY common for one side to produce more than the other, often double. This is not a reason to neglect one side. You want to make sure you rotate which side you offer first. This can also cause one breast to be significantly larger than the other especially if you continue to only feed from one side.
  • Babies may prefer one side over the other for various reasons
    • They like to lay with their head in a certain direction
    • They prefer the flow (one side may flow faster or slower than the other)
    • They may prefer the flavor (YES!! Milk can taste different from each side during the same feeding!!)
    • They may have tension in their body from positioning during pregnancy or from trauma during birth.
  • If you want to help balance out a slacker boob, you can try offering the slacker first more often.
  • Ending on the slacker can also help, especially if baby just wants to use you like a pacifier.
  • Pumping the slacker side after feedings can also help stimulate more milk production.

Don’t stress too much about a slacker boob if it’s not an issue. If baby is happy, there’s really no need to fret over differences between your breasts. If you start to notice one side is increasing in cup sizes significantly from the other, schedule a consultation and we can get to the root of why baby only wants one side and we can work on it together.

How Much Breast Milk Does Baby Need?

HOW MUCH BREAST MILK DOES MY BABY NEED IN A DAY?

How many ounces of breast milk should my exclusively breastfed baby be eating at a feeding? This is usually on the top five questions from families. The answer is: that depends.

  • Some babies are grazers. They like smaller, more frequent feedings to keep their tummy from being too full or uncomfortable. Their feedings can range from 1-3 ounces of breast milk and they may feed 10 or more times a day.
  • Other babies are bingers. They like a big, full tummy and may take 3-5 or even occasionally 6 ounces of breast milk but not as often. They may feed only 6-8 times a day and have longer sleep stretches. Their tummy doesn’t mind being stretched fuller and their bodies tell them it’s ok to go longer between feedings.
  • A helpful question to always be asking is: how many times a day is baby feeding? From one month to one year, babies take between 19-32 ounces of breast milk a day. The average is 25 ounces in 24 hours. There’s a range because, just like us as adults, some days we want to eat more than other days depending on the activities of the day, growth spurts, cravings, and even babies emotionally eat sometimes. Trust your baby to know their stomach better than you do. 
  • Babies get hungry frequently: 8-12 or more times a day. They drink so much breast milk because they grow so rapidly. They will double their birth weight by six months and triple their weight by a year. Imagine how much you would need to eat to double your weight in six months! You may feel like you feed your baby all the time, and you are. Every 1-3 hours in the first few months is normal!! Every feeding is different and breast milk volumes taken vary throughout the day. Sometimes you want a snack and sometimes you want a buffet. 
  • How is pumping going for you and can you keep up with his volume needs? Pumping is never an indication of your breast milk supply, it just indicates what your pump can empty from you. So many people have their breast milk supply sabotaged by baby being overfed from a quick flowing bottle, not enough time spent during the feeding, or interpreting baby’s cues wrong.
  • If your milk supply is keeping up with their demand there’s no problem. If you’re concerned about your baby’s feeding habits, definitely schedule a consultation with me.