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.
They say you can’t over feed a breast fed baby. They’re usually pretty good about taking what they need and stopping when they’re full. This is because of stomach and breast anatomy. Remember how sucking and milk flow rate at the breast are different than the bottle? This directly links to stomach anatomy.
There are two kinds of receptors in the stomach: density and stretch. Density receptors tell you how calorically dense or fat-rich your food is. It’s why at the Cheesecake Factory your belly starts to feel really full after about ten bites of Godiva chocolate Cheesecake but you can eat 3 bags of popcorn at the theater. Chocolate is much richer and calorically denser than popcorn. Stretch receptors tell you how full your stomach is from a volume perspective. Your stomach at rest is on average the size of your fist. That’s true throughout your entire life. But the stomach can stretch. Just like my stretchy pants at Thanksgiving. It can still only fill to a certain capacity. The only problem is, it takes approximately 20 minutes for your stretch receptors to tell your brain that the stomach had stretched to capacity. This is what I call the twenty minute phenomenon. You know, when a group of college boys order a pizza, they each eat a whole pizza in ten minutes and then twenty minutes later feel over full and sick. They as much as they could as fast as they could but paid for it in the twenty minute window. Exclusively breast fed babies don’t typically over eat because again, breast milk flow varies over a feeding. It starts slow, mommy goes into let down, then milk shows, mommy changes the baby to the other side, milk starts slow, mommy goes into let down, 15-20 minutes later the baby’s stomach tells the brain it’s full and the baby stops eating. Anatomy and physiology in perfect harmony.
Unfortunately bottle fed can be over fed. Bottles have these lovely ounce markers on them that tell us how much the baby needs to eat to be full. At every feeding my baby NEEDS to get a full 5 ounces of she will be hungry. She NEEDS to eat 24 ounces in a day or she will starve to death. And when baby stops eating at 3.5 ounces, I just jiggle the bottle or wait a few minutes and jiggle the bottle until baby takes that full feeding. Jiggle, wiggle, look at that she took the full feeding. Instead of listen to baby’s cuts that she’s full, we let the bottle dictate how much baby needs. And we wonder why formula feed babies have a significantly higher rate of obesity. Here’s the thing. Bottles are not the enemy. My daughter takes breast milk from a bottle five days a week while I’m at work. They are lovely devices that do an essential job. But we need to be mindful to not over feed our bottle fed babies.
Tips to not over feed a bottle fed baby (regardless of what’s in the bottle)
1. Always use a show flow nipple until 1 year of age. Slow flow most closely mimicks the flow at the breast. It also shows a baby down so the brain can keep up with the stomach (aka be mindful of those stretch receptors).
2. Watch your baby’s cues. Does he push the bottle away? Did he become sleepy? Do his hands and body relax? Does he release his iron grip on the nipple? These are signs he’s done. Over fed babies tend to spit up or vomit more because their tummies are at capacity. Don’t try to force in that last half an ounce. Respect your baby and stop feeding. Your baby will let you know if he’s still hungry.
3. In reality, babies only ever need 3-5 ounces of milk per feeding. In the first four to six months when your baby isn’t eating any solids, here’s a simple rule of thumb: Offer 2.5 ounces of formula per pound of body weight each day. For example, if your baby weighs 6 pounds, you’ll give her about 15 ounces of formula in a 24-hour period. Once a baby is six months of age and starting solid foods, offer the breast or bottle first (3-5 ounces), then offer well balanced, nutritious, solids. The solids will provide them the additional nutrition they need. (**Disclaimer : if your baby is not ready for solids at six months, that’s FINE. Your baby is ready to start solids when they can sit unsupported for a good amount of time, uses a pintcher grasp, and has the hand eye coordination of hand to mouth. If your baby is over six months and not taking solids, your baby may need additional milk per feeding.)
4. It is OK for volumes of feedings to be didn’t throughout the day. We take for granted that babies can know their bodies. They can tell us when they’re hungry and when they’re full. Sometimes I’m really hungry in the morning and I eat a Grand Slam breakfast. Other times I only want a piece of toast. It’s OK to have your baby eat a ton one meal and very little the next. Remember, there are no ounce markers on the breast. Exclusively breast fed babies do this all the time. And there’s no amount of nipple jigging that will get them to take more in a feeding.
Here’s the big take away: it’s OK to take the pressure off feeding, especially if your a working mom trying to keep up with pumping. As long as your baby is following their growth curve, making enough wet and dirty diapers, and happy, keep doing what you’re doing. If your baby is not getting enough nutrition, not gaining weight, or unhappy, please have your pediatrician write a referral to a pediatric clinic ASAP or give me a call and we can dialogue through a plan of action.
Welcome to LA Lactation. Congratulations on the newest arrival to your family!
LA Lactation’s blog is meant to provide you with quick and simple strategies to ensure successful (fun and hopefully enjoyable) breastfeeding.
People unwittingly tell new moms that breastfeeding should come naturally and easily, but honestly, breastfeeding can be tricky! Babies come into the world ready to learn, but feeding still takes practice!!!
The posts on this blog are packed with helpful information designed to walk you through the breastfeeding experience so that when baby comes, you will feel confidence in your own abilities and skills to feed your baby.
Of course, putting your baby to your breast immediately after birth is the first step toward breastfeeding. But what next? What if your baby won’t latch? What if his hands are constantly in the way? What if your milk is slow to come in? There are many questions new mothers have and you can find all your answers in the content of this blog.
The first feeding:
Baby’s first feeding should happen within the first 60 minutes of birth. Skin to skin contact is essential for starting the bond between mother and baby and is a catalyst to the first feeding. It stimulates hormones in the mother’s body to begin the production of colostrum, the first milk often called “liquid gold”. Colostrum is packed with immune boosting antibodies, all the essential vitamins and minerals your baby needs, and perfectly balanced nutrition for growth and development. When infants are placed on their mothers chests at birth, their feeding instincts kick in. They will begin to army crawl to the breast and root around for mama’s nipple. You can facilitate this by laying your baby on your belly when he is born and watching the magic happen. After the first latch, you can position baby for feeding. While there are several breastfeeding positions for your infant, which will be in another blog post, you’ll want to keep skin-to-skin contact while feeding.
It’s not immediately obvious, but a proper latch means baby has not only the nipple in her mouth, but a good bit of breast tissue from the areola as well. The areola is the colored area around the nipple. If the baby has a shallow latch just on the nipple, their tongue movement will cause chaffing which will lead to unnecessary cracking, bleeding, and pain. A deep, wide latch and will help prevent nipple soreness and discomfort, as well as allowing for a good flow of breastmilk.
- If you need to break suction to reposition baby for a proper latch, be careful not to pull baby off your nipple, which will cause painful shearing over time. Instead, insert a finger between the gums to gently pop the suction, or use a finger to raise baby’s top lip toward her nose.
- You should not feel pain in the nipple or breast when feeding. Women experience different sensations when nursing, like tugging or pulling. If there is any pain, your baby is most likely not latched correctly. Try breaking the seal and repositioning.
- If you notice drying or cracking starting on the nipple, take immediate action. Nipple creams can help, but so can breast milk. Breast milk has been known to heal sore or cracked nipples faster than over the counter creams! Using a reusable/washable nursing pad made from natural bamboo fibers can help keep the nipple dry, which will also help with healing. If you use disposable nursing pads, make sure to change them frequently.