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Breastfeeding

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Newborn Breastfeeding and the 10th Day Growth Spurt

newborn breastfeeding

Breastfeeding success has always been an important goal for Birth Boot Camp and breastfeeding education is included in our online and in-person classes through a long and detailed video presentation by Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC. One thing that often throws people off in their breastfeeding journey is the very early days and the confusion and lack of personal confidence that unexpected growth spurts can cause for the nursing mother. We love this guest today from Alex Rounds, an experienced breastfeeding mother and lactation counselor. Our hope is that you will read this and share it with expecting mothers so that they can thrive during the first months of breastfeeding. And, if you are really passionate about breastfeeding, taking her advice and giving mom a gift during this “10th day growth spurt” just might change a life and help preserve a nursing relationship. 

Enjoy!

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Experienced parents recognize some baby shower gifts don’t end up getting much use. We can’t predict what we’re really going to need until we meet our babies. But there are some things about infants that are predictable, like dirty diapers, sleep debt and growth spurts. We know babies grow quickly by the sheer volume of newborn to 0-3 month clothes on the registry, but the actual implications in terms of feeding aren’t often talked about. So I want to share a proposal that would make a fantastic tradition of giving a 10 day growth spurt gift/IOU to every mom out there. Women Infant and Children (WIC) Director Peter Schlichting brought up the idea with intent to give new moms extra attention and love at a time when hormone levels are dropping and infant needs are increasing as a way to promote continued breastfeeding, but a 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift should be for all moms.

All moms can probably use a little extra attention during the postpartum period, but breastfeeding moms and their newborns may especially benefit from a reminder around the time of the first major growth spurt. The gift of time and companionship when a new mom is home alone with what may seem to be an insatiable newborn can be incredible. In the United States, breastfeeding initiation rates are almost 80% but rates drop to 40% by 3 months (CDC, 2014), a drop largely attributed to concerns regarding milk supply (Li, R., Fein, S., Chen, J., & Grummer-Strawn, L 2008). Often this is misguided: it is not necessarily a supply issue but a growth spurt. If we can help moms get through the first growth spurt, maybe we can help increase breastfeeding rates at 3 months and beyond.

The gift can be anything from a pedicure, massage, lunch date or anything special for the mom. It should be something for the woman, not for her baby, and adaptable to whatever the moms needs are at the time. After giving birth, focus shifts from the woman to her baby, a new mother’s hormones are in flux and if she is like most women, she has lost a little sleep since her darling little one arrived. The combination of a baby with a growth spurt and a hormonal shifts can be rough on Moms to put it mildly, so a little extra attention and focus on the Mom can help her adapt and give Mom the boost she probably needs.

Getting out of the house might be a treat at this stage, but not all women are ready to venture out, so keep in mind your friend’s perspective. If you plan a trip out- you might want to include an hour of your time to help Mom get out the door with her little one, and to offer to drive. For Moms who aren’t ready to leave home, bringing take out lunch from a favorite restaurant or having a home visit by a massage therapist with postpartum experience can be phenomenal. Take the time together to ask how she is doing, if she’s getting enough help and how breastfeeding is going for her.

The first growth spurt usually occurs between 10 and 14 days and comes at an often difficult time for breastfeeding moms. Whether breastfeeding has started off without a hitch or with challenges, the breastfeeding mom may feel that things should be getting easier. But then a few weeks after birth the baby will increase the frequency and often amount of time spent at feedings. Uplifting mother centered support can be the light that helps her get through the frequent feedings that come with growth spurts. When you give her the 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift, talk with her, she how she’s doing, and ask her if she has noticed a growth spurt, and if she hasn’t yet, you can remind her to expect one soon.

Some points that are important to know about breastfeeding that can help Mom, family and friends understand breastfeeding are:

Milk production is triggered by demand. The more a baby nurses, the more milk will be produced.

Frequent feedings are normal for a few days during growth spurts but typically space out within 2-3 days.

Breastfeeding takes more time in the beginning but long term is less time consuming than formula feeding.

Breast milk is easy for babies to digest. It moves through their digestive system with ease. That’s why babies need to nurse frequently. Formula is more difficult to digest.

Newborns should breastfeed 12 or more times in 24 hours. At the same time, it’s important to watch babies hunger cues, and not necessarily go by the clock.

Babies may cluster feed, or feed several times over several hours, then take a break. This is normal.

If your friend who has planned to breastfeed is having trouble or has questions, many communities have La Leche League Chapters (find them here http://www.llli.org/webus.html) which typically hold monthly woman to woman support meetings. LLL leaders, Breastfeeding or Lactation Counselors, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and other professionals who specialize in breastfeeding are great resources too!

A little extra support, a treat, and a reminder about normal developments can help a new Mom when things may seem hard. Let’s do our best to help new moms transition into motherhood. Let’s make sure new Moms know they have a community that cares, who they can lean on, and that there are resources. And most of all, let’s take care of them.

Alex Rounds, Doula

In a nutshell, Alex Rounds is a moderately well-adjusted human being.  She is a member of La Leche League, a Breastfeeding Counselor, and Mom with a total of 8 years personal experience breastfeeding, not all of which were easy.  She has three fun, quirky and ever-challenging sweet kids. Presently, Alex’s time is consumed with homeschooling, studying midwifery, volunteering, providing breastfeeding support, and attending birth as a doula.

 

IGT

Insufficient Glandular Tissue and Breastfeeding

 

We are pleased to bring a guest post to you today from Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC.  Mellanie is an experienced Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant who stars in our breastfeeding DVD, “Breastfeeding: the Ultimate MRE.”  Mellanie is a wealth of knowledge and we are so excited to have her write about the topic of Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT) today.

Read more

Breastfeeding After Reduction Surgery

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An important part of our mission at Birth Boot Camp is to encourage and truly support mothers in breastfeeding.  From day one we have had on staff an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Mellanie Sheppard, and every one of our students receives a two-disk breastfeeding DVD titled: Breastfeeding: the Ultimate MRE.  

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Breastfeeding Resources for New Moms

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Breastfeeding is something that we plan for before the birth of our baby, but few of us prepare like we should.  While very natural, it doesn’t always come easily and arming yourself with resources to support breastfeeding is a useful way to make it more successful.  

There are a variety of ways to prepare and learn about breastfeeding from books to actual woman-to-woman support. Here are a few of our favorites. Read more

Preparing for Breastfeeding

I often ask women who are expecting if they have prepared for breastfeeding.  Sometimes I get “I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital” or “I read a book,” but often I just get a blank stare.  Prepare for breastfeeding?  Why prepare for breastfeeding?  It is natural, right?  Yes, breastfeeding is instinctual for babies, but babies don’t breastfeed by themselves and many things happen to get in the way of their instinctive behavior.  In that light, I would like to share some of the most common pitfalls that de-rail even the best of breastfeeding intentions.

  • We are living in a bottle-feeding culture.  Women have been imprinted from infancy with the sight of babies being fed by bottle.  Most of us grow up having rarely (if ever) seen anyone breastfeeding.  When most women begin to position their babies to breastfeed, they instinctively move the baby into a bottle-feeding position.  Why?  Because that is how we have always seen babies fed.  In order to combat that, it is a great idea to visit with groups of breastfeeding mothers during pregnancy so that you can begin to see babies breastfeeding.  Groups like your local La Leche League group, Breastfeeding USA group or independent breastfeeding groups, like For Babies’ Sake, are a wealth of real-life information.   In my experience, women who attend breastfeeding groups on a regular (or even semi-regular) basis during pregnancy experience far fewer problems and are more likely to meet their breastfeeding goals.  There are also websites that discuss breastfeeding issues, including positioning, like Biological Nurturing and Dr. Jack Newman’s videos.
  • Modern birth and post-partum practices interfere with baby’s and mom’s instinctive breastfeeding behaviors.  The current practice of induction of labor, often for reasons that are not medically indicated, as well as scheduled c-sections prior to 39 weeks can lead to complications, such as more difficult labors and delivery by forceps or vacuum extraction, respiratory distress syndrome,  poor suck reflexes, excessively sleepy babies, etc.  These complications have a big impact on how well baby is able to breastfeed.  I believe that it is no coincidence that a large portion of the clients that I see for breastfeeding difficulties were either induced or had scheduled c-sections prior to 39 weeks gestation.  As anxious as you are to meet your little one, and as uncomfortable as you may be in the last weeks of pregnancy, resist the temptation of early delivery, unless there is a true medical needBabies who aren’t quite ready to be born are much more difficult to breastfeed.
  • Aside from the birth, routine separation of infants from their mothers, whether it is for a mandatory “observation” period in the nursery or spending the night in the nursery so that mom can get more sleep, interferes with breastfeeding as well.  Babies experience significantly more stress when separated from mom and often are so exhausted by the time they are reunited with mom that they just want to shut down and go to sleep in the safety of mom’s arms.  If you are planning to give birth in a hospital, find out what the hospital policies are regarding routine post-partum care.  The ideal is 24-hour rooming-in with mom, no routine separation for non-medical reasons.  Look for a hospital in your area that is part of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative or the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC has written a great article about how birth affects breastfeeding.
  •  Misinformation and lack of support are often the final nail in the coffin.  Many women express frustration at the conflicting information they are given regarding breastfeeding.  This is a very valid frustration.  Women are told “feed baby for 10 minutes on each breast every three hours” or “feed baby on demand.”  They are told “only feed one breast per feeding” or “always offer baby both breasts.”  They are given so many “orders” that they become more and more confused.  So, how is a mother to know which advice is the best?
    • The first thing to do is realize that each mother and infant pair is unique.  Some mothers’ milk flows very fast, some slower.  Some babies get down to business and eat very efficiently, while others are little gourmands, taking their time and savoring every moment.  They do not feed according to a clock, but according to their own pre-programmed biological cues.
    • The second thing to realize is that anyone can give breastfeeding advice.  In order to determine its validity, you need to consider the source.  How much experience or training has this person had with breastfeeding?  It might surprise you to know that most doctors and nurses get very little training on breastfeeding during medical/nursing school. Some care providers who work with mothers and their infants take the time to find out more about breastfeeding but many do not.  If it is a friend or family member giving advice, find out the source of their information.  Is it a “they say” statement or first-hand experience from someone who successfully breastfed their own child?  The best source of information on breastfeeding will usually come from those specifically trained in breastfeeding support – the IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.)  IBCLC’s spend several years studying breastfeeding and training to support breastfeeding women before they can take a certifying exam.  They must maintain that certification by continuing education in breastfeeding related studies.  There are a myriad of good books written by IBCLC’s, such as Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC or  The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West & Teresa Pitman.   My favorite on-line source for reliable, well-researched breastfeeding information is www.kellymom.comIf you are enrolled in a Birth Boot Camp class, you will receive a comprehensive breastfeeding class on DVD.  Take the time to watch it with your partner and support team.
  • For the second piece of the puzzle, line up your support network before baby arrives.  Make friends at a local breastfeeding support group or La Leche League; share breastfeeding information with your mother, husband, mother-in-law or anyone else who will be supporting you after baby’s arrival.  The more information your support team has, the better they will be able to support you, especially if the going gets tough.  Have you chosen a pediatrician?  How supportive is he or she of breastfeeding?  What about your obstetrician or midwife?  Here is an article by Dr. Jack Newman that might give you a clue:  How to Know a Health Professional is Not Supportive of BreastfeedingThe last trimester of pregnancy is also a good time to make contact with a lactation consultant (IBCLC.)  You can take the time to see if her teaching style suits you, find out what her qualifications are, find out if she makes home visits or if she is based out of an office or hospital.  Having your support system in place before baby comes will ease your mind greatly if you do experience difficulties with breastfeeding.

In short, preparing for breastfeeding during pregnancy paves the way for a successful breastfeeding experience.  Enjoy this special time in anticipation of the many joys that will come with the arrival of your new baby, including the special bond of breastfeeding.

 
Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC, RLC, BBCI
For Babies Sake
www.forbabiessake.com
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