Back in the day, before I was an IBCLC, I spent hours on the phone as a La Leche League Leader, listening to and trying to help breastfeeding mothers. My co-leaders and I were very active with 2 well-attended group meetings per month. It was not unusual for me to talk on the phone with several mothers each day of the week. After a year or 2 of this work, I began to notice a trend. During major holidays, almost all of the calls were about plugged ducts, mastitis and milk supply.
I discussed this with more experienced leaders. “Yep,” they agreed, “those breastfeeding problems happen more during major life events—especially holidays!” It was such a recognizable phenomenon, we were able to predict the types of calls we could expect based on the time of year. Toward the end of November, we started preparing for the flood of plugged ducts and mastitis calls. Continue reading →
You probably already know that certain foods and herbs can increase milk supply. Oatmeal, fenugreek* and blessed thistle* and many others all have a reputation for helping mothers overflow with milk.
But many people don’t know that some foods can actually decrease milk production. There is no need to worry about small amounts of any of the following foods, but if you’re struggling with low milk supply already, avoid ingesting large quantities of the following. On the other hand, if you are one of those mothers with an over-abundance of milk, or if you are in the process of weaning, you may find the following foods helpful!Continue reading →
It is well known that alcohol consumption during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus. The placenta is not a barrier for toxic substances and even moderate drinking can cause devastating brain damage. But what about breastfeeding? Does that glass of wine you enjoyed with dinner pass into your breast milk? Do you need to be cautious about drinking alcohol?
The short answer is “yes.” The alcohol you consume enters your bloodstream almost immediately and, therefore, is in your milk rather quickly. Even though the alcohol does transfer to your milk, the amount of alcohol your baby experiences is much less than the amount you drink. Unlike the placenta, the breast provides some protection from most toxins in your bloodstream. According to Dr. Thomas Hale, the dose of alcohol in milk is less than 16% of the mother’s dose.Continue reading →
Myth: It’s normal to have sore, cracked nipples the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
One of the most common reasons women give for not initiating breastfeeding is “I’m afraid that it will hurt.” Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt! Ever! Think of all the mammals who nurse their babies. Are they grimacing? Are they trying to avoid breastfeeding because of pain? Absolutely not. They look peaceful and relaxed. We are mammals too! Breastfeeding is a normal process that is meant to be enjoyable for mother and baby.
Breastfeeding is not suppossed to hurt. Ever! Think of all the mammals who nurse their babies. Are they grimacing? Are they trying to avoid breastfeeding because of the pain? Absolutely not. They look peaceful and relaxed. We are mammals too! Breastfeeding is a normal process that is meant to be enjoyable for mother and baby.
So, what are normal sensations when breastfeeding?
There should be no nipple tenderness at all in the first 24 hours. After that your nipples may feel slightly tender during the first few seconds of breastfeeding, but feel fine as the baby continues to nurse. What’s the difference between tenderness and pain? The tenderness is fleeting and mild. It doesn’t make you cry out or gasp. You look forward to breastfeeding. Your nipples look healthy.Continue reading →