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What do I need to know about infant feeding?

by Maxine
Posted July 27 2010 01:27pm
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In this age of information, separating facts from myths can be a challenge for anyone. 

In this age of information, separating facts from myths can be a challenge for anyone. This can cause confusion for expectant and new parents who have many decisions to make, not the least of which is how to feed their baby.

Fact: Newborns need to eat often - at least every 2 to 3 hours
Newborns need to feed at least every 2 to 3 hours because their stomachs are small. A day-old baby’s tummy can hold about 5-7 ml (1-2 tsp) of milk; by 3 days 22-30 ml (.75-1 oz); and by 7 days 22-60 ml (1.5-2 oz). So, it doesn’t take a lot to fill their tummies and their tummies need to be filled often because they empty often. As your baby gets older, feeding tends to be more like every 3 to 4 hours, but will become more frequent again during growth spurts—at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. Breast milk is also very easily digested and with small stomachs baby needs to eat frequently.

Fact: There are ways to determine that your baby is well fed and hydrated.
It’s true that you cannot measure the amount of milk your baby drinks during breastfeeding. But the important thing is recognizing that your baby is well-fed and hydrated. In the first months your baby will:

  • Eat every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Continuously suck and swallow for at least 10 to 20 minutes during breastfeeding.
  • Have at least one wet diaper for each day of age up to 3 days. After day 4, there should be at least 6 to 8 heavy wet diapers each day. A heavy diaper feels like 40-60 ml (2-3Tbsp) of liquid on a cloth or disposable diaper.
  • Have at least 2 to 3 stools each day; by day 3 there should be at least 3 stools per day. Some breastfed babies pass stool every time they’re fed, meaning 10 to 12 stools per day, which is normal, too.
  • Have a moist look to their mouth - as if they were wet.

If, your baby is not showing these signs, your baby is becoming dehydrated and needs immediate medical attention. Take your baby to the hospital emergency.

Fact: Dry skin, a sunken soft spot on baby’s head and dry mucus membranes are also signs of dehydration.
These are late signs of dehydration in your baby, your baby needs to be in hospital and getting medical care. The soft spot on the top of a well-fed baby’s head should be flat and not sunken. Skin that is dry and does not have much elasticity indicates that your baby is not getting enough fluid. Gently pinch the skin on your baby’s thigh or tummy and let it go: it should lie back down, not remain pinched together. Mucus membranes should be moist or wet.

Fact: Babies under six months do not need baby food.
The recommendations from Health Canada on infant feeding indicate that solid baby food be delayed until your baby is six months old. By six months, your baby’s stores of iron start to diminish. Before six months your baby’s bowels are still maturing and the muscle coordination in your baby’s mouth, head and neck are not developed enough to manage solid food. Giving solid food to early may lead to the development of food allergies and obesity.

Fact: Breastfeeding allows you to bond with your baby.
Breastfeeding is a good way to bond with your baby but it isn’t the only way. Dad or your partner can have the same skin-to-skin contact by placing your baby, dressed only in a diaper, on his bare chest. Include snuggling, talking, singing and reading in your everyday routines with your baby as these are other ways that you and others can use to bond.

Fact: Colostrum is baby’s most important first food.
Colostrum, the yellow or orangey-coloured first milk, is considered the perfect first food for babies. It is easily digested, low in fat, high in carbohydrates, high in proteins and contains antibodies to keep your baby from getting ill. This first milk helps to protect your baby’s tummy and bowels. It also helps her to poo in the first few days after birth and may help prevent jaundice.

Fact: Breastfeeding takes time for you and baby to learn.
Although breastfeeding seems like the most natural thing in the world, this doesn’t mean that it will all fall into place naturally for every mom and baby. It is a learned art and it may require time and patience to learn. However, there is a lot of support available to you, beginning with the nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital, to public health nurses and breastfeeding clinics in the community and the La Leche League hotline 24 hours a day. The payoff? Never having to wash, sterilize, prepare, store and transport bottles for the next year. Just breastfeed whenever and wherever your baby needs to feed. What could be easier?

Fact: Small-breasted women are able to breastfeed.
Breast size has nothing to do with a woman's ability to breastfeed. In fact, larger breasts are due to more fat tissue. Breast milk is made by special milk-producing cells, not fat cells.

Fact: Most women make enough milk to breastfeed.
Most women make more than enough milk to breastfeed their babies. Early and ongoing breastfeeding guidance and support can help to avoid poor latching, the main reason for a low milk supply. Short and infrequent breastfeeding may also cause low milk supply. In rare cases, some women have a medical condition and may be unable to breastfeed.

Fact: Women who have flat or inverted nipples are able to breastfeed.
Latching your baby onto the breast may be more of a challenge with a flat or inverted nipple but it is possible. Your baby needs to have as much of the areola, the brown part around your nipple, in her mouth as possible in order to drink your breast milk. So, although your nipple helps to guide this process, it is not absolutely necessary to it. Once the areola is in your baby’s mouth, the nipple will come out as she sucks.

Fact: Breastfeeding should not cause pain.
Although the first weeks of breastfeeding may cause nipple tenderness – after all, this is new – there should be no pain during breastfeeding. Pain is usually the result of an incorrect latch. Correcting the latch should ease the pain. If pain persists during feeding, however, consult your a lactation consultant or your baby’s doctor. A lactation consultant is a specialist in breastfeeding. Some moms and babies share a yeast infection that requires both mom and baby to have treatment.

Fact: Women who have had breast surgery may be able to breastfeed.
A woman’s ability to breastfeed will depend on the type of surgery and the part of the breast that’s involved. For example, if the areola and/or nipple were affected, there is a greater chance of problems with breastfeeding than if the surgery was in a different area of the breast. Speak with the doctor who did the surgery they may help you to understand what part of the breast was affected from the surgery.

Fact: You do not need to wash your nipples before each feeding.
Washing your nipples before feeding your baby is not necessary. Frequent use of soap and water will dry your nipples out. Leaving breast milk on your nipples, on the other hand, protects your baby from infection and promotes healing of any soreness and cracks that may have developed.

Fact: Breastfeeding can be done at anytime, in anyplace and needs no special equipment.
In many ways, breastfeeding is liberating—it can be done anytime, anywhere and without any special equipment. It means you don’t have to clean and prepare bottles, which takes time. It means you can take your baby with you without having to carry formula. It is always at the right temperature, you do not need to worry about having to heat it or find a place to warm your baby’s food. It does mean you are the sole provider of food for your baby for the first 6 months. It all depends on your perspective.

Fact: Mothers are allowed to breastfeed their babies in public.
If you are comfortable breastfeeding your baby in public, there is no reason why you shouldn’t. In fact, it is a human right. This means that breastfeeding moms and babies are welcome to nurse anywhere, anytime. No one can tell them not to breastfeed. Some communities post signs to openly acknowledge that they are breastfeeding friendly.

Fact: Breastfed babies do not need extra fluids, like water and juice, in hot weather.
Breastfed babies do not need any other liquids, even in the summer heat. Breastfeed your baby more frequently to keep her hydrated in hot weather. Other liquids may fill your baby without providing the nutrients that breast milk provides and that your baby needs. It is especially recommended that babies under six months of age not be given juice and water.

Fact: A woman can use breastfeeding to help with child spacing.
This method is known as the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM). Breastfeeding can be used for child spacing but only under the following conditions:

  • Your baby is under six months of age
    Your baby is exclusively breastfed and you are feeding her at least every 3-4 hours
    You have not had a menstrual period.

This is not fool-proof, though. Sometimes, your baby sleeping through the night can have an affect on this method. You may therefore want to use another type of birth control.

Fact: You do not need a special diet if you are breastfeeding.
It is recommended that nursing Moms eat a well-balanced diet, for their own health and for recovery from pregnancy and birth. Your body will produce milk, even if you occasionally consume fewer calories than recommended, provided this is not long-term.

Fact: You do not need to drink milk to breastfeed.
Although milk is a good source of calcium you will continue to make milk, even if you do not drink milk. There are other foods you can eat to obtain calcium. Continue to make sure you are drinking enough fluids during the day. If you are experiencing thirst, you are not taking in enough fluids.

Fact: In most cases you can breastfeed if you are ill.
With the exception of HIV, mom should continue to breastfeed during illness, even if this illness is mastitis. Generally speaking, people are contagious before they actually become ill, so that a baby would have already been exposed. Breast milk contains antibodies and other infection-fighting substances. By continuing to breastfeed your baby, you will continue to pass these on. If your baby becomes ill, chances are the illness will be mild due to the protection that breastfeeding offers.  

Fact: You should check if it is safe to take medicine when you are breastfeeding.
There are few medications that may require you to stop breastfeeding. Most medications are not a concern. Check with Motherrisk if you have concerns about any drugs. They have the most current information. Read medication information and consult your pharmacist with any questions or concerns

Fact: Exercise does not affect the breast milk.
Exercise does not affect breast milk in any way. Therefore, you can breastfeed after exercise.

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Safety: How Do I Make My Home Fire Proof?

by Guest
Posted August 5 2010 12:12pm
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Here is a list of basic safety precautions in the case of fire in your home. In addition to the points below, be sure to look carefully around your house for yourself, to see if there are any additional actions you can take to fire proof it for you and your child. But begin by making sure that:

 

  • There is at least 1 smoke detector per floor

  • If the smoke detector is in the hall, the bedroom doors are kept open

  • Any room with bunk beds has a smoke detector - this is a must because smoke rises and the person in the top bunk will be quickly overcome with smoke

  • Escape routes to leave all areas of the house have been planned

 

 

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Postpartum Red Flags

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 05:44pm
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As new parents, you should consult a doctor immediately if mom has any of the following signs:
 

  • Heavy, bright red bleeding from the vagina that soaks through a new regular-absorbency pad in less than an hour and/or large clots (the size of a loonie or bigger)
  • A temperature over 38°C (102°F) or chills/shivers that don’t go away
  • Foul smelling discharge from the vagina
  • Pain or continued pain during urination, difficulty urinating or urinating too often
  • Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath
  • Lasting significant pain in the vaginal area
  • Flu-like symptoms and sore breasts, which could indicate mastitis or breast infection
  • Cough or chest pain, nausea and vomiting
  • Cracked and/or bleeding nipples, which requires the attention of a Lactation Consultant
  • A very red or swollen Caesarean incision, discharge or pus leaking from the incision or continued pain in the incision
  • Pain or tenderness, redness or a lump in the leg, which may indicate a blood clot
  • Sudden onset of severe headaches, blurred vision or dizziness
  • Symptoms of the “baby blues” that continue after the second postpartum week and are getting worse (Symptoms vary from feelings of inability to cope, frequent crying, mood swings and fatigue.)

 

In addition to contacting your physician, you may want to contact a service, like Postpartum Adjustment Support Services-Canada. If you are in Canada, call 1-800-897-6660 for information on services near you.

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Breastfeeding When Mom is Out

by Maxine
Posted July 25 2011 07:10pm
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When you start breastfeeding you might worry that it will be impossible to go out for an evening or return to work or school while you’re responsible for feeding your new baby. Many moms know that breastfeeding is best for their child’s healthy development and they want to breastfeed, but they worry that doing so won’t be possible with their commitments or lifestyle.

The good news is that you can continue to provide breast milk for your baby even when you can’t be there. With some preparation and planning it’s possible to make breastfeeding work even when you aren’t always available.

“Many women want to continue breastfeeding their baby and they should,” says Kris Langille, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert. “Continuing to breastfeed your baby during periods of separation helps to keep you and your baby close. Also, it helps to keep him healthy, which can mean that you’ll be less likely to miss work, school or an evening out because of a sick child. And, of course, breastfeeding saves money, which is always tight when you’re a new parent!”

When you’re planning to be away from your baby for a few hours you want to prepare for the separation. Continue to breastfeed your baby whenever you are together. This includes feeding just before you leave and when you return. Breastfeed as often as possible on days you are with your baby to help to keep up your milk supply.

To provide breast milk for your baby, even while you're away from him, you'll need to do the following:

  • Express or pump milk from your breasts. As long as you continue to breastfeed, if you express or pump regularly, your breasts will continue to produce milk.
  • Safely store the breast milk in a cooler or a refrigerator. 

 

Langille recommends that, if possible, you allow yourself a 2-week head start, not only to learn how to pump easily but also to give your baby time to adjust to a new way of feeding. Your baby also needs to adjust to having someone other than you giving him milk. This lead time also allows you to build up a reserve of breast milk that you can store in the freezer. Breast milk can be safety stored in a deep freezer for 6-12 months, in a two door fridge/freezer for 3-6 months and in a 1 door fridge with freezer compartment inside for up to 2 weeks.

This is also a good time to get your baby used to the new feeding routine, as long as your baby is over 6 weeks old. You need to be sure that baby is successfully feeding on the breast before offering breastmilk by another route. Offer at least one of these feedings a day, preferably during the time of day that you expect to be away. Don’t be surprised it your baby isn’t thrilled at first. It takes some babies awhile to adapt to a different feeding method.

Whoever will feed your baby while you’re away will need to know your preferred feeding method, as well as how to prepare breast milk by thawing it, for example. Keep in mind that some advance preparation time gives you the opportunity to go over the details and practice the feeding method with the caregiver.

Whether it's Dad, a relative or an outside-the-home caregiver, everyone should feel comfortable and confident about the new feeding arrangements. The best way to do this is to acquaint your baby with other feeders before you are gone for long periods of time. He needs time to get comfortable with the new arrangement, too. Remember you're asking your baby to make three big adjustments:

  1. Your baby must start drinking breast milk in a whole new way. 
  2. Someone else will be feeding your baby. 
  3. Mom will be away for long periods of time. 

 

The number of times you’ll need to express or pump milk depends on the amount of time you will be away and the age of your baby. Usually, you pump or express as often as you feed. Choose a place where you are most comfortable; the more relaxed you are, the better the milk flows, sometimes having a picture of your baby with you will help. Once you've mastered pumping, and if your pump allows, try pumping both breasts at the same time. This will help to cut back on your pumping time. Don't worry if there are daily differences in milk supply; this is normal.

Langille explains that while hand-expressing breast milk is great for relieving engorgement, most moms prefer to use a manual or electric pump. These take less time and you'll have more success getting sufficient quantities of milk. There are a wide variety of pumps available on the market, some better than others and some more expensive than others. Renting a breast pump is another option you may want to explore, especially if you only plan to pump for a short time.

Some things to consider: 

  • Manual pumps require more hand strength and dexterity.
  • Electric pumps will provide an electrical outlet which may or may not be in a convenient location for you to pump.
  • Portability if you plan to take your pump with you, to work or school, for example, you will need a pump that’s easy to transport.
  • If you're busy, shop for a pump that's easy to use and quick to clean.
  • Once you have expressed or pumped breast milk, make sure you store it properly. If you are at home, store it in the fridge or freezer. If you are out, use a cooler with ice or store it in a refrigerator at work or school. 

 

Check information you may have received from your doctor, midwife, healthcare provider or breastfeeding classes which contain clear instructions on how to safely collect and store breast milk, pumping and expressing breast milk. Other good sources of information include a Lactation Consultant, the breastfeeding clinic or the LaLeche League. Learn more about breastfeeding support options. 

And take a look at our article about Breastfeeding While at Work or School for information on how to deal with this common situation.

 

What method did you use to breastfeed while you were away from your baby? What worked best? What problems did you have? Share your story with other parents just like you by leaving a comment below.

 

More information on breastfeeding »

Ask Our Expert!
Do you still have questions about breastfeeding? Our expert, Attie Sandink, is a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Ask Attie a Question!

 

 

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