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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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Breastfeeding Keys to Success

by Maxine
Posted July 27 2011 03:24pm
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When they make the decision to breastfeed, many women think it will be easy to do. What could be more natural? But as many women who have breastfed can tell you, it’s not always easy – especially at first.

But while breastfeeding can take extra practice and patience, it is one of the best things you can do to care for your baby. So while you may feel that while you are sore, tired and adjusting to your new baby one more thing is just too much, look for guidance from the Breastfeeding Supports in your area. There are also lots of great books and articles that can help you.

Our experts have some suggestions to help make your breastfeeding experience a success:

Position and latch are the keys to successful breastfeeding, but what do they mean?

Cross-Cradle Hold

Football Hold

Side-Lying Position

Traditional Cradle Hold

 

Latch 

Once you are familiar with the four breastfeeding positions, next comes latch. A good latch means that your baby will feed well and you should not feel any pain when feeding. If your baby isn’t opening her mouth, hold your breast and tickle her upper lip with your nipple- your nipple should point towards her nose. Once your baby opens up wide with her tongue down, bring her onto your breast. Her chin should press into your breast first and then her mouth should cover a portion usually about 2-4 cm of the areola-the dark coloured part of your breast. If the latch is good, you will note:

  • her lips will be curled out
  • her chin will be pressed into your breast
  • she is sucking and swallowing
  • there is no smacking or clicking sound when she sucks
  • there is no milk showing around her lips
  • a slight tugging sensation as she begins to suck-you should not feel pain.

Remember—if you lean forward to put your breast into her mouth, your back will become tired and sore. 

When you are first learning to breastfeed or if your baby is struggling to breastfeed baby-led latching can be helpful.  Hold your baby skin-to-skin (with just his diaper) on your upper chest so that his face rests between your breasts. Support the back of your baby’s upper shoulders; he will begin to bob his head searching for the nipple. Once he finds your nipple he will open his mouth, push his chin into your breast and take a mouthful of areola and the nipple will then follow into his mouth. 

 

How frequently and for how long should your baby breastfeed?

Your baby needs to feed at least 8 to12 times per day, or at least every 2 to 3 hours in the first 6 to 8 weeks after birth, with only one gap of 5 hours in each day. One reason is that your baby’s stomach is very small—the size of a cooked chickpea at 2 days of age and the size of a walnut at 3 to 4 weeks of age. Another reason is that breast milk is very easily digested. Mom, feeding your baby often gives your body the signals it requires to make the breast milk your baby needs. Feeding also gives your baby the fluids and food he needs to be healthy and to grow. It’s the idea of supply and demand.

Don’t be surprised if your baby needs to breastfeed more than 12 times a day, especially in the first weeks. This can be a normal part of early breastfeeding and can help your body produce breast milk. During growth spurts, you’ll notice that your baby will feed more frequently for several days. Growth spurts may occur when baby is about 2-3 weeks, about 6 weeks, 3 months and later-remember each baby is different some baby’s may have growth spurts before or after these times.  

Your baby will give you cues that he is hungry: you’ll hear or see him stir, notice him smacking his lips or see him bringing his hand to his mouth. This is the best time to begin the feeding. If you wait until he is crying to feed him, it may be a frustrating exercise for both of you. Another thing to remember is that some babies are sleepy in the first few days and make need your help to stay awake to eat.  Unwrapping your baby if he is swaddled, talking to him, and holding him skin-to-skin will help.  Your doctor may have you wake your baby every 2-3 hours if your baby does not wake himself. 

 

What tips would you give to breastfeeding moms? What was the best advice you received? Share your story with other parents 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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More Signs to Watch for After Birth

by Guest
Posted August 5 2010 05:55pm
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Take notice if you develop any of the following symptoms. It might require a visit to your doctor. Dads might notice some of these symptoms in their partners too.

Headache, Blurred Vision, Dizziness, Shortness of Breath
If you experience the sudden onset of a severe headache, blurred vision, dizziness and/or shortness of breath, you must go to the closest hospital emergency department. These signs could mean that a blood clot has been dislodged and you would need treatment right away.

Fever/Chills
Normal body temperature ranges from 36.5° C to 37.5° C (97.7°F to 99.5°F). A fever of 38°C (100.4°F), with or without chills/shivers, may mean that you have an infection. You should see your healthcare provider for treatment.

Urination Problems
Once you’ve had your baby, you may notice that over the first few days you are urinating a lot. That is just your body getting rid of the extra fluid needed during pregnancy.
If you are having problems with urination, such as continuing frequent urination, pain when urinating or difficulty urinating, you may have a kidney or bladder infection—or perhaps, some other problem. You should see your healthcare provider for treatment.

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Sleeping: What Position Should I Lay My Baby Down to Sleep?

by Guest
Posted August 26 2010 09:49am
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Experts recommend that babies are always placed on their backs to sleep because this reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, also called crib death, is when a baby dies suddenly and unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.

Some babies, however, develop flat spots on their heads as a result of always lying on their backs. This occurs because the weakness in their neck muscles can cause them to turn their head to the same side over and over again, and this puts pressure on their soft skulls.

Head flattening does not affect brain development, but in some cases it can be permanent. There are some things you can do to prevent flat head. For example, when putting your child to bed, you can alternate putting a mobile to the left and to the right of your baby, so he turns his head a different way every night. It's also important to make sure your child spends some time during the day lying on his tummy, when you are there to watch him. In addition to helping you prevent flat head, spending time on their tummy is also important for babies' development.

For more detailed information on SIDS and flat heads and other practical suggestions on how to prevent them, read the Canadian Paediatric Society's Q&A sheet. If you continue to be concerned about your child's flat head, however, talk to your doctor.

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