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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Crying: Red Flags

by Maxine
Posted August 5 2010 11:46am
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“Uh oh—Alex is crying—again! I wonder what‘s the matter.”

Does this sound familiar?

A baby’s crying often makes parents feel helpless or frustrated—asking, “Why is she crying?”

Babies cry because it’s the only way they have of verbally communicating. It’s their way of saying, “I need you to...” It’s up to you, as parents, to figure out the rest of the sentence. Over time, you will learn just what your baby is trying to tell you.

Babies between birth and 6 months old can cry for 15 minutes at a stretch and for a total of 3 hours each day. Even a strong, hearty cry is normal.

Here's a list of the most common reasons babies cry. Use it as a guide or checklist:

  • Hungry or thirsty
  • Wet or soiled diaper
  • Lonely
  • Too hot or too cold
  • Pain
  • Gas
  • Tired
  • Bored
  • Overstimulation
  • Sick
  • Sometimes, no apparent reason

Still concerned?

Call your doctor if your baby displays any of the following signs:

  • High-pitched cry
  • Weak or feeble cry
  • Inconsolable cry that lasts longer than 3 hours

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Birth Control After Baby

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 02:43pm
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When your baby is born your sex life is sometimes the last thing on your mind. You’re tired, sore and probably a bit overwhelmed by all the changes that baby has brought. But many couples resume having sex once Mom is healed and this reconnection can bring a wonderful closeness.

Resuming your sex life can also mean resuming birth control. Depending on your plans for future children you may return to the method you were using before getting pregnant or you might consider something different.

The range of available birth control has increased since our parents' time. Our experts have created an overview of some of the birth control methods available today.

Visit www.sexualityandU.ca for more information.

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Personality: What Are The Key Temperament Traits?

by Guest
Posted August 26 2010 12:14pm
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Although the word "temperament" has no universal definition, it is generally used to describe individual differences in children or their behavioural styles. Thomas and Chess (1977) explain temperament as "the characteristic way the child experiences and relates to the environment." The best-known and most used view of temperament was developed in 1963 by Thomas, Chess, Birch, Hertzig and Korn.

Their nine characteristics describe temperamental traits outlining the behavioural styles that define a child's personality. These may help you better understand your own and your child's behaviour:

  1. Activity Level
    This refers to the level of motor activity and the time involved in active versus inactive periods. While some children cannot sit still for a minute, others play for hours quietly with their toys.
  2. Regularity/Rhythmicity
    This refers to how predictable or regular a child is in terms of biological functioning such as hunger, sleep-wake cycle and bowel elimination. For some children, bedtime and mealtime run like clockwork, while others have little natural rhythm.
  3. Approach/Withdrawal/First Reactions
    This refers to wariness, or how easily a child adapts to new experiences such as foods, people, places and clothes. Some are "plungers" and react enthusiastically to new things, while others immediately back off from the unfamiliar.
  4. Adaptability
    This applies to more long-term responses that a child has to new or changed situations and how the child becomes comfortable when changes occur. A child who adapts easily will need less time getting used to a new house or caregiver than a child who is less adaptable.
  5. Sensory Threshold/Sensitivity
    Children's responses to differences in flavour, texture and temperature vary. Some highly sensitive children are over stimulated by noise, touch, bright lights, texture and the feel of clothes. Some children like to wear the same thing day after day, because it feels right.
  6. Intensity of Reaction
    This refers to the energy level shown by a child when responding to something, whether positive or negative. Some children's emotions are intense and easy to read, while others express themselves far less clearly or loudly.
  7. Mood
    The amount of pleasant, joyful and friendly behaviour compared with unpleasant crying or unfriendly behaviour is indicative of a child's mood. Some children generally seem happy, while for others everything is a source of complaint.
  8. Distractibility
    This describes how outside stimuli (such as noise and activity) interfere with or change the direction of a child's present activity. Some children can attend to an activity with noise all around, while others need quiet to get anything done.
  9. Persistence/Attention Span
    This refers to the amount of time a child spends on an activity despite interruptions or other hurdles. A persistent child may spend hours getting something just right.

The "goodness-of-fit" between a child's temperament and the expectations of his parent, as well as the temperament of this parent, are crucial. When the fit is poor, that is when expectations and temperaments do not mesh, problems can result, as the child and caregiver struggle to adapt to each other's rhythm.

Learn more about temperament by reading other articles and watching our temperament video


Thomas A. & Chess S. (1977). Temperament and Development. New York: Brinner-Mazel.
Carey W.B. & McDevitt S.C. (1995). Coping with Children's Temperament. New York: Basic Books.

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