Posts Tagged ‘Breastfeeding’

Signs of Food Intolerance

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

signs of food intoleranceI could tell something wasn’t right when my baby spent most of the evening hours screaming if she was not sleeping in my arms.  If I put her down, she would wake up and scream.  I couldn’t figure it out, so I did what many moms might do, I did a search online for something like “newborns who scream all night long.”  One search result that caught my interest was the possibility of a food intolerance for my baby.

So, I hopped to it and cut out my dinnertime glass of milk that I had each night since dairy was one of the top intolerances for many babies.  I figured it was easy enough.  At my daughter’s 2-week check up, I informed our pediatrician that I thought that my daughter was intolerant of dairy.  When she asked me to tell her why I thought this, these are the symptoms that I told her about:

  • My baby screamed in pain and did not want to be put down.

  • Tons of spit up!  I used receiving blankets as burp cloths.  At least 4 per day.  She went through many sleepers and swaddles each and every day.

  • She had projectile diarrhea numerous times per day.  It flew out of her during diaper changes.  A diaper change sometimes required 2 people and 5 diapers.

  • She went through triple the amount of diapers in a day as my first baby.  I never felt like I had enough diapers on hand unless I had a box of diapers from Costco.

  • She had a constant diaper rash.  It was so sad.  Nothing would clear the rash up.

  • Her breathing was affected at times.  She would have high pitched hiccups that didn’t sound right.

Our pediatrician agreed that something wasn’t right, but warned me that cutting out dairy was going to be much more involved than eliminating a glass of milk each day.  She offered me the option to try dairy-free formulas, but I was determined to try to make it work with breastfeeding.

It took a ton of research, self-education, and commitment, but I was able to eliminate dairy and soy from my diet for over 14 months.  My daughter’s negative symptoms disappeared as soon as dairy and soy were out of my system.  By the age of 16 months, she outgrew her intolerances and we were thrilled to introduce her to our favorite food, pizza!

Sarah Cole is a freelance write and stay at home mom to two busy toddlers. She eliminated dairy and soy out of her diet for over 14 months so she could continue to breastfeed her baby even though her favorite food is melted cheese.  



Entertaining a Toddler While Breastfeeding

Monday, July 18th, 2016

How to Entertain a Toddler While BreastfeedingIt was the second day of school for my math teacher husband when I went into labor with my second daughter.  He returned to work when she was five days old.  I like my privacy postpartum, and do not enjoy visitors for the first couple of weeks, so it was me, the newborn, and my two year old on that Monday.  How was I going to entertain my toddler, who was adjusting to being a big sister and sharing Mommy with a baby who wanted to nurse every couple of hours for 45 minutes?

I attempted to think of activities to keep my toddler busy and keep her interested for 20-30 minutes at a time that took little to no time on my part to set up.  I relied on the following daily.

  1. Books. My toddler loved running to her room and bringing me book after book to read while I was feeding her sister. 
  2. Lots of coloring books/sticker pads/play-doh.  I learned very quickly that when I was pumping, my toddler wanted to be close to me.  I could put her in her booster seat, give her a coloring sheet and some crayons, and she was good to go for my pumping session.  A friend gave me a reusable sticker pad that my toddler could use at the table without me worrying about stickers being stuck to everything while I was feeding the baby.
  3. Blocks/Puzzles.  These toys encourage my toddler to play independently while I was feeding the baby.  I could supervise her from recliner but did not have to direct her play.
  4. Feeding stuffed animals. My toddler would grab her favorite stuffed animal and sit by me and pretend to feed her while I was feeding the baby.  I got to cuddle both my daughters and my toddler got to be like Mommy.
  5. Swiftering/cleaning/helping Mommy.  I have a small Swifter 360 that is my toddler’s Swifter.  I could give her the Swifter and she could entertain herself for a half an hour or so by cleaning the chairs, paintings, etc. around the house.  Bonus was that she did my dusting for me!
  6.  Screen time.  Although we limit my toddler’s screen time, Daniel Tiger helped me get through some tough days.  I could put an episode on the tablet, and my toddler would be entertained for half a feeding.

If all else fails, selfies!

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to an energetic, spirited toddler and a happy, easy going baby from Denver, Colorado.  She enjoys running, hiking, and cooking with her two girls.


Making Exclusive Pumping a Little Easier

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

exclusively pumpingDue to my daughter having a poor suck-swallow-breathe reflex, as well as a short NICU stay, I ended up exclusively pumping. I tried for 5 days to feed from the breast. At the end of 5 days, I was tired of crying about being unsuccessful at breastfeeding. This was also the day my daughter returned to the NICU. I was having success pumping, unlike breastfeeding, so I decided to switch to exclusively pumping.

I quickly discovered that exclusively pumping is very lonely. It seemed as though in the whole breastfeeding versus formula feeding debate, I fell somewhere in the middle. The lack of camaraderie and the amount of time required to exclusively pump made it very difficult to stick with it. Here are a few tricks and tips I learned along the way to make exclusively pumping a little easier.

1.     Rent a hospital-grade pump. Due to the way my insurance provided pumps, I ended up renting a hospital-grade pump for two months after my daughter was born. My output was much higher with the same pumping time when I used the hospital-grade pump compared to what I was able to get with the pump I received from my insurance.

2.     Refrigerate pump parts/wash and steam sanitize once a day. Although I did not do this at first, I began to only wash and sanitize my parts once a day after a month or so. The thinking is milk is good in the fridge for up to 48 hours, so leaving some milk in the pump parts for 24 hours is ok. I would pack my parts in a gallon freezer bag, place it in the fridge, and would wash and sanitize them once a day.

3.     Pump every 2-3 hours. Do not go over 4 hours. I thought of pumping as a substitute for breastfeeding and stuck as close to the suggested feeding schedule for newborns as possible. After every feed, I would pump so that I would have milk for the next feeding. After a few days, I was able to get ahead but still pumped frequently as to establish my supply.

4.     Enlist the help of others.  I would have not been able to exclusively pump without my husband’s support. He helped wash bottles and pump parts as well as held and entertained my daughter while I was pumping. He also sometimes sat with me and kept me company while I was pumping. He was just as excited as I was the first time I pumped an ounce in one pumping session. Having him cheer me on was a great morale booster!

5.     Join online pumping communities. I learned so much through online community about pumping schedules, saving time, establishing a supply, and gained other moms to support me at 2 am, when I was hooked up to a pump again and feeling like quitting. Exclusively pumping felt a little less lonely when I had a place to go to for support.

Although it was difficult for me to do, and I still sometimes cringe at the thought of pumping, I am glad I was able to make exclusively pumping work for us.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to an energetic, spirited toddler and a happy, easy going baby from Denver, Colorado. She enjoys running, hiking, and cooking with her two girls.

Pumping to Let Dad Help

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Pumping so Daddy can HelpI’ve found that though a little bit of a hassle, pumping offers hubby, grandparents, or other close friends the opportunity to bond with baby. As a stay-at-home mom who rarely pulls out the pump, I may have a different experience from mamas who regularly do. Some mamas will say there are many ways to bond with baby and pumping is such an inconvenience for a variety of reasons. That’s true. I like to think occasional pumping gives loved ones the space to enjoy something that I savor so much. To me, being able to share something that brings joy to me makes the annoyance of pumping worth it. I don’t often pump so someone else can feed baby, but I have found a few things that work for us if I do.

Those first few weeks were an opportunity for me to get used to baby and vice versa. Others helping in those first few weeks was not at all or only when absolutely necessary. Experts suggest 4 or 6 weeks being the ideal time to only nurse to establish supply. Once someone assists you, consider alternative methods of feeding if you’re concerned about nipple confusion. You can also encourage feeding that is as similar to nursing as possible.

Pumping a little goes a long way. Especially in those early weeks and months it is hard to pump enough in one sitting for the purpose of replacing a meal. Baby has a way of encouraging more letdowns and milk versus trying to pump. During the day pump if you have an extra few minutes and a little extra milk. I usually have an excess after the first feed in the morning. It’s useful to have full bottles of milk, but getting an ounce or two here or there can add up to a bottle or two a week for daddy to use. That small amount can also work for the top-off method.

Try the top-off method. Nurse your baby as usual and then have an ounce or two that you previously pumped available for another loved one to feed baby. This strategy works particularly well in those evening hours when baby just wants to feed and fuss and feed again. While it’s important to nurse to maintain and grow supply in those evening hours, I never found a couple ounces of milk in the bottle once or twice a week to negatively affect my supply. You may have a different experience than me.

Avoid the at-night scenario. Significant others are so sweet to offer getting up with baby. That said, night is usually not the best way to help. Explain that a bottle at night means you have to wake up and get up to deal with the pump, so you are not getting more sleep (possibly less!).

Instead, pick the meal that is most convenient for you. Maybe it’s every Saturday afternoon or perhaps an evening feed. While someone else feeds, burps, and cuddles babe you can pump and then have some time to yourself to rejuvenate or whatever your family needs. It’s great if that time is followed by baby taking a nap. Especially once established, I liked this option as I could pump and then have a few hours free to run a few errands without babe, spend time with the other kiddos, or take my own nap.  At the same time that someone else gets the opportunity to bond with baby over meal, cuddles, and other aspects of the day.

Consider formula. There. I said it. If the idea of formula is never, ever for baby feel free to skip this paragraph. If you worry that it might mess with your supply, I trust you know your body best. I came to use formula out of sheer desperation. I struggled with multiple infections (mastitis, thrush, and flu) with our third babe that made feeding excruciating. For about two weeks we used a bottle just to get me through some evenings until I could heal.  It gave me reprieve and someone else an opportunity both to bond with baby and help me out. Some families utilize formula for whatever reason so bonding opportunities come more frequently. I know for some mamas a few ounces of formula can offer strength in mental and physical health. That is critical to the long-term success of anything.

Finally, don’t forget to encourage and emphasize all those other ways dad and other loved ones can love and bond with baby. The method of pumping to give someone else the opportunity to feed babe, when used strategically, can offer everyone a positive experience.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

My Pregnancy: Postpartum Week 3

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Week Postpartum 3Breastfeeding, I’ve learned, doesn’t necessarily get easier with each baby. Nursing was a painfully long lesson this time around. It involved learning anew my own expectations of myself as a mother, deeper understanding of why some might stop breastfeeding, and how I can trust my child and myself to figure out our way.

With our boys I struggled with a few weeks of sensitivity and one bout of mastitis each, about 6 weeks into nursing. I don’t want to downplay the challenges. I remember taking a deep breath before those early feedings, sometimes psyching myself up because I knew the initial pain that was soon to come. You’d think after nursing two children, each for a year, I would know enough to nurse number three with no trouble. I didn’t, but I also did.

I didn’t know enough in the sense that I didn’t trust myself. I couldn’t remember nursing a newborn as it was over two years ago. It started with a cracked nipple within the first 48 hours. Over the course of eight very painful and impossible weeks that included mastitis and two bouts of thrush I lost faith in my ability and knowledge. I poured over very helpful websites and sought out help from two lactation consultants. I was doing everything right, so far as we could tell. The consultants checked baby for ties (none) and said the latch looked great. They offered various suggestions and possibilities but all my symptoms were mixed up. What pain came from thrush versus a bad latch versus milk blister versus large breasts not being held in a supportive bra and so on was hard to figure when it all just hurt so much. There were so many things going wrong it seemed. Every feeding, with varying amounts of ease and patience, I negotiated with baby to open big but the pain continued. We became well versed in things I never needed before: antibiotics, anti-fungal medication, gentian violent, probiotics, vinegar, and more.

Turns out I knew myself. At some point, once the thrush and mastitis both settled (along with the flu-like virus I enjoyed at two weeks postpartum), I let other people fade into the background. I looked down at my baby and trusted that we could figure it out. I didn’t throw out all the helpful advice. Quite the opposite, their encouragement, listening ears, and inside tips got me through many feedings. The go-to suggestion of friends and consultants was to get more of my breast in the baby’s mouth. I would re-latch and re-latch through tears and gasps of pain trying to get the ever-elusive deep suckle. When I stopped forcing it and allowed her to take the lead something changed. While waiting on the mouth to be wide open worked for my other children, my daughter went against the grain. As I trusted her to pull my nipple into her mouth I noticed the pain began to subside. She knew what to do. One breast quickly settled into routine while the other took another week of effort before nursing finally became comfortable—at 10 weeks.

That was a long two months. Had my husband not been home for three weeks I certainly would have stopped because of the amount of time I spent nursing, reading about nursing, talking about nursing, stressing about nursing, and trying to ease the pain of nursing.

I also found in me deep expectations. I nursed two; there’s no good reason I can’t do it again I told myself. I wanted so badly to give her what her brothers got (breastmilk for a year or so). I felt guilty at the thought of quitting but I also couldn’t stand the pain—the burning, the shooting-knives into my chest, the pain of rolling over in bed, hugging my son, or simply wearing clothing as my breasts were too tender to stand a mere layer of cotton. I understand why people choose to end breastfeeding because I mulled on it daily for nearly two months.

At week three I was really struggling. It’s rough stuff, mama. I appreciate that some people nurse with ease. I do now, at ten weeks postpartum as I write looking back. I also know that nursing can be really, really hard. Even more frustrating, it can be really, really hard even when the lactation consultants say everything looks good. I can see how women try and then transition to formula for this (or other) reasons. I could have been ok with myself had I transitioned to formula feeding. I dug down and managed to make it to the other side. I’m so happy I did. Something that caused such pain is now comfortable, even healing, as I cozy up to my gal each feeding. We made it. We did it, she and I.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and now a newborn gal. She is taking in every moment of every day because, let’s be honest, she’s not getting much sleep.