Posts Tagged ‘breast’

Am I Making Enough Milk?

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Often breastfeeding moms wonder “Am I making enough milk?” After all with breastfeeding there is an element of faith required since there really is no way to measure how many ounces of milk your baby is getting. Sometimes breastfeeding mothers mistakenly interpret the following 5 situations as an indicator that they are not making enough milk:

1. I never feel “full” anymore! – During the first 8 weeks when you are establishing your milk supply, you are likely to get the sensation of feeling “full” or even slightly engorged. However once your milk supply is well established, you are less likely to experience this feeling. Your body will naturally learn to regulate milk production based on a pattern or rhythm of breastfeeding and/or pumping.

2. I used to leak all the time, now I hardly ever do! – This is similar to what is stated above. During the initial weeks of breastfeeding you are likely to leak a lot however once your body knows how much milk to make for your baby, you are less likely to leak. You may start to only experience leakage during irregular prolonged times between feedings. Personally I was really happy when I stopped leaking and didn’t have to mess with breastpads anymore. Also a friend taught me a trick; light compression on the breast can help stop leakage. On occasion I found myself leaking, I would try to discreetly push on my breasts with my forearms or by crossing my arms.

3. I don’t get much milk from pumping! – Remember that your body responds very differently to a breastpump than to your own baby’s suckling. The amount you get from a pumping session does not necessarily accurately reflect the amount of milk baby gets while nursing.

4. My baby frequently pulls off the breast while nursing – This comment is commonly heard around the 4th or 5th month. During this age baby can suddenly seem less focused while breastfeeding and might even pull off of the breast frequently. Sometimes mothers worry that their baby is doing this because the milk is not flowing sufficiently, however it’s more often related to development. At this age babies become more aware and attentive to their surroundings. Sometimes nursing in a quiet or less stimulating environment can help baby be more focused on nursing.

5. I don’t feel the “letdown” –  I clearly remember saying this to a friend of mine shortly after my 3rd baby was born. I was a little worried since I had definitely felt it (even to the point of it being slightly uncomfortable at times) with my other two boys, particularly during the newborn stage. However my friend, who also happens to be a La Leche League Leader, assured me that it was okay that I didn’t feel a letdown. It could have been because it was my 3rd baby and my body had already been lactating for quite some time by that point? I am not exactly sure why I didn’t experience the sensation of a letdown with him. My friend really encouraged me to focus on the signs that indicated he was getting enough milk.

What are the indicators that a baby is getting enough milk:

1. Baby is gaining weight. According to Kellymom, on average, a breastfed baby gains 6 oz per week.

2. Baby has approximately 4 to 6 wet diapers in a 24 hour period.

3. Baby is nursing frequently. Newborns generally nurse at least 10 times in a 24 hour period.

4. Baby appears satiated. Typically a baby is calm and content post mama’s milk…this is often jokingly referred to as being “milk drunk”.  And oh boy is it a sweet sensation to hold a blissfully milk drunk baby in your arms. 🙂

An important part of breastfeeding is believing and trusting that your body is strong and capable of nourishing your baby!

Enjoy your nurslings!!


Top 5 Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

While having a low milk supply can be challenging and frustrating, it does not always necessitate supplementation. There are several simple things you can try at home to help boost your milk production.

1. Nurse your baby – Because breast milk production is a supply and demand process, typically one of the most effective ways to increase your milk supply is to increase the frequency at which you nurse your baby. Allow baby to nurse on demand or even offer frequently to assist in establishing a plentiful milk supply.

2. Examine Latch – Of course increasing the frequency at which you nurse your baby is only effective if baby is latching properly. A proper latch results in a more efficient supply and demand process. When baby is latched properly the breast receives adequate stimulation to signal milk production.

3. Nourish yourself – Making breast milk is a lot of work for your body. Be sure you are fueling your body with healthy foods, staying well hydrated, and well rested in order to maintain an optimal milk supply.  Consume foods that are known for increasing a mother’s milk supply such as oatmeal or Brewer’s yeast. Make yourself a yummy batch of Lactation Bars to enjoy. Or better yet, ask your partner or a friend to make them for you so you can focus on nursing baby and resting.

4. Avoid Use of Artificial Nipples – Babies, particularly newborns like to suck. It is calming and organizing for them to do so, hence the popularity of pacifiers. However allowing baby to engage in non-nutritive sucking at the breast as a source of comfort (as opposed to use of a pacifier) can be beneficial to the overall breastfeeding relationship and avoids any potential nipple confusion.

5. Consider Using herbs and/or Medications – If you have tried basic ways to increase milk production (such as the ideas listed above) without a positive impact on your milk supply, you might consider use of herbs and/or medications under the guidance of a health care provider. The most commonly used herbs to help increase a mother’s milk supply are fenugreek, blessed thistle, and alfalfa. There are also a few prescription drugs available to increase milk supply, however these are typically reserved as last resort options if natural methods have not been successful.

Have you experienced breast milk supply issues? If so what helped you be able to maintain an adequate milk supply for your nursling?


PS. Don’t forgot to submit your picture for tomorrow’s Fan Photo Friday!

Treating Clogged Ducts

Friday, March 9th, 2012

My 12 month old still wakes up to nurse about twice during the night; sometimes more, rarely less. However during a recent trip to Colorado he slept a full 12 hours without waking once to nurse (I blame the altitude). Now you might be thinking ‘wow, how wonderful! I must have felt so well rested after a full night’s sleep?!’ I wish that were true. Instead I woke up at 4:30 in the morning painfully engorged on the left side. I tried to wake my son up so I could nurse him, but he was so sleepy I couldn’t get him to latch on. I tried to hand express some milk but was unable to. So I tossed and turned until he woke up a few hours later. However by then I already had several clogged ducts! 🙁 And boy did they hurt!

A clogged duct is when there has been an obstruction in milk flow either on the pore of the nipple or further back in the ductal system. The affected area will feel swollen, sensitive to touch, and generally uncomfortable. You can usually feel a hardened lump, or in mine case several lumps, where the duct was blocked. A clogged duct is not necessarily a serious condition in itself, however if not treated promptly it can lead to mastitis. So how do you get rid of those pesky clogged ducts and get the milk flowing smoothly again?

1. Nurse baby on affected side as much as possible. (Of course be sure to continue to nurse on both sides, or you’ll wind up with clogged ducts on the other side as well). You can also hand-express or pump milk to help keep breast as empty as possible. You might try experimenting with nursing positions to see if you can angle baby toward the effected area helping remove milk more effectively. This might include using gravity to your advantage to assist in unclogging the blocked duct by laying baby down and nursing over him/her.

2. Gets lots of rest! Your body is working hard and needs plenty of rest to heal, restore, and balance itself so you can continue to comfortably nourish your baby with your milk.

3. Drink lots of water! Staying well hydrated is always important for breastfeeding mamas, but is extra important if you are experiencing clogged ducts. Drinking plenty of water is actually a helpful preventative measure against getting clogged ducts in the first place. Having a refill-able, easy to drink from, and easy to clean water bottle is a must-have item for nursing mamas!

4. Eat lots of healthy immune boosting whole foods and consider taking immune boosting supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and omega 3 fatty acids.

5. Embrace your inner hippie and ditch your bra and other any constrictive clothing. Let your breasts move freely to help aid in the removal of obstructions.

6. Use heat and massage to help remove obstructions. You can take a hot shower and massage affected area by hand and/or apply warm compresses directly on affected area.

7. If you are very uncomfortable you might consider taking an pain reliever/anti-inflammatory (ie- ibuprofen) to help reduce discomfort. If symptoms do not improve within 24 hours, you might consider contacting your care provider. Many of the symptoms of a clogged duct are similar to that of mastitis, however mastitis is an infection that often needs to be treated with medication.

My clogged ducts lasted about 2 and half days. The most helpful treatment for me seemed to be hot showers and massage, as well as nursing baby frequently.

Have you experienced clogged ducts? What tips or suggestions do you have for effective treatment?


Birth Story (Part 2)

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011


While I labored alone in the bedroom, J followed hubby around as he filled up the pool, made the bed, and whatever else he did to get things ready. I laid on the bed in the dark softly humming to myself. This lasted for a while until I decided I wanted to take a shower. The water running over my body was soothing and I stayed there for quite some time, almost motionless except for my deep breaths. However I eventually started to feel overly restricted in the shower and needed to move. I returned to the bed; laying in a fetal position in between contractions and on all four during contractions. By this time the midwives had arrived (5:30ish). They eased in quietly, carefully, and respectfully. They knew this was my birthing space and they protected it, even from their own presence.

I was ready to get into the water and the water was ready for me in parallel timing. As I had suspected would be the case, J wanted to get into the water with me and I was fine with it. Actually I loved and cherished that special time we had together. It is my last memory of him as my only baby. Jack Johnson was playing softly in the background while I swayed in the water. J thought I was dancing and was saying “dancing momma, dancing”. He asked me to dance with him. We danced together for a while, until I needed him out of the tub. Hubby got J out of the pool, dried, dressed, and comfy with a snack and movie in the bedroom while I continued to labor in the water.

After a while I decided my body needed some upright movement. I got out of the tub, but still craving the soothing power of water I went into the shower again. I swayed in the shower signing lullabies to my baby. I sang loudly without any apprehensions. Eventually hubby came into the bathroom and warned me we would run out of hot water soon. I definitely did not want that to happen so I got out of the shower and back into the pool. As I walked back into the front room I noticed the midwives sitting on the couch. I thought to myself “Gee they are probably bored. There really isn’t anything for them to do except sit there. Maybe I should tell them to go home and come back when I am further along?”. That thought lasted only a second or two because the very next thought was “I don’t really care what they do or need. I’m busy”. That was when I realized birth was imminent; when I was able to let go of the propensity I have to take care of everyone else around me. I allowed my own needs to be the priority. I asked my midwife what time she thought the baby would be born. I think she understood what I needed to hear because her brilliant response was “Your baby will come at the perfect time”.

Things intensified and I become more vocal. My noises; low, deep grunts, drew J out of the bedroom full of curiosity. As he watched me he played with his Thomas train along the couch singing ‘Thomas, Thomas, Thomas”. Contrary to what one might assume, his presence was very calming to me. I believe he provided an important strength and love that was very beneficial to the birthing process. His ability to joyfully play with his beloved train while I gave birth offered an acute awareness that what was happening was perfectly natural. It was cyclical relationship. The energy in the room indicated what I was doing was fine so he accepted it as fine, thus acted normally, which in turn sent a positive message to me that everything was fine.

I asked hubby to talk to me. I just needed to hear his voice. He quietly told me a story about a perfectly beautiful snowy day in the mountains. As he spoke he lovingly stroked my back and arms. His voice, his words, and his touch were especially comforting.
I expressed feeling scared. The midwife said to me “It’s okay to feel afraid”. I repeated that to myself aloud a few times. As I entered transition I used a great deal of self-talk as I repeated the various labor/birth affirmations I had reflected upon throughout my pregnancy. I told myself aloud and internally…I CAN do this. I AM doing this. This is what I want. Everything that I am feeling is important and purposeful.

Rather suddenly, I felt the urge to push. It almost took me by surprise how powerful it was. When I felt that raging sensation, I worked with it. I pushed and grunted. No one told me what to do. No one needed to because my body knew. I stayed on my hands and knees in the water to push. Hubby was behind me ready to catch our baby. One midwife sat near him while the other sat near my head. J stayed near daddy to watch the baby ease out of my body.

In between contractions I felt ecstatic, almost euphoric. As baby crowned I looked up at the midwife with a wide smile. I felt as though laughter echoed throughout my whole body. “The baby is coming!” I exclaimed, “The baby is going to be born at home!” She smiled right back at me. Her smiling face was kind and encouraging. As I pushed my baby out, my bag of water broke open. Hubby caught our baby in his very own hands, with a little help from big brother, J.

Immediately after baby emerged, the midwives helped me turn over and hubby passed the baby to me. Some people refer to the moments after birth as “meeting your baby”. But to me it felt like reuniting.

As I sat there in the water, holding my baby for the first time, it was as if time stood still; as though we were the only two people in the room. I was aware of the presence of my husband, my firstborn, and the midwives, but it felt like they were observing us through a glass window…peering in, with great admiration for the infinite love they witnessed unfolding before them.

There was no rush. We could stay in this moment for as long as we wanted to. No one was going to take my baby from my arms or hurry me along. I would decide when I was ready to move on. And so we stayed there for a while: the two of us, in our own private world, bonding as only a mother and newborn are capable of. I inhaled every feature of my baby’s face, scent, skin, and body. I checked and announced we had a baby boy. The midwives asked permission to check our newborn son. Ever so gently, as he laid across my chest, they took his vitals.

I started to feel cold and wanted to move into the bedroom to snuggle up in our bed. They carefully helped us out of the pool, as baby was still attached to the placenta which I had not birthed yet. In the bedroom I had a few more contractions and pushed out the placenta. The midwives wrapped it up and set it next to me and baby. I put baby to my breast to nurse him for the first time. I found his cord to be somewhat interfering with my ability to comfortably hold him to my breast and asked to cut it. Together the midwife and hubby cut the umbilical cord. It was a sensitive moment for me, as we will never again be attached in that way. Although I knew we would discover and develop a different kind of attachment throughout the journey ahead of us.


The shedding, the unleashing that occurs during an unmedicated, unmanaged, uninhibited birth is transformative. First I experienced an emotional release, then a mental, and then a physical. In doing so, I was able to be fully present, on all levels (mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually) for the birth of my son. The sense of empowerment that I experienced during the course of his pregnancy and birth I have carried (and will continue to) with me into motherhood. He has taught me to trust my instincts, to follow my heart, to cultivate beliefs, and to embrace life.

 Did you have the birth you desired? What did you learn from your birth experience(s)?

Want to know what I did with the placenta? Read tomorrow’s post to find out!