Archives for March 2016

High Risk Pregnancy: What Makes a Pregnancy High Risk

high risk pregnancy__1457980983_162.206.228.38You’ve probably heard the term “high risk pregnancy” but you may not know exactly what it means.  It sounds pretty scary, especially if you are getting the news yourself.  High risk pregnancy is a designation that doctors use to signify your pregnancy needs extra attention and care.  It helps you and your caregivers know to vigilant during your pregnancy, perhaps taking extra precautions, doing extra tests and monitoring you very closely throughout the 9 months.

The high risk pregnancy category includes several conditions that may be linked to your personal health or age, your lifestyle choices, your family history or conditions that arise during pregnancy.  High risk pregnancy can affect your health during pregnancy and afterwards, may cause a difficult labor and delivery, and may have repercussions for your baby as well.  However, knowing your pregnancy is high risk, getting proper treatment and prenatal care can lesson, and in some cases eliminate, health concerns.

What Makes a Pregnancy High Risk?

Pregnancies can be deemed high risk for the following reasons:

  • You are younger than 17 or 35 or older (advanced maternal age)
  • You are pregnant with multiples
  • You have an existing medical condition such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, an STD or a disease in any major organs
  • You have a history of preterm labor, 3 or more miscarriages, babies with birth defects or have had preeclampsia
  • You smoke, drink or have a substance abuse problem during pregnancy
  • You contract an infection during pregnancy
  • Your cervix, uterus or placenta is compromised during pregnancy, you have abnormal levels of amniotic fluid or if your Rh factor differs from your baby
  • Your baby is believed to have developmental problems during pregnancy or tests positive for genetic disorders

What Complications Can Occur with High Risk Pregnancy?

With proper care, high risk pregnancies most often end up with positive outcomes: a healthy mother and baby.  However, when factors are overlooked, severe consequences can occur.  A high risk pregnancy may cause preeclampsia, preterm labor and placental abnormalities.  This can put a great deal of strain on the mother’s body as well as the baby.  Mothers may have a complicated labor and delivery, which further taxes her organs and may lead to blood loss.  Babies can have birth defects including physical or cognitive impairments.

What can Women with High Risk Pregnancies Do to Remain Healthy?

Fortunately, doctors are very adept at caring for women with high risk pregnancies.  In fact, you will likely see your regular OB and a perinatologist during your pregnancy if you are deemed high risk.  Between the two, you will have regular blood tests, blood pressure checks, weigh-ins, ultrasounds and often other tests such as an amniocentesis, CVS and umbilical cord sampling.

If you have chronic health conditions and want to have a baby, consult your doctor before trying to conceive.  Your doctor can discuss risk factors and the best course of action for a healthy pregnancy.  Once you become pregnant, have regular prenatal visits with your OB and your perinatologist.  They can both help ensure you stay on a healthy track and identify problems as soon as they arise.

Your choices during pregnancy will also play a role in your health and that of your baby.  Following your doctor’s instructions regarding medication, vitamin supplements, diet and exercise are essential.  Eating healthy and gaining weight appropriately are especially crucial for a healthy pregnancy.  Also, do not drink alcohol, do drugs or smoke during pregnancy.

A high risk pregnancy simply means you’ll need to take precautions to ensure you and your baby remain healthy.  With the care of your team of doctors and following their recommendations, you will have the best chance of a wonderful outcome.

Preparing for a Visit with a Lactation Consultant

preparing for lactation consultant__1457981121_162.206.228.38While a natural experience, many new moms find breastfeeding rather unnatural at first.  It’s sort of like camping out – you’re completely immersed in nature but yet you may not know exactly what to do.  You also may run into some rough terrain or scary challenges every now and then.  That’s where a lactation consultant can help!

If you find yourself in need of a lactation consultant as many moms do, you may be wondering what to expect and how to prepare.  Today we’re sharing ways of preparing for a visit with a lactation consultant.

  • When you call to make your appointment, be prepared to briefly explain the breastfeeding problems you’re having.  While the issues won’t be resolved on the phone, it’s good for the lactation consultant to know what’s going on between you and your baby to best help you during the visit.
  • Call your insurance company in advance of your visit to find out whether or not your consultation will be covered.  It’s better to know in advance because many facilities offer a lower out-of-pocket price if you are paying upfront at the time of your visit.
  • Bring what you need for breastfeeding.  This includes a favorite breastfeeding pillow, nipple shield, breast ointment or snack and water for yourself.  You’ll probably want your diaper bag so you’ll have diapers, a change of clothes for your baby (should you need it) and a burp cloth.  Bring along your pump as well.
  • Feed your baby 1-2 hours prior to your appointment time.  You want your baby to be hungry during the visit so the lactation consultant can work with you during a true feeding.  However, you never want your baby to be starving so don’t withhold milk if your baby needs to eat.
  • Plan on your visit lasting for about 2 hours.  This will give you a chance to talk to the lactation consultant about all of your issues and concerns, feed your baby and pump if necessary.
  • Bring a log of your typical breastfeeding schedule and any problems you’ve been experiencing.  Sometimes lactation consultants can find a pattern causing issues that you may not recognize.
  • At the visit, the lactation consultant will weigh your baby before and after breastfeeding to find out how much he has taken.  This is reassuring to many moms who are uncomfortable not knowing how many ounces their baby is getting.
  • The lactation consultant will also discuss various breastfeeding positions to help you find several that are comfortable for you and your baby.  Sometimes changing positions can resolve breastfeeding problems.
  • Latch is also essential for good breastfeeding.  The lactation consultant will look at your baby’s mouth to make sure there are no concerns with his tongue, gums and swallow reflexes.  Then she will help you ensure a good latch and often show you ways to encourage your baby to latch properly every feeding.
  • Lactation consultants may offer additional recommendations based on your individual needs.  These may include using specific nipple ointments, using a nipple shield, feeding more or less often, pumping more or less often and how to stimulate your milk supply.
  • You may need to see the lactation consultant 3 or 4 times before you and your baby get the hang of it.  Practice makes you better so continue working at it and let the professionals help as much as possible.

Get the most out of your lactation consultation by preparing for a visit with a lactation consultant.  Happy Breastfeeding!

 

6 Ways to do Tummy Time

Tummy time is an important strength building activity for babies.  Placing your baby on her stomach several times a day will help build neck, shoulder, back and core muscles that are vital to your baby’s physicality.  Babies that get plenty of time on their tummies daily tend to roll over and crawl earlier.  As a newborn, tummy time can be done briefly a few times a day.  By three months, tummy time should be done at least four or five times daily for a total of 20 to 30 minutes.

Tummy time also helps prevent babies from having flat heads, or positional plagiocephaly.  Experts urge parents to put babies to sleep on their backs because it reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  However, too much time lying on the back in the same position can misshape the head, making tummy time even more valuable to your baby’s development.

tummy time__1457980829_162.206.228.38Tummy time should always be supervised.  Many babies get fussy during tummy time so be present and encouraging in order to engage your baby during this experience.  You can use toys to distract your baby and entice her to turn or lift her head.

Doing tummy time in different positions will further strengthen your baby’s muscles and provide a change of scenery for you and your baby.  To keep things fresh and interesting for everyone, try these 6 ways to do tummy time:

On a Blanket:  The traditional way to do tummy time is on the floor with your baby on a blanket.  If you have hard floors, put a soft mat underneath the blanket to ensure your baby doesn’t hit her head too hard on the ground.  Your baby should be positioned on her belly with hands to the side and slightly forward.  Legs can be stretched long or curled under your baby.  Get on the floor with your baby – she loves to see your face and hear your voice.  It can be your first of many times you’ll cheer on your child from the sidelines.

On a Table:  Getting on the floor for tummy time may be hard for some adults.  You can set your baby on a table, even her changing table, for tummy time.  This allows you to stand or sit next to her, which may be more comfortable.  Again, make sure the surface is not too hard underneath and always keep one hand on your baby to ensure she doesn’t fall off.

In a Crib:  Your baby’s crib is a terrific place to do tummy time.  While she’s sleeping she will always be placed on her back, but for supervised tummy time she can be on her stomach.  Add a few toys for her to look at during tummy time, but be sure to remove them before she sleeps as nothing should be in the crib with your infant while she is sleeping.

On a Boppy or Pillow:  Using a boppy or other type of firm pillow, lay your baby horizontally with her chest against the surface and her legs on the floor.  This positions your baby differently and therefore helps work her muscles differently too.  You may notice that she uses her feet to push herself up, almost as if she’s climbing stairs.  This is great for the legs.  Many infants prefer tummy time on a pillow, especially in the early months.

On your Chest:  Before or after breastfeeding is a wonderful time for tummy time.  You’re already holding your baby so place her on your chest on her tummy and let her use your body as a surface.  She will probably want to move her head to look at you.  This skin-to-skin contact has many other developmental advantages as well, and the warmth of your body will be comforting to your baby, even if she isn’t a fan of tummy time.

On your Lap:  Lap tummy time is excellent for newborns who need extra support, but can also be done easily any time you or someone else is holding your baby.  Simply lay your baby across your lap with her arms to the side.  She may like this form of tummy time best since she still gets human contact during the experience.

Make tummy time a priority for your baby.  It’s hard work for both of you, but like any other exercise, “no pain, no gain.”

Alternative Birthing: Home Births

With the many unknowns that can occur during childbirth, many women feel comforted by having a birth plan that expresses her desired wishes for labor, delivery and postpartum care.  For some new moms, this includes the familiarity of her own home environment as a place to welcome a new baby.  Home births are an alternative birthing option that some families choose instead of hospitals or birthing centers.  While home births offer more flexibility and control over birthing, there are some risks involved as well.

The Pros of Home Births

For moms-to-be who envision giving birth in the serenity and comfort of familiar surroundings, home births are a viable alternative birthing choice.  Usually home births are left for women with no pregnancy complications, signs of distress to the baby and who have not had issues with previous childbirths.  They are only recommended for women delivering single babies and that go into labor between 37 and 41 weeks.

Births__1457446489_162.206.228.38Home births are most often facilitated by a midwife with an obstetrician on standby should unforeseen complications arise.  Unlike hospital births, home births are less inhibited.  Laboring women can wear their own clothes, eat as they please and are free to move about their homes as they wish.  For some, this freedom allows for a calmer labor process.  At home, anyone is allowed to be present at the birth rather than just one or two people permitted in a hospital delivery room.  Also, many women who wish to give birth naturally without drug interventions prefer home births so medical professionals do not pressure them into making choices against their birth plans.  Home births offer mothers more one-on-one attention and support since doctors and nurses are not juggling other patients.  And, home births cost significantly less than hospital births.

The Cons of Home Births

Although home birthed infant deaths are relatively low, death rates among babies that are birthed at home are double or triple that of hospital births.  The biggest downside of home births is unforeseen complications.  If an issue arises during labor or delivery, mothers have to wait for emergency professionals to transfer her to the hospital.  As with any birth, potential complications exist, however some added complications may be introduced by the nature of not being in a sterile hospital room or birthing center.  The same medical equipment is not readily available at the disposal of the midwife, making some aspects of labor, delivery and postpartum care more difficult.  A home birth must be scraped if there is placental abruption, umbilical cord prolapse, unusual bleeding or if labor is not progressing. Also, if the baby shows signs of distress, has excreted meconium prior to delivery or if the placenta cannot be delivered intact, a transfer to the hospital is necessary.

While less encumbered, home births cannot be as strictly monitored as hospital births.  Due to the nature of the space, the mother’s and baby’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs cannot be monitored consistently.  Rather, they are checked periodically, which reduces the opportunity for early intervention if necessary.

Home births were a much more common practice in the U.S. in the early 1900s.  Around the middle of the century, hospital births increased and now it is the standard.  However, home births are still very commonplace in other countries.  Some cultures and religions value the benefits of home births.

Preparing for home births can help ensure a safer experience for mothers and babies.  This includes knowing the risk factors and having a solid plan in place.  A midwife should be selected early and mothers should meet with this professional several times to discuss her birthing plan and emergency back-up plan.  Also, having a pediatrician lined up to see the baby soon after birth and postpartum help for the mother as she recovers are both crucial to successful home births.

Breastfeeding by the Numbers

breast milk by the numbers__1456607073_162.206.228.38We’re firm believers that “breast is best” when it is a feasible option for you and your baby.  Breastfeeding is a fascinating journey of bonding, love and nourishment.  While this is one of the most natural adventures you’ll embark upon in your life, there is a lot of data and stats involved in breastfeeding.  Today we’re exploring breastfeeding by the numbers.  That is, all the facts and figures involved in this labor of love.

  • Most infants nurse every 2 to 3 hours.  Your pediatrician may say your baby can go longer stretches at night depending on her individual state of health.
  • Most infants will nurse 7 to 12 times a day.
  • Exclusively breastfed babies take between 19 and 30 oz. of milk per day for the first 1 to 6 months.
  • Expectant mothers start the process of breast milk production as early as the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.
  • There are 3 stages of breast milk during the first month after your baby is born:  thick protein-rich colostrum is the first available milk for 1 to 7 days after birth; then new mothers produce transitional milk for 8 to 20 days; after around 20 days, your mature milk will sustain your baby.
  • Mature milk comes in 2 phases:  foremilk and hindmilk.  Foremilk is the watery milk that babies get at the beginning of a feeding that is more plentiful.  Hindmilk is the milk expressed later in the feeding that contains more fat.
  • Breast milk contains approximately 11 grams of fat, 170 calories, 2.5 grams of protein and 17 grams of carbohydrates per cup.
  • A let-down usually occurs within the first 2 minutes of breastfeeding.  This is when the breast tightens or tingles and then milk begins to flow more freely.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months and continuing to breastfeed for a year or more.
  • In the U.S., while over 75% of babies are breastfed at birth, only around 16% of babies are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life.
  • Breastfeeding burns up to 600 calories a day.
  • Breast milk can be unrefrigerated for up to 5 hours, refrigerated for 3 to 8 days and frozen for up to 6 months before it will spoil.  If it is easier, just remember the number 5 – 5 hours unrefrigerated, 5 days in the refrigerator and 5 months in the freezer.

There you have it, the basic stats about breastfeeding and breast milk.  But the most important take-away is that breastfeeding is number 1 when it comes to the health of your baby!

Vitamin D during Pregnancy may Reduce Risk of Allergies

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for our immune system.  A new study shows that expectant moms who consume a diet rich in Vitamin-D can reduce the risk of allergies in their babies by up to 20%.  These findings could lead to new nutritional recommendations for mothers.

Vitamin D and pregnancy__1457710298_162.206.228.38 (1)The study followed over 1,200 expectant moms from their first trimester of pregnancy through their child’s first seven years of life.  Researchers tracked Vitamin D intake with food logs and serum tests in both the pregnant mothers and children at various points.  The results showed less incidence of the common allergy known as hay fever in children born to moms that consumed more Vitamin D in their diet.  Intake of around 100 IU of Vitamin D – equivalent to an 8 oz. serving of milk – yielded these positive results.

The study, conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, only found these results in dietary consumption of Vitamin D, not through supplements.  Besides milk, there are many potent, bioavailable sources of Vitamin D that are easy to incorporate into your diet.  Many fish including salmon, trout, tuna and halibut contain Vitamin D.  Eggs, yogurt, tofu, cheese, cereal and mushrooms are other excellent sources of Vitamin D.

Allergies are a sensitive response of the immune system to an irritant.  Usually the culprit is not actually harmful, but the immune system perceives it as such and therefore responds with allergy symptoms to try to get rid of the foreign substance.  Once an allergen has triggered an immune response, it is likely to continue to do so with each subsequent exposure.

Vitamin D can bolster the immune system to potentially prevent allergic responses.  Vital T-cells that defend the body against infections and other perceived pathogens are activated by Vitamin D.  With a deficiency in this key nutrient, T-cells cannot function properly.  T-cells deliver targeted immune responses to protect the body from a variety of harmful substances.

Interestingly, Vitamin D is the one supplement that is recommended for breastfed babies because it is so crucial to building a strong immune system.  Babies that are exclusively breastfed should take 400 IU of Vitamin D drops per day.  Although it is rare for a baby who is adequately fed and receives sufficient sunlight exposure to have a Vitamin D deficiency, the recommendation is a precaution because breast milk may lack an adequate amount of Vitamin D for immune stimulation.  How, breast milk alone does have allergy-reducing benefits.  Many studies indicate that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from allergies.

Vitamin D is a critical nutrient during pregnancy, in infancy, childhood and throughout our lives to sustain strong immune systems.  The results of this new study may influence guidelines for expectant moms and continues to show the power of this vitamin in fighting infections and preventing allergies.

Baby Sleep: How to Get your Baby to Sleep Better

It’s World Sleep Day and a great time to talk about your baby’s sleep.  Sleep is an issue that most parents struggle with at some point in their baby’s infancy.  Babies often take time to adjust to normal day and night cycles and many have a hard time staying asleep.  Of course the goal is to get your baby to sleep through the night within a few months after birth, but some families have a hard time getting there.  Today we’re talking about baby sleep and how to get your baby to sleep better.

At the beginning, baby sleep can be very unpredictable which can send parents into a tailspin of anxiety, worry and frustration, often stemming from their own sleep deprivation.  Infants up to around six months usually sleep 15 to 18 hours per day.  This includes nighttime sleep and naps.  Newborns spend much of their time alternating between sleep and short bursts of wakefulness.  At around one month, babies tend to stay awake longer as they become more aware of their surroundings.  By four months or so, sleep patterns usually emerge and parents can encourage a regular naptime and bedtime schedule.  While not 100% reliable, this element of predictability can bring great comfort to parents, especially those who have been quite sleep deprived for the past several months.

Creating healthy sleep habits for your baby and using a few simple tricks can help get your baby’s sleep on track.

baby sleep__1457446711_162.206.228.38Use the five S’s:  Dr. Harvey Karp, author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block” recommends swaddling, shushing, side-laying, sucking and swinging to soothe fussy babies.  These methods also help in lulling a baby to sleep.  Try a few or all five at once to calm your baby.

Breastfeed more later in the day:  Cluster breastfeeding later in the day fills your baby up so he doesn’t wake as often in the night to nurse.  Usually newborns and young infants need to eat every two to three hours, however cluster feeding may help your baby sleep for longer stretches of four to five hours at night.

Keep the room dark: Like adults, babies are stimulated by light.  During the day, expose your baby to natural light even during restful times.  At night, create a dark environment for your baby’s best sleep.  Invest in blackout curtains if necessary.

Let your newborn sleep in a bassinet:  Many parents “room in” with their babies even at home by bringing a bassinet into their bedrooms.  Bassinets are usually cozier for babies as they encapsulate their bodies.  Plus, babies enjoy the proximity to mommy and daddy.

Watch what you eat:  For breastfed babies, foods and beverages that make your baby gassy will surely disrupt sleep.  Limit caffeine to earlier in the day. Avoid spicy foods, excessive vegetables and too much fiber.  Also, alcohol can be irritating to babies.  Take note of what bothers your little one and adjust your diet accordingly.

Don’t make eye contact:  Babies are more aware of who’s watching than you think.  If you make eye contact with your baby when he’s trying to get to sleep, he may be more interested in staring at you than catching his zzz’s.  If you need to hold or massage your baby, focus on an area besides his eyes.

Keep the room cool:  Help your baby lower his core body temperature by keeping his room between 65 and 70 degrees.  Lower body temps are more conducive for sleep quality and duration.

Skip diaper changes if possible:  If your baby has only urinated a little, avoid middle-of-the-night diaper changes.  Even if your baby doesn’t mind diaper changes, chances are the stimulation will wake him up.  However, if your baby has had a bowel movement, do change the diaper.

Skip burping too:  Babies usually breastfeed slower at night because they are drowsy.  This means they are probably swallowing less air and don’t need to be burped as often.  Burping can be jarring to babies and make them more alert at the wrong times.

Cheers to World Sleep Day and sweet dreams to you and your baby!

The Nesting Instinct: Tips for Nesting Productively

You may have heard about the nesting instinct before becoming pregnant yourself.  Now that you’re in the hot seat, the nesting instinct may be coming over you in ways you never expected.  Just like many wild animals, human mamas have a strong desire to prepare for the arrival of their new babies during pregnancy.  This is known as nesting.  It is as natural as nature itself and the instinct can be quite powerful.

Nesting can occur at any point during pregnancy but is most often reported towards the last few weeks before childbirth.  The nesting instinct is believed to come about due to a combination of adrenaline and hormones.  Later in pregnancy, many expectant moms feel anxiety about still being pregnant or start to realize their time will be limited once their babies arrive.  They start to use their extra energy to prepare the home for a new baby.  On the other hand, some pregnant women never feel the urge to nest, which is completely normal too.

nesting__1457446424_162.206.228.38Nesting can take form in many ways.  Some moms-to-be feel the urge to deep clean their homes, organize every drawer and shelf and purge unwanted items.  This is a very productive form of nesting.  After all, you want to bring you baby home to a sanitary environment.  Do be careful not to use harsh chemicals that have dangerous fumes you may inhale or toxic ingredients that can seep into your skin.  Instead use natural formulas that will be less abrasive for your baby as well.  Also, be careful not to overdo it while cleaning.  Spending too much time standing, kneeling, thrusting a mop or climbing stairs can take a toll on your body.

Along with cleaning, your nesting phase is a great time to thoroughly wash rugs, comforters and bath mats.  These little-washed surfaces can harbor a lot of germs so put your nesting instinct to good use and wash away.

Another productive way to nest is to stock your kitchen.  Chances are you won’t have time to make 5-course meals while tending to a newborn.  Precook several of your favorite dinners and freeze them.  Also, buy double and triple of your go-to pantry and fridge foods because you may not get to the grocery store for awhile.

Of course preparing your nursery and baby gear is a tremendously helpful part of nesting as well.  Be sure to pre-wash all of your baby’s clothes, blankets, sheets and towels.  While your baby won’t know the difference if her nursery is complete by the time she gets home or not, many new moms feel compelled to create the perfect room for their newborns.  If this entails painting, hanging shelves, building cribs, dressers and bookcases, let someone else do the heavy lifting and ladder climbing.  You can direct while others take on the heavy duty work.

Use your nesting instinct to pamper yourself a few last times before your baby arrives.  Buy a few comfy outfits for your time at home with baby.  Be sure to stock up on nursing bras and nursing tops to make breastfeeding easier day and night.  Also get one last mani/pedi, hair blow out and girls’ night out in before your new little love takes over all your free time.

Your nesting instinct may manifest in a number of ways.  However the urge strikes you, use it to productively prepare for your baby.

4 Immediate Benefits of Breastfeeding a Newborn

The benefits of breastfeeding are vast for both mothers and babies.  In many ways, this natural act of nourishment and love is quite miraculous.  Breastfeeding is intertwined with many other health aspects of caring for a newborn and a new mother’s recovery after childbirth.  Today we’re exploring 4 immediate benefits of breastfeeding a newborn.

1 – The Baby Receives Antibodies to Support Immune Health

Late in the third trimester of pregnancy mothers unknowingly transfer vital antibodies to their babies to help them survive on the outside world with very weak immune systems.  However, breast milk is essential to continuing to immediate benefits of breastfeeding__1456607261_162.206.228.38boost the immune system in the early days after birth when babies have very little ability to fight off any germs or pathogens they may encounter.  While families do their best to protect their newborns from any outside contagions, breast milk is an amazing preventative health measure for newborn immunity.

2 – The Mother’s Uterus Contracts to Help Her Body Return to Normal

Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, a hormone that not only encourages the production of milk, but also causes a new mother’s uterus to contract.  You may be thinking that you’ve already had enough uterine contractions after giving birth, but these are different.  The contractions caused by breastfeeding usually don’t hurt or at worst feel like short term menstrual cramps.  During pregnancy the uterus accumulates quite a volume of extra blood to support a growing baby.  After giving birth, the blood is dispelled through the vagina over time.  Breastfeeding encourages uterine contractions that lead to quicker vaginal bleeding over less time.  As the blood leaves the uterus, the organ slowly returns to a normal size although never as small as it was prior to carrying a child.  This often results in quicker weight loss and a faster return to a mother’s pre-pregnancy body as well.  Also, all of the organs that were displaced as the uterus grew will now find their proper places again.

3 – The Baby is Supported by the Very Best Nutrients to Thrive

Breast milk contains hundreds of nutrients that babies need to grow and thrive.  Unlike any other substance in the world, breast milk contains the complete nutritional needs an infant requires.  This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life and continuing to breastfeed for a year or more.  Having the same meal multiple times a day for at least six months may be somewhat redundant but moms are repeatedly offering the best of all the nutrients on the planet.  Actually, breast milk is further enhanced by a mother’s diet.  Consuming heart and brain healthy foods like fiber, good fats, omega-3s, protein and lots of vitamin and mineral rich fruits and vegetables can boost breast milk greatly.  And, breast milk automatically changes with the needs of the baby so what is produced for a newborn is nutritionally different than for older babies.

4 – Mothers and Babies Bond Quicker and Develop a Stronger Breastfeeding Relationship

When mothers and babies experience the closeness of breastfeeding, incredible things happen.  The baby is warmer and calmer; Her heart rate slows to sync with her mothers; Her body temperature stabilizes.  A more peaceful demeanor sets the tone for bonding and breastfeeding.  Mothers also feed off of the baby’s bliss.  When babies are more satisfied, mothers have less incidence of post partum depression.  Immediate breastfeeding in the early days sets the stage for the entire breastfeeding journey.  Babies learn to latch and find comfort in their mothers touch, sound and scent.  Mothers then have fewer struggles during breastfeeding and feel great about their choice to provide the very best for their babies as they begin life.

What is your Pumping Plan?

breast pump__1455555645_108.89.137.58Returning to work after having some dedicated time with your newborn can be bittersweet.  You may be eager for the adult interaction and stimulation of your job, but you have grown so fond of your routine with your newborn, especially breastfeeding regularly.  This closeness is hard to leave behind when your maternity leave is over, but you and your baby can not only survive, but thrive from some separation.  Plus, you can continue your commitment to providing your baby the best nutrition possible by pumping at work and breastfeeding when you are home.  Successfully pumping at work requires a solid pumping plan, which is what we’re going to examine today.

Before Returning to Work

L377-Nude-prod-pagePreparing for pumping at work is the first step of your pumping plan.  Invest in a reliable pump that allows you to express milk as efficiently and comfortably as possible.  Practice using your pump for weeks in advance of returning to work to ensure you know the ins and outs of the machine.  Be sure to get plenty of bottles and milk storage bags, a cooler for transporting your milk, and pump cleaning supplies.  Stock up on nursing bras too, because you’ll want ease-of-access to your breasts when you have limited time during your busy workday to pump.  One handed clasps or pull-aside cups are easiest to manage.  Select styles that compliment your work attire and support your breasts with typical milk fluctuations throughout the day.

Next, talk to your supervisor about your plans to pump during the work day and what that will require from a logistical, time and space perspective.  Know your company’s policies and work with your boss on how you can meet your pumping needs while disrupting work flow as little as possible.  You may agree to an alternative work schedule that will ensure you can be in certain scheduled meetings or you may request assignments that have more flexible deadlines throughout the day.  Discuss how you can be most successful at work while also meeting your breastfeeding goals.

During the week before you return to work, do a dry run of spending time away from your baby, pumping and having someone else give your baby a bottle.  If possible, put your baby in day care or have your nanny start that week to work out kinks before the big day arrives.  Know that there will likely be bumps in the road but everyone will adjust over time.

Returning to Work

Upon returning to work, have a pumping schedule written down.  Give it to your supervisor so he/she knows where you are during those times.  If you feel comfortable, give it to co-workers who depend on you regularly or any of your direct reports.  Otherwise, let co-workers and employees know that you will be away from your desk occasionally to pump and you’ll get back to them as soon as possible.  You may want to have your smart phone available for urgent emails or phone calls should there be a “work emergency” during your pumping times.

Setting your pumping schedule should pretty much replicate your feeding schedule, at least for the first few months after returning to work.  Pumping at the approximate times you were feeding your baby will ensure your milk supply remains steady and you’ll have plenty for your baby to eat the following day while you’re at work.  You’ll probably continue breastfeeding on weekends and holidays so you’ll want your milk supply to be available at feeding times.

Be a stickler for keeping your pumping schedule on time.  This may mean your work has to take a back seat sometimes, but all for a good cause.  If you miss a pumping session, you may become engorged, which can be painful and may lead to blocked ducts or mastitis.  Also, if you repeatedly miss pumping sessions you could risk reducing your milk supply.  After awhile, your baby’s feeding schedule may change or you may find you can pump longer and less often.

Try to have a back-up milk supply in case you do get into a bind and cannot produce enough milk on any given day.  This may require several weeks of pumping prior to returning to work or pumping after your morning and nighttime feedings.  You will feel less anxious about your pumping plan if you know you have a back-up milk supply.

Being successful at providing breast milk after returning to work is easiest when you have a pumping plan.  Once your plan is in place, you can feel great about giving your baby the best nutritional start in life!