Breast Milk Storage

Pumping and storing your breast milk can offer new moms like you a bit of freedom, relief and reassurance by knowing your baby will have a nutritious meal even when you are separated. Knowing the ins and outs of breast milk storage will help keep the milk sanitary and maintain the integrity of its nutrients.

Here’s what you need to know about breast milk storage:

Always wash your hands before pumping or storing breast milk.

After pumping your breast milk, store it in a glass or plastic bottle or a storage bag meant for human milk. Many pumps are compatible with adequate storage containers so you can pump directly into the container without having to transfer milk.

Breast Milk StorageLabel your breast milk storage container with the date it was pumped and the volume.

Breast milk can remain at room temperature for up to 6 hours, can stay in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, and can be frozen for 3-6 months (or up to 12 months in a deep freezer). If you have trouble keeping these storage lengths straight, just remember the number 5: 5 hours at room temp, 5 days in the fridge, 5 months in the freezer.

Refrigerated breast milk maintains more nutrients and antibodies than frozen breast milk so if you have the choice, use refrigerated milk first. It will go bad first anyways.

When using frozen breast milk, always use your oldest milk first. Develop a system to help keep your milk organized in your freezer. Some moms freeze their breast milk bags in “shingles” so they are easily stackable. You can also put the bags in larger storage bags dated by week or month.

Store breast milk in small amounts – usually 3 to 4 ounces per container. This will make it easier to use in one feeding without wasting any.

Never combine frozen breast milk with fresh breast milk, even to complete a bottle. Instead, serve them separately or pour the fresh milk in the bottle once the frozen milk is drunk.

To thaw frozen milk, run warm water over it until it is your desired temperature or let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Never microwave breast milk because it may produce “hot spots” that could scald your baby and microwaving zaps some of the nutrients from your milk. Also, do not thaw your breast milk by leaving it unrefrigerated.

Once milk has been thawed it should be used within 24 hours. Never refreeze breast milk.

Discard any remaining breast milk in a bottle that your baby drank from. The enzymes in her saliva can break down the nutrients in the breast milk and potentially introduce germs into the bottle.

Stored breast milk may look different from fresh breast milk. It is common for the fats to separate, leaving an “oil and vinegar” effect with the fat floating on the surface. Gently swish the bottle to re-blend the milk but do not shake it vigorously.

Frozen breast milk sometimes smells soapy from the fats. This is normal and doesn’t mean it has spoiled.

Frozen breast milk may also have a different color depending on the stage you were in when it was pumped, your diet and any medications you may have taken at the time.

If your baby will be drinking the milk at a day care facility or school, be sure to label each container with your baby’s name. Give caregivers thorough instructions on how to properly handle breast milk.

Sources: BabyCenter, What to Expect and CDC

 

Loving Moments believes moms should have the knowledge, resources and power to make the healthiest choices for their babies, starting with breastfeeding. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in August, we are sharing Breastfeeding Basics, our educational blog series that we hope will empower you with information, encouragement and inspiration to meet your breastfeeding goals.

 

Breast Milk Production

Breast milk production is a fascinating natural phenomenon that involves a range of hormones controlled by the endocrine system, stimulation of the nerve endings attached to your nipples and a supply and demand system. You’ve probably heard the advice to feed your baby often to boost milk supply. That’s because your baby is able to trigger all of the elements required for breast milk production. Here’s how it works:

Preparing for Breastfeeding during Pregnancy

Your breasts are gearing up for breastfeeding even during pregnancy. Many women experience breast tenderness as an early sign of pregnancy. You may also notice your areola darkening (perhaps to become more visible to your newborn’s immature vision) and additional Montgomery glands (small bumps on the areola) forming.

Inside your breast your glandular tissues are growing due to increased estrogen and progesterone, which accounts for breast enlargement during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. Milk ducts found between fat cells and the glandular tissue also grow in number and size creating a complex web of pathways throughout your breast leading to your nipples. Each milk duct is connected to one of the 15 to 20 lobes in your breasts. The lobes are made of clusters of lobules which are made of clusters of alveoli. The alveoli connect to smaller branches of milk ducts called ductules.

By the middle of your second trimester progesterone levels increase and allow you to begin breast milk production. The alveoli take in proteins, sugars and fats from the blood stream to get the process going. Chances are you won’t need the milk for many months but if your baby is premature, your supply will be ready and waiting.

Ramping Up Breast Milk Production

Breast Milk ProductionWhen your baby arrives your estrogen and progesterone levels drop quickly and the hormone prolactin kicks into full gear. This is the signal for your body to start producing breast milk. At first you will produce colostrum, a sticky yellowish pre-milk substance that is rich in proteins, vitamins and antibodies to help your baby survive her first few days of life. Within a few days your breast milk production will kick into super-drive and you’ll start producing fattier white milk known as transitional milk. Within three weeks of childbirth your breast milk production has transformed into mature milk that can sustain your baby exclusively for six months and beyond.

The Process of Breast Milk Production

Frequent stimulation and emptying of the breasts is the name of the game when it comes to breastfeeding. When your baby stimulates your breast by suckling (or even when you think of your baby, hear your baby’s cry, smell your baby’s scent or look at a picture of your baby), your body releases oxytocin and prolactin that triggers a “let down” so milk flows from the alveoli to the milk ducts. Between your baby’s compressing latch, tugging suckle and your let down reflex, milk transfers from your nipples into your baby’s mouth.

In addition to this constant stimulation, breasts need to be emptied often to continue breast milk production. This is the supply and demand portion of the process. Your body’s response to a full breast of milk is to cut off production. Receptor sites in the walls of the milk-producing cells of the alveoli stretch and prevent prolactin from entering to stimulate more breast milk production. Even a small amount of residual milk in the breast could decrease milk supply. That’s why it’s important to allow your baby to drain your breasts completely during feedings. When the breast is empty, the cells of the alveoli return to their normal shape and breast milk production resumes.

When your milk supply first comes in but has not yet regulated, you may need to pump to empty your breasts. Over a few weeks your milk supply will level off to meet the needs of your baby. And meet the needs it does! Your milk supply will continue to ebb and flow to support your baby’s growth and nutritional needs through growth spurts, periods of brain development, sickness and for emotional support.

How to Boost Milk Supply

The best ways to boost milk supply is by breastfeeding frequently and until your breasts are empty. This ensures the mechanics of breast milk production are always in motion. The more you breastfeed, the more breast milk you’ll produce. If your baby cannot drain your breasts completely or you are away from your baby during a normal feeding time, pump after feedings or at missed feeding times to ensure you continue to stimulate milk production. Supplementing can interfere with breast milk production because your body learns to produce less milk when you feed less often. Also, as a nursing mother, it’s crucial for you to take care of yourself so you have the energy required to produce breast milk. That means eating a wholesome diet, drinking plenty of water, skipping alcohol, limiting caffeine, being cautious of medications you take and getting sleep when you can.

How to Tell if your Baby is Getting Enough Milk

You’ll know that your baby is getting enough milk if she is gaining weight, soiling and wetting diapers and seems satisfied after feedings. Remember, your baby does not need very much colostrum during her first few days of life because her stomach is extremely small and still filled with water from the womb. After a few days when your milk supply comes in her intake will increase significantly. You’ll know your baby is getting milk if you can see and hear her swallow frequently during a feeding.

Sources: BabyCenter, KellyMom, Parents Magazine, LaLecheLeague, Kids Health and Healthy Children

 

Loving Moments believes moms should have the knowledge, resources and power to make the healthiest choices for their babies, starting with breastfeeding. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in August, we are sharing Breastfeeding Basics, our educational blog series that we hope will empower you with information, encouragement and inspiration to meet your breastfeeding goals.

 

Stages of Breast Milk

Stages of Breast Milk

When you stop and think about it, breast milk is one of the most fascinating substances on earth. It is so dense in nutrients it can exclusively sustain your infant’s life for at least six months and it changes to meet the exact needs of your baby at different points in development. There are three distinct stages of breast milk that differ in nutritional value to help your baby thrive and grow. Come explore the stages of breast milk with us!

Stage 1: Colostrum

It may not look like milk to you but colostrum is the thick, sticky, yellowish “pre-milk” you produce for the first few days of your newborn’s life. It is packed with carbohydrates (sugars), protein, vitamins and minerals to help your baby’s body stabilize outside the womb. Perhaps most importantly, colostrum contains immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that protect your infant from getting sick since she has little to no immune system on her own. Your baby’s main goal at this point is survival so colostrum doesn’t have much fat.

Newborns have tiny stomachs so they cannot hold much food. They may only take less than 2 teaspoons of colostrum per feeding for the first couple of days.

Stage 2: Transitional Milk

Between two and five days, your milk will gradually change from colostrum to transitional milk. You may not notice the changes at first but slowly you’ll notice a change in color and consistency to a thinner (but still creamy), whiter substance. Your baby is preparing for her first growth spurt so transitional milk has more fat, lactose and soluble vitamins that facilitate growth.

If you’ve ever heard someone say “when your milk comes in” they are referring to transitional milk. Your breasts may feel full, firm and heavy and you may even experience engorgement. It’s important to feed your baby often to drain your breasts so you’ll continue to produce more milk and to try to avoid a plugged duct or infection. Transitional milk usually lasts 10 to 14 days. By the end of two weeks, your baby may be drinking between 15 and 20 oz. of transitional milk a day.

Stage 3: Mature Milk

Mature milk is the final stage and is made up of 90% water and the rest fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and a wealth of other baby-loving nutrients. Your mature milk will continue to evolve to meet the needs of your baby at each stage of development and to protect her as well. For example, your breast milk can cool or warm your baby’s body temperature and your breast milk contains antibodies to specific pathogens that you and your baby may have come in contact with, which helps your baby not get sick.

Mature milk has two parts: fore-milk and hind-milk. Fore-milk is the thinner milk that is readily available at the beginning of a feeding. It contains mostly water, vitamins and protein. That is followed by thicker, fattier, high-calorie hind-milk, which helps your infant grow. Your baby needs a balance of both fore-milk and hind-milk so it’s important to let her nurse long enough on one breast to get an adequate amount of hind-milk. This may mean she only nurses on one side per feeding. Since hind milk is thicker, it can get stuck to the walls of milk ducts. By massaging your breast during a feeding, you can encourage the fat to loosen and enter the milk stream.

Your baby will probably drink between 25 and 35 oz. of mature milk daily for the first six months.

Sources: Healthy Children, KellyMom, Dr. Paul and American Pregnancy

 

Loving Moments believes moms should have the knowledge, resources and power to make the healthiest choices for their babies, starting with breastfeeding. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in August, we are sharing Breastfeeding Basics, our educational blog series that we hope will empower you with information, encouragement and inspiration to meet your breastfeeding goals.

 

Summer Uses of Breast Milk

Breast milk is one of the purest substances on earth. Thanks to its vast nutrients, breast milk has powerful healing properties that make it an incredible summertime solution for minor ailments. We’re exploring the phenomenal summer uses of breast milk to help your baby, and entire family for that matter, heal the ouchies faster than ever before.

Insect Bites & Stings: The bugs are out big time during the summer months. If your little one gets bitten or stung, rub some breast milk on the sore area to reduce itchiness and swelling.

Summer Uses of Breast MilkSunburns: A squirmy baby may cause you to miss a spot or two with sunscreen leaving an uncomfortable sunburn. Gently massage cold breast milk over the area several times daily to alleviate the burning sensation and accelerate the healing process.

Cuts & Scrapes: When your family spends more time outdoors, cuts and scraps are bound to happen. Dabbing nutrient-rich breast milk onto wounds can help them heal faster because it has powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

Diaper Rash: Diaper rashes can certainly happen year round but they are quite common in the summer when your baby sits in sand or is exposed to chlorine and other pool chemicals. Breast milk is the best all-natural solution for soothing and clearing up diaper rash.

Ear Infections: Summer excursions and travel may cause your baby to get sick. After periods of congestion, ear infections are very common among infants. Also, pool and ocean water that gets into the ear can breed bacteria that cause ear infections. Place a few drops of breast milk in your baby’s ear canal and let it work its magic to help relieve the pain from fluid-build up.

Soap: Keep your baby’s skin and hands clean with all-natural breast milk soap. Using breast milk and just a few other ingredients like essential oils, you can create your own fragrant baby soap to moisturize and nourish your baby’s skin.

Smoothies: Breast milk is wonderful for hydrating and cooling off your baby with extraordinary nutrients. Blend fruits and veggies with your breast milk for a delicious refreshing summertime smoothie.

Ice Pops: While others are enjoying less nutritious summertime snacks your baby can cool off with a breast milk ice pop. Flavored with fruit or served in “original” flavor, your baby will learn to love popsicles from an early age.

What are your favorite summer uses of breast milk?

Sources: Mom365, Code Name Mama, and Scary Mommy

Alternative Feeding Device: Supplemental Nutrition System

Alternative Feeding Device: Supplemental Nutrition SystemEven during its hardest times, breastfeeding is a beautiful gift to your baby. When things aren’t going as you expected – as sometimes happens with breastfeeding – it’s important to remember your goals and look for solutions to meet your challenges. In certain situations an alternative feeding device called a supplemental nutrition system is a wonderful way to help new mothers continue to breastfeed while also offering expressed milk at the same time.

Here’s how a supplemental nutrition system works:

A supplemental nutrition system is an alternative feeding device where a tube connects a bottle or bag of expressed breast milk to the outside of the mother’s breast. The bottle or bag usually hangs around the mother’s neck or to her side and the tube is taped to her breast. When the baby latches onto her mother’s nipple, she also takes the small tube in her mouth. As she sucks, she receives breast milk directly from her mother and from the tube simultaneously.

Ideal times to use a supplemental nutrition system:

A supplemental nutrition system can be used at several critical times to establish healthy breastfeeding practices. Adoptive mothers and mothers who are relactating often choose this method to help stimulate their milk supply but also ensure their babies are getting the nutrition and satisfaction of breast milk through the tube.

Mothers who are trying to establish a healthy milk supply or who tend to have low milk supplies at certain times of day may also use a supplemental nutrition system. Since lactation is both a stimulation and supply-and-demand response, the more often a baby is at her mother’s breast and empties the breast, the more milk a mother will produce. By using a supplemental nutrition system, babies can help boost their mother’s milk supply while also getting enough milk through supplementation, all at the same time. It’s natural for mothers’ milk supply to ebb and flow based on her menstrual cycle (if it has returned), diet, lifestyle habits, medications or even the body’s natural rhythms at certain times of day. If supplementing with expressed breast milk is necessary, it can be done while breastfeeding using a supplemental nutrition system.

Benefits of a supplemental nutrition system:

Initiating breastfeeding and maintaining a breastfeeding routine can be challenging. All too often mothers give up due to low milk supply or other impediments. However, a supplemental feeding device can help babies learn to breastfeed and continue to breast feed despite many common issues. This type of alternative feeding device allows babies and mothers to learn to breastfeed by breastfeeding. It’s a hands-on experience for everyone! This can be especially important for preemies who struggle to latch and suck.

Using a supplemental nutrition system can often put a mother’s mind at ease because she knows her baby has access to plenty of milk. As her baby enjoys the amazing nutrients in breast milk, mom is boosting her milk supply with each feeding. Plus, it is done simultaneously so moms don’t have to breastfeed and then supplement afterwards. Other alternative feeding devices may pose a problem when shifting to, or back to, breastfeeding as babies get used to the way they are being fed pretty quickly. For example, some experts believe babies who are bottle fed can form nipple confusion when going from bottle to breast.

Additionally, a supplemental nutrition system allows mothers and babies to stay close to one another through a loving breastfeeding embrace. Skin-to-skin contact, eye contact, warmth and a secure hold are all part of the breastfeeding experience that benefit babies and mothers. Other forms feeding options do not allow the same closeness as this alternative feeding device.

Sources: Ask Dr. Sears, International Breastfeeding Centre and KellyMom

 

Breastfed Baby Weight Gain

Many moms see their baby’s weight gain as a badge of honor because sometimes it is a result of the great efforts and long hours they’ve put into breastfeeding. While milk intake alone is not the only indication of breastfed baby weight gain, it is a significant part of the picture. Today we’re taking a look at average breastfed baby weight gain and the factors that influence your baby’s weight.

One of the biggest struggles for new moms who are breastfeeding for the first time is knowing whether or not their babies are taking in an adequate amount of milk. Because there are no measurement marks in breastfeeding, you Breastfed Baby Weight Gainhave to utilize other indicators including your baby’s weight gain, wet and soiled diapers and your baby’s level of satisfaction.

Keep in mind babies go through growth spurts frequently so even babies who are getting plenty of milk may feed more frequently than 2-3 hours. The number of times your baby may want to feed in a day is not necessarily a sign of low milk supply. And of course babies may be fussy for reasons other than being hungry so sometimes using mood as an indicator of breast milk satisfaction is not a true test. That’s why monitoring weight gain is so important to moms who breastfeed.

Average Breastfed Baby Weight Gain

According to Dr. Sears, most breastfed babies gain between 4 and 7 ounces in their first week, approximately 1 to 2 pounds per month for the first six months, and around 1 pound per month from six to 12 months. These are averages and may vary from baby-to-baby. Also, it’s important to remember that a 5-7% weight loss within three to four days after birth is completely normal. Usually if 10% or more weight loss has occurred, your doctor will recommend a breastfeeding evaluation to ensure your baby is feeding properly. This may include a visit to a lactation consultant who can evaluate your baby’s latch, positioning, milk supply and other potential barriers to breastfeeding success.

Most babies are weighted at least daily after birth during their initial hospital stay. Then they are weighed again at their first pediatrician appointment, which is usually five to seven days after birth. When determining your baby’s weight gain, consistency is crucial. Go by the weight indicated on the pediatrician’s scale when your baby is completely naked including diaper-less. Different scales can offer seemingly minor fluctuations, but with a newborn, every ounce counts. If you are concerned about your baby’s weight gain or lack thereof, you can ask to pop into your pediatrician’s office for a quick weigh in as necessary.

Other Factors that Influence Breastfed Baby Weight Gain

Body type and activity level also influence your baby’s weight gain. Babies who tend to be long and lean usually gain length faster than weight, which is still an indication of growth. Other babies are plumper and gain weight faster than length. If your baby is extremely active – whether rolling, crawling, cruising or walking – she will burn more calories and perhaps not gain as much weight as more sedentary babies. That doesn’t mean she’s not getting enough to eat, but rather she’s putting the breast milk to good use right away.

Additionally, babies who are breastfed on demand and sleep near their mothers during infancy are more likely to grow faster. They are easily able to eat frequently and let their mothers know when they need milk.

If you are concerned about your baby’s weight gain, consult your pediatrician and consider visiting a lactation consultant to ensure your baby is feeding efficiently.

Sources: Ask Dr. Sears and KellyMom

 

Breastfeeding a Toddler: Truths and Myths

If you’ve made it over the one year milestone of breastfeeding, congratulations mama, you’ve done an amazing job! As you now know, every stage of breastfeeding is met with its own triumphs and challenges and breastfeeding a toddler is no exception. Many moms feel pressured to wean at one year but that should be a personal decision. Today we’re exploring the truths and myths of breastfeeding a toddler to help you make the healthiest choice for you and your baby.

Truth: Breastfeeding a toddler continues to benefit your baby’s health.

Your breast milk changes to meet the needs of your little one throughout your breastfeeding journey. That’s why the AAP and other health organizations across the globe encourage continued breastfeeding beyond one year. Your toddler is now getting more robust nutrients, especially those required for brain development and physical activity. The antibodies in your breast milk also adapt to protect your toddler from a range of foreign substances that are now in her daily life.

Myth: Breastfeeding a toddler leads to emotional and social problems.

Being a source of comfort and security for your toddler only bolsters her self-confidence. Studies show that breastfed toddlers do not form unhealthy attachments to their mothers, but rather a loving bond built of trust and respect. And they also develop a normal sense of independence within this special relationship.

Breastfeeding a Toddler: Truths and MythsTruth: Toddlers may be wiggly and touchy while nursing.

Your toddler is probably a bundle of energy so sitting still to nurse may not be in her repertoire. This can make breastfeeding difficult or uncomfortable for moms, even when both mom and toddler want to continue breastfeeding. If your little one tends to tug at your breasts, skin or hair, move her hand and ask her to be gentle with mommy. A long necklace that your toddler can play with while nursing may also be useful. If your toddler wants to do acrobatics while breastfeeding, stop the session and explain that you cannot give her milk until she can sit still. Other forms of distraction such as telling a story or singing may engage your toddler for long enough to enjoy her milk. You’ll probably notice that your baby’s positioning and latch have changed in toddlerhood. This relaxed state is normal and completely fine as long as it works for both of you.

Myth: Toddlers who nurse for short periods of time are ready to wean.

All the breastfeeding you’ve done for the past year or more has taught your toddler to be very efficient at the breast. She may nurse briefly but still be able to get plenty of milk because her suckle is stronger. Additionally, as your toddler eats more solid foods, she may not want quite as much breast milk. Any breast milk she gets is fantastic for her body though so weaning due to short feedings is not necessary.

Truth: Breastfeeding in public may be more difficult.

Toddlers are keenly aware of the world around them and may be particularly challenging to breastfeed in public due to their inability to stay still and the environmental distractions. You may find it easier to breastfeed before heading out and after coming home, or you can do it in your car. Bring along a snack to tide your toddler over until you can get to a less distracting spot to breastfeed. Also, others may be quite critical of you for breastfeeding a toddler in public. This is no reason not to do it, but do be prepared with a quick polite response for those with negative comments.

Myth: You’re well past sore nipples.

Sore nipples can rear their painful heads again while breastfeeding a toddler. The emergence of teeth is usually the culprit, not only because they may bite you but also because your baby has to latch differently with a few new additions in her mouth. Food residue can also lead to sore nipples. Use the same lanolin-based cream you used when your little one was a newborn to soothe the pain.

Truth: Using respectful words to request breast milk is wise.

When left to their own devices, toddlers may come up with their own ways to ask for breast milk, some of which may be a little crude. If you want to control how breasts and breastfeeding are addressed, start using the words you prefer early to set a positive example for your toddler.

Myth: You’ve graduated from nighttime nursing.

Teething, nightmares and separation anxiety are all legitimate reasons your toddler may wake up in the middle of the night. Nursing is a great way to calm, reassure and soothe your toddler back to sleep.

Truth: Your breast milk will fluctuate with your menstrual cycle.

It is common for your milk supply to be low just before and at the beginning of your period, and your milk may taste different to your toddler as well. Allow for extra nursing during this time to ensure your little one gets as much as she wants.

Myth: You must wean if you get pregnant with another baby.

In most cases toddlers can breastfeed throughout your pregnancy and even once the baby has arrived. Your breast milk will change to meet the needs of both your toddler and the new baby.

Sources: KellyMom and Today’s Parent

Relactation: Return to Breastfeeding

True or false, moms: Once you stop breastfeeding you lose your milk forever? The answer is False. It is entirely possible to return to breastfeeding after a lactation gap, and no we’re not talking about having another baby. Relactation is the process of rebuilding your milk supply after having a baby and taking a break from breastfeeding. (This is different than induced lactation, which occurs when a woman builds a milk supply but has never been pregnant.)

If you’re hoping to return to breastfeeding, here’s the scoop on relactation:

Relactation: Return to BreastfeedingWhile there is little research on relactation, statistics show success rates are pretty high when mothers take the proper steps. The factors that influence success are: having a baby four months or younger, having only a short lactation gap, your baby’s willingness to feed at the breast and seeking professional support. First let’s look at how relactation is even possible.

During pregnancy and childbirth, your body is preparing for breastfeeding by mixing up a cocktail of hormones that will produce breast milk. Your breasts are also changing to best meet the needs of your baby’s most nutritious source of food. Once your baby is born, stimulation of the nipple triggers the hormone prolactin, which is necessary to produce breast milk. When you have a lactation gap (and amazingly even if you’ve never been pregnant or given birth), stimulating the nipple is how relactation can occur.

As is typical of all breastfeeding, putting your baby on the breast often and draining the breast as much as possible is critical for relactation. Feeding 10-12 times a day, that’s every 2-3 hours, is usually the best way to jumpstart your milk supply. The more stimulation, the more likely you are to restart the production of milk and build a healthy milk supply. Also make sure your baby is feeding effectively with a good latch.

It is also essential to drain your breasts thoroughly with each feeding. Find your baby’s favorite breastfeeding positions and activities to keep your baby interested and engaged in breastfeeding. Breast compressions – squeezing your breasts to encourage milk to drain – may be helpful and keep a trickle of milk coming so your baby will stay on the breast. Another way to keep your baby on the breast is using a supplemental nursing system that feeds your baby from both the breast and a tube of milk at the same time.

If your baby is not willing or able to drain your breasts, pumping is the next best option. Pumping after or in-between feedings is a good idea if your baby is not feeding as often as you would like. A double electric pump is the most efficient way to express milk besides your baby himself.

Milk supply is often the issue that leads to early weaning. If this is why you stopped breastfeeding in the first place, work hard to not run into the same issue. Besides frequent and thorough feedings, spend as much time with your baby as possible and engage in lots of skin-to-skin contact. You may want to take lactation supplements known as galactagogues, such as fenugreek and blessed thistle, or drink a lactation tea.

Relactation usually takes around one month to achieve. Most moms who are able to relactate work with a professional lactation consultant to strategize the best methods for reestablishing milk supply and ensuring their babies are getting enough nourishment during the process.

Sources: LaLecheLeague, KellyMom, MotherLove and Belly Belly

 

Breastfeeding and Breast Preference 2

Breastfeeding and Breast Preference 2Your baby’s breast preference is not cause for major concern. As long as you are breastfeeding when your baby shows signs of hunger, she’s growing properly and soiling diapers, your baby is likely getting plenty of milk, even if it is primarily from one breast. Yet still, some mothers become uncomfortable in the less frequently used breast or may not like their new lopsided silhouette.

Earlier this week we discussed reasons for breast preference including milk supply, let downs, nipple differences, taste of breast milk, preferred positions, and a pain or injury your baby may be experiencing. Today we’re sharing ways to encourage your baby to nurse from both breasts and how you can even up your breasts if she continues to show breast preference.

Ways to Encourage Nursing on Both Breasts

If your baby’s breast preference bothers you, try these ways to encourage nursing on both breasts:

  • Offer the less frequently nursed breast first. Babies generally nurse more vigorously when they begin a breastfeeding session because that is when they are hungriest. This may help increase your milk supply and speed up let downs. Offering the less preferred breast first may work best when your baby is sleepy – either just after waking or before a nap or bedtime – when she is not keenly aware of which side she’s nursing.
  • Offer the less frequently nursed breast more often. Nurse your baby on the less preferred side twice per feeding, sandwiched by the more preferred side. If you only nurse from one breast at a time, start with the less preferred breast twice as often.
  • Find a more comfortable position. If your baby doesn’t like nursing on one side because you believe she’s uncomfortable, try a different nursing position for that side. Alternatively, try to switch from the preferred breast to the less preferred breast with as little repositioning as possible.
  • Distract your baby while nursing. Rocking, walking, singing or wearing your baby while nursing from the less preferred breast may help distract your baby and encourage more productive breastfeeding.
  • Work to balance your milk supply. Building up your milk supply in the less preferred breast may be the best solution to breast preference. This requires extra breastfeeding and pumping on that breast. On the flip side, if engorgement or a forceful let down is causing the breast preference, express milk from that side before a feeding to make it easier for your baby to latch and feed.
  • Use a nipple shield. Inverted or otherwise altered nipples can cause breast preference. If necessary, use a nipple shield on the less desirable side.

How to Counteract Breast Preference

So your baby is very stubborn, eh? That’s OK! As we mentioned, it is more about your potential discomfort – due to engorgement or appearance – than a true problem. The best solution for a baby who will not nurse from one breast is to pump that breast more often. This will help in several ways: First, frequent pumping will prevent you from becoming engorged, which can lead to plugged ducts that may cause mastitis. You definitely don’t want that! Secondly, pumping may increase your milk supply and help resolve the breast preference issue altogether. And lastly, pumping will ensure you have extra milk on hand if you feel your baby is still hungry after breastfeeding on her preferred side.

Bottom line: Don’t stress about your baby’s breast preference. Follow these suggestions to encourage your baby to nurse on both sides and when all else fails, pump!

Sources: KellyMom, Breastfeeding-Problems, and BabyCenter

Breastfeeding and Breast Preference 1

Breastfeeding and Breast Preference 1Breastfeeding may have you feeling a little off balance if your baby has a distinct breast preference. Preferring one side over another is common although some babies feel more strongly about it than others. While completely normal, you may be able to subdue your baby’s breast preference during breastfeeding to help prevent plugged ducts and lopsidedness.

First we should note that there is no nutritional problem with your baby having a breast preference. In fact, it may actually benefit your baby because she will likely nurse through to the fattier hind milk that is important for your baby’s growth and development. However, if breast preference causes pain or an infection in your less frequently used breast, or if a lopsided appearance bothers you, you may want to work to even things up a bit.

Today we’re exploring reasons your baby may have a breast preference while breastfeeding and later this week we’ll offer suggestions to keep your breasts more balanced and encourage your baby to nurse on both sides.

Reasons for Breast Preference

As you are discovering, your baby is an intricate being and perhaps rather opinionated. Her likes and dislikes may emerge in small ways at first including breast preference. After all, she spends quite a bit of time breastfeeding so she’s bound to exert some control of the situation eventually.

Milk Supply or Let Downs

Breast preference can be the result of the difference in milk supply or let downs between your breasts. Just like your hands, feet, eyes and ears differ slightly, the same anatomical asymmetry exists in your breasts. The internal mechanisms that help produce breast milk vary from side to side, which can cause milk supply to be higher or lower or let downs to be faster or slower. Most babies will prefer the side with more milk unless engorgement makes it too difficult for the baby to latch. Some babies prefer a slower let down that won’t overwhelm them with too much milk at once. (Mothers who have had breast surgery may experience lower milk supply in that breast.)

Nipple Differences

The means of suckling breast milk – your nipples – may also be a factor. You’ve probably noticed that your nipples differ in shape and size. Chances are your baby notices too and this may be a reason for her breast preference. Nipple differences change the way a baby latches and is able to secure milk. The easier it is for her to latch, the more she’ll enjoy that breast.

Breast Milk Flavor

The flavor of your breast milk can be altered in breasts individually if you have mastitis (an infected plugged duct) or if a capillary bursts on one side and blood leaks into your milk supply. These situations can cause milk to taste saltier, which your baby may not enjoy.

Preferred Positions

On the other hand, breast preference may have nothing to do with your body at all. Rather, it may have something to do with your baby. Babies come to enjoy being held a certain way, whether due to the mother’s holding style or simply a natural preference. Nursing in a more comfortable position for your baby may lead to breast preference.

Pain or Injury

Also, if your baby has a medical reason to prefer being positioned a certain way, she may rather lie that way for breastfeeding too. For example, an ear infection in one ear may make it painful for your baby to lie on that side. The same can be true if your baby has a neck injury or pain at an immunization site. Or an undetected birth injury or defect can also result in breast preference due to positioning.

Understanding the cause of your baby’s breast preference may help as you strategize a solution. Later this week we’ll review ways to encourage nursing on both breasts and what you can do if your baby refuses to nurse on one side.

Sources: KellyMom, Breastfeeding-Problems, and BabyCenter