Breastfeeding and Pregnancy Weight

Breastfeeding and Pregnancy WeightBreastfeeding may seem to be primarily a postpartum concern but new research indicates otherwise. A recent study shows that breastfeeding initiation and success rates are lower among women who are obese prior to pregnancy and who gain excessive weight during pregnancy. The message of the study aims to encourage women to focus on their pre-pregnancy and pregnancy health in order to support their babies’ best interest after birth.

As reported in the Journal of Human Lactation, the study followed 216 women who intended to breastfeed and had single births.  Initial BMI data was recorded during pregnancy and correlated to the onset of lactogenesis 2, the stage after colostrum when milk begins to flow.

The women were divided into two groups: those with a BMI under 30 and those whose BMI was over 30 during pregnancy. A normal BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9. A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight. BMI of 30 and above is obese.

Approximately 46% of new moms with a BMI under 30 experienced delayed lactogenesis 2 and the statistic jumped to 58% among new moms considered obese. While this study did not differentiate between pre-pregnancy obesity and prenatal weight gain, other similar studies have showed pre-pregnancy obesity may even delay lactogenesis 1, the initial stage of colostrum.

The unfortunate chain reaction of delayed lactogenesis is multi-fold. First, after a period of time and without immediate support in the hospital, many moms chose to supplement breastfeeding. While the health of the baby is the first and foremost concern, supplementation often leads to continued supplementation, which further delays lactogenesis.

As babies get accustomed to supplementation, they may not take to the breast as easily and mothers may feel discouraged by breastfeeding. In the best of circumstances breastfeeding a newborn takes a lot of effort so it’s even more likely for new moms to give up if their babies aren’t interested in breastfeeding and their milk is not available. Constant feedings or pumping regularly while dealing with exhaustion is a tough choice to make and many moms cease breastfeeding altogether.

In fact, another study showed that the greater a mom’s BMI, the less likely she is to initiate breastfeeding and become dedicated to breastfeeding, plus she’s more likely to halt breastfeeding before meeting standard recommendations or her own goals.

All of this research highlights the need for support and intervention for moms who have health issues that may impede their success. This assistance is necessary from OBGYNs and their staff, nurses and on-staff lactation consultants at hospitals, and caregivers at home. For moms who know they are likely to face delayed lactogenesis due to being obese prior to pregnancy or who gained excessive weight during pregnancy, setting up a consultation with a lactation consultant can offer strategies and encouragement for breastfeeding success.

Sources: She Knows, Cancer.org, Breastfeeding Problems and NCBI

Why Mastitis is More Common in the Winter

If you’ve ever had mastitis or heard of the horrible pain it causes, you wouldn’t want to get it in any season. But mastitis is more common in the winter and cold weather in general so keeping it at bay this time of year is more important than ever. Today we’re exploring why mastitis is more common in winter and how to try to avoid it.

Mastitis is an infection in the breasts that affects at least one in 10 lactating moms in the U.S. It occurs when milk is clogged in a milk duct and the area becomes inflamed. This usually happens when a baby is not latched or suckling milk properly, a mother is not breastfeeding or pumping often enough, or if a mom has an oversupply of breast milk. It is marked by flu-like symptoms, fever, hot spots, redness on the breasts and severe sharp pain.

Why Mastitis is More Common in the WinterMastitis can also occur during breastfeeding or not when bacteria enter the breast through cracked nipples. For nursing moms, cracked nipples are especially common in the early stage of breastfeeding when both mom and baby are learning the ropes.

Like the rest of your skin, cracking of the nipples is more likely in colder weather when the air is dry. Moisture helps hydrate skin and keeps it supple and smooth. Without it, skin and nipples are susceptible to cracking, chaffing and other irritation, which can lead to mastitis.

The risk of mastitis is also more common in the winter because vessels in the breasts constrict causing vasospasms. This may make the passage of milk harder, especially the valuable fattier hind milk, but can also lead to cracked nipples that can invite bacteria.

Winter clothes may exacerbate the problem because women tend to bundle up in the wintertime. Layers upon layers of restrictive clothing may hamper the free flow of milk and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

To try to avoid mastitis in the winter, try to keep your breasts warm and comfortable without being constricted under heavy layers. A nursing tank top or a stretchy, breathable nursing bra is the best first layer. Wear nursing pads to absorb any extra moisture and keep it away from your breasts. Then add loose fitting clothing on top and take off coats once you come indoors. At home wear nursing sleep bras or leisure bras to protect your nipples while also enjoying gentle support.

If you feel a clogged milk duct, take care of it right away by using a warm compress and massaging the area. You can even submerge in a warm bath but do not let your nipples air dry in cold weather because exposure may lead to cracking.

Sources: WebMD and Romper

Five Habits to Continue from Pregnancy to Motherhood

Five Habits to Continue from Pregnancy to MotherhoodAs the life-source of your unborn child, your body becomes a sacred vessel during pregnancy. What you put in your body and on your body, your health habits and outside exposures are constant concerns as a mom-to-be because you want only the best care for your little one in the womb. Many of these recommended health practices during pregnancy are excellent to carry over into motherhood. Today we’re sharing five habits to continue from pregnancy to motherhood.

Eating a Healthy Diet

Clean, green and natural are usually among the top priorities in an expectant mom’s diet and it’s great for motherhood too. Your baby may no longer get wholesome nutrients delivered through the umbilical cord but she’s getting it from your breast milk. Plus, a mom who eats healthier and has more energy is going to better meet her baby’s needs. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts and flax are great, as well as green leafy vegetables, fruits chock full of antioxidants, lean proteins and whole grains.

Oh, and remember those small meals you were eating during pregnancy because they kept you from vomiting and reduced your acid reflux? That’s a good idea to continue now too to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and requires extra calories so keep your nutritious meals coming throughout the day.

Taking Prenatal Vitamins

Along with a healthy diet you’ll want to continue taking your prenatal vitamins. They’re good for you, of course, but they are also stupendous for your baby who’s getting that folic acid, vitamin D, calcium and many other fantastic nutrients in your breast milk. Although your hair may lose the prenatal fullness you enjoyed during pregnancy (thanks a lot, hormones!), prenatal vitamins can keep your remaining strands lustrous and your nails strong.

Eliminating Vices

Among other things, smoking, spending hours in the sun, and drinking a few cocktails at a time were probably vices you eliminated during pregnancy. You may want to keep them at bay because they just aren’t good for your health. After breastfeeding, moderate consumption of alcohol may have its benefits but otherwise, leave the unhealthy vices to your past.

Exercising

If you followed your OBGYN’s advice and exercised during pregnancy, you probably reaped some terrific benefits like more energy, the release of feel-good hormones and keeping your weight in check. Guess what? All those benefits exist in motherhood too. And now you can incorporate your baby into exercise as well with mommy-and-me yoga, walks in the park and frequent dance parties.

Relaxing

The exhaustion you may have felt during pregnancy is probably only rivaled by the exhaustion you feel as a new mom. When you were expecting you probably made yourself rest and relax because it’s what your body really needed. Now, even with your little one around, you still need some down time. Sleeping as much as possible, seeking help with chores that others can do, and just chilling with your baby are productive ways to recuperate your energy after nine months of pregnancy and many more months with an infant.

When you’re not sure how to take care of yourself in motherhood, think back to the way you treated yourself during pregnancy and continue these healthy habits.

Sensitive Winter Skin During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Sensitive Winter Skin During Pregnancy and BreastfeedingNow that you’re pregnant or breastfeeding you may wonder what happened to the radiant, blemish-free skin you worked so hard to achieve after your teenage years. With all that talk about pregnancy and new-mom glows that didn’t seem to land on your doorstep, you may start dreading your sensitive winter skin during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Yes, hormones can do crazy things to your body, especially your skin in winter months. The combination of extra hormones and the dry air may lead to itchy, bumpy, red, splotchy skin.

Here are some tips for managing sensitive winter skin during pregnancy and breastfeeding:

Dry Skin

The biggest winter skin woe during pregnancy and breastfeeding is dryness. When the air lacks moisture, so does your skin. Head off the problem by using a natural moisturizer on your face and body at least twice daily.

Also, use a humidifier in your room at night and drink plenty of water throughout the day. When you need extra moisture and relaxation, enjoy a lukewarm bath with a pure natural oil or oatmeal. (Hot baths are not recommended during pregnancy. Besides, hot water strips the skin of moisture anyways!)

Sensitive Winter Skin During Pregnancy and BreastfeedingItchiness

During pregnancy be sure to coat your belly with a thick balm. When your skin stretches to accommodate your growing bump, it can be extra itchy, especially in winter months. Your breasts may itch more too due to dryness and the metamorphosis they are making to nourish your baby. When you are breastfeeding, use 100% pure lanolin to take care of itchy skin issues as well as cracked or sore nipples.

Blemishes

Some moms become extra oily in the winter months thanks to pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones. If that’s the case for you, be careful of products with contain chemicals that may not be safe for your baby. Most experts recommend avoiding Vitamin A derivatives such as retinol. Instead, try glycolic acid.

Discoloration

The mask of pregnancy is a common darkening of facial skin for expectant moms. While you may not be able to control some discoloration, do be careful of sun exposure. Even the weaker winter sun can make splotchiness during pregnancy worse.

While pregnant and breastfeeding, use a mineral-based sunscreen. Chemical-based sunscreens may enter your bloodstream and affect your baby. You can also use a tinted moisturizer to hide splotchy areas but never use a skin lightener.

Sources: Fit Pregnancy, The Bump and Parents

Overactive Letdown

Breastfeeding is a delicate balance – on the one hand you want to ensure your milk supply meets your baby’s needs and she’s able to suckle properly for adequate nourishment. On the other hand, sometimes overactive letdown and oversupply can become an issue that hinders your breastfeeding experience and causes some uncomfortable side effects for your baby.

Overactive letdown, also known as forceful letdown, occurs when your milk is forcefully ejected in great quantity early in a feeding to the point that your baby is overwhelmed by it. Your baby may immediately unlatch or clamp down on your breast to slow the flow of milk. She may also start to choke, gag, spit up, or swallow air that leads to gas and fussiness. In some cases babies refuse to nurse out of fear of the overactive letdown.

Overactive LetdownFor those moms who experience it, overactive letdown usually begins between three and six weeks once your mature milk is in and your milk supply is strong – in this case perhaps too strong. All the wonderful efforts you have made to increase your milk supply may lead to an oversupply, one of the most common causes of overactive letdown. Usually the issue naturally resolves by around three months because your body learns to adjust to your baby’s needs and your milk supply stabilizes.

In the mean time, there are several methods to control an overactive letdown and how it affects your baby. Most experts first recommend trying to position your baby to use gravity to her benefit. This means your baby will be more upright than sideways the fast flow of milk will more easily drain down her throat.

You can also try nursing your baby more frequently to avoid a larger build-up of milk in your breasts between feedings. If that doesn’t work, you can let your baby nurse until the letdown occurs, then remove her from the breast for a few minutes to allow the forceful ejection to occur (into a towel or cup) and then resume feeding. Or you can pump through the letdown and then begin feeding your baby. Another tactic is nursing when your baby is drowsy so she won’t suck as hard and hopefully the letdown will come slower and smoother.

If overactive letdown is still an issue, you may need to address the root cause, your oversupply of breast milk. It’s important to first note that trying to decrease an oversupply of milk should not be attempted in the first month of breastfeeding as it may backfire and lead to low milk supply.

Pumping may seem like the obvious solution to oversupply but pumping may actually increase your milk supply. Experts suggest two methods. The first is simply switching sides frequently during a feeding. However, one issue with this method (which also may be true of the entire issue of overactive letdown): your baby is primarily getting foremilk and not the valuable fatty hind milk.

The other method is block feeding. In this scenario moms will feed from only one breast for a period of time and then switch to the other breast for the next block of time. This allows one breast to drain fully and letdowns are not as forceful. Of course the other breast may then be rather full so you can pump it until you are comfortable, trying to pump less and less day-by-day. Cold compresses between feedings may also restrict milk supply but be careful not to cause plugged ducts and engorgement.

The delicate balance of your milk supply can be challenging to say the least. Overactive letdown is a temporary issue, though. With the right combination of solutions and handling the problem in stride, you and your baby will find this balance.

Sources: Kelly Mom, La Leche League and Mama Natural

Why Men Should Care about Breastfeeding

Why Men Should Care about BreastfeedingBreastfeeding may occur between a mom and a baby, but its relevance and benefit in our society goes well beyond the two participants. Men may not partake in breastfeeding first hand, but men should care about breastfeeding a great deal because it affects their lives almost as much as moms and babies.

Breastfeeding is far more than a two-person sport. It’s a natural and life-changing form or nourishment that every woman has the right to offer her baby. Everyone – regardless of gender or being a parent – should respect and uphold that right not only because it’s as normal as eating a sandwich or slurping down a smoothie, but also because breastfeeding benefits everyone in the community.

It may seem that men are distant from breastfeeding. Perhaps at one point that was true, although it should never have been the case. Now, we know more and we know better. Men should care about breastfeeding because it’s good for their babies, their wives, their families, their sisters, their daughters, their co-workers, their employees, and the list could go on. Breastfeeding touches every aspect of the community from healthcare to economics. These are people issues, not just concerns for mothers with babies.

In the beautiful cycle of health and wellbeing, breastfeeding makes babies healthier, stronger, smarter and more accomplished, according to many studies. Babies who are not sick very often take less of a toll on the healthcare system and healthcare expenses for their families, and in general, are lower. Mothers and fathers of babies who are healthier are healthier themselves and miss less work and can be more productive in society because of it.

Babies who grow up to be better behaved, smarter and more accomplished are dynamic and helpful members of communities. They achieve more and contribute in positive ways. Ultimately this creates a more financially stable, creative, collaborative and accepting environment for everyone.

In most states women have the right to breastfeed anywhere at any time, despite the countless stories about women being asked to leave public places for breastfeeding openly. Why Men Should Care about BreastfeedingThis lack of understanding of the rights of women to breastfeed and the ignorance about how breastfeeding benefits everyone sets breastfeeding back each time it occurs.

Breastfeeding support can come from anywhere. Certainly it should come from medical experts who know the recommendations and research behind the incredible health benefits of breastfeeding for moms and babies. And it should come from any father, family member or friend who wants the best for the new baby in their lives.

But beyond being a direct relative of a baby, men should care about breastfeeding to support a healthier and more productive community, to support the rights of women and children, and to uphold the moral value that a baby who needs to eat – a basic need – should be allowed to do so anywhere at any time.

Breastfeeding is a human cause. It saves lives, it changes lives and it uplifts lives. That means men, women, children, employers, government officials, friends, family, and everyone in society should support this vital health movement.

Sources: The Good Men Project and US Breastfeeding Committee

Does Eating Too Much Sugar Affect Breast Milk?

Does Eating Too Much Sugar Affect Breast Milk?It’s Halloween and the official start to the sugar season. Between all the candy that will be floating around your house today through Valentine’s Day, you’re bound to indulge a time or two. But does eating too much sugar affect breast milk? Let’s find out…

The short answer is that a mother’s diet – even if it contains too much sugar – does not stop breast milk from being the most perfect food for her baby. In fact, even mal-nourished mothers who lack enough protein, fats and calories in their diet can still produce stellar breast milk.

Although trace amounts of what you consume enters your breast milk, it really remains relatively unaltered except for one area. Your breast milk contains a certain amount of fat, about 3-5% depending on how long you’ve been breastfeeding and where you are in your feeding. (More fat enters breast milk later in feedings.) This percentage doesn’t change, however the type of fat in your breast milk can change. Mothers who eat diets high in saturated fats pass that along to their babies. Those who eat more essentially fatty acids, give their babies an advantage.

With that said, breastfeeding experts universally recommend that nursing moms eat a well-balanced wholesome diet. That’s because, while the baby will get exactly what she needs through breast milk, if mom isn’t strong and healthy, she will suffer and ultimately the baby will as well.

It takes a LOT of energy to produce breast milk, breastfeed your baby and take care of your baby’s every need. You may be doing all of this alone and through extreme exhaustion. The last thing you need is to lack proper nutrition to sustain your busy life as a new mom. In fact, you should consume up to 500 more calories a day while breastfeeding in order to get the job done.

Getting to eat a bit more is exciting, especially if you’re experiencing the famish that breastfeeding can cause. But try not to use the extra calories on empty foods that add no nutritional value. Rather, use it as an opportunity to eat more wholesome foods that will make you feel great. Yes, even during the sugar season!

Sources: KellyMom, La Leche League and Livestrong

Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer: FAQ

Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer: FAQBreast Cancer Awareness Month brings extra pause to mothers who are pregnant and breastfeeding. As you share your body to nurture your baby, it’s hard not to think about the impact that breast cancer, or any other type of cancer, may have on you or your little one. Today we’re sharing FAQ about breastfeeding and breast cancer:

Does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

Yes! Studies show that breastfeeding does indeed lower a mother’s risk of breast cancer for the rest of her life. Breastfeeding for any amount of time reduces risk of breast cancer but breastfeeding for more than two years (lifetime total) more than doubled the risk reduction of breast cancer. Breastfeeding may be especially helpful at reducing risk of estrogen receptor negative, including triple negative, breast cancers.

How does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

No one knows for sure why breastfeeding reduces risk of breast cancer. Some experts believe it is because mothers who are pregnant and then breastfeed have less menstrual cycles in their lifetime and are therefore exposed to less estrogen, a hormone that contributes to breast cancer. Breastfeeding also changes breast cells and tissue which may make them less receptive to the spread of cancer. Additionally, women who breastfeed tend to make better lifestyle choices for the health of their own bodies and their babies, such as not smoking, not drinking excessive alcohol and eating a healthier diet.

Can you Breastfeed if You Have Breast Cancer?

You cannot transfer breast cancer through breast milk therefore it is completely fine to breastfeed if you have breast cancer. The taste of your breast milk and milk supply may change due to alterations in the breast tissue. That does not necessarily mean your baby will reject the breast, however.

Can you Breastfeed if You are Being Tested for Breast Cancer?

In most cases diagnostic tests for breast cancer, including a mammogram, MRI, X-ray, CAT scan, PET scan or CT scan, do not affect the safety or quantity of breast milk. Even local and general anesthesia is acceptable during breastfeeding. A biopsy may interfere with milk ducts or nerves that are essential to breastfeeding, but the procedure is not categorically unsafe during breastfeeding. Unless instructed by your physician, there is no need to wean for diagnostic testing. If weaning is recommended but you are not ready to stop breastfeeding, discuss other options with your doctor.

Can you Breastfeed if you are Being Treated for Breast Cancer?

Often treatment for breast cancer is not compatible with safe breastfeeding. This includes chemotherapy and radioactive isotopes.

Does Breastfeeding Reduce Risk of Other Types of Cancer?

Yes! Studies show that breastfeeding for at least the recommended six months reduces risk of both ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer (uterine cancer).

Sources: La Leche League, Mayo Clinic, Reuters, Fit Pregnancy and Susan G. Komen

 

 

Breastfeeding Success Story: Kay from Lorain County WIC

Breastfeeding Success Story: Kay from Lorain County WIC“I was 16 years old when I had my first baby and breastfed her until I returned to school.  Now that I am 20 years old I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I was going to breastfeed my son!

The WIC Breastfeeding Peer Helper Jessica has been a great support to me when I come to my WIC appointments.  I find that breastfeeding is easier to do, healthier for both myself and my baby, and I would definitely support another mom in her efforts to breastfeed.

The bra I received during Breastfeeding Awareness Month from Leading Lady through the WIC Program was a great surprise and very much appreciated!”

Kay from Lorain County WIC

Breastfeeding Success Story: Lindsey from Metro Nashville South Nutrition Center WIC

Breastfeeding Success Story: Lindsey from Metro Nashville South Nutrition Center WIC“The following is a story about our WIC client, Lindsey, who persevered through some very tough life obstacles and is determined to exclusively breastfeed. She was raised in an orphanage and had no exposure to a breastfeeding environment.

 

Lindsey’s first breastfeeding experience was painful and she had no support. The father of the child consistently encouraged her to stop trying to breastfeed and just give the baby a bottle. Lindsey refused. The more he suggested using a bottle the more determined she was to perfect the latch so it would not be painful. Finally, mom and baby got it right and she breastfed the first child for eleven months.

 

The next child was born five days ago. The father of this child abandoned them one week prior to delivery. Again, she was in the same situation as before, left to give birth alone. She googled and joined a birth support group on Facebook. The group referred her to a group of local labor doulas. A labor doula was her support for the birth of the second child.

 

Currently she is breastfeeding like a champ! No sore nipples, perfect latch, and the enjoyment of bonding time. The mom says her and baby lay around all day in their under wear breastfeeding and watching Netflix.”

 

Lindsey from Metro Nashville South Nutrition Center WIC