Don’t Bite the Boob that Feeds You!

baby teeth

Don’t Bite the Boob that Feeds You!

“My son bit me last night; I guess it’s time to wean.”

“I see teeth coming; you can’t keep breastfeeding can you?”

In most cases, Moms will see Baby’s new teeth but won’t feel them; somehow Baby knows Mom is not food to be chewed.  But then sometimes baby gets distracted, or is struggling with teething pain, or trying to be playful, or thought your reaction from the first bite was hilarious; so Baby tries again.  There is nothing funny about teeth marks on your breast!

Here are 5 steps to help prevent or stop Baby bites.

Step 1: Before a feed offer your little one your knuckle; see Baby wants to chew for teething comfort, or suck for nourishment/soothing.  If chewing, offer a cold cloth, teething toy, etc., or give pain relief of your choice if you think they need it.  Then try to Breastfeed in a little while after Baby is soothed.

Step 2: If baby is distracted or uninterested in nursing, this can lead to biting.  If distracted, try to find an environment where baby will stay focused on feeding.  If baby is uninterested in nursing, do not force baby to nurse; allow Baby some time to play and then try to offer again.

Step 3: As babies age their latch can get relaxed.  Ensure you are helping Baby to latch deeply during this biting phase: when a baby is latched deeply to the breast and actively feeding, they physically cannot bite because of the position of their jaw and tongue.  Go back to your newborn latching technique to help baby get on deeply.

Step 4: Most biting happens at the end of a feed when Baby is full and playful.  When you start seeing signs of playfulness, end the feed, early if necessary, and distract with a song or toy so Baby isn’t upset.

Step 5: If Baby bites, remove Baby immediately from the breast and place Baby on the floor as calmly as possible and say something like “Ouch that hurts mommy, biting means no milkies”, or something along those lines.  Then you can try feeding again shortly. Baby learns very fast that biting means no milk. Try your best to stay calm; some babies find it hysterical when Mom’s yell, scream, or make faces, and try to get that reaction again, never realizing they are hurting Mommy; they just like the surprising reaction (some babies cry, some laugh).  When you are calm and repeat the same words each time (you hurt mommy, biting means no milkies), Baby probably won’t understand the words, but will make the association that biting means the boob is taken away and Baby goes on the floor.

Sometimes after new teeth emerge the latch feels uncomfortable.  Changing up your position can change the pressure those new teeth may put on the breast.  For the most part as your little one gets used to the new teeth the latch adjusts and becomes comfortable again.

Biting does not mean weaning.  Try following these tips to stop biting.

Consistency is the key.

Katie Wickham RN BScN, IBCLC

www.babiesfirstlactation.com

www.facebook.com/BabiesFirstLactationAndEducation

Image from dormenenem.com

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The Newborn’s Stomach

I see many new families in the hospital, breastfeeding clinic, and in their homes with my private practice, and I hear many common questions.  One of the recurring themes comes across in statements like “my baby can’t be getting very much” or “my baby is feeding so frequently, I must not have milk. This cannot be normal!”  There are many charts on the Internet that show an illustration of the size of a newborn’s stomach, I felt putting these illustrations into real world sizes we can see would be helpful.

Below is an illustration I have created showing the approximate size and volume of a newborn’s stomach on day one, day three, at one week, and at one month.  Newborns’ tummies are tiny, and cannot/should not take in large volumes, so they need to feed frequently.  In the first day or two, their little tummy fills with 2-20 ml during a breastfeed, and then, snuggled in close to your warm chest and familiar heartbeat, they fall asleep.  Just as you may be drifting off to sleep or decide that you too should eat something, they start to wake up and show signs of hunger; their sweet little fists fly frantically to their mouth and their lips start smacking together.  Their little tummies have started to digest that perfect amount of colostrum, and they are starting to get hungry again.  A newborn baby feeds 8-12+ times in 24 hours, which means they will be feeding about every 1-3 hours.  After the first 24 hours and for the first week or two the baby should feed the minimum of 8 times in 24 hours to ensure they stay hydrated (shown by pees and poops), assist with things like jaundice and weight loss/gain, establish Mom’s milk supply properly and get lots of practice at the art of breastfeeding.

They often cluster feeds together; this means your precious little one may breastfeed for 45 minutes then fall asleep, then wake 30 minutes later and feed for another 30 minutes, and fall asleep.  The next feed may happen 2 hours later, then 3 hours after that, then an hour later… I’m sure you get the idea; there is no set schedule.  This is the best way to establish a healthy milk supply and to allow baby to control when they eat and how much.  You can not breastfeed your baby too much, but you can breastfeed them too little.

Many families feel the need to supplement their baby; maybe they are concerned with the frequent feedings, or feeling pressured from their doctor or family.  I often hear my clients comment that they hear their well-meaning family members say “The baby is crying again, she must be hungry” or “The baby is fussing, are you sure you have milk?” or “the baby just ate an hour ago, you must not have enough if he is hungry already.”  This can create, or further feed the insecurity a new mother may already be feeling, and often leads to unnecessary supplementation.  Some families feel they need to supplement due to pressure from the Doctor, and other families are supplementing for legitimate medical reasons (these reasons should be clearly communicated to you).  When you are supplementing it is crucial that you keep in mind how small those little tummies are.  If you supplement too much this will cause baby to sleep longer and feed less frequently and any time they are supplemented away from the breast you lose the stimulation  and removal of milk needed to signal your body to make more milk; this will directly impact your milk supply.  If you are supplementing always seek guidance from an expert in feeding- a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) will help guide you through how to supplement, how to protect your supply while supplementing and how to wean the supplements when the time is right.  Every baby is different and the size of your baby can impact how much they require/can take in by supplement.  Small term/preterm babies will often have trouble taking in the same volume as an 11lb newborn baby.  Seeking support will help customize supplementing based on your unique situation.

Understanding the size of your Baby’s stomach, the average volume taken in during a breastfeed and typical newborn feeding frequency can help alleviate some anxiety a mother feels when she is trusting her body to nourish her child.  Newborns are only this tiny for a short time, those stomachs grow quickly and they get more efficient at breastfeeding which means breastfeeding sessions become less frequent and shorter.  For now enjoy those snuggles, and feel encouraged that your baby is feeding frequently and doing a fantastic job of “demanding” a healthy supply of breast milk.  The great effort you and your baby put in during the first few days establishes a solid start for a happy and healthy breastfeeding relationship.

Copyright Babies First Lactation and Education

Copyright Babies First Lactation and Education

Katie Wickham RN BScN, IBCLC

www.babiesfirstlactation.com

https://www.facebook.com/BabiesFirstLactationAndEducation

*Original image has been updated 2 times to improve clarity and quality.  This image and any others on this topic by Babies First Lactation and Education may not be altered in any way or used without permission.  For information on using this image please contact Katie at info@babiesfirstlactation.com

Breastfeeding on the Go

Breastfeeding on the Go

‘My mummy tummy is showing, can anyone see it?’  ‘Of course you pull off now to see what that noise was, I think all those parents over there saw my nipple’ ‘Here comes the waiter, is he going to ask me to leave or does he want to take my drink order?’ ‘This is great! Baby is nursing and I’m watching big sister at soccer practice!’  These may be some of the thoughts running through your head while breastfeeding in public.

I love so many things about breastfeeding; but one of my favourite things is the freedom to be on the go.  All you need is you -and your baby of course- you are good to go anywhere!  Moms should feel safe to breastfeed in public without fear of discrimination or recrimination.   Thankfully, in Canada we have a Human Rights Code that protects you as a nursing mother; you are allowed to breastfeed in public anywhere you can legally go! No one can ask you to cover up, to move somewhere more discreet, or ask you to leave.  So get out there with your baby and feel safe breastfeeding anywhere, any time.

Some Moms question how to breastfeed comfortably in public, here are my tips:

Wardrobe selection:  When looking in your closet for what to wear for the day choose something you are comfortable in.  Layering can be very helpful if you are concerned about showing your body while latching or feeding.  Wearing a nursing tank (or belly band), and a T-shirt can make latching in public easy; you lift up the shirt and still have the tank covering any post-baby tummy you want covered and the shirt can make it easy to expose as little of your breast as you choose.  Choosing an easy open nursing bra or tank will also help with a seamless latch-on.

Practice makes perfect:  Practice latching at home in a mirror, or with friends or family whom you trust to let you know what is showing.  This way you can tailor any exposure that you may be concerned about.   You are most likely to be exposed during latch-on, so if you are concerned you can turn into a wall, or use a blanket, then turn back or remove the blanket once baby is nursing comfortably.

Accessorize on the fly:  If you use a pillow while nursing at home, try using your diaper bag or a blanket to prop baby up. You can try leaning back so baby’s weight is braced on your stomach, or elevate your legs on a makeshift stool – your stroller may work well; please apply the brakes first!

All wrapped up:  Try nursing in a carrier, wrap, or sling;  It is not always easy at first but, with practice, you can perfect the art of nursing while walking.  There are a lot of videos with tips and tricks specific to your wrap or carrier available on youtube.

Relax, stay awhile:  Find a comfy spot.  Many malls, among other places, offer a “family lounge”, these can be great places to nurse comfortably.  This is not necessary though if you prefer not to; remember that you can nurse anywhere you are comfortable.

To cover or not to cover:  Using a cover is a personal preference.  Some Moms find it awkward or difficult to latch baby while covered.  Some babies hate being under the cover and refuse to eat while under it.  Some Moms will tell you it draws more attention to them verses nursing without it.  There are many different covers out there, one that I absolutely love is the Booby Trapper (http://www.boobytrapper.ca)  It allows you to fully visualize baby, the cover stays put without collapsing on baby, which can frustrate the little ones, and it comes in some lovely patterns.  It is a great Canadian company and I love them for joining me with a giveaway for my (and their) lovely fans.  (See the contest below)

Always remember: there is no right or wrong way to breastfeed in public and no one can ask you to stop.  Over time you will find you get more comfortable with nourishing your baby on the go!

How do you breastfeed in public?  What makes it easier for you?  Do you have some words of encouragement for nervous Moms-on-the-go?

I hope these tips help!

Katie Wickham RN BScN IBCLC

www.babiesfirstlactation.com

https://www.facebook.com/BabiesFirstLactationAndEducation

Enter to win a free Booby Trapper http://bit.ly/YeYJ5u

Putting Your Best Breast Forward

ImageBreastfeeding is an amazing way to nourish your child; it is important for both of you for so many reasons.  This amazing gift you can give your child should be easy, the baby should come out and take to breastfeeding perfectly and stay that way for however long you choose to breastfeed, Right?  If only that were the case for everyone!  Breastfeeding is often a huge learning curve for both Mom and Baby.  The frustrations that are common in the early weeks can be exacerbated by the normal hormone fluctuations you experience, lack of sleep, self-doubt, naysayers and plain old exhaustion.

I wish I knew some of what I am going to share with you before starting on my breastfeeding journey 5 years ago with my preterm twins.

  1. Prepare mentally for breastfeeding.  It sounds silly, but a positive attitude can make all the difference in the world.  Firstly, if you have had a previous experience with breastfeeding, analyze what was good and bad about your experience.  Let go of any remaining emotions or guilt that may still be present.  It may help to discuss your previous experience with a Lactation Consultant and see if there was anything that could have been done differently that you may want to change this time around.  Similarly, if this is your first experience, think about any concerns you have and discuss them prenatally with a Lactation Consultant.  Many Moms have it in their head that they may not be able to breastfeed because of something like a flat nipple, or someone else in their family who couldn’t  but there are many things that can be done to remedy these concerns.  Setting yourself a reasonable breastfeeding goal may also be helpful.  I am going to try really hard with support to get to 3 months, or whatever makes sense for you.  This goal can be constantly moved further as things get easier with time.  If you enjoy reading books the book “The Motherly Art of Nursing” by La Leche League is a fantastic book to read prior to deliver or after for support.  Lastly, know who your supporters are and turn to them post-partum  whether they are friends, family or a Lactation Consultant.
  2. Try to minimize interventions in labour.  This includes things like, IV fluids, early epidural use, induction, and caesarean section.  Obviously some of these cannot be avoided sometimes, and if they do happen it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to breastfeed.  The fewer interventions, the easier the breastfeeding should be.
  3. Spend lots of time skin to skin and start breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.  Your baby will be alert and ready to feed the first two hours after birth; thanks to a healthy release of hormones during labour.  Take advantage of this time and snuggle close.  Your partner can do skin to skin if you are unable to due to a caesarean section.  Initiating breastfeeding during these first 2 hours has been shown to increase breastfeeding success rates.  After these initial 2 hours your baby will get sleepy and so will you.   So hold off all those excited visitors during this time and enjoy the moment.
  4. Get help early.  If your baby and you are having trouble with latching, ask for help early!  Ask your nurse in the hospital for help, or ask to see the hospital Lactation Consultant.  Make sure you get a good latch each time to prevent damage; it can make future nursing sessions more painful even with a good latch.   Hand express a small amount of colostrum after each feed and rub it on your nipple and areola, allow it to air dry to help protect and heal nipples.  If you have damage on your nipples, you have been having a difficult time in the hospital breastfeeding, you are supplementing or you are using a nipple shield or tube at the breast; early access of community support from a lactation consultant is crucial to a successful breastfeeding journey.
  5. Start hand expressing as soon as possible after birth if any of the following is happening: your baby is very sleepy (and not feeding well), having trouble latching, or separated from you due to health concerns; this will help with your milk supply. Ask your nurse or hospital Lactation Consultant how to hand express.  If the difficulties continue or you are going to be separated for a while, start pumping with a hospital grade pump.  If you need to pump, ensure you speak with a lactation consultant for tips on how to establish your supply and properly remove milk from your breasts using a pump.  Spend as much time as possible skin to skin if your baby is having trouble latching or separated from you, this will help with your milk supply and help wake up a sleepy baby.
  6. Ask about what is normal.  If you are concerned about something, ask friends, family, or a lactation consultant what is normal.  There are many things that cause Moms worry but are totally normal.  Things like cluster feeding, fussy evenings, growth spurts, and changes in your breasts; to mention a few.  Hearing from other Moms, or an expert like a lactation consultant, can help you rest at ease or provide you with tips for how to get through these norms.
  7. Hang in there!  Get that support if you are feeling frustrated, and use those supporters you have surrounded yourself with to be your cheerleaders.  When everything is right (latch, supply, etc.) breastfeeding will just continue to get better!  Your baby becomes more efficient at feeding and you both get the hang of things… and each other.

I am always happy to answer questions or provide support!
http://www.babiesfirstlactation.com

Katie Wickham BScN RN, IBCLC

Babies First Lactation and Education