Tag Archives: Lactation Consultant

Breastfeeding on the beach.

Breastfeeding on the beach.

Summer is here and with it, the nice warm weather and you want to be outside enjoying it!  Here are some tips for staying cool while breastfeeding in the summer heat.

  • Choose your location: Find a nice shaded area under a tree, awning or umbrella.  Areas in the shade are much cooler than sitting in the hot sun.  If the shade is still too hot, you may want to find a nearby location with air conditioning where you and baby can cool off while nursing.  You can always go and buy yourself a cool drink and sit in a café or restaurant to stay cool while you nurse.  In Canada and most of the United States you are protected by law and can breastfeed in any location you are (legally) allowed to be; so if you are in a comfortable place to nurse- go for it!
  • Create your own breeze: You can make your own folded fan or purchase one to provide you and baby with a breeze.  Many dollar stores have little paper fans available as well as battery operated fans which provide a small breeze without so much arm movement.
  • Avoid the HOT afternoon sun: If possible avoid the hottest part of the day between 1-4pm.  This may be a good time for you and baby to nap indoors.
  • Sweaty skin to skin: Skin to skin is great for Mom and Baby, but in the heat it may become uncomfortable for both of you.  Placing a thin layer between you and baby may make you both more comfortable: a thin cotton or even dry fit material.  This may help keep you cooler, or at least less sticky-sweaty.
  • Avoid the cover: Wearing a nursing cover can be hot for Mom and Baby indoors, outside in the heat it may be intolerable!  You can use different clothing options if you are concerned about what is showing while nursing or choose a thin nursing cover made of breathable material.  If you have a muslin cotton blanket these can be great as a cover, and the moving air can flows right through it.
  • WATER!: It is important for a nursing Mother to stay hydrated especially in the heat, so don’t forget to bring drinks for you. A breastfeeding baby does not need any additional water.  Breastmilk is over 85% water and keeps baby hydrated while providing all of their essential nutrients.  Water will fill their tummy up without providing nutrition.  Your breastmilk is all they need.

By: Katie Wickham BScN RN, IBCLC

Babies First Lactation and Education




Watch the Baby

How long to feed baby picture.

How long to feed baby picture.

Something I see new Moms and Dads struggle with is how long a baby needs to feed at the breast to be full, satisfied and thrive.  I have heard all different numbers from my clients: 10 minutes each side, 20 minutes each side, 30 minutes one side.  None of these times are correct for all babies; no one time fits all.  Just like adults, each baby needs a different amount of time to eat.  When I sit down to eat with friends and family, we all finish at different times; babies are the same.  Timing feeds is misleading: it rarely provides an accurate measure of how much baby is taking in.  If we were to take two three-day old babies and measure how much they had eaten during a 15-minute breast feed, one could take in 5ml and the other could take in 35ml; if we cut off the first baby at 15 minutes, he could be underfed.  Timing also takes the focus of your baby and learning to watch/listen to them and places it on numbers which can lead to more stress.

One of the most common reasons I am called in for in-home consultations is high weight loss in the first few weeks and/or a baby having trouble gaining weight by breastfeeding.  I have seen Moms use the knowledge they were able to retain from their whirlwind visit to their Hospital for delivery, and stop a baby mid-feed at the 10- or 15-minute mark to burp the baby and switch sides.  I have even seen a Mother set a 10-minute timer so she would remember to switch sides.  Following the clock can lead you to cut your baby’s feed short.  You may be stopping them when they were just getting in to a good suck-and-swallow pattern, or you may even be limiting their ability to take in the fatty rich milk.

Watching your baby for signs of satisfaction is a much more accurate way to gauge your baby’s satiety.  Watch that baby has had a good, sustained suck-and-swallow pattern, and is not sleeping on the breast.  Watch baby for a relaxed arm; a newborn’s arm will start a feed flexed tightly with a clenched fist, a “chicken wing”.  Over the course of a good feed, your baby will slow down their sucking/swallowing pattern, relax their arm and fist, and may even fall off the breast with a relaxed open mouth; this tells you Baby is full and happy.  Once your baby gets in to this more relaxed state on the breast you can help them by performing breast compressions- ‘squeeze your breast-hold your hand their- then release the squeeze’ repeat a couple of these in a row.  Watch to see if your baby increases the sucking and swallowing.  If not you can sit your baby up and burp baby, mostly to wake so you can offer the other breast.  Offering both breasts in the beginning allows baby to take in more milk, practice breastfeeding more, and give your milk supply extra stimulation.  Your baby may not want the second breast at each feed, just like we don’t always want dessert with each meal.  Once your milk transitions, you also should feel relief in your breast from the start of a feed to the end.

Sometimes in the early days babies can be sleepy at the breast you can help them to stay actively feeding by using breast compressions and switching breasts- even going to each breast twice in a feeding to help them stay more awake and take in more milk.  If they are sucking and swallowing no need to switch breasts until they slow down/stop.

Watch that sweet baby; they can tell you a lot!

Katie Wickham RN BScN, IBCLC




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!

Katie Wickham BScN RN, IBCLC

Babies First Lactation and Education