Babies who Bite – What to do when baby is teething?

I have noticed over the last several years that breastfeeding problems seem to come in waves. I might have one month when most of the issues are sore nipples and latch problems. Other months I might see more babies with slow weight gain. More recently, I have had several mothers complain about teething and biting babies.

During pregnancy, when a woman is asked about breastfeeding often the answer I hear is “I will breastfeed until the baby gets teeth”. Well, babies do still have to eat even when teeth start coming in. Once you are aware of what to look for with your teething baby, the whole idea doesn’t seem quite as dangerous.

One of the difficult ideas behind teething is that you don’t really know when it will start, and it is different for every baby. Have 5 babies? Experience teething in 5 different ways. It’s hard to get around that. Babies can also show signs of teething for months before you actually see that little tooth come through. As uncomfortable as this may be for you and breastfeeding, it is probably worse for your little one. In addition, nursing may bring your baby comfort if teething is uncomfortable, or help him back to sleep if he wakes during the night with teething pain.

Not every baby will bite when breastfeeding. Some may bite once, and the shriek of pain that comes from their mom may be enough to put a stop to it. The one thing to remember is that if baby is biting, she is not feeding. Let me repeat that – if baby is biting, she is not feeding. For a baby to feed effectively, her tongue must be over the gum line (and the teeth) and that is not possible when nursing.   I have found that by the time a baby gets to the stage where they are teething, most mothers are comfortable enough that they are not watching their baby as closely as they did when they were newborns. You may need to limit all the other distractions and go back to looking at only your baby. Once the nursing slows down, take baby off before he can start biting.

Check out this article for more ideas for babies who might be challenged with feeding and teething. It gives more great suggestions for getting through this developmental period comfortably…not only for your baby but for mothers as well.

http://kellymom.com/ages/older-infant/biting/

Babies and Schedules? What’s the deal?

I saw this great family today. Baby is 4 days old; he is baby number 2 for this mama. The baby was feeding well, milk was coming in, and mom felt good. While we talked, her older son (3 and a half) was bouncing around and chatting away with mom and dad. He didn’t pay too much attention to his little brother, and mom seemed pretty comfortable so far navigating the new waters of having 2 little boys. After I observed the baby feeding and we discussed a few other breastfeeding concerns she had, mom pointed to her first son and announced “I won’t make the mistake of trying to get this baby on a schedule like I did with him”. Dad nodded his head in agreement. I was surprised to hear her say this – I usually hear new mothers proclaiming their dedication to obtaining some sort of schedule.   “This time” she said, “I will just go with the flow”.

Such wise words.

In the many years that I have been working with families, schedules are an important piece of the postpartum puzzle for many new parents. This is really difficult, and I try and coax mothers to keep an open mind about developing a schedule with a baby at a young age. Schedules flaunt structure and routine during a time when so many changes are happening. Parents are looking for something to set in place so they can feel like they are balancing everything. However, no one ever bothers to tell the baby that this so-called schedule is being implemented. Babies have their own ideas, and it is usually y not anything like what your schedule says. Babies are very unpredictable. They eat at different times each day, sleep can be erratic and spontaneous and it is nearly impossible to foretell their temperament. For some new mothers, this is a scary concept. Structure is a way of life for many people (not me, of course. I fly by the seat of my pants) and the thought of going through the day not knowing what will happen is downright scary. Because babies are their own little person, their needs are specific. Just like ours. We aren’t hungry at the same time each day, we don’t sleep the same each day – neither will your baby. The only difference is that we can discuss this with everyone around us, and your baby can’t. The more you push your baby to get into a routine that works for you, the harder things may seem.

Take this time to get to know your baby. After the first few months, babies may be easier to guide into a routine that is more predictable. I have discovered through my experiences that the more relaxed and “go with the flow” things are in the beginning, the easier everyone adapts. This time goes quickly, enjoy it.

Breastfeeding Supplies – What Is Necessary?

I am often asked what supplies are necessary for breastfeeding.  Usually this comes from my pregnant mothers who are trying to plan what they may need for the baby BEFORE the baby comes.  That may seem like an easy enough question, right?  Isn’t there some kind of list that I can just hand out?  Not so simple.  To be honest, not much is needed to breastfeed.   Having a baby is a huge money business and society is prepared to have you spend a ton of money on things you don’t necessarily need.  Have you been in any store recently that sells baby items?  So. Many. Choices.  Truth be told, you don’t need much of anything at all.

All mothers are different and have different needs and personalities.  I have met some mothers who are content with waiting for the baby to arrive before they decide on a pump or any other supplies.  I have also seen mothers show up at the hospital ready to have the baby, and they are toting a pump, creams, nipple shields and a breastfeeding pillow.  Neither way is the wrong way; just do what is right for you.  My point is I don’t want any new or expecting mother to think that they have to have these things.

In a world where you can order something online on a Monday and it will be at your door by Tuesday or Wednesday, I am a proponent of waiting until you need something before you invest time and money.   However, if you really want to have a stash of stuff, I found this great list to get you started.  One of the things I really like about this list is that it specifies when things are NOT NECESSARY.  Nipple cream or a breastfeeding pillow – nice to have but not necessary.  Good support system and the phone number of a local lactation consultant – absolutely necessary.   So check it out and see what you think.  Can you think of anything you would add to this list?  Is there one thing that you felt like you couldn’t live without during your breastfeeding journey?  Share it with us.

http://www.lamaze.org/blog/breastfeeding-supplies—-what-do-i-really-need

Babies and Your Relationship – What (if anything) Will Change?

Having a baby can be a truly magical experience.  From pregnancy all the way through to when you hold that little baby for the first time, families feel excitement and euphoria.   Not just the parents…extended family and friends all join in on the enthusiasm.   After the baby is born, things may feel different.  This can be unexpected.  Hormonal changes can make a new mother feel depressed or helpless, causing anxiety and questioning her ability to take care of her new baby.  Partners may feel confused, unsure of what is happening, only aware that things have changed.

It is important to remember that relationships change when you add a baby to the mix.  When I say this, I do not mean that relationships have to change for the worse.  It’s just different.  A new mother might view the relationship with her own mother as changed – she may now see her mother as more of an equal.  They now have a common bond that was not there before.  Relationships with providers may feel different, more trusting and intimate.  Her relationship with her partner might feel different as well; this is no longer just a lover or best friend, they are now co parents.

It is hard to imagine what it feels like to be a parent before you actually become one.  It is even harder to know how your partner will react to this new role until it happens.  Because of this, it can be hard to prepare.  Some new families find that connecting with each other, understanding each other and nurturing one another is not as easy as it was before the baby was born.  How do you keep it going?  Some couples worry about what their sex life will be like after baby.  My concern has always been more about the relationship itself.  It is so important to find the time to connect in other ways, and these little things can get lost when you are figuring out life with a newborn.

We talk about this a lot in our Parenting Village circle group called Out of the Blue.  Admitting that your needs are different, talking openly about concerns and having empathy for your partner can go a long way.  Check out the link below for some great ideas on how to cultivate your relationship and make the adjustment a little easier on both of you.

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/keeping-your-relationship-on-track-during-postpartum-depression

When Breastfeeding Makes You Feel Sad…Could It Be D-MER?

When breastfeeding works well, it’s an amazing thing.   Of course, like anything else, it doesn’t always go well.  This is one of the reasons why I am still working, and not unemployed.  I have seen various things happen with breastfeeding…latch issues, pain, weight gain problems…the list goes on.  Sometimes, I have a mother and baby who are doing ok, or so it seems.  The latch is fine.  The baby is gaining great.  No pain.  The new mother doesn’t feel ok.  Breastfeeding is fine, but she doesn’t feel fine breastfeeding.  How can this be?  Everyone talks about what a beautiful experience it is, how special the bonding is, how sweet and nurturing breastfeeding is for both mom and baby.  She feels none of this.  Instead, mom feels awful; upset or sad, anxious, maybe nervous.  Sometimes she might feel as if there is a hole in the pit of her stomach – just empty…hollow.  After the baby has been feeding for a few minutes, things are ok, but those first few minutes are enough to make her give a bottle.

This is Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER.

It’s awful.  One of the worst things about D-MER is that not many people are aware that it happens.  They mistake this for depression or just another postpartum issue and don’t look for help.  Some don’t even realize that it’s related to breastfeeding.  So what is D-MER?  It is a hormonal issue, not a psychological issue.  It is not post partum depression or baby blues. Researchers believe that it is due to an exaggerated decrease in dopamine as the milk lets down.  Once the milk lets down and baby is feeding, the feelings of sadness pass.

There are ways to cope with D-MER, weaning your baby is not the only answer.  If you feel like this is something you are experiencing, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant.  Educate yourself about it, just in case you need to pass that education on to others.

Here is some great information about D-MER, what it is, how to manage it, and how to talk to others about it: http://d-mer.org/Home_Page.html.

Breastfeeding and…Telomeres?

Breastmilk is really amazing.  You may think I am bit biased, because of course, I am a Lactation Consultant.  Certainly I think breastmilk is amazing.  However, I learn new things all the time that breastmilk is capable of.  It’s not only that I am learning new things, science is continually learning new things that breastmilk can do for the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies.

Most recently, I was reading that scientists now suspect that breastmilk is responsible for lengthening telomeres.  I had no idea what a telomere is, so I did a little research of my own.  I will try not to get overly scientific here, but I will break it down.  This is some good stuff.

First – what is a telomere?  A telomere is the name given to the protective cap at the end of the DNA strands in the body.  DNA makes up our cells.  Our cells duplicate throughout our lifetime, and as the cells duplicate, the telomere at the end becomes shorter and shorter.  When the telomere becomes too short, the cells die.  Basically, longer telomere = longer cell life.  Telomeres will shorten naturally, but lifestyle can increase the chances of them shortening faster.  Things like smoking, obesity, stress…all that stuff we know causes negative reactions in our bodies anyway.  Now new research is showing that breastfeeding can actually lengthen the life of telomeres, which means a longer cell life as well.

One question is whether it is actually the breastmilk, or the behaviors that breastmilk encourages that makes the difference.  For example, researchers are suggesting that the positive attachment, which accompanies breastfeeding, reduces stress, and therefore protects telomeres.

This is fairly new research, and more research is sure to be done on this, but it’s a pretty positive outcome so far.

Read more about this cool stuff here.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/breast-fed-babies-may-have-longer-telomeres-tied-to-longevity/?_r=0

https://www.tasciences.com/what-is-a-telomere/

Self-Care in Motherhood

Ah…motherhood.  The excitement of pregnancy and the anticipation of that little one entering your life.  These feelings of enthusiasm can be quickly replaced by exhaustion and anxiety.   It can take a while before you are feeling in control again.  How can you keep up?  The idea of self- care can feel light years away.

Whether you are someone who managed to build self-care into your regime before the baby was born, or someone who is now struggling to maintain sanity in the face of sleep deprivation, self – care can be life saving.   It doesn’t matter what your idea of this looks like.  Maybe a few minutes to take a walk by yourself, or a hot bath.  Maybe it’s an evening out with friends…without the baby.  Whatever it is, recognize that this is a very needed, therapeutic piece of parenthood.

My kids have all crossed over into the world of teenagers in the last few months.  Thinking back on their early years, self- care was not something I did much of.  I was going through a divorce when my kids were toddlers, and it was difficult trying to find time for myself.  Now that it is much easier to actually find that time, I feel those familiar pangs of guilt setting in.

“…there’s laundry to be done…and here you are at the gym…”

“…getting your toes done?  You should be vacuuming something…”

My mind taunts me.  Needless to say, my inner self almost always wins.   I can always find an excuse to NOT do something for myself.  I am the perfect example of “do as I say and not as I do”.

Now that I have been working in maternal child health as a lactation consultant for several years, I have seen the importance of taking time out for you.  I have heard countless therapists discuss the importance of self-care.  I have learned first hand that if you are able to work this in from the start; it becomes easier to continue as time goes on.  Since this can be difficult to do, I am including some tips to get you started.  These are very easy things you can do to make time for yourself.  You’ll be glad you did.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-s-white/6-things-moms-should-do-for-themselves-as-often-as-possible_b_11363962.html