The Constantly Nursing Baby

Feeding a baby is all consuming in the beginning. Not just physically, but mentally as well. I think that comes as a real surprise to so many new families. Not only do babies eat often to grow, latching and nursing also fulfills a need to soothe, offer security and nurture. In the early days, it can be easy to forget (after all, you are running on little sleep) that feeding for your little one is not all about the food.

We are talking about the constantly nursing baby.   Have you met that baby? I have met thousands of them.   The confusing thing isn’t necessarily that they are feeding frequently; the confusing thing is all the conflicting information new mothers receive about WHY the baby is constantly feeding. There’s even a name for it – cluster feeding (if there’s a name for it, then it’s a thing, right?). Here’s the breakdown:

Cluster feeding is when the baby will nurse frequently over a period of time. Some families will notice that their baby is fussy in the evening and cluster feeding calms him down. He may nurse for a few minutes, doze off, wake 20 minutes later and want to nurse again. Or maybe it is happening in the morning, after several hours of sleep. During these frequent feedings it is really hard to remember that it is normal and expected for babies to do this, and not a supply problem or a feeding problem. You do not need to give additional bottles during this time. Sometimes it is more of the act of nursing – the comfort and security – that your baby is looking for.

Try to keep in mind that this is a temporary thing. Once your baby is a little older you won’t experience this as often as you will when they are newborn. This too shall pass.

Here is a little more info on cluster feeding.

Check out this week’s BadAss Breastfeeding Podcast for more on the constantly nursing baby!



Tis the Season – Breastfeeding when You’re Sick

It’s hard to be sick, no matter what the situation. It seems like there is always way too much to do, and recovering from illness is never on that list.  The feeling intensifies when you are a mother.  Who will take care of kids or the house?  Or you? These are questions that usually go unanswered.  Mom always seems to be it.

When I was a little girl, I remember asking my mom why she never got sick.  Her response was always the same “mothers don’t get sick.  We don’t have time.”  Of course, when I was 8 I thought that was a pretty cool advantage to being a mother.  Of course I know differently now.

This time of year, I get a lot of questions about breastfeeding when sick.  We are in the throws of flu season, cold season, RSV, sinus infections…the list goes on.  Not only does the concern hover around breastfeeding the baby and risking getting the baby sick, what can you take to help you feel better?  Doesn’t everything transfer to the baby?  What medication is ok?

And what about the baby?  What if the baby is already sick.  Does this alter breastfeeding routines at all?  Check out this week’s episode of the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, and you will hear Dianne and Abby talk about what happens when mom and / or baby gets sick, and how to handle breastfeeding until everyone feels better.  For additional information, check out these tips as well.


Spoiling Your Baby…True or False?

It’s one of the most common parenting suggestions around. I think every family I have worked with has reported hearing it at least once…maybe from a family member, friend or a provider. Parents look on in fear, their minds racing. “What if it already happened?” They are thinking. “What if I ruined everything?”

Spoiling your baby.

It doesn’t even matter in what context it’s suggested in. Feeding? If you breastfeed too much or too long, you risk spoiling. Nurturing? If you hold your baby too long or too often, you can spoil your baby. Responding? If you pick your baby up when he/she cries, you are spoiling them. Parents are left wondering what they should do, how to avoid this obviously terrible fate of a spoiled baby and how much is really too much. I’m here to set the record straight.

You can’t spoil a baby. Pretty crazy, huh? Truth be told, feeding and nurturing and responding to your baby are necessary in creating security and trust with your baby. Your baby needs you, they depend on you. As newborns, babies aren’t hardwired to manipulate you into picking them up when they cry. Instinctively, babies cry because there is a need to be fulfilled. That need may be feeding or it may be comforting. It’s quite possible that your baby doesn’t even know what he needs, he just knows that he wants his mother or his father, and that is all that matters at that moment.

This week on the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, the hot topic is spoiling your baby. Want to hear more about that? Check it out here:





Breastfeeding Aversion

Aversion.   It means to dislike something or feel repulsed by something. Those are strong words. What if that something is breastfeeding? The one thing you can absolutely count on to soothe your child. Breastfeeding aversion can sneak up on you when you least expect it. Not everyone experiences this, and unfortunately I don’t think a lot of mothers talk openly about it. It’s really hard to talk about how you absolutely do not want to put the baby to your breast anymore, and you can’t really explain why.

There are ways to deal with breastfeeding aversion (or nursing aversion). You have options, and it isn’t all about weaning the baby. Some mothers aren’t quite ready for that step, either. There are other coping skills you can use to get you through to where you need to be. Maybe it’s a distraction for you, or setting boundaries for yourself and the baby (or toddler).

There are many reasons why researchers think this is happening, but no one really knows for sure. It has been linked to hormones (maybe if pregnant while still breastfeeding or menstruating), lack of sleep, and lack of self-care. Regardless of why you are experiencing it, it can really catch you off guard.

If you think this is something you may have experienced, or may be experiencing, check out this week’s podcast (what the heck…check it out anyway!) Dianne and Abby talk all about breastfeeding aversion, including some ways to combat it. Dianne and Abby will also share some coping skills to help keep you going just when you thought you would need to wean your baby off the breast.

In addition, check out this other really helpful information about breastfeeding aversion.



NIP (Nursing in Public)

Nursing in public. We in the breastfeeding community like to refer to this as NIP. NIP can be quite a hot topic among members of society, and opinions can get pretty heated at times.   Every breastfeeding mama has their own comfort level when it comes to nursing their little one while they are with others. Some say that they are perfectly comfortable anywhere, and with anyone. I have heard others say that if they were with other nursing mothers, they wouldn’t think twice about breastfeeding. However, once out in public where they feel like they may be the objects of someone’s abuse, they would rather go under cover.   We should never make a breastfeeding mother feel as if she can’t feed her baby wherever she happens to be, yet this still happens everyday.

We have all seen those pictures on Facebook and the like- pictures of mom breastfeeding and someone always pipes up with a comment about how inappropriate it is to breastfeed in public where the whole world can see you. First of all, most women are pretty discreet and it can be hard to tell that breastfeeding is actually happening, unless you are really staring at the mother and her baby (which is pretty creepy anyway). Second, if it is legal (and usually is) it is really no one else’s business.   Now that we have cleared that up, let’s talk about it.

There are plenty of ways to breastfeed in public and be comfortable doing it. When it comes right down to it, this is about you and your baby. Does your baby need to eat? Yes. Should other people have an opinion on how that will happen? No. Check out episodes 12 and 13 of the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast. It’s all about nursing in public, how to feel comfortable, best ways to get started, even information about nursing while baby wearing. You’ll be a pro after these 2 episodes. Be sure to tune in for Episode 14 (coming soon!), which is the last in a 3 part NIP series.

Breast and Bottle Feeding

It seems to me that when I ask an expecting mother what her feeding plan is, she always makes sure to specify that she is planning to breastfeed, but wants to give bottles. Some things I hear are: “I want dad to bond too”, “I have to return to work”, and “I might want a break”.   Sometimes I wonder if new mothers think that they will be judged if they give a bottle. Well, judgment does come in all forms, but it certainly will not come from me.

Let’s talk about bottles for a minute. I support families through their breastfeeding journey. The mothers who call on me for help are often in a position where they need to give a bottle, and are concerned about how it might disrupt breastfeeding or how they can make both breast and bottle feeding work together. Some situations I see are mothers who are returning to work and need to introduce bottles for day care, or maybe it’s a premature baby who is getting bottles in the hospital. Whatever the reason, the fact is we don’t want bottles to interfere. To be quite honest, I find bottle feeding a pain. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to breastfeed. How do you know how much milk to give in a bottle? How do you know what kind of bottle to use? Do you heat the milk or not? Too many questions here – I found it much easier to put the baby to breast and be done with it. My first baby did not have many bottles, only during situations where I was not able to be at home at all. I did not work when he was a baby, so we were able to do that. I know that is not the norm. When my twins came along, I had to do more bottle feeding, just because I needed the help. It was always breastmilk, which mean I had to get pump time in as well.   It’s a lot of work.

Mothers are often concerned that babies who are primarily breastfeeding need to have a special bottle. It is not necessarily about the bottle, but about HOW the baby is getting the milk from the bottle. Paced bottle feeding, where the baby is getting milk from the bottle in a slow, paced fashion, is the way to go.

Check out this link about paced bottle feeding if you want to learn more about that.

On this week’s episode of the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, we talk all about giving bottles and some common situations that might come up. Check it out!



Newborn Schedules~What To Expect?

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 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 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. This week on the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, we talk more about schedules and what you can expect. Click on the link below to listen, and feel free to reach out with any feedback!