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/

The 5 Worst States for Breastfeeding Moms – And the 5 Best

More moms in the U.S. are breastfeeding than ever before, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 4 out of 5 kids were breastfed at birth in 2013, around 81.1 percent, up from 79 percent in 2011. And almost one-third of children born in 2013, 30.7 percent, were still nursing at 12 months, compared to just 27 percent in 2011.

These improvements of several percentage points (representing hundreds of thousands of benefitting babies) show that a greater number of moms want to nurse and have the resources to keep it up. But unfortunately, doing so is easier in certain parts of the country than others. Some 50 percent of new moms stop nursing by the 6 month-mark and two-thirds by 12 months. It happens most often due to a lack of support from employers, healthcare providers and family.

The CDC pulled together a list of states where breastfeeding for the recommended 12 months is the hardest, based on how well the state’s hospitals integrate breastfeeding practices into maternity care; the number of births in “baby-friendly” hospitals; the number of infants receiving formula within 2 days of life; the number of La Leche league leaders and lactation consultants; and whether childcare facilities support onsite breastfeeding.

(It doesn’t take into account public nursing laws or workplace policies – but know that every state except for Idaho has laws explicitly allowing you to nurse wherever you want, and the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide nursing employees with a private space to pump that’s not a bathroom.)

These are the worst states to be a nursing mom:

  • Mississippi
  • Arkansas
  • Nebraska
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee

These are the best states to be a nursing mom:

  • Rhode Island
  • New Hampshire
  • Delaware
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts

Even if you’re living in a state with fewer breastfeeding resources, a dearth of baby-friendly hospitals doesn’t have to keep you from nursing for as long as you want. A recent survey found that asking your care provider about breastfeeding before you give birth, ideally in the third trimester, is a strong indicator of success. And once your newborn has arrived, you get another source of support in your child’s pediatrician.

You can also work with an international lactation consultant in your area. With fewer choices, you’ll be less likely to find one by word of mouth, but a quick search on the International Lactation Consultant Association website should help turn up someone close enough for you to meet with at least once.

And last, talking to moms who’ve been through it before has endless benefits. You might uncover a tip your male OB had never heard, and you’ll be reminded your struggle is totally normal.

U.S. breastfeeding rates are steadily approaching global children’s health goals, but we still need to focus on getting every mom the support she needs to feed her baby exactly the way she wants.

Source: http://www.whattoexpect.com/wom/baby/worst-states-for-breastfeeding-moms-2016
Image Source: Jamie Grill/Getty