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Congratulations on your decision to breast feed! Our Certified Lactation Counselors are available to answer questions you may have about breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding resources and information:
Breastfeeding support group
Breastfeeding...shared knowledge with other parents as well as 4 certified lactation counselors. New or expecting parents are invited. Babies are welcome! A chance to share ideas, suggestions and information.
The Breastfeeding Support Group is free and meets at the Academy House on Academy Street in Presque Isle. Call us at 768-4329 for dates.
Portions taken from "Breastfeeding Guide" Reg. 3 Breastfeeding Task Force
Infants benefit from breastfeeding because it is easily digested and does not cause allergies. Breastfed babies have a higher IQ, straighter teeth and fewer speech impediments. Breastmilk also protects against cancer and diabetes, ear and respiratory infections. The immune system is stimulated with breastmilk to help protect against disease and give a better response to vaccines. Breastmilk has a role in protecting against SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and more.
Mothers benefit from breastfeeding because it protects against ovarian and premenopausal breast cancer, helps get uterus back to pre-pregnancy size and shape, creates special time for mother - baby bonding, delays ovulation and menstruation, decreases osteoporosis, decreases missed school or work days due to baby's illness, no worries about formula recalls, takes less time (preparing, shopping for and cleaning bottles), and more sleep at night.
Families benefit from breastfeeding because it is more economical, makes babies healthier, and allows families to spend more time together.
The community and earth benefit from breastfeeding because it is a natural resource that is ecologically sound. There is no plastic, waste or packaging involved. Artificial formula does not contain secretory IgA, lysozymes, macrophages, hormones, enzymes, growth factors, or long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. In fact, artificial formula is missing hundreds of ingredients compared to human breastmilk.
How to get started
Your baby will let you know when he/she is ready to eat by mouthing, rooting, hand to mouth activity, lip smacking, sucking on hands and fingers, small fussy sounds, and pre-cry grimaces. There are relaxed first cues. If you wait for a cry the baby is then tense and may feed poorly, or have difficulty latching on and usually will swallow more air. Crying is a very late cue.
Find a comfortable place where you can relax. Use pillows for support as needed. Hold the baby so that you are belly to belly.
Gently support your breast with four fingers under the breast and your thumb on top. Make sure your fingers are clear of the areola so they will not interfere with correct latch-on.
Brush the baby's lips, top lip down to the bottom, gently, with your nipple, until he opens WIDE. Then quickly bring him/her onto your breast with chin touching first.
You should not feel pain. You may feel some tugging. Keeping in mind that when your baby is correctly positioned or "latched-on" your nipple and much of the areola are pulled well into the baby's mouth. A correct latch-on is important because: milk flows better, stimulates a good milk supply, baby grows well, prevents sore nipples, and helps prevent engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis.
Let the baby nurse long enough - What is long enough? Watch your baby closely, you will note your baby is showing signs of swallowing. Watch and listen. The baby is drinking well when you see a pause between the open and close of a swallow. Not the pause between suckles but the pause during one suckle as the baby opens his/her mouth fully. When babies have had enough milk, they will stop on their own and show signs of satisfaction. But in the early days many babies will stop sucking as the milk flow slows down. You may need to use breast compression/stimulation to increase swallowing. Ask your care provider to help you identify swallowing and teach you breast compression/stimulation. In the early days, your baby may need waking up. Offer both breasts at each feeding, but there may be some feedings when your baby breastfeeds on one side only. At the next feeding start on the side that was used the least during the previous feeding.
Newborns need to be nursed 8 -12 times in 24 hours. They may not display feeding cues. You may need to unwrap, change a diaper or massage a newborn to feed often enough.
How to tell that the baby is getting enough
During the first weeks of breastfeeding, it is normal to wonder if the baby is getting enough to eat. Many new parents share this concern. As long as he/she has at least 8-12 feedings every 24 hours with regular swallowing, he is probably getting enough. Most babies lose a few ounces initially and may not regain it until the second or third week. Start counting weight gain from the lowest measure of weight at 3-4 days old, not from birth weight. Babies should regain their birth weight within 2-3 weeks after birth.
Some other reliable signs of adequate intake are:
What is regular swallowing?
Start with a correct latch - open mouth with the chin touching first. The sucking pattern will have a fairly open mouth as he/she sucks and swallows in slow steady rhythm. Lips are turned out. Watching his chin you will see a pause. (Not the pause between suckles but the pause during one suckle as the baby opens his mouth fully.) This pause means a mouth full of milk. This pattern will slow and change during a feeding. But throughout a feeding several minutes of this pause type feeding means the baby is getting plenty of milk. Thus, the baby is removing the breastmilk.
FUSSINESS and GROWTH SPURTS: What to expect!
Some people interpret all fussiness as a sign of hunger. Just because your baby is crying does not necessarily mean that he/she is not getting enough to eat. If it has been less than one and a half to two hours since the last feeding, you may wish to look for other sources of distress and try other comforting techniques. If these do not console the baby, it is okay to nurse again. You cannot "spoil" your baby from too much holding or feeding. Breastmilk is digested very rapidly and efficiently and it may indeed be time to feed again. As the baby gets older, he/she will go longer between feedings.
"Growth spurts" commonly occur around 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. During these times, your baby may suddenly be fussier than usual and want to nurse more often. This increases your milk supply until the next growth spurt. He/she will probably nurse every hour and a half to two hours for 2-3 days, then things will get back to normal. It is best to avoid pacifiers during these growth spurts and allow the baby to nurse on request. Around the 3 month growth spurt you may be advised to introduce solids. Most nutritionists and healthcare providers recommend you wait until about 6 months to introduce solids.
How to increase milk supply:
If your baby's health care provider is concerned that your baby has not gained weight rapidly enough or if you want to increase your milk supply for other reasons, just remember - suckling makes milk! The more your baby nurses, the more milk you will make. You can offer both breasts each feeding, and repeat if necessary. Switching breasts when the baby slows it's sucking down and swallows less often, will increase your milk and keep the baby interested. Switch 2 or 3 times. You will then use each side twice at a feeding. If the supply does not improve, seek further advice. Remember to take care of yourself. Rest, relax, get your thirst needs met and eat well.
How to treat sore nipples
You may feel some tenderness during the first few days of breastfeeding. If you have a lot of pain during feedings, or if your nipples are blistered or scabbed, it is usually best to continue breastfeeding and consider the following tips:
Engorgement and plugged ducts
What is engorgement? During the first weeks of breastfeeding, your breasts might feel quite full. If they become firm, heavy and hot to the touch, they are engorged. The nipple may be flattened and difficult for the baby to grasp.
Normal breast fullness: Your breasts may feel heavier when colostrum changes to mature milk - around 3-5 days. Continue to feed the baby at least 8-12 times every 24 hours and whenever the baby gives cues. Wake the baby for feeding if your breasts become full and/or uncomfortable.
Moderate engorgement: Breasts are heavy, mildly tender, warm and lumpy to the touch; the skin may be shiny but not firm. Moderate engorgement can lead to severe engorgement if not resolved.
Severe Engorgement: Breasts are firm, heavy, very tender and painful, hot to the touch, the skin may appear to shine or look stretched. Firm or lumpy tissue may extend to under the arm. Please contact a lactation consultant if you have severe engorgement.
A plugged duct is a clogging of a milk duct. You may feel tenderness, warmth or redness and if the plug is near the surface it will be "pea"-like.
Plugged ducts occur more frequently in mothers with abundant milk supply and in the winter season. Causes may be: shortened or skipped feedings, a constricting bra, poor diet, dehydration, and stress.
You will not have a fever with plugged ducts. If you develop fever and flu-like symptoms, which may mean you have mastitis, contact your health care provider or lactation consultant.
Breastfeeding questions and myths
I have small breasts. Will I be able to make enough milk?
Will breastfeeding cause my breast size to change or get out of shape?
My milk looks thin. Does that mean it's not rich enough?
If my baby and I must be separated, is it okay to use formula?
Can I learn to nurse in public or will I have to use formula?
What if I get a plugged duct or mastitis (breast infection)? What if I have a cold or flu?
Should I give bottles before my milk comes in?
Are there any foods that I should avoid while I am breastfeeding?
If I do become pregnant, I must stop breastfeeding.
If I breastfeed, I won't get pregnant, and this is a form or birth control. And if I take the pill, I'll have no milk.
Can I continue to nurse when I return to work?
What if the baby's father feels left out?
Isn't breastfeeding more work for the baby than bottlefeeding?
Are drugs or medications safe when breastfeeding? Or a drink at my sister's wedding?
Will my baby need water or juice?
My baby's bowel movements are very runny. Is this normal?
Is is time to wean when a baby gets a tooth?
I've had previous breast surgery. Will I be able to breastfeed?
Expressing, storing and thawing breastmilk
When extracting breastmilk, remember the following:
How do I store breastmilk?
For a full-term baby:
For a premature or ill baby:
Other storage tips:
How to thaw breastmilk:
Human milk may separate into a milk layer and a cream layer when it is stored. This is normal. Shake gently to redistribute the cream.
NEVER heat milk in a microwave oven. It can cause burns in the baby's mouth! The heating may be uneven and it will destroy some of the protective qualities of breastmilk.
Seek help if your baby still has dark stools at 5 days or has only one bowel movement a day between the age of 5 days and 3 weeks. Also seek help if you do not see or hear swallowing, you have nipple pain throughout feeding or after feeding, you have severe engorgement, your baby is sleepy and hard to wake for nursing, you are nursing a newborn less than 6 times per day, your baby is premature or has jaundice, cleft lip or palate, your baby has poor weight gain, you have a breast infection or plugged ducts, you have low milk supply, you have breast pain, your baby is not latching on well, or your baby's skin color or the feel of your baby's skin is noticeably different than when you left the hospital.
If you need help or have questions, call a Certified Lactation Counselor or your health care provider.