Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Healing Breastfeeding Grief

There are times when, due to individual circumstance, parents are unable to breastfeed or feel that it is really not what they want to do even if things are objectively going well. When our breastfeeding hopes or intentions don’t come to fruition we can struggle with feelings of loss, sadness, anger, grief and shame. When we are at this point we tend to think we are the only person feeling this way but in reality these feelings are not unusual or abnormal.

Hilary Jacobson, writer, researcher, holistic breastfeeding consultant and hypnotherapist, has written a book called “Healing Breastfeeding Grief” in which she shares from her own and the experience of hundreds of mothers what it can mean to experience these devastating emotions. Applying techniques of mindfulness and neuroplasticity, Jacobson offers a way out of the feelings of heartbreak and failure that overcome mothers when breastfeeding doesn’t go as they had imagined it would.

“I want to help mothers heal,” Jacobson says. “Each year, thousands of women enter motherhood carrying a deep wound. My intention for this book is that they heal and feel whole, and step fully and vibrantly into their life as a mother — no matter how they feed their baby.”

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The book looks at five steps which can help mothers understand the root of their feelings and give them tools to taking steps forward to deal with those feeling so they can love and enjoy their babies.

• Build your support team

• Understand your issues

• Find remedies

• Feel and process your emotions

• Focus on the love

The first two steps, building your support team and gathering information so you have a good understanding of how breastfeeding usually works, are both things that parents can do before baby arrives. A La Leche League meeting is a great place to get to know others who can be your supporters and to learn about breastfeeding. If you experience challenges or breastfeeding isn’t what you expected you will have people to turn to who can help you with step three: finding remedies that work for you and your circumstances. LLLC Leaders can provide a listening ear for parents to talk about their feelings and concerns in a non-judgemental atmosphere. We don’t offer advice as every parent/baby relationship is unique and what is right for one family will not be right for another. We offer information that empowers parents to make decisions that are right for them.

In part three of her book Jacobson bridges the gap between mothers and the professionals who have dedicated their lives to support families, and interviews seventeen mother-baby professionals and practitioners who share from their personal and professional experiences with breastfeeding grief. The book shares the experiences of a number of mothers including two who share the details of their personal stories and the different paths they took to feeling whole again.

Learn more at healingbreastfeedinggrief.com

At the time of publication of this post there is a sample chapter available for free download on a Kindle, PC or Mac here.
http://www.lllc.ca/thursdays-tip-healing-breastfeeding-grief

 

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

 

 

 

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Traveling With a Breastfed Baby

Around this time last year, my husband and I were packing innumerable bags and loading the car for our first trip away from home as a family of three.  I toiled over the “to-pack” list and tried to supervise my husband as he stowed our luggage away, while our tiny baby nursed and slept at my breast.

Nursing pillow?  Check.  Nursing cover?  Check.  Breast pump?  Check. Pump parts, bottles, and milk storage bags?  Check, check, check.  Our baggage grew exponentially.

We planned for the four-hour drive to take five hours. Naturally, it took six.  Our baby was three months old, exclusively breastfed, and co-sleeping with us.  As we drove, she became increasingly less tolerant of being anywhere other than at my breast and in my arms, so we stopped often.

Once we arrived at our destination and again throughout our stay, I found myself frequently locked away in a bedroom, pumping breast milk.  At the time, it seemed like the least awkward of all of my baby’s feeding options.  After all, my baby girl’s grandmother wanted desperately to feed the baby a bottle and her grandfather was supportive but still uncomfortable with breastfeeding.  So, I hid and I pumped and I turned what should have been an enjoyable family visit into a week of sequestration and dirty dishes.

What I didn’t know back then was that traveling with your breastfed baby doesn’t have to be so hard.  My breast pump is a fabulous tool that allowed me to work full-time while also providing breast milk for my daughter, but on the road it became yet another complicated baby accessory.  If I really thought about my baby’s needs and my own needs, they were simple: feed the baby.  That didn’t change just because we were away from home.

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With hindsight being 20/20, here’s what I would change if I could take that first trip again:

I would leave the pump at home.  Maybe I’d pack a manual pump and one bottle just in case, but bringing my entire arsenal of pumping supplies – and washing them on the road – was a lot of work.  Nursing my baby is much, much simpler than pumping.  There is no time spent pumping, no storage, no toting bottles around, and no dishes to wash.  Nursing on the go is, dare I say, easy.

I would plan for more nursing breaks on the road.  It added undue stress to our trip when we had to stop unexpectedly because the baby was upset and needed to nurse.  We may need to stop more often when traveling with a baby, but we also should have planned for more nursing stops.  That would have helped relieve my anxiety that we were running behind and also would have given our baby the breaks she needed.

I would find other ways to let family share in caring for baby.  I know my daughter’s grandmother really, really wanted to give her a bottle, but instead she might be happy burping the baby after nursing and giving her a bath that evening.  There are so many ways family can bond with a new baby; it doesn’t have to be through a bottle.  And if I leave my pump at home, there really is no choice but to nurse her anyway (wink, wink).

I would put my baby’s need to nurse ahead of others’ comfort levels.  This is the hard one – for me – but I believe it’s also the most important.  Doing this might mean I choose to nurse my baby in a private room, but at least I’m not alone and hooked to a pump at the same time.  It might mean that I choose to nurse using a nursing cover, or it might mean that I choose not to be offended if someone leaves the room when I nurse uncovered. Ultimately, it means that I choose to put my baby’s needs first, even when we’re in someone else’s home.

Once we had that first trip under our belt, it became so much easier.  My confidence level rose knowing I could manage it all away from home.  I learned to lean on my nursing relationship with my baby instead of being inhibited by it, and suddenly things were so much simpler.  I was much less afraid to travel because it became less of an ordeal and more of an experience again.  And I am so happy I’ve been able to share those experiences with my nursing baby.

 

By Ashley Smith
Used with permission from LLL USA, New Beginnings http://www.lllusa.org/traveling-with-a-breastfed-baby/

 
If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

 

 

 

 

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Radiologic Procedures While Breastfeeding

Mothers often ask if they must wean before having a medical diagnostic scan or x-ray. In most situations, weaning is not necessary.

The first step is to gather information about the type of testing that is being recommended. Useful information to collect is the name of the test and the name of the radio-contrast compound or radio-opaque contrast media (i.e. the drug taken or injected to make parts of the body show up when x-rayed or scanned) being used.

 

MRI Scan (magnetic resonance imaging)

  • Best for looking at soft tissue (brain, muscle, cancers, blood vessels, etc.), and can be used for looking at bone.
  • Does not use radioactive material, but does use radio-contrast medium that under magnetic field shows up body parts.
  • Contrast is not always used but does enhance the image. Contrast substance used most commonly is gadopentetate and it is not radioactive
  • Less than 0.04% of the dose of gadopentetate will appear in a mother’s milk and only 0.8% of that is absorbed by the baby.
  • Those with claustrophobia are given conscious sedation.

 

CT Scan (computerized axial tomography) or CAT scan.

  • Gold standard for looking at bleeding (clots), tumours, inflammation, bone or tissue injury, guiding passage of a needle etc.
  • Person takes a compound that contains iodine. Multiple x-rays are taken encircling the body, and the iodine reveals bones or tissues.
  • Contrast medium used is not radioactive. Contrast is not always used. Like for MRIs it is used to enhance imaging.
  • The iodine in the contrast material is bound to a molecule forming the compound.  The compound does not enter the milk in any noticeable amount. The compound does not release enough iodine to alter the infant’s thyroid function.

 

IVP (intravenous pyleogram), or lymphangiogram

  • Uses contrast media similar to MRI (see above)
  • Contrast medium is delivered by intravenous to show under x-ray the kidney, lymph nodes or blood vessels.

 

Radioactive Scans

  • A radioactive form of gallium (Ga), technetium (Tc), or iodine (I) is sometimes given to a mother before a test or used as a treatment.
  • In order to protect the baby from ingestion of the radioactive compound in breastmilk, weaning for a period of time is recommended.
  • Appropriate times for being off the breast are listed in Hale
  • Mother will need to express her milk during this time to maintain her supply.

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Consider Other Options

If a mother has been told to wean her baby for one of the first three scans, she may be able to consider other options. Printed information can be shared with the doctor, such as pages from Medications and Mother’s Milk, Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, or other references.
Has she asked her doctor if the test can be postponed or if another less invasive procedure is possible?  Has the doctor shown her evidence indicating that the baby must be weaned? Has she discussed with her doctor the risks of temporary weaning?

 

Support For Temporary Weaning

In the case where weaning is unavoidable, because the scan requires a radioactive contrast medium (the fourth scan above) which is not compatible with breastfeeding, a mother will require support as she decides how to cope with the situation. She may wish to prepare ahead by pumping and freezing breastmilk for use during the hours or days it takes the radioactive substance to leave her body. “Decay time” is the total time needed for the medium to leave her body. The term “half-life” refers to both the length of time it takes for ½ of the contrast medium to leave the body and the time it takes for the level of radioactivity to decrease by 50%. Decay time is usually 5-10 half-lives. You can prepare for pumping during the decay time and discarding breast milk safely should that be necessary.

In some cases, a mother may have to arrange for a caregiver for the baby during the “decay time”. Decay times and half-lives of many radioactive contrast agents are available from Hale or from the x-ray laboratory where the test is being done.

 
Note: This article was published in 2010. Updated resources may be available. For more detailed information and references, please refer to the article.

http://www.lllc.ca/sites/lllc.ca/files/Keeping-in-the-LLLoop-Fall-10.pdf

 

 

 
If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

 

 

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It’s Kind of Magical

In December, I gave birth to our long awaited son, James David.  He is our second child but the first to be breastfed.  Having to go back to work soon after the birth of our first child, Amanda, I had no idea what I had decided to give up when I decided to bottle feed her. With the birth of J.D., I was glad that I had gone to LLL meetings to prepare myself for a pleasant nursing experience. Having read everything I could get my hands on before this second baby came, I am still amazed at how we as women, by breastfeeding alone, can sustain our helpless babies and help them grow into strong, well-nourished children.

One day a friend asked me to watch her two children—four and a half year old Ian and seven month old Lindsey.  We were all playing in the nursery when my son J.D. decided it was time to eat.  I stayed there in the nursery and fed him as usual.  All at once my friend’s son noticed what I was doing.

 

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“What’s that in his mouth?” Ian asked.

“I am feeding him,” I replied.

“No!  What’s that in his mouth?” he asked again.

At the second question, I suddenly realized that he probably had never seen a mother breastfeeding her child since both he and his sister had been adopted.  “That’s my breast in his mouth.  He sucks on it to get milk out of it just like Lindsey sucks on her bottle,” I explained.

Ian walked up closer to get a better look and with those questioning eyes asked, “But how does he know when the milk is all gone?”

Realizing he was confused at the fact that you can’t see through a breast like you can with a bottle, I only hoped I could answer his question to his satisfaction.

“Well, if he doesn’t drink all the milk sometimes he falls asleep or if it’s all gone he just lets go of it.  If he still wants more, then he will suck on the other breast.”

“You mean he just knows when to let go?”

“That’s right.”

“Gosh!” he said as he whirled around in a circle. “That’s kind of magical.”

Smiling, I looked down at my enthusiastic and plump son nursing his way to contentment and said, “Yes, it really is magical.”

 

by Fran Workman

Used with permission from LLL USA New Beginnings http://www.lllusa.org/looking-back-its-kind-of-magical/

Originally published in September/October 1983 issue of La Leche League News
Editor’s Note: The first issue of La Leche League News, the bimonthly publication for members, was published in 1958. The name changed to New Beginnings in 1985.

 

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

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The 12 Months of Breastfeeding – A Song for Parents And Babies

music-notetiny The 1st month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 2nd month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 3rd month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me: Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 4th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 5th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Five pounds lost! Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 6th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me: Six La Leche meetings, Five pounds lost! Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 7th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Seven nursing friends, Six La Leche meetings, Five pounds lost! Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 8th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Eight full nights sleep, Seven nursing friends, Six La Leche meetings, Five pounds lost! Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 9th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Nine loads of laundry, Eight full nights sleep, Seven nursing friends, Six La Leche meetings, Five pounds lost! Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 10th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Ten piles of toys, Nine loads of laundry, Eight full nights sleep, Seven nursing friends, Six La Leche meetings, Five pounds lost! Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 11th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Eleven minute naps, Ten piles of toys, Nine loads of laundry, Eight full nights sleep, Seven nursing friends, Six La Leche meetings, Five pounds lost! Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

music-notetiny The 12th month of breastfeeding my baby gave to me:  Twelve baby steps, Eleven minute naps, Ten piles of toys, Nine loads of laundry, Eight full nights sleep, Seven nursing friends, Six La Leche meetings, Five pounds lost! Four new teeth, Three diaper bags, Two nursing bras and a warm cuddly baby to hold!

 

Happy Holidays from La Leche League Canada!

 

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http://www.lllc.ca/thursdays-tip-12-months-breastfeeding-song-parents-and-babies

 

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

 

 

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Dealing With Thoughtless Remarks

Even when you are feeling comfortable with your breastfeeding choices, other people’s thoughtless remarks can make you feel anxious or upset. Remember that the remark is a statement about the speaker’s feelings or experience and not about you.  When you are feeling challenged by other people’s feeling about your breastfeeding relationship, talking with a La Leche League Leader can help you frame your replies and renew your confidence.

The following is a collection of remarks that might be made and some examples of responses.

Remark:  “How long are you going to breastfeed that baby?
Responses:
* You’re wondering when he will wean? I’m curious about that too.
* That is up to him and how long he seems to need it.
* Partner’s name and I are not worried, we are in no hurry to stop.

 

Remark:  “Didn’t you just nurse him?
Responses:
* We love to cuddle.
* He evidently forgot!
* That is the nicest part; we’re not tied to a schedule.

 

Remark:  “Aren’t you awfully tied down?
Responses:
* I’m indispensable and I like it that way.
* I appreciate your concern but no I don’t feel tied down.
* A nursing baby is so portable it is really the opposite of being tied down.

 

Remark:  “If you weren’t nursing him I could help you more.
Responses:
* But you have been so much help already! If you hadn’t <fill in the blank> we couldn’t have made it this far.
* You’d probably like to spend more time with him. How about giving him a bath later?

 

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Remark:  “Don’t be a martyr. You don’t have to breastfeed to be a good mother.”
Responses:
* You are right, there a lots of wonderful mothers who don’t breastfeed.
* Who’s a martyr? I really enjoy breastfeeding.

 

Remark:  “He’ll never let you go, you are making him overly dependent!
Responses:
* I understand that you see it that way but we each have our own way of doing things.
* Our closeness now will make him secure enough to be independent when he is older and ready for it

 

http://www.lllc.ca/thoughts-parenting

 
If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

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Breastfeeding is My Superpower

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “I make milk. What’s your superpower?” I chuckled out loud to myself in the car, because I have been breastfeeding almost continuously for nearly eight years, for three children, all with very different experiences. And it really can be a superpower with a little support and a lot of determination.

When my first child was born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed and even took a class at the hospital about it. I perused numerous books on the topic, and consulted with other breastfeeding mothers. I thought I was prepared and was even able to leave the hospital just four hours after my son was born. But shortly after I arrived home, the trouble began, and it continued for two miserable months.

I knew nursing wasn’t supposed to be painful, but it seemed that my son was latching on beautifully and he was gaining weight like a pro, so I figured I was just being wimpy. For all those weeks, I nursed roughly every three hours, literally crying through every feeding and biting a towel as stabbing pains shot through my chest. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I contacted a local La Leche League Group. I also saw a lactation consultant and my obstetrician. It turns out that while my son remained asymptomatic, I had mastitis and thrush—with no other typical symptoms—and was treated with two full rounds of strong antibiotics and three full rounds of an antifungal. Within a couple of weeks, I was free of pain!

 

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My daughter, who has Down Syndrome, was born shortly after I weaned my son. The nurses discouraged me from nursing her, stating reasons ranging from aspiration to low muscle tone. Once again, I was quickly discharged from the hospital, fully intent on breastfeeding and realizing I would need to look elsewhere for support. I found a La Leche League pamphlet about breastfeeding a baby with Down syndrome (here) and began the process of helping my baby learn to nurse despite having many of the concerns described in the pamphlet—hypotonia (low muscle tone), a weak suck, slow weight gain, and swallowing issues.

At the recommendation of a general pediatrician and a developmental pediatrician, I even tried to supplement with bottle-feeding her with breast milk thickened with formula and melted butter, but my daughter just chewed on the plastic nipple despite support from a speech language pathologist and a lactation consultant who specialized in feeding issues in infants. We even endured numerous swallow studies prescribed by her pediatrician because of aspiration concerns, but those studies involved barium-infused liquids given by bottle, which my daughter would not take, so she choked and gagged and sputtered, with documented episodes of penetration into her airway and aspiration. The results, the doctors said, warranted that I discontinue breastfeeding and that she be fed through a nasogastric tube inserted into her nose and down to her stomach.

While I respect the opinion of physicians, I had strong instincts that breastfeeding remained the best option. So I politely declined the suggestion that she be fed via nasogastric tube and found different feeding positions that helped minimize her choking episodes. For example, I would sit her up on my lap and her head would remain vertical, so that the milk did not just automatically run down to the back of her throat. I used other strategies like starting the flowing of milk by massaging the breast tissue so that she would not have to expend calories sucking and waiting for let-down, and I also waited to latch her on until the initial let-down passed so that she didn’t have too much milk in her mouth at any given time. This made it more manageable for her to swallow on her own without aspirating. I learned to clap my hand on her back when I did notice some noisy breathing so that she could clear out the wayward milk quickly and easily.

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All that being said, I feel as though I breastfed my daughter against all odds, and I can tell you the benefits were unexpected and tremendous. She spent the first three years of her life in and out of hospitals for numerous diagnostic procedures, surgeries, and illnesses. During every hospitalization, she would go on a total “hunger strike”—refusing all food and drink—but she would always nurse. The benefits of nursing during these hospital visits went beyond simple nutrition and hydration. They were a source of great emotional comfort for her (I have photos of me lying beside her, my head and torso in the oxygen tent with her!). I believe this sense of comfort had physiological ramifications, as it likely reduced her own perception of her pain and discomfort, and accelerated the healing process. There was the added bonus that she was receiving my antibodies in the breast milk, providing her an immunity boost. I nursed her for about 3½ years, until the third trimester of my pregnancy with my third child.

When my second daughter was born, I really felt I had paid my dues and that nursing her should be second nature. But as luck would have it, I experienced pain from the very first latch-on and requested assistance right away from a lactation consultant. My daughter had difficulty latching on properly and was diagnosed with a tongue-tie. The pediatrician recommended clipping her tongue, but I asked to wait to see if we could breastfeed successfully without having the procedure. The doctor agreed to wait for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, my daughter was breastfeeding well enough that we continued to nurse without clipping her tongue.

In my mind, these three very different breastfeeding experiences serve as a strong indication that lactation really is a super power! So, what’s yours?

By Cyndi Johnson.  Used with permission from LLL USA New Beginnings http://www.lllusa.org/breastfeeding-is-my-superpower/

 

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

 

More resources:

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/babies-with-down-syndrome-can-breastfeed/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/overcoming-mastitis-and-tongue-tie/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/mastitis/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/breastfeeding-inflammation-infection/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/thrush-the-breastfeeding-family/

http://www.lllc.ca/Information-sheets

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Breastfeeding Triplets

My breastfeeding journey began when I gave birth to my first daughter, Tayla. I was 21 years old and completely naive about breastfeeding. I had no role models, support or information, I just somehow knew I was going to do it. My nipples were inverted and I had no help or advice with latching so ended up with severely cracked nipples. I called La Leche League for help with latching, then expressed milk for a week or so until my nipples were healed and then carried on with breastfeeding. She selfweaned at 13 months, which I was sad about, but I was pregnant with number two and I thought I would breastfeed her forever. I had no problems at all with feeding the second time round but Dyani too self-weaned at 13 months.

Fast forward 21 years and I met my husband, Jason, who hadn’t ever had children but still hoped that he could, so I agreed (to just one!). We were understandably terrified when we found out I was pregnant with triplets, but again the idea of doing anything other than breastfeeding never crossed my mind. We found out that triplet mums can access a year’s free supply of formula but I still wasn’t interested.

After a problem free pregnancy I made it to 34 weeks. Two days before I was booked for a Caesarean, my body had other ideas and I went into labour that night. Our babies were born via Caesarean on the 22nd of November, 2011. Willow was 2kg, Connor 2.5kg and Summer 2kg. They all went straight into the NICU but were actually really healthy and big for triplets. I got to cuddle Connor the next day, Summer the day after that and Willow the day after that.

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I don’t think anyone at the hospital expected me to breastfeed because I had to ask someone 12 hours later, if they were able to get me a pump or show me how to get started expressing colostrum. A nurse then showed my husband and I how to express colostrum into tiny 1ml syringes. We got our first 1ml and I said “but there’s three of them, we can’t make them share 1ml!” So I expressed two more for that day, the next day I got 9ml, the next day 15 little syringes made their way into the NICU! Then I began pumping, every three hours day and night and within two days I was pumping about a litre a day, which became two litres within another week.

After a week I got to try breastfeeding Connor, who was the biggest and strongest. To breastfeed, a baby needs to co-ordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing all at the same time and this reflex doesn’t usually kick in until about 35-36 weeks gestation, but I wanted to at least be putting the babies to the breast, even if they weren’t latching at first.

My nipples seemed huge next to their tiny mouths and I wondered how they would ever get the hang of it but one by one, they all did. I would nurse them while they were getting a feed of expressed breastmilk through their NG tube, so they would learn the feeling of a full tummy and associate it with sucking. Gradually each of them started getting a full feed from me. After two weeks and four days, all the babies were taking a good feed from me and so we were allowed to graduate to the parent room. It’s like a motel room where you have your babies with you day and night and you do it totally on your own before going home…but with the nurses just down the hall.

The babies had to gain weight before we were allowed to go home and on just the second morning we had gains of 40g for each of the girls and 60g for Connor. So although it felt like a lifetime, after just three weeks we all went home.

My husband and I had no idea how we were going to do this – feed three babies all day and night – so we had to come up with a plan. For a start, I know that breastfeeding is all about supply and demand so we went against all the triplet parent advice and had no schedule for feeds. I refused to wake them for feeds if they slept longer than three hours and I refused to leave anyone to ‘self-soothe’ if they wanted feeding more often. Our first plan was that we would both get up to all of the babies all through the night, Jason would change and burp and I would feed.

After only four nights we realised that neither of us was getting any sleep so we switched to Plan B which was hubby took the 9pm to 2am shift and I did the 2am to 7am shift. I would pump so that he could have milk to feed them during his shift, and I would just breastfeed. Soon we realised that the 9pm to 2am was the ‘screaming’ shift and it wasn’t working again so we moved to Plan C. This was where I took Connor into our bedroom and co-slept with him and breastfed him all night (and pumped after every feed). Jason slept in the nursery with the girls (it was big enough to fit three cots and a queen bed), and would give them my expressed breastmilk.

This plan is still the one that we use now, the girls are better sleepers than Connor and wake much less frequently for feeds and I can do dream feeds with Connor so we are all getting as much sleep as possible. During the day all the babies are breastfed, and I get a break from feeding two of them between 9pm and when they wake at about 5am.

Fathers

 

Before I had the babies, I talked to another mother of triplets who breastfed for six weeks and she suggested either breastfeeding two and giving the third a bottle of formula, then rotating who got the formula each feed, or feeding one baby one side, the next baby the second side and by the time you get to the third baby the first side is full enough again. I decided I would try the second option. I have always had a great milk supply, and after reading about wet nurses in Victorian times who would feed up to six babies I figured I could definitely do three!

When the babies first came home they had no awake time, they woke for a feed and then went straight back to sleep. Each baby would take around 20-30 minutes for a full feed, so by the time I got to the third baby, the first breast was full again. Then as they got older, their feed times got shorter but my body was already in the swing of how much milk was needed so I’ve never had problems with supply. In the evenings they often cluster feed and I could do 12-15 feeds in three hours! An average day of feeding would be 24 feeds, add in cluster feeds AND growth spurts and some days I was doing upwards of 33 breastfeeds!

I can and have done tandem feeds but I find that it’s nice to have at least SOME one-on-one time with each baby, and also a tandem feed with another feed straight away gives me no time to get full again. Because they are all demand fed it’s not very often that all three are hungry at the same time anyway so it’s actually easier than what you might think.

In the beginning there were eight bottles in the fridge that I had to fill each day for that nights feeding and now the girls may only need one or two feeds each, so I only have to pump once a day to get the 500- 600mls needed for that which also saves me time.

It’s wonderful to be able to do this for my babies and I get a lot of supportive comments from people but it is hard to find support with other triplet mums doing the same thing because no-one is breastfeeding. I have asked around in our triplet circles and none of them breastfed past six weeks (if at all), and they were all supplementing with formula from the beginning. So I get my support for multiples from the Multiple Birth Club, and breastfeeding support from various breastfeeding pages/ groups on Facebook. I do get out quite a bit with the babies but only for short walks, it is nearly impossible to meet up with other people face to face so online support is awesome. Also, as there is always another baby to feed/change/entertain, anything that is online is easy to stop and restart, as opposed to a phone call.

My babies are now ten and a half months old, they have two or three meals of solids a day and are still having six to eight breastfeeds as well. At nine months they all weighed in around 8kg so they have grown exceptionally well. Given that we started out with a fair amount of disbelief, little support, a c-section, separation from my babies, unable to actually breastfeed for two weeks, and of course the fact that there are three of them…it’s amazing how far we have come!

It’s now my mission to let other mums know that it is possible to exclusively breastfeed triplets, and while it is a full-time job, it is very rewarding!

By Davina Wright
Used with permission from LLL New Zealand, Aroha: Three Babies, Two Breasts http://www.lalecheleague.org.nz/Websites/laleche/images/PDF_Downloads/Aroha_articles/Aroha_vol_14_iss_5_Three_babies,_two_breasts.pdf

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

 

PLEASE REMEMBER LA LECHE LEAGUE CANADA ON GIVING TUESDAY NOVEMBER 29, 2016

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Storing Human Milk

Human milk is a fresh, living substance – not just a ready-to-use food.  When you make the effort to provide expressed milk for your baby, if he or she cannot nurse directly, you are ensuring that your baby continues to receive ideal nourishment and protection against many diseases.

Before you begin to express your milk, wash your hands with hot, soapy water and have your storage containers ready.   How you store your milk will affect how well its nutritional and anti-infective qualities are preserved.

Human milk’s anti-bacterial properties actually help it stay fresh.  The live cells and antibodies in the milk that discourage the growth of bad bacteria in your baby’s intestines also guard against bacterial growth when the milk is stored in a container.  The interpretation of research on human milk storage varies widely.  The following guidelines are adapted from La Leche League International’s pamphlet, which was created with the assistance of members of the LLLI Health Advisory Council and Anne Eglash, MD, FAAFP, FABM.  They provide evidence-based ranges for the storage of milk for full-term, healthy babies.

How Long to Store Human Milk

Whenever possible, babies separated from their mothers should get milk that has been refrigerated, not frozen.  Some of the anti-infective properties are lost when milk is frozen—though frozen milk still helps protect babies from many diseases and is much better for your baby than commercial infant formula.  How long you can store milk depends on the temperature.  A mother’s expressed milk can be safely stored at room temperature for 4-6 hours, in a refrigerator for 3-8 days, and for 6-12 months in a standard home freezer (See “Milk Storage Guidelines” below for details)

If cold milk is warmed but untouched, it can be returned to the fridge for a later feeding. It is not clear how long it is safe to keep milk after the baby drinks from the container.  Some mothers keep the leftover milk at room temperature to use within an hour if the baby appears hungry after a short sleep.  Others refrigerate and reheat the milk left from a previous feeding.  However, there is no research on the safety of either of these practices. Avoid wasting precious milk by offering small amounts at a feeding.

Frozen milk which has been thawed can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.  While there is some evidence that milk thawed for a few hours may be refrozen, this results in further breakdown of milk components and loss of antimicrobial activity.  It is best not to refreeze thawed milk.  Remember that refrigerated milk will stay fresher than milk that was once frozen.

Expressed human milk can be kept in a common refrigerator at a workplace or day care center.  Check that the refrigerator temperature is 4°C or less.  Health authorities agree that human milk is not among the body fluids that require special handling or storage in a separate refrigerator.  To keep expressed milk cool when a refrigerator is not available, place it in an insulated container with an ice pack.  This also helps when transporting milk home from the workplace or to the babysitter, especially on warm days.

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Containers for Storage

The best options for storing human milk are glass or hard-sided plastic containers with well-fitting tops.  Be sure they do not contain the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Containers should be washed in hot, soapy water, rinsed well, and allowed to air-dry before use.   Containers may also be washed and dried in a dishwasher.  If you are using these containers for freezing your milk, do not fill them up to the top – leave an inch of space to allow the milk to expand as it freezes.

If you plan to store your milk in bags, choose thick plastic bags that are designed for storing human milk rather than bottle liners.  Care must be used to avoid contamination during handling and storage of bags as they are less durable than glass containers.  Double-bagging can help prevent leakage accidents.  Squeeze out the air at the top before sealing and allow about an inch for the milk to expand if it is to be frozen.  Stand the bags in a rigid container at the back of the refrigerator shelf or in the back of the freezer, where the temperature consistently remains the coldest.

Put only 60 to 120 ml (two to four ounces) of milk in the container – the amount your baby is likely to eat in a single feeding.  This avoids waste.  Small quantities are also easier to thaw.

If a mother expresses a small amount of milk in one session, it is fine to add fresh milk to chilled milk.  The newly expressed milk should be cooled in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes before being added to the stored milk.   This method can be used for frozen milk, although this practice is questioned by some researchers.  The volume of fresh milk should be less than what is already in the frozen container.

Be sure to label every container of milk with the date it was expressed; if milk expressed on different days is combined, then the earlier date should be used.  If the milk will be given to your baby in a day care setting, also put your baby’s name on the label.

 

Using Stored Milk

Human milk may separate into a milk layer and a cream layer when it is stored.  This is normal.  Swirl it gently to redistribute the cream before giving it to the baby.

The milk only needs to be lukewarm, not hot.  Some babies accept milk right from the refrigerator.

Do not use a microwave oven to heat human milk.  Because microwaves do not heat liquids evenly, there may be hot spots in the container of milk, and this can be dangerous for infants.

High temperatures can affect many of the beneficial properties of milk.  Warm milk gradually and with care.

If milk is frozen, containers should be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or under cool running water.

Cold milk can be gently warmed under warm running water for several minutes.   Or immerse the container in a pan of water that was warmed on the stove.  Do not heat the milk in a pan directly on the stove.

If thrush or yeast infections are affecting you or your baby, continue to breastfeed during the outbreak and treatment.  While being treated, you can continue to express your milk and give it to your baby.  It is unknown if milk expressed and stored during a fungal infection could cause a recurrence.  If you are concerned, after treatment is finished, already stored milk could be boiled and cooled to kill any yeast before use.

Occasionally, breastmilk that has been frozen and thawed may smell or taste soapy; sometimes it may even smell rancid (‘off ’).  This is due to the breakdown of milk fats.   The milk is safe and most babies will still drink it.  In the future, you may want to scald your expressed milk by heating it just until bubbles form at the edges.  This deactivates the lipase enzyme, which breaks down milk fats.  The scalded milk should then be quickly cooled and frozen normally.  Scalded milk is still a healthier choice than commercial infant formula.

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Milk Storage Guidelines

                 Where            Temperature                      Time
At room temperature

(fresh milk)

             19° to 26°C 4 hours (ideal); up to

6 hours (acceptable)*

(some sources use 8 hours)

In a refrigerator                      <4°C 72 hours (ideal); up to

8 days (acceptable)**

In a freezer

(standard home freezer)

           -18° to -20°C 6 months (ideal); up to

12 months (acceptable)

 

*The preference is to refrigerate or chill milk right after it is expressed.

**Eight days is acceptable if collected in a very clean, careful way.

 

Making It Work for You and Your Baby

This information can help you decide how to store your milk to best meet your needs. Breastmilk is remarkably resilient and stores well because of its antibacterial properties. However, it is always preferable to store milk for as short a time as possible. This will minimize the loss of antibodies and nutrients, and keep bacterial growth to a minimum. The fresher your milk, the better.

 

http://www.lllc.ca/Information-sheets

 

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

 

 

 

 

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Breastfeeding With Diabetes

 

My first daughter, Katharine, was born four-and-a-half years ago. She literally kicked her way out of my womb, and my husband says when he saw her face for the first time, as she screamed at the top of her lungs, he felt a sense of fear: she was a force to be reckoned with. Katharine was demanding in every way, not the least of which was nursing. I was determined to nurse her exclusively for as long as possible. I have been an insulin-dependent diabetic for 15 years, and I knew that nursing her would reduce the risk of her getting diabetes but it was a challenge from the start.

Katharine wanted to be at my breast all the time. She rarely napped for more than half an hour. Like many needy babies I’ve learned about since then, she wanted to be held, comforted, and nursed most of the time. It seemed as if I never had enough milk for her. I remember one day when she was three weeks old, I had had her on my breast for five hours without more than a couple of 15 minute breaks all afternoon. At 5:30 PM, my husband, Lazaro, walked through the door and I burst into tears. I was exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically. We decided to give her a bottle of formula. After four ounces, she was finally contented and peaceful and she slept for the first time all day. I felt so inadequate as a mother. That day was truly a low point but, luckily, things became easier after that. I persevered, determined to nurse Katharine exclusively. Slowly but surely, my milk supply began to increase to the point where, at three months, she was satisfied and happy.

Katharine weaned at eight months, earlier than I wanted but I was happy that it was her decision. Today, Katharine is an incredibly bright, healthy four-year-old who speaks fluent Spanish and English and is a joy to behold. She is (and always will be, I’m sure) demanding, energetic, and often difficult.

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My baby, Elizabeth, is just the opposite. She was born just over a year ago and her laid-back disposition was evident at birth, just as Katharine’s fiery personality was. Elizabeth has always been easy but when she was four days old I feared she was too easy. She was simply sleeping too much and not as alert as she should be. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what. My LLL Leader, Faith, was the one who noticed Elizabeth’s jaundiced appearance. Faith told me not to worry but to be sure and wake her frequently for feedings. I was worried and called my pediatrician, who was my husband’s cousin and godmother. When I described the jaundice, she said immediately, “Stop the breast. She has breast milk-induced jaundice. Give her formula. If you insist on breastfeeding, give her lots of bottles of water.” I knew from reading baby-care books that that type of jaundice was extremely rare and didn’t appear until two weeks and my baby was only five days old. My mothering instinct told me that what my baby needed was more of my milk, not less. I had read that giving her bottles of water would make her jaundice worse by starving her of the calories she needed. I decided to take my baby out into the sunlight and breastfeed her as much as possible. To my husband’s family’s horror, I decided to find a new pediatrician, one who would support my commitment to breastfeed my baby exclusively.

Elizabeth improved and within a few days was healthy and gaining weight like crazy. She did not have a drop of formula from the day she was born until she was ten months old. Even though I went back to work part-time when she was six months old, I had built up a supply of frozen milk from the early weeks by pumping every morning.  Elizabeth began to wean last month (at thirteen months) and is incredibly healthy.  I am so grateful that I had Faith’s support and counsel and that I had the determination to do what I knew was best for my baby – to give her my milk.

 

By Lauren Priegues

Used with permission from LLL USA http://www.llli.org/nb/nbmayjun00p84.html

Readers should remember that research and medical information change over time.

 

NOVEMBER IS DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH

 

 

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: https://www.lllc.ca/donate or become a LLLC Friend http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends

 

 

 

 

 

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