Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Top-up Bottles Undermine Breastfeeding

When new mothers are finding breastfeeding challenging there are often people around them who will suggest “topping up” with a bottle as the solution to any and all breastfeeding issues.  When baby is crying and mum is crying and everyone is hungry and nobody has slept well for a few days, giving a top up bottle after breastfeeding might feel like a reasonable plan.  Understanding how giving a top up bottle can undermine breastfeeding and having some alternative strategies to try can get you through that dark moment.

A top-up bottle changes the developing breastfeeding relationship in a number of ways:

  • A bottle nipple (regardless of the brand) is not the same as a breast in the way it is molded by baby’s mouth and the way baby’s tongue is used to empty it.  When baby uses the tongue action that works on the bottle nipple on mum’s breast, it pushes the breast out of the mouth and leaves baby sucking on mum’s nipple.  This leads to sore nipples and poor milk transfer from breast to baby.  Newborns who are still trying to figure out breastfeeding may have difficulty maintaining two kinds of sucking patterns if they are asked to move back and forth between breast and bottle.

 

  • The milk in a bottle nipple flows faster and with less effort required by baby.  This fast flow disrupts the natural suck, suck, swallow, breath pattern of a baby who is feeding comfortably at the breast.  Baby has no control over the rate of flow with a bottle and can’t stop to take a breather when he wants to.  Because milk flows easily from a bottle, and baby has no choice but to swallow what is in her mouth, even a baby with a full tummy will take some milk given with a bottle.  The fact that baby will take milk from a bottle is not a good indicator that he is still hungry.
  • When a baby is “topped up” with a feeding from a bottle rather than suckling at the breast, mum’s body does not get the hormonal signals to make more milk. Breastmilk is created on a demand and supply system; the more the baby nurses the more milk will be made.

 

  • Top-up bottles undermine a mother’s faith in her own body’s ability to produce enough milk for her baby.  The more bottles given, the more her confidence is undermined.  In combination with the lack of hormonal cues for her body to keep making milk, the situation can quickly become a self-fulling prophecy.

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If breastfeeding is feeling challenging and someone is suggesting a top-up bottle here are some things to try first:

  • Nurse more often. If you are following a schedule or feeling like baby should only nurse every (fill in the blank) hours put your ideas aside and watch your baby for hunger cues.  You can find more information on newborn nursing frequency in the La Leche League Canada FAQs and HERE.

 

  • Switch sides more often.  Babies who have become accustom to the quick flow of a bottle may get fussy at the breast when your initial let down slows down.  When the milk lets down on the side you are feeding on, it also lets down on the other side at the same time.  If baby has fed on one side and then starts to fuss try burping her and then offering the other side.  The quicker milk flow may encourage her to feed contentedly.  Switching sides also helps the baby who has long suckling sessions at the breast but isn’t nursing actively much of the time to get more milk.  You may need to switch back and forth a number of times during one feeding session.  Aside from the immediate benefit of baby getting more milk at this feeding, the switching induces more let downs which send hormonal messages to the brain to make more milk.  The body takes 24-48 hours to increase the milk supply.  A couple of days of switch nursing at every feeding can boost your milk production significantly.  There is more information on establishing your milk supply and knowing if your baby is getting enough milk on the LLLC website.

 

  • Call a La Leche League Leader or go to an LLL meeting.  Talking with someone who understands the normal course of breastfeeding and life with a newborn can make a huge difference both to your perception of what is going on and to the reality of your breastfeeding relationship.  Ensuring that baby is latched on well and nursing effectively will likely change the situation that had you considering a top up bottle as a viable option.

 

  • Don’t beat yourself up if you decide that a top-up bottle is the only solution to deal with whatever is happening at this very moment.  When you and baby have calmed down, you get to re-evaluate.  You can make that call to LLL in the morning or try nursing more often and/or switching sides starting with the next feeding.

 

  • If you have been giving top-up bottles for a few days or weeks you still have the opportunity to work your way back to exclusive breastfeeding.  You will likely want to talk to an LLL Leader or lactation professional to ensure that your baby is getting enough calories during the process of working away from the top up bottles and rebuilding your milk production.

 

  • Remember, most breastfeeding challenges have worked themselves out by the time baby has reached six weeks.  This doesn’t mean you should just wait six weeks and everything will get better on its own.  It might but you also may be able to turn things around in a few days with the right information.  There is no shame in asking for support and information.  If the first person you talk to doesn’t seem helpful keep going until you find someone who is a good fit for you and your baby.

 

http://www.lllc.ca/thursdays-tip-how-topping-bottle-can-undermine-breastfeeding-what-do-instead-0

 

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 in the form of a donation so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

 

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LLLC Spring Appeal Campaign for the support of breastfed babies: Help LLLC Grow – If you, or someone you know, has benefitted from the support of LLLC, a donation is one way you can “pay it forward”.

Donate Today

Over 385,000 babies are born in Canada each year and we want to ensure every mother has access to La Leche League Canada support whenever she needs it. We are working hard to grow and we need your support. Every donation helps us provide more support to more families!

Thanks to past donations, we have been working hard to grow our services:

Our volunteer Leaders are the cornerstone of LLLC and the support we provide. We have increased our Leaders by 10% in the past year and Leader Applicants by 40% over the past 2 years!

More than 13,000 mothers attend LLLC meetings and another 20,000 receive one-to-one phone support from Leaders.

We have doubled our community and health professional outreach in just one year!

5 new Information Sheets in various languages were made available free of charge to mothers and health professionals

A new Communication Skills program was developed to strengthen health professional and breastfeeding peer support skills and our Best for Babies pre-natal program continues to grow.

Our Leaders are a vital part of LLLC’s breastfeeding foundation. They freely devote their time to help other parents give their children the optimal start in life. You, the donor, make up the other part of the foundation on which the LLLC breastfeeding services rest. Your gifts mean that our Leaders can carry out the valuable help families need. Frankly, we would be unable to deliver services to families without you or our Leaders so please take a moment to consider how valuable your support is and make a donation, either online or by using our pledge form. If a one-time donation is not suitable for you, perhaps spreading your gift over a year would make sense. Our pledge form has the monthly donation option for your convenience.

We are proud of our growth – but we want to do so much more! We need your support to help us serve even more mothers. Please donate today so we can grow to serve the mothers and babies of tomorrow.

Thank you for taking the time to consider supporting La Leche League Canada and our continued efforts to support all breastfeeding families who need us.

SeriesMeeting

La Leche League group meeting

 

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Supporting Teen Mothers

Teen mothers are somewhat less likely to decide to breastfeed than women over 20 and can encounter some additional challenges. La Leche League Canada breastfeeding groups for young mothers can provide appropriate support for those young women who choose to breastfeed.
In 2009, a group of La Leche League Canada volunteers in Calgary responded to a need in their community and started LLLC meetings especially for young mothers. “We started this group because we felt there was a need to help teen mothers in their own environment. Teen mothers often have different issues than other mothers”. The Calgary teen group met at a Calgary organization that provides housing and support to teen mothers while they are pregnant and after the birth of the baby for up to a year. Most young women who live there attend school, are working, or seeking employment. The LLLC volunteers visit the school day care centre twice a month at lunchtime and are available to answer questions. The volunteers find that the informal atmosphere helps the mothers to feel more comfortable. Usually about ten mothers attend the sessions. The babies range in age from newborn to about nine months.  The topics discussed follow the La Leche League Canada series meeting topics but are specifically tailored to respond to issues and questions raised by the young mothers. Volunteers also share LLLC Information sheets and website resources with participants. The location and informal nature of the meetings has helped to make LLLC’s mother-to-mother support accessible and relevant to the needs of the young women who attend high school. The program is making a difference in the lives of these young mothers and their babies.

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Fiona, a LLLC Leader in Edmonton Alberta, agrees. She has been coordinating a noon-hour breastfeeding drop-in for young mothers since 2002. Teen mothers often have a hard time admitting when they are struggling with breastfeeding or parenting issues. They are oriented to their peers and therefore much of their information about breastfeeding and babies can come from people who are equally ill-informed. One of the interesting side effects of holding these group meetings in a common room, is that girls who do not plan to attend the meeting are in the room and find themselves drawn into the discussion. Often they will speak about how their experience of breastfeeding did not go well, leading to discussion about how to prevent and overcome problems and where to find support and information for breastfeeding. Their experiences can encourage the expectant mothers to do some forward planning to improve their chances of successfully meeting their own breastfeeding goals. Girls who have struggled with breastfeeding and given up, gain some knowledge about the circumstances that created the challenges, the information that could have helped turn things around, and the support systems that could have helped them through the challenging times. They come to realize that their bodies did not fail them and they become better-informed peer supporters for the other teen mothers around them.
The issues that young mothers deal with are often different from those of adult mothers. For example, they are required to be back at school two weeks after giving birth. For many of them, this requires over an hour on the bus with at least one change. Some have no qualms about breastfeeding in public but for most in those early weeks, it is hard to handle any additional strange looks beyond what they are already getting as a teen with a baby in tow. Helping them figure out how to manage the trips can make the difference between continuing to breastfeed while at school and at home or giving up completely.
Alcohol use, smoking, street drugs and birth control are other issues that come up far more often in the teen group. Fiona finds that reading straight from the Breastfeeding Answer Book provides the information they seek without any hint of judgment creeping in. She has noticed that the girls are often far more openly judgmental of each other’s choices in these areas than adults would be but the perception of adult judgment will shut down communication very quickly.
“Working with young mothers is a privilege. They are as determined, passionate, funny, self-absorbed and energetic as any other teens.” Fiona concludes. “They are also caring concerned mothers who want the best for their children just as adult mothers do.”

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Adapted from the LLLC Tree of Life Summer 2010 http://www.lllc.ca/donor-newsletter-tree-lllife

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 in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

 

Other links:  https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/teens-and-breastfeeding/

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Low Milk Supply and Breastfeeding

The most common questions La Leche League Leaders hear on phone calls, e-mails and at meetings are about milk supply and generally they are about the mother’s perception that she doesn’t have enough milk for her baby(ies). There are a lot of reasons that mothers may think they don’t have enough breastmilk which are not a low supply problem at all.

Here are some tips to help you sort out what is going on:

  • You don’t necessarily have a low milk supply if baby won’t go the X number of hours between feedings that your baby book, mother, friend or health care professional says they should. Normal babies sometimes feed every 2 hours but they can also want to feed again after 20 minutes or 45 minutes or… if they are having a growth spurt they may want to feed every hour for a few days. They may cluster feed and then sleep for a longer stretch (this often happens in the evening). All of these feeding spacings are normal and a baby might do all of them in one day or over the course of a week.
  • You don’t necessarily have a low milk supply if your breasts aren’t leaking anymore or if they feel softer than they used to. Around six to eight weeks after giving birth, your breasts will no longer have the excess of lymph and blood flow that they had in the early days and they will feel softer. Some mothers never experience leaking and for those who did have leaking, most find the leaking episodes decrease as their bodies get used to breastfeeding.
  • You don’t necessarily have low milk supply because you have small breasts. The size of your breasts has very little to do with the amount of milk making glandular tissue. If your breasts grew during your teen years and grew again during pregnancy then it is very unlikely that you don’t have sufficient glandular tissue to support breastfeeding.
  • You don’t necessarily have low milk supply because your baby won’t stay asleep if you put them down after a feeding. Babies often drift off to sleep at the breast and then wake up the minute you put them down. This happens because babies are happiest in their favourite environment (your chest). Many babies also like to take a short break, have a little nap, and then come back for the second breast. This is normal.
  • You don’t necessarily have low milk supply just because your baby will take milk out of a bottle right after you have breastfed. The sucking reflex is so strong that babies will take milk if a bottle nipple is put in their mouth even if their tummies are full.

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There are two things that may indicate that you that you have a problem with low milk supply:

  • Weight gain problems: Babies almost always go down from their birth weight. Most babies have regained birth weight by two weeks and then continue to put on 150-200 grams per week. There can be some variation so getting support from someone who has a thorough understanding of breastfed baby growth rates and breastfeeding technique is important if you have concerns.
  • Diapers: After the first week, we expect to see 6-8 wet diapers per 24 hours and several poops that are at least big enough to cover about 2.5 cms. If this is not what you are seeing when you change baby’s diapers then it is time to follow up with someone knowledgeable.

If you feel that you might have a low milk supply, or baby isn’t happily feeding, or for anything else about breastfeeding that concerns you, contact a La Leche League Canada Leader to help sort out how to deal with your breastfeeding/caring for a newborn challenge. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, we’re here to help.
http://www.lllc.ca/thursdays-tip-breastfeeding-and-low-milk-supply

 

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/.

 

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/establishing-your-milk-supply/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/how-to-know-your-breastfed-baby-is-getting-enough-milk/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/newborn-feeding-patterns/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/newborns-have-small-stomachs/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/why-does-my-baby-cry/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/crying-and-breastfeeding/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/tracking-newborn-weight-loss-in-breastfed-babies/

https://supportingbreastfeeding.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/tips-for-breastfeeding-success/

http://breastfeedingtoday-llli.org/what-your-baby-knows-about-breastfeeding/

 

 

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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Breastfeeding on One Side Only

Most people assume that you need to have two functional breasts to breastfeed a baby but there are women who, for a variety of reasons, nurse their babies, on one side only. The first concern people bring up is whether the baby will get enough milk. When you consider that mothers of twins (and more) can successfully breastfeed, it is clear that each breast will produce the amount of milk needed given the right stimulation.

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The most common reason for mothers to find themselves breastfeeding from one side only is past surgery for cancer or to remove a benign lump. If the ductal tissue of the breast has been removed or severely damaged, the breast may not produce milk or the milk may not reach the nipple. Other mothers have found themselves nursing on one side because of physical issues of their own or the baby’s, or they have a baby whose adamant refusal to feed from one breast can’t be overcome.

Producing an adequate milk supply when breastfeeding on one side only requires the same things as stimulating a milk supply in both breasts: putting baby to the breast early and often and ensuring that baby has a good latch. The breast that is not stimulated will, over time, stop producing milk.

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If you are surprised that breastfeeding is possible with only one functional breast you may be even more surprised to know that mothers have breastfed twins or tandem nursed a newborn and a toddler with only one breast. With knowledge, support and determination breastfeeding mothers can do amazing things!

http://www.lllc.ca/thursday-tip-breastfeeding-one-side-only

 

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 in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

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My First La Leche League Meeting

Just a few weeks after my first baby was born, I got up the courage to go to a La Leche League meeting.  Why did I go?  Because I had a problem.  In the hospital, they’d taught me to breastfeed in one position, and while it worked, it was increasingly awkward as my baby, Matthew, grew bigger.  Nursing was going okay, but I wanted to be able to sit on a bench in the mall and feed my baby in a more relaxed, comfortable position.  Every time I tried to latch him on that way, he’d just cry, like he didn’t know what I was trying to do.
I thought maybe someone at La Leche League could help me figure it out.
I was kind of nervous about going, though. I had no idea what to expect.  Was it going to be like a class?  Would there be a test? (I hoped not, because I’d probably fail.)  Would the other mothers be weird?  Would they think I was an idiot because I couldn’t figure out how to breastfeed in a different position?

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The first thing I saw when I walked in the door was a mother sitting on the couch and nursing twins.  Twins!  I didn’t even know that was possible.  Then I noticed a toddler walk over to her mother, plop herself in her lap, and start to nurse.  I’d never seen a baby that old breastfeeding before, either.  There were also some pregnant women and other mothers with little babies, just like me.
Once the meeting got going, I relaxed. It wasn’t like a class at all, and the other mothers had plenty of questions and things they wanted to talk about.  It wasn’t just me.  When I asked about how to nurse in different positions, several mothers had suggestions.  One showed me that I could latch Matthew on in the position I’d been taught, and then gently shift into the position I wanted to use.  It worked!  There I was, looking like the Madonna in one of those classic paintings, nursing my baby.
Not only had I gotten the practical help I needed, I’d learned a lot and made some new friends.  That turned out to be just the first of many LLL meetings I attended, and by the time I’d had baby number two, I was a volunteer Leader myself.  I know, though, that I’ll never forget that first meeting.

by Teresa
http://www.lllc.ca/my-first-la-leche-league-meeting

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 in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

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Diabetic or Insulin Resistant Breastfeeding Mother

Women who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes or who are considered insulin
resistant or “pre-diabetic” can breastfeed and doing so is good for mother and baby.

Breastfeeding has a positive effect on a mother’s insulin response.  For Type 1 diabetic mothers, this can decrease their need for insulin during the breastfeeding period.  Mothers who have Type 2 diabetes may find they require less hypoglycemic medication while breastfeeding.  Good control of your insulin levels is important while breastfeeding.  You may need to do some additional monitoring and be in close contact with your health practitioner during the early weeks until your hormones and your milk productions stabilize.

Mothers who are diabetic are at an increased risk of pre-term birth and their babies may develop prolonged low blood sugar levels shortly after birth (a dip in blood sugar levels one to two hours after birth is normal with blood sugar levels starting to rise again within 2 to 4 hours). Planning ahead with your birth team to manage these potential events can be helpful so everyone is prepared and not making decisions in a stressful situation.  If at all possible, plan to breastfeed within the first hour after birth and at least once an hour until the baby’s blood sugar levels stabilize.  Skin-to-skin contact has been found to decrease the risk of hypoglycemia in newborns and it helps trigger the hormones that drive breastfeeding.
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A mother who is diabetic or insulin resistant may find that it takes a bit longer for her milk volume to increase after giving birth.  Colostrum is providing all the nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fats) that baby needs through the early days.  Frequent effective feedings will speed up the body’s ability to increase the milk volume.  In the event that supplementation is required during the first few days, human donor milk is the best option.  A non-cow’s milk based formula is the next best option of donor milk is not available.  Early introduction of cow’s milk is considered a risk factor for later development of diabetes.  Talk to a La Leche League Leader or lactation professional if you have concerns about your milk supply.

Breastfeeding may make your blood glucose levels harder to predict.  To prevent blood sugar dips:

Plan to have a snack before or during nursing
* Drink enough fluids (plan to sip a glass of water or a caffeine-free drink while nursing)
* Keep something to treat low blood glucose nearby when you nurse, so you
* don’t have to stop your child’s feeding
* Developing a meal plan with your health care provider or dietitian will allow you to achieve stable blood sugar which will help you meet your breastfeeding goals.

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Most medications used to treat diabetes or insulin resistance can be safely used during nursing, but be sure to check with your doctor.  The insulin molecule itself is too large to pass from your blood stream into your breast milk and it would be digested in baby’s stomach if any did pass through.  If you are considering taking herbs, like fenugreek, which may have an effect on blood sugar levels, discuss this with your health care provider.  Mothers with diabetes have an increased risk of thrush and mastitis, which is why it is important for them to look after their nipples and drain their breasts regularly.  Make sure that your baby is latched on properly and get help if you are experiencing sore nipples or sore breasts. When weaning, a diabetic mother should do so very gradually, so her body can adjust to the changing insulin requirement.  Close monitoring and medication adjustment may be required at the end of breastfeeding as it was at the beginning.

For a detailed look at Insulin resistance and lactation insufficiency by Diana Cassar-Uhl, MPH, IBCLC check out this link.

For information and breastfeeding support if you are diabetic or insulin resistant or facing any other breastfeeding challenges please contact a La Leche League Leader.

 

http://www.lllc.ca/thursdays-tip-breastfeeding-if-you-are-diabetic-or-insulin-resistant

 

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 in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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Breastfeeding Saves Taxpayer Money on Health Care

We often talk about the financial savings to a family when babies are breastfed. One study talks about the potential savings to the health care system and therefore all taxpayers if breastfeeding was the societal norm. This is a UK study but the results would be equally true anywhere.

“Research commissioned by UNICEF UK has revealed that low breastfeeding rates in the UK are costing the NHS millions of pounds.

The report, Preventing Disease and Saving Resources, looks at how raising breastfeeding rates could save money through improving health outcomes.

The authors’ calculations show that moderate increases in breastfeeding could see millions in potential annual savings to the NHS – and that figure might only be the tip of the iceberg.

The report findings show that for just five illnesses, moderate increases in breastfeeding would translate into cost savings for the NHS of £40 million ($80,323,885 CND) and tens of thousands of fewer hospital admissions and GP consultations.

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In addition, analyses on three conditions – cognitive ability, childhood obesity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – indicate that modest improvements in breastfeeding rates could save millions of pounds and, in the case of SIDS, children’s lives.

“We know that 90 per cent of women who stop breastfeeding in the first six weeks discontinued before they had wanted to,” said Anita Tiessen, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK.

She added: “We want to see breastfeeding recognised as a major public health issue from government level through to local children’s centres, and appropriate investment and legislation put in place to give mothers a better experience of breastfeeding.”

The research team was led by Professor Mary Renfrew of Dundee University.

“This research shines a spotlight on the profound protective effects which breastfeeding has on both mother and child,” Professor Renfrew said.

“It is clear that putting resources into supporting women to breastfeed successfully would be hugely cost effective to the NHS, as well as preventing the distress and pain felt by a mother who has a bad experience of breastfeeding.”

http://www.lllc.ca/breastfeeding-and-financial-savings-health-care-system

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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 in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/donate  so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

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Mastitis

Mastitis means an inflammation in your breast.  It’s sometimes due to an infection, but may not be. Signs include:

  • A warm or hot, sensitive (sometimes painful) area on one breast (rarely both) that may look red or have reddish streaks
  • Sometimes fever and/or chills and/or generalized aching, as though you have the flu.

How did you get it?  Often nobody knows. Maybe cracked or damaged nipples that let germs in, plugged ducts, ineffective or infrequent nursing (or pumping), pressure from a bra or baby carrier, being overtired and rundown (“holiday mastitis”).

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What can you do?  You may want to talk to your doctor about a prescription for antibiotics.  It may not be an infection, so you could try other treatments first.

  • Empty Breast, Lots of Rest. That means (a) frequently nursing, pumping, or hand- expressing to keep the milk moving and (b) spending as much time as possible in bed or lying down, resting or sleeping.
  • Cold packs (such as frozen peas wrapped in a cloth) or other sources of cold on the inflamed area, twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off, or a heating pad, whichever feels better.
  • Over- the- counter anti- inflammatory medication that your doctor approves.

No worse after 24 hours?  You can repeat for another 24.  No better?  Think about antibiotics.

For more suggestions, see the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s mastitis protocol at http://www.bfmed.org/Resources/Protocols.aspx .

http://www.llli.org/toolkit The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding 

Call your La Leche League Leader for more help.

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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 in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/ so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

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Breastfeeding Support

 

The National Post published an article  that described a study about how the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines around breastfeeding, and the way the medical community communicates those guidelines, influences the breastfeeding decisions of mothers.  The guidelines, which are endorsed by Canadian, American and British health authorities, recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months with the addition of complementary foods as the baby is ready and interested.  Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as the baby receiving only breastmilk (no water, juice, artificial formulas or solid foods).

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What did the study find?  Many of the mothers interviewed felt that the guideline was unrealistic and unachievable.  Most of them gave their babies something other than breastmilk within the first few weeks and the majority stopped breastfeeding before their baby reached six months.  These mothers said they felt unsupported in their goal of exclusive breastfeeding both within their families and by the health care community.  They wished there had been more realistic teaching about breastfeeding prenatally and better access to support after their babies were born.

While the study was done in Scotland, La Leache League Canada Leaders hear these comments, too.  Mothers are told about the importance of breastfeeding during their pregnancies, they want to do what is best for their babies, but if they run into difficulties, they often have a hard time finding support or helpful information.

We don’t believe that the problem is having six months of exclusive breastfeeding as a goal; the problem is not providing mothers with the knowledge, tools and support to make it a realistic goal.  That’s exactly why La Leche League was founded more than 50 years ago, and why it is still needed today.  Peer support (support from experienced breastfeeding mothers) has been shown by research to be the most effective way to give mothers the emotional and practical support they need, especially in the first 2-3 weeks. The WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly™ Initiative (BFI) program recognizes the importance of this kind of support for continued breastfeeding.  It’s been made the “10th step” of becoming “baby-friendly” – the Canadian version states, in part, “Provide a seamless transition between the services provided by the hospital, community health services and peer support programs.”  That requires more than just handing out a piece of paper listing resources.

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La Leche League provides support in several different ways.  At the monthly meetings, women can meet other mothers with babies, and talk about their challenges in an informal setting.  The topics discussed range from dealing with sore nipples, managing breastfeeding when the mother has to return to work, and handling the changes in family relationships when a new (breastfeeding) baby joins the family.  Many of the mothers interviewed for the study found that other family members wanted to feed the babies; this is a common concern at LLL meetings, too, and the mothers in the group usually have a variety of helpful solutions.

We are pleased to see researchers listening to and sharing the problems new mothers are facing “in the real world.”  We hope this study leads to improvements in how information and support for breastfeeding mothers is given within the healthcare system including a system-wide commitment to referring mothers to peer support groups such as La Leche League.

 

http://www.lllc.ca/what-one-study-tells-us-about-breastfeeding-support

 

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 in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/ so we can continue to help others breastfeed.

 

 

 

 

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The Power of Hand Expression

By Diana West from La Leche League International’s Breastfeeding Today.

I was a new mother struggling with low milk production and a baby who wouldn’t nurse when the first effective “consumer grade” breast pumps were invented. I’d been renting a hospital-grade pump to remove my milk, but the idea of owning a good quality pump that was more portable enticed me to buy a double-sided electrical model. It looked so cool! It was in a black bag designed to look like a briefcase so it could be carried to work discreetly. I wasn’t working, but I loved the way it made me feel efficient and smart. I was in the first wave of breastfeeding mothers to flock to this type of pump, and millions have been sold over the years.

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Knowing what I’ve learned since those days, my heart sinks to think I put such stock in a cool looking pump when my own two hands could have done a better job. But expressing my milk by hand never crossed my mind then. My impression of hand expression in those days was as a last resort when a good pump wasn’t available. My mind has changed quite a bit since then.

I now see hand expression as far more powerful than pumping in many ways. Research has shown that it can be more effective at removing milk in the first days after birth when the colostrum is thick and the breasts are swollen. Pumping colostrum leaves only sprays on the side of the bottle that are hard to give to the baby, but hand expression into a spoon saves every drop. Hand expression can also be used as a technique during and after pumping to increase caloric content and remove more milk.  It can be more reliable than a pump when electricity is scarce. It’s quieter than a pump when privacy is needed. It’s certainly less expensive than a pump. But I think the most powerful aspect of hand expression is the way it affects our perception of our breasts and what they can do.

Many young women have an uncomfortable relationship with their breasts before they become mothers. They’re usually aware of the sexual aspects of their breasts before they think about their ability to make milk.  As an erogenous zone, women often feel it’s more appropriate for their partners to handle their breasts than to touch them themselves. There can be a delicate balance between breasts as sexual power and targets of sexual vulnerability.

Many women have discovered that learning how to hand express during pregnancy helps them feel more comfortable touching and handling their breasts. I jokingly call this “making friends with the girls” when I suggest the idea to a client. That usually makes her laugh and lightens the mood, but there’s some real truth to it. One study found that learning hand expression during pregnancy increased mothers’ confidence and readiness for breastfeeding. Another study found that it increased not only breastfeeding confidence, but also how long they breastfed. Experimenting slowly with hand expression to figure out what it takes to get drops of milk can be empowering, especially during pregnancy before there’s any pressure to express milk for the baby.

In my experience, there’s no one right way to hand express. When I was nursing my first baby almost 20 years ago, I remember being taught the Marmet Method of Milk Expression, which was developed by Chele Marmet, one of the pioneers of the lactation consultation field. Over the years, there have been several other official methods, many of which are now demonstrated on YouTube. But I think hand expression methods are best used as a starting point to figuring out what works best on your own individual breasts. We’re all different, and what works for you might be different than what works for me. The one movement that I find helps no matter what else you do is to move the skin over the breast tissue instead of sliding your fingers over the skin. You’ll also almost always get milk to spray by compressing just behind the areola where there’s a sort of “sweet spot.”

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Getting to know the landscape of your breasts and the way they work can help you start to think of them as your breasts. You may feel a slowly growing pride as you see that they can feed and soothe your baby. You’ll start to appreciate their superpower. After a few days of nursing, you may realize that your breasts are your connection to this baby with whom you are falling so deeply in love. That’s the power of hand expression.

From Breastfeeding Today, used with permission. http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/46f5a2ad#/46f5a2ad/1

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 in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/ so we can continue to help others breastfeed. 

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