Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

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.



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

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






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 or Internationally

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: or become a LLLC Friend






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Toxic Chemicals in Breastmilk

There is no reason to discourage breastfeeding.

The internet is buzzing with articles about toxic chemicals in breastmilk following the release of research [1] done by the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health which looked at the levels of perfluorinated alkylate substances (PFAS) in breastmilk.
Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) make up a large group of chemicals which have been used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. The substances are mainly used in firefighting foams, protective coatings in food wrappers and containers, stain resistant textiles, floor wax, polish and in the electronic industries. These substances have a high likelihood of ending up in waste dumps, sewage water and the general environment.

The chemicals of the PFAS group are virtually indestructible and were until recently thought to be completely biologically inert and not available for uptake in living organisms. It now appears that they bond with proteins and fats in food sources. Since the late 1990s, increasing numbers scientific studies have brought PFAS chemicals in the focus of international environmental concern. PFAS are shown to be globally distributed and some of them are bioaccumulative which has implications for human exposure.


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The Harvard research, which was done in the Faroe Islands in conjunction with the Norwegian Government, showed that PFASs are transferred through breastmilk and that blood samples levels increased the longer that babies were breastfed. After the babies were weaned their accumulated PFAS levels decreased. Babies who were exclusively breastfeed had higher levels than partially breastfeed babies. This information is important not as a reason to discourage breastfeeding but because it is a look at PFAS exposure and accumulation levels in both women and children in that community. The tested babies only showed levels of PFASs in their blood samples because their mothers had built up an accumulation of PFASs over their lifetimes which they could pass on.

Presumably every other adult in that community has similar levels of accumulated PFASs.
Choosing to formula feed doesn’t necessarily protect an infant from exposure to these chemicals for two reasons. Firstly the baby has already been exposed in utero. Studies have shown that PFASs cross the placental barrier and high maternal levels can be linked to miscarriages. Secondly, community water supplies can carry high levels of PFASs. Drinking water prepared by treatment which does not include GAC filtration or reverse osmosis will generally contain higher PFAS levels. The potential for exposure to PFASs in formula fed babies through water supply applies both to the water used in the manufacturing of the formula and the water used to prepare it at home.
Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard Chan School and spokesperson for the research team said “There is no reason to discourage breastfeeding, but we are concerned that these pollutants are transferred to the next generation at a very vulnerable age. Unfortunately, the current U.S. legislation does not require any testing of chemical substances like PFASs for their transfer to babies and any related adverse effects.”

More information about PFASs can be found at the following links:

Community Drinking Water [2]

Immunization response and PFAS exposure [3]

European Commission Community Research and Development information Service (CORDIS) Final Report summary – PERROOD (Perfluorinated organics in our diet) [4]


Do you have questions or concerns about breastfeeding or are you searching for a supportive community of other breastfeeding mothers? Check out a LLLC group near you.




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 or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!




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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.


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.


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 or Internationally


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!



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.


La Leche League group meeting


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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.


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!


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 or Internationally


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!


Breastfeeding and Juice Cleansing

New mothers can feel incredible pressure to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight and shape.  The natural inclination to wish you could fit into your favourite clothes is exacerbated by all of the magazine photos showing celebrities who have recently had babies wearing lovely, form fitting clothing.  As you stand in the grocery store checkout line up with a squawking baby in your arms, baby spit on your shoulder, your clothing wrinkled and without your make-up on, seeing them beautifully made-up and looking polished and shiny can make you feel like you should be “doing better”.
Along with all the other dietary ideas that abound, those same magazines often talk about the juice cleanses these celebrity new mothers have done to get themselves back into front cover photo worthy shape.  Many mums wonder if doing a juice cleanse is safe and compatible with breastfeeding.
The first thing to understand about juice cleanses is there are no good scientific studies to back their claims that they clear toxins from your body or promote healthy weight loss. Your liver, kidneys and colon are designed by nature to remove toxins from the body and for most people who are eating a healthy fiber-rich diet, they do an excellent job.
Juice cleanses are low in calories, fats and protein all of which are needed to fuel breastmilk production.  If you are not providing these nutrients to your body through your diet, it will take them from your own stores in order to continue to make high quality breastmilk for your baby.  Juice cleansing will likely cause you to lose some weight but it will be at the expense of your own energy levels.  As much of the weight lost will be water weight, it is also likely to come right back when the cleanse is over.  Juice cleanses are also low in the dietary fiber which is required by our bodies for the colon to do its job of clearing toxins.


So what can you do to improve your diet, increase your energy levels and perhaps encourage a few of the pregnancy pounds to go away without jeopardizing breastfeeding? Breastfeeding is the best way to lose the extra weight you may be carrying post-pregnancy.  New mothers often weigh about 10 pounds more than they did when they got pregnant and that weight was put there by nature to fuel breastfeeding.  For most mothers, those 10 pounds disappear without any extra efforts over the first six months to a year as you breastfeed your baby.  Eating a nutrient-dense diet of whole grains, protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables is best for your body at any stage of life and especially when breastfeeding.  Juices aren’t off-limits to new mothers.  They can be healthy if they are low-sugar (primarily vegetable based with only enough fruit for sweetness) and part of a well-rounded diet.  Juices can be tempting as a quick pick-me-up when you are really busy and juggling life with a small baby.  Some mothers find a smoothie made with greens, fruit or fruit juice, low-fat milk or milk substitutes and a fiber source is quick to make and easy to consume while breastfeeding the baby or walking circles with a fussing little one.  Many high fiber smoothies can be made ahead of time which is extra helpful when you are busy.
Here are a few links to smoothie recipes to get you started (click on the name):
Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie
Smoothies for Breastfeeding Moms
Disclaimer: La Leche League Canada has no personal or commercial connection with these sites and makes no claims about their information other than that the smoothies look tasty and healthy.
Lastly, remember that those celebrity mothers on the magazine covers generally have help of all kinds from baby care to cooks and fitness coaches.  The amount of time and effort required to look like they do is considerable and it is time away from their children. Also, photo editing can make anyone look 10 pounds lighter, smoother, or less exhausted. Don’t believe that everything you see in the magazines is the way things really are when the cameras aren’t looking.


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 or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!


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Breastfeeding On a Vegan Diet

Mothers, and others, often wonder if a vegan diet is sufficient to support the nutritional needs of a breastfeeding mother and her baby.  It may be useful to consider that in many parts of the world, a vegan diet is the norm and mothers and babies in those cultures have been healthy for thousands of years.

Breastmilk production requires about 500 calories per day.  Some of these calories come from the extra food the mother is eating and the rest come from her body’s stores created during pregnancy.  All mothers should ensure that their diet includes sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and iron.

All breastfeeding mothers need at least 1000 mg of calcium per day.  Vegan mothers can get their calcium from bok choy, blackstrap molasses, tofu, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, kale, almonds and Brazil nuts.  Enriched orange juice, soymilk, enriched soy products and calcium supplements can also help vegan mothers boost the amount of calcium in their diets.

Vitamin B-12 is primarily available from animal products.  Deficiency sometimes occurs in individuals following a vegan diet.  According to La Leche League, symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency in infants may include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and muscle atrophy.  Fermented soybean foods and yeast are an alternative source of vitamin B-12.  Breastfeeding vegan mothers should consult with a health care provider to determine whether their diet contains enough vitamin B-12 from non-animal sources.  If necessary, doctors can prescribe supplements for either the mother or the infant.


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin important for the formation of bone and the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestine.  In infancy and childhood, vitamin D deficiency results in rickets, a disease marked by bone deformities.  Regardless of diet, most people receive the majority of their vitamin D through exposure to ultraviolet B rays in sunlight.  However, during winter in northern latitudes, ultraviolet B rays wavelengths are not found in sunlight due to the angle of the sun.  Darker-skinned individuals require more sunlight exposure on their skin to produce sufficient vitamin D.  In Canada mothers and/or babies may need vitamin D supplementation regardless of their diet.

The recommended intake of protein for nursing mothers is 65 grams per day for the first six months, and 62 grams per day between six and 12 months.  A varied vegan diet that includes a range of protein sources such as soy products, beans, and grains should provide plenty of protein for breastfeeding mothers.

The iron found in breast milk is sufficient for infants throughout the first 4 to 6 to six months in healthy well-nourished mothers.  Vegan mothers do not have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than do meat eaters.  Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat.  Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron.

Vegan mothers can and do breastfeed.  Additional information can be found here.

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 or Internationally


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

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Why Does My Baby Cry?

All babies cry, and some cry a lot.

When it’s your baby who is crying a lot, it can be very frustrating and upsetting for you, too.  You try burping him, rocking him – and he’s still wailing. What’s wrong?  You might be worried about making enough milk to fill him.  Or think that your milk is not good enough. Or maybe you are worried that something you are eating is upsetting his tummy through your milk.

You’re not alone in these concerns.  Many mothers worry about these things.  But most of the time, your baby’s crying has nothing to do with the quality or amount of milk in your breasts.

The truth is that there are many reasons babies cry. Crying is one way your baby communicates with you, but at first it can be a challenge to figure out what he’s trying to tell you.


In the first few days:

Your baby is adjusting to life out in the world.  He’s been through some big changes!  When he fusses or cries, offering the breast can easily comfort him.  At first, your breasts produce small amounts of colostrum, but your baby is soothed by sucking, by being held skin-to-skin and by hearing your familiar voice and heartbeat.  His frequent feedings also signal your breasts to make more milk.

He’s not likely to follow a firm pattern or schedule for feeding.  He might breastfeed very frequently for a few hours and then sleep for a longer period of time.  Or he might just have an irregular pattern with his feedings.  Some babies will feed 8 or 9 times a day, others will nurse more than 12 times a day. That’s all normal.

Crying and breastfeeding problems:

It can be very frustrating when you try to breastfeed, but the baby just cries and can’t seem to find the nipple or suck properly.  It might help to just cuddle your baby against your bare skin with her head near your shoulder for a few minutes, until she calms down.  Then try again. Maybe try a laid-back position so she can feel your skin and start to move to the breast on her own.

Remember, she’s learning to do something brand new, so it may take her more than a few minutes to latch on to the breast.  Be patient with your baby, and ask for help (from a La Leche League Leader, lactation consultant, midwife or nurse) if you are worried.

After day three or four:

At this point, the amount of milk in your breasts will increase significantly.  Your baby may have trouble latching on to your fuller breasts, and that might cause more crying. Try to express a little milk to make your breasts softer and help him latch on. If that doesn’t work, ask for some help.

Your baby lost weight in the first few days (as he got rid of the dark-coloured poop called meconium that was previously in his gut) but now he will start gaining. Between 5 and 8 ounces or 140-250 grams each week is typical. That means he is getting plenty of milk – one worry you can cross off your list!  In between weight checks, just watch to be sure he has at least 6 heavy wet diapers and 3 or 4 poopy diapers every 24 hours. (He may poop less often after one month.)

If your baby is not gaining weight as expected after day four, talk to your doctor or midwife. There are things you can do to help your baby get more milk at the breast.

Does your baby cry a lot in the evenings?  Many mothers find their babies are extra-fussy in the evening hours.  If you can, just relax on the couch or in a rocking chair and let the baby nurse as much as he wants.

Worried that something you are eating or drinking is bothering your baby?  Most babies aren’t bothered by anything their mothers eat or drink, but some are.  You could talk to a La Leche League Leader or lactation consultant about this if you think it is a problem for your baby.

In the first two months:

Many babies have “growth spurts” or “frequency days” as they grow.  This happens around 3 weeks and 6 weeks. You’ll notice that suddenly your usually happy baby will start to cry a lot and want to nurse much more often – sometimes all day long!  This is normal.  Usually after two or three days your baby goes back to his previous pattern of breastfeeding and seems more content.  Those days of frequent feedings have boosted your milk supply to meet his needs.

What else could it be?

Most of the time a baby’s crying or fussing has nothing to do with breastfeeding.  Babies are all different: some are more sensitive and intense than others.  One baby might not wake up if a dog barks; while another will wake up crying and keep crying.  Crying is the loudest way your baby can communicate. He’s not trying to drive you crazy or manipulate you; he’s trying to let you know “something is wrong!”

How do you know what’s wrong?  Sometimes your baby cries because he wants to be close to you, hear your voice, and feel your warmth, just as he did before he was born.  Over time, you’ll get to know your baby and understand his unique cries and signals.

Some things to try:

  • Offer the breast, even if your baby nursed a short time ago. He may just need a little dessert!  Even if he is not very hungry, breastfeeding might calm him.
  • Hold him close to you – perhaps undressing him so that you can be skin to skin. That contact often helps the baby stop crying.
  • Take a walk with him. Babies love to move, and they love the rhythm of an adult walking.  Use a wrap or soft baby carrier if you have one, or just carry him as you stroll around your kitchen or around the block.  You can also rock in a rocking chair.
  • Talk or sing to her. Your baby has been listening to your voice for months before she was born, and she loves the sound of it.
  • Take a bath together. If your baby is feeling tense, snuggling with you in warm water might just be the relaxation she needs.  A helper can place the baby in your arms once you’re in the water.
  • If nothing is working, try offering the breast again. She might be ready to latch on and nurse a bit more now.


A helping hand

Sometimes all you can do for your baby is to be there while he cries.  He will be reassured by your touch and closeness, even if he continues to cry. If your baby cries a lot, and you are getting frustrated, ask someone to help you out.  Perhaps your partner or a friend or family member can hold or carry the baby while you have a break.

Here’s the good news:  even babies who cry a lot tend to do less and less crying as they reach two or three months of age.  Your love and support will help him learn that the world is a caring place and that he can trust you to be there for him.

Why Not Formula?

Baby cries > Anxious parents > Feed Formula > Baby breastfeeds less > Breast milk production decreases This La Leche League Canada Information Sheet Why Does my Baby Cry? is available on our website in several languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.

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 or Internationally


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!




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Breast Engorgement

What is engorgement?  After you give birth, your body produces the early milk called colostrum which provides your baby with all the nourishment he needs plus important antibodies and other protective factors.  Sometime between the second and sixth day, your body will begin to produce mature milk.  Some women experience such fullness in the breasts that it makes their breasts feel hard and painfully full.  This is engorgement.  This fullness is due to additional blood and fluid travelling to the breasts as your body is preparing to produce milk as well as the actual volume of milk itself.  Some degree of breast engorgement is normal. Usually the fullness subsides within 12-48 hours.



Engorgement can make the nipples flatten due to the fullness of the breast and make it difficult for the baby to latch on to the breast.  Mothers may experience pain in the breasts due to the fullness.

You can minimize the effects of engorgement by doing the following:

  • Nurse frequently, at least 8-12 times or more a day. Offer both breasts. A newborn should be nursing on each breast at least every two to three hours.  Remember to breastfeed as often as your baby indicates the need.
  • Engage in skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
  • Gentle Breast Massage – with the palm of your hand and starting from the top of your chest (just below your collar bone), gently stroke the breast downward in a circular motion, toward the nipple. This may be more effective when done while you are in the shower or while leaning over a basin of warm water and splashing water over your breasts.
  • Warm Compresses – Some mothers find that applying a warm, moist compress and expressing some milk just before feedings helps to relieve engorgement. Using heat for too long will increase swelling and inflammation, so keep it brief. Cold compresses can be used in between to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Cabbage Leaf Compresses – Rinse the inner leaves of a head of green cabbage. They can be used refrigerated (best) or at room temperature. Between feedings, drape leaves directly over breasts. Change when the leaves become wilted or every two hours. Some authorities suggest twice a day for 20 minutes for a day or two.  Discontinue use if rash or other signs of allergy occur or when the swelling starts to go down.
  • Engorgement can cause the dark area around the nipple, the areola, to become hard and swollen. This can be a problem if the fullness makes it difficult for baby to latch on. A technique that can help is reverse pressure softening. Reverse Pressure Softening softens the areola to make latching and removing milk easier. It is not the same as hand expression. For complete instructions and illustrations click here.

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Contact your La Leche League Leader, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or health care provider immediately if:

  • Engorgement is not relieved by any of the above comfort measures.
  • You begin experiencing symptoms of mastitis: fever of greater than 100.6°F (38.1°C), red/painful/swollen breast(s), chills, “flu-like” symptoms.
  • Your baby is unable to latch on to your breast.
  • Your baby is not having enough wet and dirty diapers.

Engorgement of your breasts can seem to you like a huge complication at the time.  It’s a little bump in the road and is very time-limited to a few days.  You can take action to help yourself through this temporary hurdle and continue to enjoy breastfeeding your baby.


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally





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Tips for Breastfeeding Success

Most Canadian mothers want to breastfeed their babies, but many end up weaning sooner than they’d planned.  Here are some tips from La Leche League Canada to help you achieve your breastfeeding goals:

  1. Frequent nursing in the early weeks helps to establish your milk production. Watch for your baby’s “I’m hungry” cues – which may be sucking on his hands, smacking his lips, nuzzling your shoulder or cheek, or fussing a little.  Don’t wait until he’s crying or he may not nurse well.
  1. Let baby nurse as long as she wants to at each feeding. Your milk changes throughout the feeding, and only your baby knows when she’s had all she needs.  No need to look at the clock – just watch your baby!
  1. If you find your nipples are sore, ask for help. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt! Often a simple change in positioning can help, but there can be other causes.  A La Leche League volunteer Leader may be able to help you or direct you to others in the community who can treat the problem.


  1. Try out different positions for nursing. If you can nurse lying down, for example, you can get some rest AND feed your baby at the same time.  Multi-tasking at its best!
  1. Wondering if your baby is getting enough?  Keep track of the poopy diapers and you’ll know.  Two or three substantial poops every 24 hours mean the baby is getting plenty; each should be at least the size of a loonie.  More frequent smaller poops are fine too.


More questions? A great place to get them answered is at your local La Leche League Canada Group meeting. You can also call, email, find a Group or Leader near you at

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If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally






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Milk Supply Challenges


Mothers share their stories:

“When Shaina was a newborn, my milk supply was more than abundant. I would drip milk copiously in the morning and whenever I took a shower. When I nursed on one side, the other leaked. But as early as Shaina’s sixth month, I noticed my right breast was producing significantly less milk than my left. I noticed that Shaina would get restless on the right breast quickly. I suspect the reason for this was my favouring the left breast when we co-slept. I discussed the challenge with my LLL Leader and other Group members, who suggested I use the right breast during the day and the left at night. It was also recommended to start each feed with the right breast – no improvement. By 10 months, Shaina and I became accustomed to having one breast be the main supplier. Now, I use the right one when I want to give Shaina comfort but not a meal, and I save the left one for when I know she’ll need more milk – like before bed and in the morning. My right breast is a full cup size smaller than my left!”



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“I had breast reduction surgery back in 1991 and gave birth to my first baby, a daughter, in 2005. Some mothers who have breast reduction surgery have full supplies nonetheless, but I was not one of them. By day 5, a visit to the lactation consultant confirmed the worst—I would have to supplement. Luckily, I had read LLL’s book, Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery by Diana West. Instead of supplementing with bottles, I used the Lact-aid supplemental nursing system—a little bag that hangs around your neck with a tube that goes in the baby’s mouth while she is nursing. As the baby nurses, she gets all the available milk, stimulates your supply, and gets the supplement she needs at the same time. I also went on medication to increase my supply and joined Diana West’s forum (Breastfeeding After Breast and Nipple Surgeries) at It took me several months to come to terms with my inadequate supply. I beat myself up, felt guilt and regret, and wasted her best moments on the pump. Finally, I decided that I was giving my daughter the best that I could, and it would have to be enough. I started focusing on enjoying our breastfeeding relationship for what it was, not what it might have been. My daughter is now 9 months old and still nursing. This is one of my proudest accomplishments.”



“Milk supply was never a concern with my first two boys, now 4 and 2. However, I had twins – a girl and a boy – in October and faced a few challenges. Each weighed over 8 pounds and latched well in the hospital but it was discovered that Tom had a tongue-tie so he didn’t have an effective latch. He had it snipped at 10 days old but it didn’t solve all his problems right away. I rented a hospital grade breast pump at 8 days and wish I had even sooner. I needed my body to realize it had twins to nurse. With great support from my sister (who had breastfed all three of her now grown girls), mother and husband, we were able to syringe feed him, then advance to a bottle and finally he became a great nurser before 2 months (his sister Emma hasn’t had a problem). Perseverance paid off!! The LLL book Mothering Multiples by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada became my “bible” and gave me confidence in my ability to produce enough milk for two babies.”




“At eight months pregnant, I stood in a hot shower, expressing colostrum and crying. I had been afraid I could never produce milk, and seeing physical evidence of at least one working duct on each side was overwhelming. My child could have milk! A dozen years earlier, I had had breast reduction surgery. At the time, my doctor could tell me very little about my chance for future lactation. When I became pregnant, I sought out every piece of advice I could find on breastfeeding after reduction and obsessed over every possibility. When my daughter Sophia was born, I was able to breastfeed her exclusively for two weeks. Intellectually, I knew this was a triumph, but it tore me up when Mike brought home that first can of formula. However, she didn’t mind the supplementary tube on my nipple, and, fully fed, her disposition improved amazingly. A prescription and an industrial pump soon followed. When I began my final pumping marathon, with the goal of increasing my supply to meet Sophia’s needs, I understood that it might not work. That was fine – I had become adept with the demand tube and just wanted to know I had tried. To my delight, within 48 hours I was pumping enough to replace the formula in the supplementer. With my midwife’s blessing, I phased out the supplementation, and Sophia, then nearly six weeks old, continued to thrive. I eased off the drug regimen after she began to eat solids, and it has been smooth sailing! Sophia is 26 months now and still loves her ‘nurnie’.”





If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally





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