Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

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?
* 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?
* 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?
* 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.
* 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?




Remark:  “Don’t be a martyr. You don’t have to breastfeed to be a good mother.”
* 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!
* 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

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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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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Tandem Nursing

Two mothers share their experiences breastfeeding two of their children at the same time – Ed.

Wow, it is hard to believe that my baby turned three years old the other day!! What is even harder to believe is that I am still tandem nursing after three years! I am currently nursing Jordan who will be five in July and Joshua who was three in April. I often think of our tandem nursing journey, which began over three years ago, and how it has changed over time. At first I was so glad to still be nursing Jordan, as his brother had trouble latching on right away. Instead of using a pump to stimulate my milk supply, I was able to nurse Jordan who was surprised and excited by the new milk, and who enjoyed the comfort from Mommy in the midst of such a big change to our family. It then became a challenge because I wanted to make sure that Joshua was fed first and Jordan also started to want more than his usual two nursing sessions each day. I also felt that my days seemed to just be about nursing the boys!! Anyway, we found our rhythm and I am glad we persevered as the boys are really close to each other. I am sure the shared nursing had something to do with it!

If asked for advice about tandem nursing, I think back to things I would do differently and say, try to relax, don’t be so rigid with your older nursling. If they need more nursing sessions than usual, then try and fit them in as they are usually just short “checking in with you” sessions. I would also recommend figuring out how to nurse them both at the same time, something I didn’t start until about a year into my adventure in tandem nursing.

I am now pregnant with our third child, due in October. My plan is to just go with the flow and see what happens with my two boys and their new sibling. I can’t at this time imagine nursing three children but, then again, I never imagined nursing Jordan past a year or tandem nursing Jordan and Joshua.

Jody, Calgary, Alberta, Canada




I went to my first La Leche League meeting in early 1993 because I was pregnant with my second child and my son Maxwell was still nursing several times a day at 13 months. I was given lots of encouragement, and went home with the book Mothering Your Nursing Toddler. Instead of reducing the number of feeds, Max seemed to nurse more as I increased in size. I remember taking the bus home when I was nearly nine months pregnant and nursing Max, who was about 22 months old at the time.

When I went into the hospital to have Saxon, I had never left Max, so we weren’t sure how he would react. I managed to nurse him just before going in in the morning and was lucky to have a fairly easy delivery. It helped that I had my own room, and when Saxon was about three hours old Max came to meet his little brother and nurse. I was home within another 24 hours and we continued to tandem nurse until Max was five and Saxon was three years old.

When Saxon was three months old, we moved from Vancouver to Hong Kong. We thought we would be gone for two years, but ended up staying for 11. Within the first few weeks, I contacted La Leche League-Hong Kong and it became a major part of my life. I tandem nursed in every market, boat, tram, train, and subway. It wasn’t always smooth sailing but for me it was just easier. Sometimes my husband would arrive home, and I would be sitting up with a boy at each breast and nearly asleep with exhaustion.

In the summer of 1996 I discovered I was pregnant, and decided that I would wean both boys together. Looking back I can’t believe I did what I did, but I left them for three days with my mother-in-law while my husband and I had our first holiday without the children. When I came back I made sure everyone else put both children to bed as I had been reducing nursing sessions to nighttime only.

My daughter Xanthe was born about four months later. Like the boys, she nursed well and a lot! Her sister Xayla was born two and a half years later. It was great having Xanthe come into the hospital and nurse. I never had any engorgement with Xayla and the nurses in Hong Kong were amazed that I could nurse two children of different ages. Like Maxwell, Xanthe, although older, sometimes demanded “meme’s” more often, and I can’t deny feelings of resentment because of it. Finally, when Xanthe was four and a half years old, I decided I would like to experience nursing Xayla on her own! We were in Vancouver for the summer and I took Xayla with me to the La Leche League International Conference in Chicago. I was gone for five days. When I returned I found it quite hard not to offer Xanthe the breast but instead found rocking her and looking at the stars (a rare sight in Hong Kong) at night kept her happy.

After that I had several more happy years of nursing. Xayla nursed until she turned six last year! I am proud of my tandem nursing and feel I gave both my children and myself many years of contentment and nourishment. Although it can be daunting, I would recommend tandem nursing to any mother considering it.

Judi, British Columbia, Canada




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 Beyond Toddlerhood: Why Support Matters

From my experience supporting breastfeeding mothers, many do not set out to breastfeed beyond toddlerhood. While these mothers know they are doing what they feel is right for their families, each of them struggled at points with personal expectations, outside pressure to wean, and doubt about whether to set limits with their child.
But each one also has reached out for support when it was needed. Breastfeeding support is critical, no matter where a mother is on her parenting journey—even, or perhaps especially, when breastfeeding beyond toddlerhood.
My first baby was an early preemie and never did latch on, so I exclusively pumped for about six months until I, regrettably, became overwhelmed and stopped pumping. I was shocked at the cost of artificial infant milk and dismayed when she developed an allergy to cow’s milk.
Seven months later, I had my second baby. I was determined to breastfeed and I did. But I struggled with low supply until I finally lost my milk supply when she was nine months old. I was shocked again, this time by how much I missed breastfeeding.

1. toddler2

Four years later when I had my third child, I was determined to breastfeed for a full year and to avoid struggling with low milk supply. Early on, I had problems with poor latch, sore nipples, mastitis, thrush, and an abscess. After a few months, I felt I had the easier breastfeeding relationship I had been looking for since my oldest was born.
I set a goal of one year. When his first birthday arrived, he was still breastfeeding at least six times a day and a couple times at night. So I decided to set 18 months as a new goal as he was clearly not ready to wean. At 18 months, I set a new goal of two years. And at two years, I made a firm decision in favor of child-led weaning.
But a few months later, I was surprised by my feeling of being touched-out and tied-down. I felt ready to wean, but at the same time, I was very sad at the thought. It was quite evident that my son was not ready to wean. I never thought that I would be struggling with these feelings.
And then I reviewed the book To Three and Beyond: Stories of Breastfed Children and the Mothers Who Love Them by Janell Robisch.
A former La Leche League Leader, Robisch put together breastfeeding stories from mothers who have engaged in child-led weaning and breastfeeding beyond three years. Robisch breastfed her three children until the ages of five, four and one-half, and three and one-half years.
The support I received from these stories helped me work through my conflicting emotions about breastfeeding. I continued to breastfeed my son for another year and some months: he weaned completely on his own terms. I was happy with how it all went. Not a tear was shed by either one of us!

I find support, especially local and in-person from other mothers who’ve “been there, done that” to be empowering for every breastfeeding mother. So does Robisch, who had this to say about supporting mothers who are breastfeeding beyond the age of three:
Remember why you have made the choice to continue breastfeeding.
You are not alone, not by far. I feel comfortable saying that, at this moment, there are thousands—if not more—mothers nursing beyond infancy and even toddlerhood.
One of the most important things to do is to find support. It means the world, even if it is only online or from one friend or family member in your life.
While no two mothers’ experiences are the same, one of the main threads running through their stories is of individual mothers carefully considering their children and their families and making decisions about breastfeeding and parenting based on the family’s needs as a whole and the children’s needs in particular. There is compassion and respect here for children’s needs, even when they contrast with what society presents as the ‘right’ way to do things, and there is balance as well.
I just want to give a shout out to all the brave mamas out there who fly in the face of tradition, not to rebel but to parent in the best way they know how, those who are brave enough to question parenting practices that ignore the needs and developmental stages of children and do what feels right for their children and families.

by Rita Brhel, Hastings
Used with permission from New Beginnings

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 Your Distracted Baby

Somewhere in the six to twelve month range many mothers find their previously totally focused nursing baby has become a wiggler who can’t nurse in public, or if someone else is in the room, or the TV is on, or the cat walks by, or…….!  What happened to the baby whose whole life revolved around breastfeeding and, more to the point, how do you keep breastfeeding through this stage?

Those who are breastfeeding at six to nine months generally have a goal of continuing to nurse for a year or longer as recommended by the World Health Organization and the Canadian and American Pediatric Societies. Having a little one who suddenly seems to not be interested in nursing can be confusing. Many mothers wonder if baby is weaning.

Weaning is a process not an event and it starts the day baby has his first bite of solid food and continues until nursing is no longer part of his life. So, yes the distracted nursing stage is a part of the weaning process but it isn’t necessarily the final stage of the breastfeeding relationship.



How do you survive the distracted nursing stage and continue your breastfeeding relationship?

First, it helps to understand what is going on in your baby’s brain:

* When babies are making the big developmental leaps that come during this time period (crawling, standing and even walking, babbling turning into words) they often need to go back to their base of safety (you and breastfeeding) for a few minutes to regroup before forging ahead again. This need for reconnection to the primary adult in the child’s life is biological and happens with all young children, breastfed or not. “Drive by” nursing can be part of that reconnection and consolidation of new learning process for little ones who are breastfeeding.

* Getting distracted by the things going on around her is a sign that her brain is developing. Now she is aware of the things happening beyond the little circle of her and you and she is tuning in the sounds of the world. She wants and needs to know what is going on. At this stage, she has to look and see to understand what is happening. You will see the next step in brain development when you can tell that she hears what is going on in the room but she doesn’t have to let go of the breast and look to make sense of it.

* Remember that your baby is a more efficient nurser now than he was as a newborn. He is getting lots of milk even during a short nursing. Babies at this stage may prefer more short nursing sessions during the day rather than the longer leisurely ones you had even a few weeks ago. Now longer nursing sessions usually revolve around sleeping and waking times.

Plan ahead:

* If you are going to be out and about, try to have a nursing session before you leave the house. That way you won’t be worrying that baby is really hungry if he only nurses for a couple of minutes while you are away from home.

* If baby is eating solid foods bring some with you when you are going to be out of the house for a while. Baby may be more willing to have a solids snack than to breastfed in a busy distracting situation such as the mall, playgroup or community gathering.

* You may find that you need to reduce the distractions around you so baby can have a concentrated nursing a couple of times a day, generally when waking up or going to sleep. This may mean keeping the TV off, not checking your messages on your mobile phone, sitting in a darkened quiet room or lying on the bed. Decreasing the outside distractions is easier to do with a first baby than if you also have older children zooming around the house. Nursing with baby in a sling or soft carrier may help to provide the “distraction free zone” he needs while you keep an eye on the older children. Babies at this age generally dislike being tucked under nursing covers and they tend to push them away.

* Some babies in this age range will settle to breastfed better if they have a familiar toy or blanket that is part of the nursing routine. Having a familiar object can be a help when traveling with a baby of this age but you’ll want to keep close tabs on it. Losing the familiar object or leaving it behind can cause great upset! Breastfeed children often don’t have a favourite toy or blanket because you and your breasts are their “attachment object”. Don’t stress about her not having a favourite toy or blanket if she isn’t interested.

* Keep nursing at night. Night nursing is normal in babies in this age range. Because they are so busy during the day, babies often get a good portion of their breastmilk intake during the night time hours when there are fewer distractions available.

* Repeat frequently: “this is just a stage, this is just a stage”. It truly is “just a stage”. Breastfeeding little ones get through this distractible stage and go on to breastfeed for as long as they and mum want to.

* Talk to mothers with babies older than yours. A La Leche League meeting is a great place to find others who are in the same stage of mothering and breastfeeding as you are or who have passed through this stage. Sharing ideas and stories can be a big help. Knowing that you are not the only person going through this crazy stage can make it easier to wait it out.

children at play


On the other hand:

If you were thinking of encouraging partial weaning, the “distracted nurser” stage is a time when you and baby may find it an easier to make some changes. Many mothers have accidently weaned during this stage. With a busy baby who isn’t asking to nurse during the day, you can just follow his lead and don’t offer but don’t refuse. Within a few weeks, this approach will likely get you to only breastfeeding when baby is falling asleep and waking up.

For more support and information about distracted nursing, weaning or any other breastfeeding questions please contact a La Leche League Leader.


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!

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.

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Breastfeeding Twins After a Difficult Pregnancy and Birth

I am a mother of 1 year old twins. They were born 7 weeks early and delivered by Cesarean Section and I am proud to say that I was able to provide them both with breast milk, nearly exclusively for the first 6 months, and as required for the next 6 months. I began by pumping every 2 hours in the day and every 4 hours at night. My daytime pumping would start at 6 am and end at 10 pm. I woke every night at 2 am to pump. I was pumping 20 minute sessions, 10 times a day. My breasts were usually empty after the first 10 minutes or so but I kept pumping to continue stimulating the glands. Often times after the 16 minute mark, more milk would come out. I was recovering from preeclampsia and taking medication four times a day which slows breast milk production. It took about 2 weeks until I was producing enough milk for them to both have breast milk exclusively. Being preemie though, that was not a large amount: about 16 oz a day between them. I took galactagogues to help bring in my milk. I was so proud of myself when I was finally able to provide for them. Having had limited contact with them in the NICU, it was one of the only things that was exclusively mine and made me feel like a mother. Everything else was determined by the doctors and nurses: when I could hold them, bathe them, feed them, but not this. I and I alone could provide my babies the nourishment they needed to grow strong and healthy to come home.

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I tried to put my twins to breast once they were old enough and found it to be too time consuming to breastfeed, then top them up with a bottle, then pump. By the time I finished it was time to start again. They were still too small to have the strength and stamina they needed to empty the breast and meet all of their nutritional requirements. They were just barely 5 lbs when they came home after only 31 days in the hospital. They needed to eat every 2 – 2.5 hours and often not at the same time. I was only averaging about 2 hours of broken sleep a day when I was trying to put them to breast. I was just too exhausted to be the only one that could feed them. I needed help. Pumping on my schedule allowed me to sleep and have other people feed them. They got all of the benefits of breast milk and I got to sleep. I tried again to put them to breast when they were about 10 lbs thinking that they were more than big enough to empty the breast now but by then they were use to the bottle and I was use to pumping. I was still exhausted and did not feel up to the challenge of exclusive breastfeeding and no bottle. It was a difficult decision for me to make to exclusively pump. I really wanted the bonding aspect of breastfeeding but was too overwhelmed with exhaustion and recovering from the preeclampsia to do it all on my own. Pumping was a good compromise and my husband and family got to share in the feeding/bonding experience.
I maintained my rigid pumping schedule for the first 8 months. When they started sleeping through the night, I was still getting up to pump. At my most, I was producing 60 oz of breast milk a day with no medications or herbal supplements . I did need to supplement with formula right before they started solids. They were each getting only 3 or 4 bottles a week of formula for about 2 months. The rest was all breast milk.
I began to tire of all of the pumping and really wanted to sleep through the night. I decided to start taking a medication so I could maintain my supply and pump less. I was able to drop to 8 pumps per day, sleep through the night finally, and have the same volume. When they were about 10 months old, I again was able to drop 2 pumps per day and was now at only 6 pumps per day, every 3 hours instead of every 2, producing about 40 oz a day. I stuck with 6 pumps a day until they turned 1 and am now in the weaning off process which in itself opens up a whole new bag of emotions.

Dad and Babe

As I said, I really wanted to breastfeed but more importantly, I really wanted them to be breast milk fed. Breast milk was the best thing I could offer their tiny bodies and I was determined to do it. I attribute my success to a supportive family and an amazing breast pump. My family and friends were extremely supportive and together we made sure that pumping came before all else. At family and friends homes, I did not excuse myself and leave to go pump. I pumped right there amongst the conversations. At first of course, I did excuse myself but felt as though I was missing out. I hated being secluded from the action and started to resent pumping because it was so time consuming and I was stuck there sitting by myself. I decided that if I was actually breastfeeding, I would have fed the babies right there in front of my family and friends anyhow, so pumping was really no different. Everyone just accepted it as they would have if I was breastfeeding.
I used a Breast Pump that was tiny and portable, yet powerful. I could walk around the house while pumping, use the computer, sit and play with my kids, and managed to bottle feed them and burp them all while pumping. I took it everywhere. I’ve pumped in my car in countless parking lots, while being the passenger in a car numerous times, several doctors offices, other people’s houses, hair salons, friends weddings, anywhere I was when it was time to pump. I just brought a cooler bag with an ice pack. Everywhere I went, people were so supportive when I needed a place to pump. Never once did I encounter a doctor’s office or any other place where I could not pump. In my mind, I was breastfeeding and if I was out with a baby whom was put to breast, I would have had to put them to breast in all of those places. It didn’t matter to me where I was or who I was with. My kids needed to eat and deserved the best I could offer.
I got so many compliments and congratulations on sticking with it. I was so proud of myself. Other than the extra dishes, to me, it did not seem like that much more work than breastfeeding and actually allowed me more freedom from the babies than breastfeeding. Yes it was inconvenient at times and I wanted to take the easy rout and switch to formula but then I would think about if I were actually breastfeeding would I be quitting? The answer was always no. I wanted to breastfeed for a year and for all intents and purposes, I was breastfeeding, just not the traditional way.
My twins are now a year old and have never been sick a day in their lives. They are strong and developmentally caught up to term babies. I am so happy to share my breastfeeding story with others. Successful breastfeeding of twins is possible, even if it has to be done with a pump. It was not my ideal dream situation but we made it work with relatively little disruption to our everyday lives. The payoff was well worth any inconvenience, two healthy babies and not to mention the amount of money saved not buying formula.

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!

Leave a comment »

Wet-Nursing and Cross-Nursing

If you have ever cared for someone else’s hungry breastfed baby, the thought that things would be easier if only you could nurse the baby has probably crossed your mind.  If you are lactating at the time, you may have seriously debated the ethics of latching the baby on to your breast.  Complete/full time nursing of another’s infant, often for pay, is called wet-nursing.  Cross-nursing is the occasional nursing of an infant whose own mother continues to breastfeed him/her on a regular basis.

Most situations in which cross-nursing is practiced are private arrangements made between the mothers involved.  Day care and babysitting seem to be the most common situations in which it is used.  Cross-nursing or wet-nursing has also been used when hospitalization of a nursing mother is necessary.  This is especially true in an emergency when the mother is unable to nurse or the potential effects on the infant of the mother’s prescribed medication dictate temporary weaning.  As it is rarely talked about, there is no clear data about how many breastfeeding mothers cross-nurse occasionally or regularly.

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La Leche League (LLL) fully supports the use of human milk for babies.  The first priority of LLL is to help mothers breastfeed their babies.  A second priority is helping mothers to express and safely store their own milk for their babies.  When their own mothers’ milk is unavailable, babies may need human milk donated by other mothers.  It is essential that this donated milk be safe.

As an international organization, La Leche League International (LLLI) is aware that many mothers in many cultures have informally shared their breastmilk and wet-nursed among family members and trusted friends.  LLLI also recognizes that in times of severe maternal illness or death and natural disasters, sharing milk has been lifesaving for infants.  When a mother contacts a Leader seeking information about using donated human milk, a Leader may suggest the mother also dialogue with an appropriate, licensed health care provider and contact a licensed human milk bank or other regulated and medically supervised human milk collection center. There are currently four human milk banks in Canada operating in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver plus the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.  The Canadian milk banks abide by strict operating procedures, which include donor screening, medical supervision, bacteriological testing, pasteurization, storage, and distribution.  Due to limited supply, the donated human milk available from the milk banks in Canada is only available by prescription to babies who meet strict criteria.  Protocols for the careful and safe collection and handling of human milk are the responsibility of milk banks and networks.  Mothers are encouraged to evaluate these protocols carefully, in order to make an informed decision.

La Leche League does not suggest or recommend specific informal milk-donation/sharing arrangements.  La Leche League’s role is to provide support and information if a mother asks about informal milk sharing so that the mother can make her own informed decision based on her situation.
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The benefits of donor human milk include, but are not limited to:  optimal nutrition, easy digestibility, and immunologic protection.

Risks of unregulated donor human milk can include transmission of bacteria or viruses.  These have been found in milk expressed by women who are showing no signs of illness.  Prescription and non-prescription drugs and environmental contaminants can be present in breastmilk.  There is potential for unhygienic handling and improper storage of unprocessed donated milk.  In a study of donor breastmilk purchased from ads found on the internet, some samples were found to have been extended with cow’s milk to increase the volume.

The mother who is cross-nursing may experience a reduced supply of milk for her own baby.  Various factors, including the ages of the two babies and the regularity of the cross nursing schedule, would affect whether or not the cross-nursing mother’s milk supply would build up to meet the needs of both babies.

Babies of different ages require a specific composition of milk.  Milk from the baby’s own mother will provide the exact make-up the infant needs; another mother whose baby is not the same age may not provide the same components in the same ratios.

Cross-nursing can also affect the baby psychologically.  A difference in the let-down, either in the timing or in the forcefulness, may confuse or frustrate an infant.  Women have reported that babies four months or older often refuse to nurse from another mother and will chose to wait until their own mother returns. Babies of this age also often refuse to take a bottle as a substitute for breastfeeding with their own mother.

Nursing mothers who donate to milk banks are screened carefully using the following criteria:

  • they should be healthy, well-nourished and taking no medication.
  • they should be screened for tuberculosis, syphilis, hepatitis-associated antigen, cytomegalovirus, herpes virus, HIV and other infectious agents.
  • they should not smoke, drink alcohol, or consume large amounts of caffeinated or artificially-sweetened beverages.
  • their own infants should be healthy, gaining well and free of all infections.

La Leche League Leaders are happy to help mothers in any situation, work out their best options for providing their breastmilk for their 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 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 and Your Baby’s Gut

The “gut microbiome” is the micro bacterial community that exists in the gut of every human being. There are billions of microbes and they change and adjust throughout our lives. The role of these microbes is known to be both digestive and protective.

Recent research confirmed previous studies which found that baby’s diet in the early months has a profound influence on the type and number of micobacteria in the gut as well as the stability of the microbiome. Regardless of whether babies are exclusively breastfed or receive mixed breastmilk and formula feeding the diversity in the microbiome increases from birth to 3 years. Exclusively breastfed babies have less diversity in the microbiome and a greater proportion of the bacteria being Bifidobacterium which are involved in breaking down the oligosaccharides in human milk. These “good” bacteria are known to inhibit harmful bacteria, modulate the body’s immune response and produce vitamins within the gut. Babies receiving formula have greater proportions of Bacteriodetes and Clostridiales microbes which are primarily involved in the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates.


What is interesting in the study’s findings is the children who had received formula prior to starting solids showed more marked changes in the gut microbiome after starting solids than the children who had been exclusively breastfed. This may seem counter-intuitive when the gut biome of the mixed feeding babies was already more diverse prior to the introduction of solids. The authors of the study feel the reason for the less dramatic change in the gut microbiome of the exclusively breastfed babies is that breastmilk has better prepared the gut for the introduction of new foods. Breastmilk composition varies daily according to what the mother is eating and this creates a greater degree of adaptability in the gut’s microbiome. They hypothesize that the microbiome of the babies who have received formula is less adaptable when faced with new foods because formula composition never varies.

The research also showed some interesting variability in the microbiome in relationship to iron. Breastmilk contains less iron than formula but breastfed babies generally are not found to be iron deficient. The reason is found in the gut microbes. The formula fed babies had higher numbers of the kinds of bacteria which use iron thus taking away the iron that should pass through the gut wall and into the blood stream. Breastfed babies on the other hand had less of the iron stealing bacteria and more of the bacteria which produce vitamin C which is needed by the body for the uptake of iron.

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In conclusion the study’s authors state that their findings “suggest that feeding-based differences in microbiome composition have the potential to contribute to the programming of infant metabolism and immune function. Such programming during the critical period of weaning with the transition from a milk-based to a more varied, solid-based diets characterized by higher levels of carbohydrates and animal proteins may have long-term consequences for not only the establishment of the adult microbiome but also the development of metabolic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”

Whether or not you understand or even care about the science of the gut microbiome you can feel confident that exclusive breastfeeding until baby is interested in starting solids, around the middle of the first year, is setting up the conditions for your baby to have a healthy gut microbiome for the rest of his or her life.

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are 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.




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Breastfeeding and Pregnancy

Nursing through pregnancy; is it possible?

When a woman finds out she is pregnant and she is already nursing a little one, both she and others may question whether nursing during the pregnancy should continue.

Most mothers find that their milk supply starts to drop around the 20th week of the pregnancy. Some babies will happily continue nursing in-spite of the decreased milk supply and others will wean at some point during the pregnancy. Toddlers over a year old, who are eating solids and drinking fluids from a cup, are more likely to continue to nurse for comfort as their nutritional needs are being met in other ways. Very young nursing babies may need supplementation to meeting the nutritional needs of their rapidly growing bodies and brains.

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In the first trimester many mothers have found that nursing is uncomfortable as their nipples are very sensitive. Often this irritation dimishes after the first trimester. Mothers who want to continue to breastfed may find distracting themselves with a book, television program or connecting with others via social media helpful. Relaxation techniques used during labour such as slow breathing may also be useful. With older toddlers limiting the length of the nursing by counting, saying the alphabet or singing a specific song might be a compromise both of you can live with.

Many people worry that breastfeeding will cause uterine contractions and increase the potential for a miscarriage. The research doesn’t support this theory. Nursing while in labour will significantly speed up contractions but until the body is hormonally ready to go into labour breastfeeding won’t cause it to do so.



The decision to continue to nurse during a pregnancy is a very personal and individual one. It is often made one day at a time or even one nursing at a time.

If you have questions about nursing during a pregnancy or how to wean because of a pregnancy your local La Leche League Leader is a great resource.


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






Growth Spurts and Nursing Strikes


Exactly what is a “growth spurt”?

The term “growth spurt” (also called frequency days) describes times when babies seem to nurse non-stop for a couple of days. It is believed that this is how the baby tells the mother’s body to increase milk production. Babies usually have several “growth spurts” in the first 6 months. They often occur at 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. But they can occur any time. After about 48-72 hours of frequent nursing, a baby will return to a more regular routine of nursing, rest and playtime.



My 6 week-old has nursed non-stop for the last two days – should I be concerned about my milk supply?

As long as your baby is still having the same number of wet and soiled diapers, there is no reason to panic. It is normal for a baby at around this age to change his nursing pattern. When a baby starts nursing non-stop for a few days it usually means that he is growing. After a few days of frequent nursing, your baby will fall into a new nursing pattern with your recently increased milk supply. We call these episodes “growth spurts” or “frequency days”.

What can I do if my baby has a nursing strike?

During the time that your baby is refusing to nurse, you will need to express your milk either by hand or by pumping, in order to maintain your milk production. Do this as frequently as your baby would normally nurse. If your baby has refused several feedings, you can offer your expressed milk in a cup. Avoiding bottles and pacifiers is recommended during this period in the hope that your baby’s sucking urges will encourage him to start nursing again.

Spending lots of time skin-to-skin with your baby can be very helpful. You can also try:

taking a warm bath together

making the breast available while baby is sleepy, especially when he is just waking up

singing to or rocking your baby while holding him skin-to-skin

nursing in a different position or location

Do not try to make your baby breastfeed; rather just hold him (skin-to-skin when possible) and let him take the lead when he is ready to try again.



My baby is suddenly refusing to nurse. Does this mean he’s weaning?

Very unlikely. Occasionally, a baby who has been nursing well will suddenly refuse the breast for no apparent reason. This is called a nursing strike. It is very rare that a baby will wean on his own during his first year, and weaning usually happens gradually. On reviewing the situation, a cause for the nursing strike can sometimes be identified. Common causes include: an earache or stuffy nose, a scary sound that happened while breastfeeding, a different lotion or deodorant, too many bottles or pacifiers or a recent change in routine. Nursing strikes can last from 2-4 days.

By Linda Wieser, LLLC Leader


Read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.


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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