Lactation Cookies, Drinks and Galactagogues

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There is NO “magic” food or drink that will increase your supply.  Your breasts make milk based on supply and demand-the more milk removed, the more you make.  Most mothers can and should trust breastfeeding and watch for the cues that baby is getting enough (for more information see this post).  That said, there are mothers that struggle from hormonal issues, PCOS, diabetes, Insufficient Glandular Tissue, and some other issues that can cause low milk supply.  If after you have read the post linked and baby is not gaining weight sufficiently and/or isn’t having 6-8 wet diapers and 3 poopy diapers each day (24 hours) in the first 6 weeks (may have less poopy diapers after 6 weeks possibly) this would be a good time to:

  • Call an IBCLC and have a thorough assessment of baby’s anatomy and your breasts.  Issues can be ruled out and pre-feeding and post-feeding weights can be taken to get a glimpse of how much milk your baby is taking at that particular feeding.  This is just a glimpse and shouldn’t be used to determine absolutely how much milk your baby is removing from your breasts over a full day.  An IBCLC can also check on any possible positioning issues that may be going on-I’ve found with many of my clients very tiny changes can make a huge difference!
  • Pick up Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk before making any decisions about any extra foods/supplements to take.
  • You may also want to contact your doctor to have prolactin levels checked through some blood work.
  • Finding a cause of the issue is more preferable option because if you’re treating the symptoms rather than the cause you’re just putting a bandage on the problem.

A wise lactation consultant (Christy Jo Hendricks at the GOLD 2016 Lactation Conference) shared a story that really stuck in my mind that I will relay to you now.  We all have that one pair of shoes in our closet.  You know the ones I’m talking about-those ADORABLE pumps that you had to have.  They were a little more than we usually pay for shoes but they were just cute and you had to have them.  You got them home and tried them out for a date or an evening out.  OUCH!  Those adorable pumps aren’t as comfy as you thought there were in the store.  You get home that night and find a blister.  They’re so cute though and a little expensive so you put a bandage on and wear them again the next day to work.  You realize they’re a little too small and they really just don’t feel great on.  Every time you wear them you know you need to wear a bandage.

Closeup of a woman's heel with a blister plaster on

Ultimately, the problem is the fit of the shoes.  Instead of tossing them out and getting a different pair you put a bandage on and keep going though.  Galactagogues work much the same often.

Some mothers do find that certain foods or drinks have boosted their supply.  Some of these work because they’re acting on some type of discrepancy or some mechanism in your body that may need a little extra boost or they’re just helping mama limp along a little (like a bandage).  These are all very individual-Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk AND working with a knowledgeable IBCLC can help you figure out the possible problem together.  Taking the wrong supplement can actually reduce your supply or cause some serious medical issues (remember that herbs are medicines and just like taking the wrong prescription they can cause some major problems or possibly interfere with medications you are already taking).

A few “lactation boosters” that I have seen throw out a lot online:

  • Blue Gatorade (MUST be blue for some reason)-my guess is that this helps if mom is slightly dehydrated or has imbalanced electrolytes.  Oddly enough, I had issues as a child with “fainting spells” and a neurologist said I had issues keeping my electrolytes balanced.  I wonder if this is somewhat common and this is why it may work for some women, especially a new mom that isn’t able to take as good of care of herself as women in other cultures with laying in periods and lots of help from friends and family from their village.  Other options you could try are coconut water or homemade “laborade” drinks that have less sugar and less sodium.

Sports Drink Set Isolated

  • Lactation cookies/bars/smoothies-these often contain oatmeal, flax seed, and can even have some nuts, brewer’s yeast, and fenugreek (from imitation maple syrup).  Some of these ingredients work on the digestive system or just give a calorie boost.  They are often high in sugar though and can really upset a mom’s system with pre-diabetes (many mothers don’t know that they’re pre-diabetic).  Fenugreek also is known to interfere with some medications as well as cause issues with blood sugar.  If you want to eat a cookie-eat a cookie!  It probably isn’t a good idea for many mothers to eat the 3+ cookies each and every day that many cookie makers recommend.  Instead, try eating oatmeal in the morning or try some of the other digestive system aids mentioned in Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk.

American style oatmeal rising cookies

  • Lactation Teas-often contain some or all of the following: fenugreek, marshmallow root, nettle leaf, alfalfa leaf, fennel seed, red raspberry leaf, milk thistle, anise seed, or others.  Most of these are considered safe for breastfeeding depending on the source (it’s a good idea to use trusted brands if you chose to use herbal supplements or teas) according to Nursing Mother’s Herbal.  Many of these aren’t in sufficient quantities to really make a difference though or some are contraindicated long term (more than a few weeks)

Some of these may give you a little boost to help you get through a growth spurt along with nursing frequently and following baby’s cues.  They may also help if you need a little extra boost on occasion when you’re pumping if you notice a little supply dip.  They aren’t necessary though, and are just an extra expense that most mother’s can avoid.  Ultimately though, the best way to increase milk supply is to remove milk more frequently.  If you want to eat a cookie or drink a smoothie go for it!  It’s probably not a good idea to have some of these every day without finding a cause for low supply though.  If you genuinely have low supply issues, working with an IBCLC is the first and best thing to do.  If you don’t find the answers you’re seeking, just like with a doctor or other professional you can always seek out a second opinion.

What “lactation boosters” have you heard about or tried?

 

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Don’t Put the Car Seat on the Cart!

shopping-cart

Photo credit: Niki Miller

It’s been publicized that the practice of attaching a car seat to a cart is not considered safe but when I go to a grocery store in Oklahoma City I usually find at least one baby in their car seat “snapped” in to the cart.  I would like to remind any parent reading this that if they are doing this currently to stop right away but don’t feel bad or guilty for doing this.  Many parents have “snapped” their car seat to their cart (myself included!) before knowing the dangers.  When we know better we do better!

So why is it dangerous?  Car seats were not designed to sit on carts.  All carts are differently shaped.  Even if the seat will “snap” on to the cart this practice is dangerous because it may break the part that clicks in to the base in your car which will render the seat ineffective in an accident.  Putting a car seat on a cart in this manner also makes the cart top heavy.  A small shift of weight by baby or even a shift of the cart can make the whole cart tip or the baby and seat to tip off of the cart which can seriously injure baby.  Another cart flaw can cause baby to fall through a cart and become severely injured as shown in this video.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Injuries associated with shopping carts are an important cause of pediatric morbidity, especially among children younger than 5 years. An estimated 24200 children younger than 15 years, 20700 (85%) of whom were younger than 5 years, were treated in US hospital emergency departments in 2005 for shopping cart–related injuries.

Among their recommendations to prevent accidents (including education for parents and possible redesigning of shopping carts) they state:

Providing adult caregivers with alternatives to placing a child in a cart while they shop can effectively prevent shopping cart–related injuries. Some stores provide supervised play areas for children. Parents may be able to arrange for another adult to accompany them and watch the child during a shopping trip. Other parents may be able to transport a young child in a stroller, wagon, frontpack, or backpack. An older child can be asked to walk. Some parents may be able to leave their child at home with an adult while they shop, but this is not an option for many others. Some stores offer shopping via the Internet with or without home delivery.

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Photo Credit: Carissa Traut

Many carts now also include warnings to not put an infant in an infant seat on the cart.  Even if the cart includes a rest for a car seat it still isn’t recommended to do this because it can cause the cart to be too top heavy and tip or the seat to tip out, especially if a parent forgets to buckle the seat in to the cradle.

Car seat manufacturers also caution against this use of car seats.  It’s in your manual.  If you don’t read other instruction manuals do read your car seat manual!  Your baby’s life could depend on it since a car seat is a potential life saving device in a car accident.  Read the manual!

Photo credit: Kissably Close, Aimee Park

I suggest that parents have a soft baby carrier that they can put baby in while grocery shopping if there isn’t a built in infant seat in the car seat (but again, these can cause the cart to become top heavy so use with extreme caution and always buckle baby in!).  For more information on types of carriers and carriers that are good for different stages please check back to earlier blog posts.  When baby is old enough to sit alone it’s safe to put baby in the toddler portion of the cart (about 6-8 months).  Until then, consider wearing your baby at the store.

shoppingcarissatrautsupportokc

Photo Credit: Carissa Traut

For more information please see:

If you need help choosing and using a baby carrier in Oklahoma City, Mustang, or Yukon please visit my website or contact me.

What is your favorite carrier to use while at the store?

 

Surviving Growth Spurts

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Growth spurts happen a lot with your baby.  I get a lot of questions about growth spurts and what to expect or symptoms that baby is showing that are very common with growth spurts.  Often, breastfeeding professionals and mother-to-mother support group leaders will refer to these times as “frequency days” or sometimes even “fussy days.”

While a growth spurt can occur at any time they typically occur at about 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and really any other time.  They continue to happen about every 2-3 months through toddlerhood and periodically through to teenage years.  Your baby’s only way to communicate is through crying and baby will often communicate that something is wrong.  Growth spurts can be painful for baby (breast milk has pain relieving properties for babies and the oxytocin released when you breastfeed helps calm you both).  They can just be a confusing time or a time that baby’s brain is growing and not necessarily their body as much.  One nice thing about a growth spurt is if baby is having a fussy day and you’d rather stay home and relax together you can always blame a growth spurt!

Quite often mom will recognize something is different about baby but not quite pin point it to being a growth spurt.  Here are some signs that baby may be having a growth spurt:

  • Baby is nursing more frequently than usual (Do note though that it’s common to have a growth spurt at around 4-6 weeks and this is around the time that mothers will notice their breasts feeling much less full.  This is usually not an indicator that you’re not producing enough milk but this is a concern many mothers have).
  • Baby is fussy even after nursing.
  • Baby seems inconsolable.

While all of these can be signs of other issues, if your baby is gaining weight and has plenty of wet and poopy diapers it is very often a growth spurt.  Another possibility is over-stimulation if the crankiness is happening after being around a lot of new people or things, in the evening, or after being outside for a while.  If baby is about 3-4 months or older it could be teething causing these issues.  More on this in a later post.

Please also remember that your breast milk is usually enough.  If you have any doubts about your supply please be sure to check out this post.  Baby will start nursing more frequently on these days because baby is putting in an order for more milk later.  Imagine that it’s a Friday night and you know you want to have a pizza delivered at 6 PM.  Friday nights are really busy at the pizza delivery restaurant.  If you wait until 5:30 to order they might not be able to deliver or even have a pizza ready for you to pick up until 7 or 8!  Since you’ve probably had that experience before you know that you need to call in earlier so your food arrives when you’re ready for it (and hungry!).  When baby starts nursing more frequently they are phoning in their order for more milk later.

So how do you survive when baby can’t seem to get enough?  Here are some ideas to try:

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A little more about the “nest.”  I help mothers that attend my breastfeeding classes prepare what I call their “nest” before baby arrives so that they can have everything easily at hand whenever baby wants to nurse.  Many mothers find that having everything close at hand (and having a little box or container to carry everything room to room as needed) helps to be able to sit down and nurse comfortably whenever baby shows early cues rather than going through the house to hurry and grab a snack, the remote, water bottle, etc.  By the time all of those items are gathered baby may be crying and harder to get to latch well and begin nursing.

Something else that you may find helpful is to have a good breastfeeding book.  I really love the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Made Simple.  A lot of parents also enjoy The Wonder Weeks because it helps predict when baby may be going through a growth spurt or another developmental leap.  Remember that babies haven’t read the instruction manuals so not every baby follows the books exactly as they’re written but they can be reassuring even still.

One last thing I want to note is on dinner and snacks.  It’s so important to take care of YOU during a growth spurt.  Having easy snacks and maybe an easy meal that you can eat one handed while nursing can be very helpful.  It’s very common for babies to be crankier at night during growth spurts so having dinner taken care of is helpful.  You can always call in a favor to a friend that offered help, have some freezer meals on hand that just need to be heated up or baked, or have some crockpot meals on hand that you just need to throw in the crock pot the day of.  We really enjoyed having a couple of whole chickens in the freezer so we could throw one in our crock pot all day with some baby carrots and some other veggies we had on hand with salt and pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and whatever other seasonings we had on hand that we like.  It would take me about 5 minutes to throw it all in and I didn’t have to worry about dinner.

I offer breastfeeding and babywearing consultations and classes in Oklahoma City, Yukon, and Mustang.  If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit my website, or contact me.

What do you do to survive growth spurts?

Watch the Baby, Not the Clock

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After my last post, you may wonder if it’s better to watch baby or the clock.  A sleeping baby usually only needs to be woken up if there is special circumstances once they have gained back to birth weight.  Breastfeeding is so very intuitive.  We are very procedural and scientific as a society and we are very concerned about numbers.  This is helpful in some ways, especially to make sure that baby is thriving and not having breastfeeding struggles.  In other ways it sometimes gets in the way of what is normal and natural about the ART that is breastfeeding.

Healthy, full-term babies can tell YOU when they’re hungry.

You should expect that baby will continue to want to nurse 8-12 times per day approximately in the first six months.  Unlike with formula, baby will continue to get approximately the same amount of milk at the breast until baby begins eating solid food.

Feedings will eventually become shorter but still work on supply and demand.  Many mechanisms in our bodies work in cycles.  Breastfeeding is no different.  It’s very normal for milk supply to be higher in the morning and lower in the evenings.  It’s very normal for baby to want to nurse more frequently in the evenings and even to be fussy (more on this in a later post).

Scheduled feedings based on a certain time came because someone took the average of 8-12 feedings per day and decided to break that up on a clock.  Because our bodies (baby’s as well as mom’s) don’t work on a strict schedule but more of a routine, this can cause breastfeeding issues when you limit feedings based on certain times.  Certain baby programs meant to train and discipline babies highly discourage feeding more often than a set amount of time (usually more often than every 2 or 4 hours) and also discourage feedings longer than a specified amount of time (usually 15 or 20 minutes).  All babies are different in their efficiency, breasts are different in how often let-downs occur (where baby gets the majority of the milk in a feeding), and some babies have a stronger sucking need than others.  All people are different.  We all have different appetites.  We all expect meals at a certain time to some degree but if we get hungry most people will have a snack when they start to feel hungry.  If you wake up thirsty during the night you will get up and drink some water rather than say “Only 2 more hours until I’m allowed another sip of water.”  Babies are the same in that regard.  Babies will fall in to a routine eventually and following baby’s cues helps keep breastfeeding going in the most optimal way.

Because we don’t have graduations like a bottle on our breasts and can’t see how much milk baby is actually getting in there are some good indicators to help you know that baby is getting enough.  The most important keys to watch for to be sure that baby is nursing frequently enough and getting enough milk are:

  • Watch for early feeding cues: rooting, smacking/sucking noises, bringing hand to mouth, and in the early days just waking up.  Don’t wait for baby to cry-it will be harder for baby  to latch on and baby may become so tired that they may not nurse as effectively.
feedingcues

Early feeding cues include bringing hands to mouth and making smacking noises.  This is my daughter when she was just a couple of weeks old.

  • Diaper counts: by the end of the first week expect to see at least 6-8 wet diapers and 3 poopy diapers.  At about 6 weeks baby may have less stools and this is normal.  Some babies may go less than once a day at about 6 weeks and may go as infrequently as once a week or up to 2 weeks and be healthy.  If you have concerns, talk to your baby’s doctor and see a breastfeeding professional.
  • Weight gain: Baby should gain at least 5-7 oz per week after getting back to birth weight.  Baby should be back to birth weight by 10 days, 2 weeks at the latest.
  • When baby finishes a feeding (baby should usually be allowed to finish the feeding by coming off when he/she is finished) his/her hands and body will be more relaxed.  Babies often have fists at the beginning of the feeding and relax as their stomachs are filled.

If you have supply concerns some helpful ideas are to:

  • Check latch-if it’s painful an assessment by an IBCLC is important.
  • Let baby finish a breast, burp, then offer the other breast.  Following babies cues is important as is getting enough breast stimulation so that you continue having a good supply.
  • Nurse baby on cue as long as baby wishes.
  • Take away pacifiers and extra bottles, if baby needs a supplement consider an at-breast supplementer or work on paced bottle feeding to simulate how your breast delivers milk.  If you have supply concerns, all suckling should be at the breast.
  • Skin-to-skin contact as long and as much as possible during the day.
  • RELAX!  Stress can inhibit your let-down and make you not feel the best.
  • And above all, get professional help and support.  Mother-to-mother support groups and volunteers can be extremely helpful as well.
  • A very helpful book is Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk.

 

For further reading see:

What cues does your baby give to let you know that he/she is hungry?

I offer breastfeeding and babywearing classes and consultations in Oklahoma City, Yukon, and Mustang.  If you would like more information please contact me or visit my website.

What to Expect in the Early Days of Breastfeeding

earlydays

To learn more about getting breastfeeding off to a good start and know what to expect in the first two hours postpartum please see my earlier post in this What to Expect series.  You can also learn more about what to expect that first night home from the hospital (regardless of the timing of that due to a normal vaginal birth, surgical birth, or bringing a preemie home) here.  To learn more about days 2-7 postpartum please see this post.

Now that you’re home from the hospital, your milk has transitioned and is changing to more mature milk, and you’re starting to get to know your baby more you may start to feel a little bit of a groove and your baby may be starting to get more of a routine (or not!).  Your husband or partner may be back to work or may have a little more time off.  You no longer have the call button that you had at the hospital and now is the time to call in those favors that everyone left (“If you need anything let me know.”).  Postpartum is the best time to learn to ask for those favors because taking care of you and your baby are the top priorities, even over dinner. I recommend during pregnancy creating a list of duties, chores, errands, and meal preparation so that when someone is visiting you can encourage them to do a task before getting to see baby.  In many other cultures outside of the United States women have some type of a “laying in” period that other women come and take care of the household chores so mother can feed baby frequently and work on recovering.  A wise midwife, who “caught” my third baby (Lisa Lehrer in Corvallis, Oregon), encouraged me to stay down as much as I was able in the first 2-4 weeks postpartum and promised me that if I did I would feel much better at 6 months postpartum than if I had been running errands, doing chores, etc.  She was absolutely correct.  I felt MUCH better with her at six months postpartum than I did with my first two children.

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Check out my FREE printable helping list!

At this point your baby may begin sleeping up to a 4 hour stretch during the day or night (maybe, it’s totally normal not to have a stretch for a while though).  If baby is gaining well and having enough diapers letting baby sleep is usually ok.  You may need to wake up a sleepy baby though if your baby is not up to birth weight by 10 days or has lost more than 10% of their birth weight, is jaundiced, or was premature or has special circumstances.  If you need to wake baby up, and baby is difficult to arouse, here are some ideas to help:

Ideas to help wake baby up

One other note that is important in the first two weeks.  Babies lose weight after birth.  It should be 7% of their birth weight or less.  It can be up to a 10% weight loss.  More than this and it’s very important to get immediate help from an IBCLC and your doctor to figure out if there is an issue with breastfeeding (even if you aren’t having any pain).  If you received IV fluids during labor baby may lose more weight than if no IV fluids were given.  Baby should be back up to birth weight by 10 days, 2 weeks at the latest.  If baby is not back up to birth weight by 2 weeks it’s important to see an IBCLC right away to assess for any breastfeeding issues.

Who was the biggest help to you postpartum?

If you live in the Oklahoma City, Mustang, or Yukon area and need breastfeeding help or would like to attend breastfeeding classes please see my website for more information.  You may also contact me here.

What to Expect When Your Baby is 2-7 Days Old

2to7days

Whether you are breastfeeding or not your breasts will begin to transition from colostrum to mature milk at about 2-5 days postpartum.  This post is geared toward breastfeeding mothers.  If you choose to feed artificial breast milk (formula) it’s a good idea to manage the swelling in your breasts with expressing your milk to comfort for the first few days and slowly expressing less milk each day after the first couple of days to prevent mastitis (a painful breast infection which can cause you to be very sick).

To learn more about getting breastfeeding off to a good start and know what to expect in the first two hours postpartum please see my earlier post in this What to Expect series.  You can also learn more about what to expect that first night home from the hospital (regardless of the timing of that due to a normal vaginal birth, surgical birth, or bringing a preemie home) here.

In the first 24 hours after birth, your baby is receiving colostrum which is a thick breast milk that is extremely high in antibodies and vitamins because baby has such a small tummy.  The average a baby receives is about 0.35-3.68 oz in the first 24 hours (based on a 7 lb 8 oz baby) (Source: Counseling the Nursing Mother, Fifth Edition).  Your body begins producing this liquid gold breast milk during pregnancy and it protects baby against bacteria and helps jump start baby’s immune system and GI system to living in the world outside of the womb.

Beb mamando

Sometime in the first 2-5 days your body will begin producing more milk as it begins transitioning to mature milk.  I don’t like to use the phrase “milk coming in” because colostrum is also breast milk.  It’s all important and vital to baby’s survival and optimal growth and development.

You may notice some engorgement in your breasts at this time.  Not all mothers experience this and those who do notice varying degrees of this engorgement and time that it lasts.  It typically resolves in about 2 days but it may take about 7 days after milk transitions for it to resolve but it will get better each day.  Not all of this fluid in your breasts is breast milk.  Much of it is lymphatic fluid and blood from which milk is synthesized.  Like if you have an injury, ice packs can be very helpful after a feeding to help take this engorgement down.  The very best way to resolve this is by putting your baby to your breast frequently-a minimum of 8-12 times per day, many babies like to nurse more frequently.

ping pong ball.jpg

Your baby’s stomach has increased to the size of a ping pong ball (like in the picture above).  Baby will take an average of 14-19 oz per day of breast milk.  Your milk will slowly transition over the first two weeks postpartum but the components quickly resemble those in mature milk.

Things to Watch For:

  • Baby should be on the breast 8-12 times per 24 hours (or more frequently).  Feedings may last 7 minutes up to an hour or possibly longer.  Expect to spend lots of time feeding your baby and recovering from birth.  Your baby will get more efficient at nursing over time.
  • You should notice your milk increasing in volume and transitioning between day 2-5.  If by day 5 you do not notice your milk increasing in volume or baby has lost more than 10% of birth weight (7% is the number where we really start watching babies closely but if you received IV fluids during labor your baby may lose more) contact your doctor and your baby’s doctor right away and seek help right away from an IBCLC. 
  • Follow the care instructions from the hospital regarding cord care, body temperature for you and baby, and other discharge directions.
  • If you have any breastfeeding questions contact a breastfeeding professional right away.
  • Baby’s stools should become more green in this timeframe as your milk transitions.  Baby should have at least 1 wet diaper in the first 24 hours, 2 the second day, 3 the third day, and so on until baby is having at least 6-8 wet diapers and 3 yellow seedy poopy diapers by the end of the first week. Baby’s stool should be the consistency and color of French’s mustard with sesame seeds in it (the seeds are the curding milk from digestion).
  • Skin-to-skin contact helps babies to breastfeed better.  Many issues can be resolved by making the breast a happy place to be even if baby isn’t latching.  Getting help from a breastfeeding professional is also very important in this process.  If you don’t feel the care plan that you and your professional work out together is working you can always seek extra help or seek a second opinion.  Like doctors, breastfeeding professionals all have different areas of expertise and unfortunately not all are on the same page with evidence-based information because we are continually learning more and more about breastfeeding.

 

What did you find most helpful in the first 7 days postpartum?

If you have breastfeeding questions in the Oklahoma City, Mustang, or Yukon areas I am happy to help.  I offer breastfeeding classes and consultations.  You can find out more on my website or contact me here.

Wearing a Newborn

babywearing-newborn-oklahoma

Newborn babies are so tiny and precious.  There are a few things we need to watch out for when wearing them.  It’s important to keep in mind that they start out so tiny but grow SO rapidly (doubling their lowest weight by 6 months and tripling by a year).  A carrier that would fit a newborn well will not fit a 6 month old unless it’s a less structured carrier that you have to form to fit the baby.  It’s of special importance to be sure that the carrier supports baby’s legs and hips well, spine, and neck to set baby up for the most optimal circumstances.  While carriers can’t be directly attributed to causing hip dysplasia we do know that baby’s hips are cartilage until they are toddlers and that the femur cartilage is harder and will win in a battle.  Any wear and tear can cause issues down the road-whether this is immediate or when your child is very old or somewhere in between.  I promote best practices so all of my posts reflect this.  Best practices include supporting the spread squat positioning mentioned on the Babywearing Institute’s page here.  And in Dr. Evelin Kirkilionis book A Baby Wants to Be Carried: Everything You Need to Know about Baby Carriers and the Advantages of Babywearing (available on Amazon and through other book suppliers and book stores-link is an affiliate link to Amazon and funds received through the affiliate link helps purchase homeschooling books for my children’s education).

mshapenewborn

I have traced my newborn daughter’s legs and bottom in this picture.  This wrap is supporting the spread squat position.  You can see how her body makes a capital M shape.  In this position her femur is sitting in the ball and socket of the hip per the research done by hip dysplasia doctors in Germany.  She does not have hip dysplasia but if she did this would be the position they would keep her in because they have determined that this is the best possible position for baby’s hips to be in to heal if baby does have an issue.  I’m exhausted in the picture and it’s not my favorite of me by a long shot but my daughter is only 2 days old in this and she was enjoying an wonderful nap on me.  She is close enough to kiss and the back of her neck is supported by the carrier being tight and smooth on her neck.  The carrier is smooth across her back and if this shot was taken sideways you could see the c-shape curve that a newborn’s spine is in.  (She should be straight up right but had a tendency to lean-I could have further supported her head and body by pulling one of the sides around the back of her head to support her more).

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This is a stock image.  The mother and baby are beautiful but this wrap is MUCH too loose.  It’s natural to snuggle and cuddle your newborn however I think this mom doesn’t feel very secure and in all images that I saw of this mother and baby she’s pulling her baby closer.  This can easily be adjusted by tightening the carrier by pulling very snuggly when wrapping the carrier (I will demonstrate this in a video in a later post).  The shoulders and arms are also very loose and the wrap is likely to slip down mom’s arms.  This is why in person help with a carrier is very important because once you FEEL and SEE how it’s supposed to be on your body you will always get it right and you are able to apply the feeling to any carry that you do.

This same looseness can occur with other carriers such as a ring sling, mei tai (I don’t recommend most mei tais for newborns though because they have to be adjusted quite a bit and don’t support the spine as well because of this unless they’re specifically made to size down to a newborn), or a soft structure carrier at any age or stage.  This looseness is not recommended no matter how old your baby is.

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My daughter is a week old in this photo. She is in a ring sling.  This picture shows the c-shape curve better (I have traced it to point it out better).  Her chin is off of her chest so she can breathe but the carrier is flexible so that her spine is allowed to do what it needs to do.

Now that we know more about what position baby should be in let’s talk about newborn carriers specifically.  These are my favorite carriers for newborns (with links back to my previous posts about these classes of carriers):

  • Ring Slings (not pouches)
  • Wraps-especially the front wrap cross carry
  • Gauze or hybrid wraps
  • Possibly stretchy wraps if they are wrapped very tightly (I don’t recommend them after 12-15 lbs though because baby’s legs will start to pull down out of the spread squat position and baby will become too heavy to stay in the right position on your body-they should NEVER be worn in a back carry)
  • Mei Tais that are specifically designed to adjust down both vertically and horizontally so that it fits snuggly around a newborn (no fabric going below the knee and fabric emulating the tightness from my first picture above).
  • Some infant soft structure carriers.  There should be absolutely no gapping between the back of your baby’s neck and the carrier.  If there is baby needs to grow larger to fit in the carrier well.  Many manufacturers of soft structure carriers say that baby can fit in the carrier from birth however there’s often not enough support until baby is a couple of months old.

If you are in the Oklahoma City area and would like some hands on help to prepare for wearing your newborn during pregnancy or after your baby has arrived please feel free to contact me or check out my website.

What is/was your favorite carrier for a newborn?

What to Expect: The Realities of the First Night Home

firstnightreality

This picture for today’s post is meant to be ironic.  This picture depicts what society says our newborn is supposed to be like.  We prepare a fancy nursery and bring our perfect baby home and we wear white clothing and the baby never messes up those clothes or our clothes with spit up or poop…baby sleeps so soundly while we snuggle in a lovely rocking chair while our spouse dusts, vacuums, and keeps the rest of our lovely everything-white house pristine.

This isn’t reality.

I’m going to tell you a little story, not to scare you at all, but to hopefully provide an example that your first night home won’t be like.  I hope this post will help you prepare better than we did and have expectations in place before bringing baby home (or if you deliver at home you still have a first night at home).  I also highly encourage you to take a quality breastfeeding class, especially one that talks about expectations and realities because preparing in this way has been proven to support breastfeeding and increase the initiation and duration of breastfeeding.  If you’re in the Oklahoma City area be sure to check out my class details and register here.

korvergoinghome

This adorable baby is my second son.  I can’t find my first son’s going home from the hospital picture to help illustrate my story but we can pretend that this is my first son anyways for sake of the picture (they used the same car seat at least!).

My first son was born on a Friday.  He was never able to latch on in the hospital so he was given formula (we didn’t know any alternates at the time and no one told me that there was an alternate to pumping that is more efficient with colostrum-hand expressing).  I was sent home with no pump, nothing.  I did have instructions when we were released Sunday morning to call a doctor the next day to have his tongue tie clipped and hopefully he’d start being able to nurse.  We sent my parents to pick me up a manual pump so I could try to get my mature milk to come-at the time the term “milk come in” was really descriptive of the situation because I never got even a drop of colostrum out with the hospital pump even though I leaked on my nursing pads and had drips on my breasts.  Things got real when they headed home.  All of a sudden my milk started increasing in volume enough that I was getting a little bit in the bottle.  My son got his first tastes of breast milk and I was changing out bottles so my husband could feed my baby and I could keep pumping milk.  This went on forever because he didn’t want to take formula anymore after having my breast milk.  Finally we tried to settle and go to bed and my son woke up from a nap and wouldn’t go back to sleep.  He kept screaming and nothing would calm him.  We tried walking around, bouncing him, giving him more milk.  He just wouldn’t calm down.  By 2 AM I called my mom frantically asking if it was ok to put my son in his carseat and let him sleep.  At the hospital they drilled so much that it wasn’t safe to let baby sleep ANYWHERE but laying flat on their back and we were scared new parents.  We ended up putting him in his carseat and taking a 40 minute round trip in the car where we both were so exhausted.  I don’t know when we ever got to sleep that night or for how long.  Things got better after that night but I will always remember feeling so helpless and awful that I couldn’t calm my son at all.

Mother with her newborn baby

Realities

If you have a hospital birth you’ll be coming home between your baby’s 2nd and 5th day (depending on if you had a vaginal or surgical birth).  If you had your baby at home your first night will be after your baby is born and you’re all tucked in.  In this case your baby may be a couple of hours old or almost a day old by your first real night depending on when your baby was born.  Regardless, at some point you will have your first night home on your own at some point without a call button for a nurse to help with latching or to help you calm your baby.  Reality sets in when you are in this position.

Your baby will nurse frequently day and night.  Your baby will nurse about every 2-3 hours day and night with maybe a 4 hour stretch at some point between the beginning of one feeding and the beginning of another.  Many babies take 20-30 minutes to nurse, some take an hour.  All of this is within the range of normal.  Every 2-3 hours is just a guideline dividing  up the average 8-12 times per day that baby needs to nurse and some babies will nurse every hour.

Beb mamando

Your milk may be increasing in volume as soon as you get home.  This paired with your baby’s stomach increasing in size, your baby wanting that extra milk, and everything that comes with these things means that you may be experiencing some engorgement and discomfort.  It’s normal for engorgement to happen and it’s normal for it not to happen.  If you experience engorgement it’s important to remember that this is more than just milk.  Other fluids are in your breasts including blood and lymph and if you had IV fluids you may have other fluids resting in your breasts and feet as well.  This can be very sore.  Frequent feeding, ice after feeding, and heat before feeding to encourage milk to flow are usually the best remedies at this time.

Your uterus may be sore from contracting down to its normal size.  When you are nursing oxytocin is released which helps contract the muscles to release your milk and your uterus.  You may also be tender from delivery, especially if you had a tear or a c-section.  Nursing frequently helps your uterus to contract down to normal size quickly though and you can talk to your doctor or midwife about pain relief options if you’re interested.

It’s normal for your baby to wake up frequently.  It’s also normal due to hormones for you to sleep more lightly.  Nursing mothers often start feeling an intense need for a lot of water which means you may be getting up as frequently to go to the bathroom as you were in the late days of pregnancy.  All of this does get better over time and there are some things that you can do to help prepare for all of these things.  Knowing is half the battle though, right?

Dishes may pile up, laundry may pile up, try to put those things out of your mind.

Newborn

Here are some tips for making the first night home easier on yourself:

  • Have everything at hand: snacks, water, your cell phone, a remote for the TV if you wish, a book, etc.
  • Have a lot of pillows handy to help you position yourself and your baby during the night while you’re nursing.
  • Babies often spit up when they’re burping-keep extra burp cloths at hand.
  • Keep diapers nearby.  When your milk is increasing in volume your baby will also start having higher output…pee AND poop.  You may consider keeping an extra sleeper or two close by as well in case of a blowout.  They seem to like to happen during the night.
  • Prepare for baby to sleep in proximity to you.  Babies are more comfortable sleeping near mom because they’re biologically wired to be near mom.  For more information on normal sleep behaviors for newborns, infants, toddlers, and children the book Sweet Sleep is great to read.  The book starts off with quick information for how to prepare your bed for a safe night of sleep in your bed with your baby before you can read more information in the book to do a full set up.
  • Get the bathroom ready.  Have pads on the counter so you don’t have to fumble around.  Consider having a nightlight so you don’t have to turn on a bright light when you’re tired, waking yourself up more.  Keep your peri bottle handy and any other comfort measures as well.

Some other ideas to help during the day and night:

feedingcues

  • Babywear!  Skin-to-skin contact especially helps regulate and stabilize your baby’s body temperature, organize sucking, regulate breathing, comfort baby especially if your baby has gas or is in pain from medical procedures (always check with your doctor to be sure babywearing is safe after a medical procedure-it usually is but not always), allow you to be hands free to sit back and take a nap during the day, reduce stress in your baby because baby doesn’t have to cry (crying is stressful for babies, it isn’t a way to “exercise their lungs”), and also helps you recognize and react to early hunger cues which builds trust with your baby.
  • Call on your network!  People usually offer to help-call them!  Our society, at least in the states, is so against asking for help but they offered so take them up on it!  Let them run to the store or let them hold the baby while you take a shower or take a nap, just make sure they give you baby at early feeding cues.
  • If you are having breastfeeding issues go back to the basics.  Work on getting a deep latch or go back and read my post about what to expect in the first two hours, especially watch the breast crawl video.  Babies in the first couple of weeks especially have very active reflexes to help them breastfeed.  Take advantage of these if you’re having any breastfeeding issues.
  • Call on lactation support if you are having breastfeeding issues.  Call a LLL leader, Lactation Educator, CLC, IBCLC, or other breastfeeding support.  If your situation is beyond their scope of practice they can refer you to someone else to get you help right away.  Many areas have a 24 hour breastfeeding hotline.  Take advantage of it!  In Oklahoma you can call: 1-877-271-MILK (6455).  For urgent calls you will get called back quickly by an IBCLC.
  • To prepare in advance, take a good breastfeeding class.

If you’re in the Oklahoma City area be sure to check out my class details and register here.

What was your first night home like?  Tell me in the comments!

Where to Purchase a Baby Carrier

purchasecarrier

This is a question that comes up a lot from my readers and people who visit my website.  Where can I purchase a baby carrier?  I am here today to share some local resources for purchasing a carrier in Oklahoma City and some sources on the web.  I’m also sharing some places that you can purchase a used carrier as well.  I will mention that it’s a good idea to protect yourself when purchasing used.  I will share some tips later on in this post.  I would love to keep this updated so please let me know if you find a broken link or want me to add another shop on here!

Where you can buy a baby carrier in Oklahoma City:

  • The Worn Baby: (Piper of Babywearing Support of OKC on Facebook and local meetings)  Offers local pick up, payment plans, and a trade in program.
    • Didymos, Diva Milano, Ellaroo, Emeibaby, Ethos, Fidella, Girasol, Lenny Lamb, Little Frog, Ovolo, Storchenweige, Yaro
  • Babies R Us: 1731 Bell Isle Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73118
    • Ergo, Boba Wrap, Several others site to store
  • The Changing Table: 1745A NW 16th Street, Oklahoma City, OK  73106
    • Babyhawk, Beco, Moby Aria, Moby Wrap, Olives & Applesauce, Sakura Bloom, Tula
  • Green Bambino: 5120 N Shartel Ave, Oklahoma City, OK
    • Beco, Catbird Baby, Chimparoo, Fidella, Lillebaby, MyHeartCreative, Sakura Bloom, Tula, Wrapsody, Zolowear (mesh ring sling)
  • Cinnamon Bears: 102 S Broadway, Edmond, OK
    • MyHeartCreative

Tulsa Area:

  • Bottoms and Beyond: 400 E. Broadway St., Sand Springs, OK 74063
    • Lenny Lamb, Lillebaby, MJ, Tula
  • Oui Oui: 1405 E Kenosha St, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
    • Bella Bonilla Onbus, Hero Slings, Tula

Where you can buy a baby carrier online (not an exhaustive list by any means!):

I just want to mention to ask your local babywearing group if they have an affiliate account with an retailers because often groups will have a special discount or receive a portion of sales.

Stores I have shopped with or know owners and can personally recommend:

Other Great Online Shops:

  • The Changing Table: 1745A NW 16th Street, Oklahoma City, OK  73106
    • Babyhawk, Beco, Moby Aria, Moby Wrap, Olives & Applesauce, Sakura Bloom, Tula
  • Green Bambino: 5120 N Shartel Ave, Oklahoma City, OK
    • Beco, Catbird Baby, Chimparoo, Fidella, Lillebaby, MyHeartCreative, Sakura Bloom, Tula, Wrapsody, Zolowear (mesh ring sling)
  • Cinnamon Bears: 102 S Broadway, Edmond, OK
    • MyHeartCreative
  • Risaroo
  • Mom’s Milk Boutique
  • Purple Elm Baby
  • Ergo (purchase directly from the manufacturer or locate a store near you)
  • Natibaby (purchase directly from the manufacturer or locate a store near you)
  • Lenny Lamb (purchase directly from the manufacturer or locate a store near you)
  • Little Frog (purchase directly from the manufacturer or locate a store near you)
  • Maya Wrap (purchase directly from the manufacturer or locate a store near you)
  • Storchenwiege (purchase directly from the manufacturer or locate a store near you)
  • Girasol (purchase directly from the manufacturer or locate a store near you)

Tips to keep in mind when purchasing a used carrier (especially online):

  • Be sure to use Paypal and pay through “goods” so that you’re protected.
  • Be sure that you get lots of pictures in good light.  If the seller isn’t providing enough pictures (especially of any flaws they mention) ask for more.  If they won’t provide them it may not be worth the risk purchasing the carrier.
  • Speaking of flaws-if the seller doesn’t mention any or doesn’t have a good description of the carrier, how it was used, if it was used in a smoking/non-smoking home, if it comes from a home with animals (or was ever used to hold an animal), etc ask them.  Don’t ever assume because something is left off or is vague.  Asking lots of questions is super important even if a carrier is your “unicorn” (something you’ve really wanted for a very long time or even a short time).
  • Get insurance.  If you can afford to be out the package don’t worry about this one but most of us really can’t be out the carrier and what we paid for it.  Paypal does protect you but making sure to pay extra for insurance is a really good idea because the post office does lose packages.
  • Watch tracking.  Make sure the seller is willing to get tracking on the package and watch it.  USPS doesn’t always update so don’t panic if it hasn’t moved in a few days.  Sometimes packages run late as well but it’s a good idea to get tracking and to check it every couple of days.

Where you can purchase a used carrier:

Facebook:

Others:

  • The Babywearer (you have to join their free website in order to view the posted carriers)
  • Diaperswappers (you have to join their free website in order to view the posted carriers-this site is mainly for cloth diapers but there’s a great section for carriers)

If you need help finding a carrier I offer sessions that I can sit down with you and help you shop for a carrier that you will love.  Feel free to contact me on via email with any questions or book a time with me.  You can also find out more about my breastfeeding and babywearing classes on my website.

Where have you purchased a carrier online?

Winter Babywearing Tips

winterbabywearingtips

We’re now in the thick of winter and experiencing a whole different situation in Oklahoma.  Being from Utah we are used to cold and snow but have gotten out of the habits we were in when we lived in Utah.  Babywearing in the winter can be a whole different experience than at other times depending on where you live.  Planning in advance and keeping extra jackets (especially a babywearing one or a babywearing vest or something that fits over you both without getting in the way of baby’s airway) in the car at all times will help especially if unexpected weather hits when you’re out with baby.  The following tips can help you prepare for winter wearing.

  • Keep a carrier handy in your car, it should be part of your emergency kit.  Even if you don’t regularly babywear if you are trapped in your car in a storm or another emergency situation a baby carrier can help keep your baby warm.
  • Don’t ever wear baby while ice skating, skiing, or other situations that you could fall or wouldn’t wear baby while holding them in your hands.
  • Be extra careful near ice in parking lots and sidewalks while babywearing.  Your center of balance is different than you are used to from being pregnant or before pregnancy.
  • Any well made ergonomic carrier is excellent in the winter time.  Practice before the storms come setting your tails of your wrap or mei tai in your vehicle or between your legs to keep them off of the wet ground.  You can also practice inside several times before venturing out.  It takes a little extra maneuvering and practice but tails can be kept off of the wet ground (it’s not the end of the world if the tails get wet though either-if they’re really wet you may want to pat dry with a towel to keep you and baby dry and warm).
  • Keep to light layers for you and baby.  It’s better to wear a babywearing coat or poncho (purchased or free/cheap homemade versions or a large coat that you can zip over you both or even a maternity jacket with a few fixes so it doesn’t get in the way of baby’s face or airway).  If you stick to light layers you will use your own body heat to keep baby warm and also be able to tell if baby is overheating much sooner than if you each wear a jacket or coat.
  • Stay hydrated.  Staying hydrated is just as important in the winter as in the summer.  We often forget to drink water when we aren’t sweating as much but you do need to drink about the same amount of water in the winter as the summer.
  • Breastfeeding in extra layers is a little more tricky.  If you practice at home you will have more confidence before going out.  An outer layer is much easier to remove if needed to get baby situated to nurse than a coat inside the carrier (plus baby coats are usually not safe in their car seat).

If you’re in the Oklahoma City area be sure to check out my class details and register here.