So you have made the decision to forego formula and breastfeed your baby. Congratulations to you and your soon-to-be newborn!
Breastfeeding is the most natural way to bond with your new baby and allow them the benefit of receiving nature’s gift for them through your body. This is the best way to bond with your new baby. Studies show that breastfed babies tend to have higher IQ scores, naturally form a strong bond with their mothers, and they also receive a potent dose of antibodies through the breastmilk that helps them to bulk up their immune systems, making them less prone to allergens, ear infections, and respiratory illnesses.
Now that you have surveyed your options, there’s one more choice to consider: scheduled or ad libitum breastfeeding? Both of these have their own benefits and shortcomings. The ultimate question is up to your personal preference, as it relates to your lifestyle, work schedule, and how organized you would like to be regarding the time your baby nurses. This can be the source of frustration for the new mother, if not considered carefully what the implications are to each choice, so we are here to help you in weighing the pros and cons of each, and hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll be able to have a clear mind and direction in which you will move, as it pertains to what is realistic for your life and your baby’s health. Remember this: You are the mother, and everything relies on you and how you feel. Your baby will pick up on your stresses, so it’s much better to have a plan that needs to be revised than to have no plan at all to start with.
Scheduled breastfeeding could lend itself more to a mom that has a busy day and needs to adhere to specific blocks of time to complete certain tasks. This option lends itself mostly to working moms, entrepreneurial moms, or moms that have multiple children for which she divides her devoted love and attention. Bearing this in mind, your day is filled with various happenings, but above all else, as the old saying goes (even with your schedule) to “watch the baby, not the clock.” Although scheduled feeding is great for record keeping, so that you can record and trend exactly how much your baby drank and when for his or her health reasons, it is equally important not to nudge your baby into a schedule and to follow baby’s lead, and you adjust your schedule as needed and as baby’s sustenance thresholds change.
Scheduling is also great for your days, as you may set a time to pump or feed, in case your little one isn’t hungry. You may also be inclined to make this a time in your day, set aside from all of your other many distractions, to spend some one-on-one time with just yourself and your newborn. Scheduled feeding is not usually recommended. However, depending on if you are planning to schedule, bearing in mind the ever-growing needs of your baby, it may prove less difficult and stressful, for the newborn at least, to try ad libitum breastfeeding before ruling it out.
AD LIBITUM BREASTFEEDING
This method of breastfeeding typically relies on the baby and is mostly recommended by the medical community, namely lactation consultants. Their concern is for the child’s well-being, in that mothers that schedule nursing times are likely not able to anticipate appetite changes and therefore make for a loss of milk supply, as continuous nursing allows for a steady milk flow and continuous production. Also, the body will naturally bulk up on the milk supply naturally, as your baby’s appetite grows over time. Although not impossible, it may prove difficult for nursing schedules.
Because you would be essentially letting your baby and your body intuitively determine what your baby needs, it will give you less to worry about and allow you to comfort your baby with nursing whenever your baby needs it. Also, it gives your child the added benefit of growing properly and getting all of the nutrients available to them, as their body requires it. This would give pro-ad libitum moms a leg up in the race of getting to those very precious breastfeeding benefits.
Although there are numerous benefits of allowing your child to feed “on-demand,” there is only one caveat to this method: Ad libitum breastfeeding should be avoided after the first teeth erupt. Dental health professionals are worried that nocturnal ad-libitum breastfeeding can significantly increase the chances of the child having enamel defects, advancing up to cavities that will need crowns. This can simply be avoided by not allowing your child to breastfeed just before bed. It is also not a bad idea to start to clean the teeth with a little water and a soft baby cloth. The idea is to keep your child’s teeth relatively free of anything that would stick onto the teeth while (s)he sleeps and resisting the urge to feed just before bed will help exponentially.
Yes, there is a bit of a downside to everything in life. Your job is to weigh the pros and the cons. The thing is this: No-one can tell you what is best for your baby. Only you know for sure. As long as the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, it seems like a great decision to start there and adjust as you go. Hope this guide made your decision a little easier!
Have more questions about what is right for your newborn? Check out the rest of the blog for more insights!
A+ Dentistry for Kids
Brian Palmer D.D.S
This is not another post about the heated debate between circumcision vs keeping your boy intact. Yes – breathe that sigh of relief. As a doula, I encourage you to do your due diligence and research circumcision thoroughly before making any decision. In fact, I recommend that for all major parenting decisions. But this post is not intended to sway you in one direction or the other.
This is a simple basic care guide for your newborn’s parts, whether they are circumcised boys, intact boys, and I’ll even cover genital care for baby girls.
At birth, newborn genitals are swollen from all the raging hormones of pregnancy and labor, but they quickly rectified in a few weeks.
The uncircumcised penis. It is a myth that the baby’s foreskin requires a lot of extra attention and work. A basic rule of thumb is that an intact penis should be cleaned like a finger. No retraction or additional cleaning is required. In fact, one of the primary things you need to understand about caring for an intact foreskin is that you SHOULD NOT retract it at all. Your boy will retract it when he is ready and this will happen naturally anytime between toddlerhood and puberty. In the meantime, the foreskin protects the glans as well as cleans it. Problems begin to arise with intact boys when the foreskin is prematurely retracted. For further information on intact care, check out Dr. Momma’s Care for Intact Penis Post. http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/how-to-care-for-intact-penis-protect.html
Circumcised boys. There are a few basic care things that you can do for your boy as his penis is healing, whether he was circumcised at the hospital or by a mohel in a separate location. On average, it takes 7-10 days for the penis to heal. During that time, careful and deliberate steps should be taken to ensure that it heals properly. Following circumcision, the area will be very sore and caregivers should handle it gently. Wash it gently with warm water and a mild soap so that it can be kept clean of bacteria. Do not use baby wipes. Some doctors recommend keeping a dressing on it, while others say that is unnecessary. Consult your baby’s pediatrician for advice on dressing the wound. Protecting it with petroleum jelly or A & D ointment is also sometimes recommended. Again, check with your baby’s provider. Once it is healed, no further cleaning steps are necessary.
Baby girls. Baby girls need to be cleaned thoroughly as much as little boys do. Make sure your hands are clean and use your fingers to separate the baby’s vaginal lips. Use a clean cloth or alcohol-free wipe to clean her from front to back. Make sure that you get both sides of the labia. Often in the first few diaper changes, you may notice white cottage cheese looking substance in or around the labia. This is Vernix; a skin protectant your baby had while submerged in water for the last 37-42ish weeks. It is normal. There is no need to remove it.
Whatever you decide to do in terms of circumcision for your boy is entirely up to you. Knowing how to care for your baby’s genitals is a crucial and often overlooked necessity for baby care.
After months and months of swelling, aches, and pains in pregnancy, finally holding your baby in your arms is a god sent. However, during this first period of parenthood, sleep longer than a wink is nearly impossible. So how do parents get out of this terrible sleep cycle, or at least improve the quality of the little sleep they do have? New parents can try out these five tips and they’ll be counting sheep before they know it!
Diet and Exercise
“Diet and exercise” seems to be the cure-all recommended by doctors no matter the ache or pain, but these two health components can have a big impact on the quality and quantity of new parent’s sleep routines. New parents should ensure they’re getting enough nutrients and macro-nutrients like protein and carbohydrates. Parents should also get these nutrients from healthy food like lean meats and vegetables, not all greasy fast food and sugary soft drinks. Keep an eye out for caffeine late in the afternoon, as drinking things like teas, sodas, and coffee will wreak havoc on sleep schedules.
Try exercises that help you de-stress, such as yoga, swimming, or running. Not only do these activities help destress and release pent up energy, exercise has a distinct correlation with sleep. So even if you’d never be caught dead at the gym, thirty minutes of exercise in exchange for a restful night of sleep is a great trade off.
Take Parental Leave
It can be hard to swing a full sleep schedule when one parent has to go back to work right away. Consider asking your workplace about parental leave so the baby work can be more evenly divided among parents. As Spiggle Law puts it, partners often feel uneasy asking for paternal leave because they worry that their employer might wonder why they need to take time off since they’re not the one who gave birth. Stand firm and ask anyway — getting parental leave means more sleep for both partners, and the new mama will be happier, too.
Sleep is essential to healing and operating at your full capacity. It’s no surprise that newborn babies wake frequently during the night. For some new parents, alternating parent duties for a few nights can help provide the deep sleep necessary to sustain a full day. As a doula, I’ve helped parents devise sleep plans for parents, newborn and even new siblings. There are so many options including but not limited to the guest room for a night, co-sleeping, co-bedding, a “daddy doodies” and “mommy boobies” team and more!
Try Different Techniques to Calm Your Baby
There’s no one miracle fix all for quieting crying babies that will apply to everyone. It’s necessary to try out as any different techniques as you can to find which one works the best for your child. According to Sleep Baby Love, what works on your child one week may change the next week due to “mental leaps” — also known as “wonder weeks.” A calm, quiet baby means restful sleep for parents, so this one is naturally top priority. There are several key items that support calm babies. Expert Dr. Harvey Karp who wrote the helpful book, “The Happiest Baby on the Block” describes 5 S’s – a comfortable combo to mimic the womb! He’s even invented the NOO Smart Sleeper for a good night’s rest.
Ask an Expert
If you’ve cut out caffeine, hit the gym, and are soothing your baby constantly, and you still can’t get a good night of sleep, consider the help of a Postpartum Doula or night nurse. A doula will handle the nightly task of caring for your baby so you can get the deep rest you desperately need. Ask your doctor about it as there might be something else at play other than just tired new parents and a wonky sleep schedule, such as anxiety or postpartum depression.
As you prepare to welcome a newborn into your life, we can help make the transition easier. Sign up for one of our classes today!
Breast is Best. Yes yes. We have all heard the witty catch phrase. But what does it actually mean? Why is breastfeeding so important? Breast is Best for what?
In this post, we are going to discuss the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby, as well as discuss the advantages that the Golden Hour immediately after birth can offer. Finally, we will discuss the importance of having adequate support for the breastfeeding relationship.
Breast is best for baby
The importance of breastfeeding for the baby can not be understated. Breastfeeding is so much more than simply a method of delivery for physical sustenance. Breast milk is, quite literally, a miracle food that is impossible to be duplicated in any artificial setting. Each mother’s milk is completely unique and is specially formulated for her baby.
First, breast milk contains antibodies from the mother’s body. When a mother touches her baby, kisses her baby, or nurses her baby, her body is exposed to the same bacteria and viruses that her baby has been exposed to. Her body, in turn, produces antibodies to those potential threats to the baby and delivers them to him through her milk. Antibodies are living cells that cannot be duplicated.
Breast milk is ever changing. At the beginning of the feeding, the milk (called fore milk) is more water to quench the baby’s thirst. As the feeding progresses, the milk thickens and satisfies a baby’s hunger. By the end of the feeding, the milk (called hind milk) is thick, sweet, and creamy.
Furthermore, as a baby grows, the composition of the breast milk changes for the baby’s growing needs. Milk made for a newborn is not the same as milk made for a 6-month-old. A mother’s body knows exactly what her baby needs and responds accordingly, minute to minute and month to month.
Many mothers say that one of the greatest advantages to breastfeeding is having a convenient and built in ability to calm their baby. Breastfeeding is a great way to immediately calm a baby who is overwhelmed by the world as they transition into it.
In addition, breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, less incidence of pneumonia, less risk of asthma, lower risk of SIDS, stronger bones, and lower risk of cancer.
Breast is best for Mothers
Babies aren’t the only ones that benefit from breastfeeding. Mothers benefit tremendously as well.
Immediately postpartum, and in the days and weeks to come, breastfeeding helps reduce maternal bleeding. Oxytocin, the hormone that causes contractions in labor, is released when the baby breastfeeds. Oxytocin is what causes the uterus to involute, or shrink, back to it’s pre pregnancy size. As it involutes and contracts, the mother’s postpartum bleeding is reduced.
Oxytocin is also the love hormone and it facilitates bonding. Since it is released every time a mother nurses her baby, it is nature’s way of promoting bonding.
Breastfeeding suppresses the hormones that regulate menstruation and ovulation. In turn, fertility is temporarily suspended. This also means that the mother gets a break from having her monthly period. It is important to note that the length of time between birth and the first postpartum cycle is different for each mother and it is not a 100% effective form of birth control. It is a nice perk, however, to know that during the postpartum phase, fertility is not always 100%.
Women who breastfeed their babies lose the baby weight faster and easier. Fat stores that are gained in pregnancy are now being used for the baby. It takes 500 calories a day to breastfeed a baby! That’s a nice little bonus!
Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer, and the exact cause for this is unknown. Furthermore, the longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer.
Breastfeeding is inexpensive. Formula costs are astronomical. Enough said.
For as many benefits as breastfeeding offers, it’s a wonder why more women do not breastfeed, or why they do not continue breastfeeding after only days or weeks. There are several things a woman can do to optimize her chances of breastfeeding being successful, and ultimately it comes down to respecting the Golden Hour after birth and having support.
Breastfeeding and the Golden Hour
More professionals today are becoming educated about what is being called The Golden Hour. This is the first hour after the baby is born and it is a very sensitive time for both mother and baby. Mother just birthed her baby (a Herculean feat), and the baby is experiencing life outside the womb for the first time.
During the Golden Hour, immediately after birth, the baby is placed skin to skin on mother’s chest. Skin to skin is the foundation of the Golden Hour. During labor and immediately after birth, a mother’s nipples produce a pheromone that smells, to the baby, like the uterine fluid they just came from. This smell is familiar and it makes the baby drawn to the nipple to nurse, even without additional positioning help from the mother or support persons. Even when a baby is not being moved around by others, they can, amazingly, find the nipple all on their own to nurse.
Skin to skin facilitates bonding for both mom and baby, and evidence shows that if a baby nurses within the first hour of life, breastfeeding is more likely to be successful.
Meanwhile, while resting on the mother’s chest, the baby is being warmed to the perfect temperature. There is no technology in the world that can match a woman’s body as a baby warmer. A woman’s body can cool for an over warm baby and it can warm up for a baby who is cold.
Finally, a woman who wants to breastfeed her baby needs support. Breastfeeding is natural but not initially easy. Both mother and baby need to learn how to breastfeed and the learning process can sometimes be a challenging one. Support for a breastfeeding mother can come from many places.
In the early postpartum phase, nurses and lactation counselors can help mothers get a good start with breastfeeding by making sure they respect the Golden Hour. Once the baby nurses, they can make sure that the baby has a good latch. They can encourage mothers to breastfeed as often as possible to ensure a good supply is being built and they can affirm a mother in her early breastfeeding journey. A birth doula is a tremendous help for early breastfeeding in the immediate postpartum period as well, as they can help with the initial latch as well.
A mother’s partner at home can be one of the best forms of support. The partner can make sure a breastfeeding mother has enough water, is well rested, is well nourished, and is not overwhelmed by the demands around her. They can encourage the mother to continue even if there are difficulties or challenges in breastfeeding. Emotional encouragement can go a long way for a breastfeeding mother and its importance should not be undervalued.
As breastfeeding mothers continue nursing in the weeks and months postpartum, most benefit tremendously from support groups like their local La Leche League group. Lactation consultants are usually on staff at the hospitals and they can be consulted anytime a breastfeeding mother needs professional assistance.
Many hospitals have breastfeeding support groups available. Any Attachment Parenting or Babywearing group is likely to provide breastfeeding mothers with peer support.
Breastfeeding is worth it. It is worth it for mothers and babies for reasons we continue to discover. Setting up a support system for breastfeeding goes a long way toward success.
Do you need some help with breastfeeding?