Amy's Corner. our lactation consultant answers your questions about nursing.

How Your Body Prepares for Breastfeeding during Pregnancy

Many expectant moms are curious how to prepare for breastfeeding.  The truth is, your body is doing most of the work without you having to even think about it.  It is wise to take a breastfeeding class, read up on breastfeeding and buy a few supplies like nursing bras, but other than that, your body knows what to do.  Just like many of the other miraculous things that are happening during the sacred nine months, your body prepares for breastfeeding during pregnancy naturally.  Today we’re going to explain what is happening as your body prepares for breastfeeding during pregnancy.

How Your Body Prepares for Breastfeeding during PregnancyPregnancy alters your body in many ways and most of it is due to an increase of hormones in both type and quantity.  Early in pregnancy you’ll probably notice that your breasts are larger and more tender than usual.  As your pregnancy continues, breast sensitivity usually lets up but may rear its uncomfortable head closer to the end of your pregnancy.  This is by design because your body is prepping for on-demand feeding.  Whenever your nipples are stimulated, your body will release oxytocin that will supply milk to you baby.

By the end of your first trimester, hormones including estrogen, progesterone, prolactin and human growth hormone are swirling around like a windstorm.  Among other life-sustaining roles they play for your baby’s growth and development, they are also helping as your body prepares for breastfeeding during pregnancy.  Hormones are responsible for creating milk ducts and replacing the fatty tissue in your breasts with cells that produce milk glands. This sometimes releases adhesions that cause inverted or flat nipples as normal breast tissue loosens and becomes more elastic.

Your body is able to produce breast milk by the end of the second trimester although you may not be able to express it (unless your baby is born prematurely) due to high levels of progesterone during pregnancy.  As you round the corner to the end of your third trimester, you may be able to squeeze your nipple and express colostrum, the seedy milk-like substance that your baby will consume for the first few days of life.

Throughout your pregnancy you may notice that your nipples and the area around your nipples, the areola, are becoming larger and darker.  This change in color will help your baby find your nipple to breastfeed when her newborn eyes are not able to focus clearly or see very far.  Yes, your nipples have become a target and your baby will get very good at hitting the bull’s-eye.

Also, you may notice bumps around your areola.  These are called Montgomery glands.  Towards the end of pregnancy you may notice an oily substance coming from the bumps.  This is to soften your skin in preparation for breastfeeding.

As soon as you feel discomfort in your bras either due to sensitivity or larger breasts, purchase nursing bras.  This way you’ll have the support and fit you need for the rest of your pregnancy and as you start breastfeeding.  Comfort and accessibility for ease of breastfeeding are vital so select styles that are stretchy and flexible for daytime and nighttime nursing.  Sleep and leisure nursing bras or nursing camis often work well for new moms.

You already know your body is an extraordinary vessel.  The fact that it is growing and sustaining a new life is nothing short of amazing.  But when your baby arrives you will soon realize that the entire experience gets even more awesome as you begin your breastfeeding journey.  Your body prepares for breastfeeding during pregnancy to allow you a fulfilling, healthy and nurturing relationship with your baby from the moment she is born.  Enjoy every precious moment!

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Pregnancy

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects approximately 10 percent of women in their childbearing years.  While there are several health complications associated with PCOS, women of childbearing age often find the most devastating symptom to be infertility.  Today we’re looking at polycystic ovarian syndrome and pregnancy, giving common ways doctors’ help women overcome fertility challenges and the potential problems that may occur during pregnancy.

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown but researchers believe there is a genetic component to the condition.  It occurs when multiple cysts or follicles grow and remain in the ovaries rather than the typical ovulation process of one monthly sac containing an egg bursting and releasing the egg to be fertilized.  With PCOS, women often do not get a monthly menstrual cycle or it is very erratic, which is why it causes a fertility problem.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and PregnancyThe build-up of cysts is due to increased levels of the male sex hormone androgen.  It is normal and necessary to have some amount of androgen but elevated levels can cause PCOS.  This is why women with PCOS often experience abnormal hair growth, either in the form of excessive hair or hair loss.  Other symptoms include weight gain, anxiety, depression, darkened skin, skin tags, acne, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and pelvic pain.

Additionally, women with PCOS often have higher levels of insulin, the hormone that helps the body break down and process sugar.  An increase in insulin also stimulates the production of more androgen, perpetuating the cycle of PCOS.  People with diabetes have trouble producing or regulating insulin, which results in a blood glucose imbalance.  This also increases the risk of PCOS in women with diabetes.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Fertility Treatments

To treat infertility due to polycystic ovarian syndrome, doctors have found success with a few courses of action.  First, losing weight to get as close as possible to an ideal BMI is a great step.  Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight helps regulate insulin.  Medications such as Metformin and Glucophage used to treat symptoms of diabetes are often prescribed to women with PCOS who are trying to get pregnant.  When insulin levels are in control, androgen levels will decrease, which will likely reduce cysts in the ovary and encourage regular ovulation.

Fertility medications like Clomid and Femara or hormone injections such as Gonadotropins and Follistim have shown positive results in helping women with PCOS become pregnant. Other treatments include a surgical procedure that removes part of the ovaries to hopefully reduce the presence of androgen that causes the cysts.  Usually the last resort for women with PCOS who are trying to conceive is IVF.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Pregnancy Risks

Once a woman with PCOS does become pregnant, there are a few complications that may arise.  She is more likely to have gestational diabetes due to the insulin imbalance the condition creates.  She may also experience high blood pressure during pregnancy that can lead to heart problems or preeclampsia.  Preterm births and birth via C-section are more likely in pregnant women with PCOS.  In some cases PCOS can cause endometrial cancer.

It’s important for moms-to-be with PCOS to work closely with their doctors during pregnancy to ensure these symptoms are managed.  Eating a healthy diet and continuing exercise during pregnancy are critical, as is monitoring blood glucose and blood pressure levels.

Sources:  What to Expect and American Pregnancy

Eating your Placenta

Some people cringe at the thought of eating your placenta while others believe it has several health benefits. The practice of eating your placenta is called placentophagy.  It’s not for everyone but there may be some advantages of it.  Today we’re exploring the topic of eating your placenta.

Placentophagy has been practiced in many cultures throughout history.  It isn’t currently commonplace for any particular culture, but mothers across the globe, from naturalists to celebrities, have reported its benefits.

The placenta (or afterbirth) is the very first element that begins to grow when you conceive.  It is the lifeline between you and your baby, providing nutrients, oxygen and hormones as your baby develops, and it also discards your baby’s waste.

eating your placentaChock full of vitamins like Vitamins B6 and B12, essential minerals like iron, fats and proteins, the placenta is a powerhouse of nutrition.  It has to be to sustain your baby for 9 months in the womb.  That is also why many women believe it is a good nutritional choice after childbirth.

The nutrients found in the placenta are known energy boosters.  Iron helps oxygenate blood flow, which can be invigorating.  Protein and fat are basic needs for organs and muscles to thrive.  Women who eat their placenta claim to have more energy after an exhausting childbirth and while taking care of a newborn.  The placenta also contains hormones including estrogen and progesterone that can reduce incidence of postpartum depression and increase breast milk supply, according to some proponents.

The placenta is the only human organ produced that is then discarded.  After a baby is born vaginally, the afterbirth is delivered and usually taken away as hazardous waste.  When babies are delivered via c-section, the doctor will remove the placenta after taking the baby.

For women who choose to eat their placenta, it must be stored in a refrigerator or freezer until it is consumed.  The placenta is like any other meat and can spoil easily.  It can also be ground into powder or pills.  If you do decide to try eating your placenta, be vigilant of side-effects.  If you or your baby experience any negative symptoms after eating your placenta you should notify your doctor immediately.

There is no concrete evidence that eating your placenta provides health benefits.  Like many practices in parenting, you have to weigh the potential benefits and risks under the consultation of your doctor and make a decision that is right for you.  While the nutrition found in the placenta can certainly be consumed in other areas of your diet, this nutrient-dense option is “delivered” once in a lifetime for each of your babies.

Sources:  WebMD and What to Expect

Breastfeeding with Inverted Nipples

You may have thought a lot about the shape of your breasts over the years, but what about the shape of your nipples?  Your nipples are just as unique as your breasts themselves.  Some women have inverted nipples, which are completely normal and fairly common.  It is estimated that approximately 30% of women have inverted nipples and in general, inverted nipples are not a problem.  However, breastfeeding with inverted is sometimes challenging.

Breastfeeding with Inverted NipplesThe good news is that in most cases, moms with inverted nipples can still breastfeed their babies.  It may take a little more work, but breastfeeding with inverted nipples is usually still possible depending on the degree of inversion.  Also, breasts operate independently of one another so typically a woman will not have two inverted nipples.  That will make breastfeeding easier on at least one side.

Inverted nipples occur when the nipple does not stand erect and protrude from the breast but rather is retracted.  To determine whether or not you have an inverted nipple, pinch your areola inward towards your nipple.  If the stimulation causes your nipple to stand erect, you do not have an inverted nipple.  If no change occurs, you probably have a flat nipple.  If your nipple retracts, you truly have an inverted nipple.  There are different degrees of inverted nipples ranging from slight to moderate to severe.

Inverted nipples are caused by adhesions that link the skin beneath the nipple to connective tissue.  Often skin becomes more elastic during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester as your body prepares for breastfeeding.  This can cause otherwise inverted nipples to loosen and protrude when stimulated.

Slightly inverted nipples are most likely not a problem during breastfeeding because a healthy baby’s typical vigorous suck will draw out the nipple with proper latch and positioning.  This can be the case with moderate to severe inverted nipples as well.  Other times mothers need to help the nipple stand erect so babies can latch for adequate feeding.

To draw out the nipple, there are several techniques that may work.  First, try pinching the nipple to encourage it to poke out.  You can also try the Hoffman Technique that aims to break the connected skin tissue beneath the nipple.  This method advises placing your thumbs on either side of your nipples and pulling them apart both horizontally and vertically.  The technique should be repeated multiple times daily.  If you are worried during pregnancy about how your inverted nipples will affect breastfeeding, try starting this process before your baby arrives.

Other stimulation of inverted nipples may help your baby latch too.  Exposure to cold sensations may draw out the nipple.  Try putting a nursing pad in the freezer and then placing it on your breast for a few minutes before you nurse your baby.  Pumping can also pull inverted nipples out due to the suction from the pump.  You can pump for a few minutes prior to breastfeeding to stimulate your nipple.  If your inverted nipples will not protrude, continue pumping and feed your baby the breast milk you expressed.

Nipple shields are yet another method of helping your baby latch with inverted nipples.  Nipple shields are thin silicone domed discs that fit over the nipple and have holes in them to allow for the flow of breast milk.  A lactation consultant can help you determine if a nipple shield is a good option.  It may help temporarily until you and your baby get into a breastfeeding groove or until your baby develops a stronger suck.  Then you can gradually wean from the nipple shield to allow maximum stimulation of the breast for a healthy milk supply.

Premature babies and some newborns may not have a vigorous suck at first, which can make breastfeeding with inverted nipples difficult.  But as your baby matures and her mouth gets stronger, she will increase strength in her suck and breastfeeding will likely become much easier.

Try to feed your baby every two to three hours to avoid engorgement as that may make breastfeeding with inverted nipples more challenging.  If your nipples become very sore from your baby trying to latch onto an inverted nipple, continue pumping until you can return to breastfeeding.  The good news is that inverted nipples typically get better with each pregnancy so subsequent children don’t experience the same difficulty as the first.

Also remember that breastfeeding is not just about the nipple itself.  It’s about the entire areola that releases milk.  If your baby is properly latched, she will be getting milk from multiple holes during a feeding.  Gage your breastfeeding success based on whether or not your baby is gaining weight, soiling diapers and seems satisfied after nursing.

Sources:  Breastfeeding Basics and LaLecheLeague

Diapering Tips

Keeping your baby clean is one of his most basic needs and that task will require many diaper changes per day.  You’ll probably soon learn that diapering your baby is not as treacherous as you may have expected before he arrived.  With a few diapering tips, it can be a quick and simple necessity that you actually don’t dread.  Check out our diapering tips for easier diaper changes for both you and your baby.

Tip #1:  Safety First

It seems obvious but it’s worth a reminder: never leave your baby unattended on the changing table.  Even babies who are not yet mobile can thrust themselves off.  Keep one hand on your baby at all times or at least make sure you are standing directly in front of him blocking any chance of him falling off the table.  For squirmy babies or babies who enjoy practicing their rolling skills, strap them onto the changing pad.

diapering tipsTip #2:  Be Prepared

Getting halfway through your diaper change only to discover you’ve run out of wipes, diaper rash cream or diapers themselves is frustrating.  Keep your diaper supplies well-stocked.  Make a point to check your supplies before you get your baby undressed.

Tip #3:  Wash Before and After the Diaper Change

When touching your baby’s private parts, you’ll want to make sure you’re not introducing any potential pathogens.  Make sure your hands are clean before handling your baby.  Then wash again after the diaper change to avoid spreading germs from your baby’s waste.  Keep hand sanitizer close to your changing table to get your hands super clean right away.

Tip #4:  Distract your Baby

Have a toy handy or hang an overhead mobile to keep your tot occupied while you’re doing the dirty work.  A fussy or squirmy baby makes diaper changes all the more difficult.  You can also talk and sing to your baby as a distraction.

Tip #5:  Use a Shield

Some babies feel stimulated by diaper changes and may go while they are on the table.  This can happen with boys or girls.  Use a shield to block urine from getting everywhere, including on you.

Tip #6:  Keep Up with your Baby’s Size and Diaper Needs

Diaper leaks and blow outs often occur because babies are in the wrong size or style of diaper.  Diapers that are too big can leave gaps for leakage and diapers that are too small may not contain the waste.  Also, if your baby is active, he may need a different style of diaper than babies who are not yet on the go.  Your baby may need a heavier duty diaper at nighttime too.  Experiment with brands and styles until you find the right one for your baby.  Rather than buying an entire package of diapers just to test them, request samples from the manufacturers or ask friends if you can try a few from their stash.

Tip #7:  Bargain Shop for Diapers

Diapers can be expensive!  Spend some time figuring out where to get the best deal on the diapers you like.  This may mean shopping at a warehouse mega store, clipping coupons or joining a diaper club.  Also consider your convenience.  If you don’t have time to be running to the store for diapers, have them delivered to your house on a regular basis.

Tip #8:  Wipes, Wipes, Wipes

Wipes can be helpful and handy, but some contain alcohol that can be harsh on your baby’s bottom.  This is one area where a sensitive skin option makes sense especially if your baby has a diaper rash.  Alternatively, some parents use warm water and wash cloths instead of wipes.

Tip #9:  Disposal

The fanciest diaper trash cans are not always the most functional or the best at keeping the smells at bay.  Read reviews on diaper disposal units before buying them.  Ones that barely open when you throw away a diaper are going to be your best bet.  This is also a terrific item to find at a consignment sale or used baby products store.  With one round of disinfecting spray, it’s good as new.  For on the go diaper disposals, bring along doggie waste bags.

We hope you have an easy diapering experience with these diapering tips!

How to Stop Breastfeeding at Night

how to stop breastfeeding at nightAfter your baby reaches a certain stage, nighttime breastfeeding may not be necessary.  When this occurs, however, is different for every baby.  Some babies will continue to wake for feedings until they are well over one year old.  Others gradually wean themselves from night feedings by three or four months.  If you’re wondering how to stop breastfeeding at night, here are some strategies to consider to assist in your mission:

  • When your baby sleeps through the night, it doesn’t mean she needs less breast milk, but rather she is mature enough to go for a longer period of time without being fed.  Therefore, you’ll have to ensure she’s getting enough milk throughout the day to compensate for a few less feedings that you will eliminate at night.  Feed your baby more frequently during the day, especially as you approach bedtime.  This is known as cluster feeding.  You can even wake your baby for one last feeding before you go to bed to tide her over through the night.
  • Another feeding tip:  Encourage your baby to feed as much as possible on one breast so she’s getting the fatty hind milk before switching to the other side.  This will satiate her for longer.
  • Often babies wake at night for comfort more than food.  Moms are mistaken about their babies’ needs and feed them unnecessarily.  A smooth way around this is to increase daytime touching and interactions as much as possible.  If your baby gets enough of you during the day, she may not feel compelled to wake up for your comfort, or if she does, she can soothe herself back to sleep.
  • If you do suspect your baby is waking for comfort rather than food, try other methods of soothing her than feeding.  Daddies are helpful here since your baby doesn’t expect daddy to feed her.  He can rock her, massage her and comfort her until she’s ready to go back to sleep.
  • It is ideal to put your baby to bed drowsy, but not fully asleep.  This will help teach your child how to fall asleep on her own.  It won’t be immediate but with practice, she will learn.  Also, putting your baby to sleep before she is overtired is essential.  When babies are too tired, they will be fussier and less likely to settle quickly or stay asleep.  If you can help your baby achieve good sleeping habits, you will have an easier time weaning at night.
  • If you are sleeping in the same room as your baby or co-sleeping, you may want to consider separating yourself from your baby.  If your baby is keenly aware that you are present and available for feedings, she will be more likely to take you up on the offer.  Separation may be the key to your success.
  • Some pediatricians and sleep experts recommend pulling the plug on nighttime breastfeeding once babies reach a certain age and weight.  Their theory is that babies that have grown consistently on breast milk can go 10 to 12 hour stretches without being fed.  And babies of a certain age can self-soothe if they are given the opportunity.  This method may involve some crying but usually babies adjust within a week’s time.  It is not for everyone, but it is something to consider.  Ask your pediatrician if this is appropriate for your baby’s stage before trying it.
  • Night weaning may not work if your baby is going through major changes such as teething, starting solids, being sick or at the beginning of a new childcare situation.  Consider holding off on the process until your baby has adjusted to these transitions.

We hope these tips for how to stop breastfeeding at night are helpful.  Remember, your goal is to achieve the sleep that everyone needs for happy tomorrows while also having compassion for the needs of your baby.  Sweet dreams!

Patriotic Crafts for the 4th of July

Patriotic CraftsJuly 4th, here we come!  We hope you plan to celebrate our great nation and freedom in a big way this year.  Patriotic crafts are a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about America and some of the themes and symbols of patriotism.  Plus, you can work on fine motor skills and foster creativity while you’re at it.  Get your kids excited about the 4th of July holiday with these themed patriotic crafts.

American Flag:  One of our favorite patriotic crafts is an American flag wind sock.  Take a blue paper cup and decorate it with white stars.  You make the stars with stickers, stamps or by drawing or painting them on.  Then fasten red and white streamers to the inside of the cup with tape and let them hang down in long, alternating strips.  Wa-la, you have a clever American flag wind sock to display outside your home for the 4th of July holiday.

Stars:  There are endless patriotic craft ideas involving stars.  One fun craft is a star dream catcher.  Make a star using crafts sticks.  Then cover the open spaces with red, white and blue tissue paper.  Also add tissue paper or streamers to dangle from your star.  Attach a string and display your beautiful star dream catcher in a window to allow light to shine through.

Red, White and Blue:  July 4th is a terrific time to work on patterning with patriotic colors.  Let your tots create necklaces, bracelets and headbands out of beads, cut up straws or colored pasta.  String the materials on ribbon or pipe cleaners and encourage your kids to create a pattern using red, white and blue.  Then they’ll have fun jewelry to show their patriotism and creativity on the big day.

Fireworks:  Start with a sheet of black construction paper, cardboard or canvas.  Dip the ends of q-tips into red and blue paint.  Place the q-tips in a circular fireworks pattern with 8 to 10 of them making each “explosion.” Repeat several fireworks throughout the page.

Statue of Liberty:  Your kiddos can make an adorable Statue of Liberty hat using a paper plate and some construction paper.  Cut the paper plate into a crescent moon shape and paint it blue.  Add white stars cut from construction paper.  Then cut red and white triangles from construction paper and fasten them to the round part of the plate.  Finally add a strap and let your children wear their liberty hats on the 4th.  You can also make a torch using a toilet paper roll with orange and yellow tissue paper coming out of the top.

Uncle Sam:  Teach your kids about good ole Uncle Sam with this fun patriotic craft.  Glue six craft sticks together side by side.  Paint the top half of each alternating red and white.  Cross one red craft stick horizontally and add a blue strip of tape or construction paper to complete the hat.  On the non-painted ends of the craft sticks, make Uncle Sam’s face.  Finally, glue down cotton balls for his beard.

We hope you and your kids have a blast with these patriotic crafts for the 4th of July!  Happy July 4th!

Preparing for Baby: 5 Things to do for YOU before your Baby Arrives

Many first time moms are anxious about welcoming a new baby.  Not only will you have to learn the new skill of parenting, your life will turn upside-down for awhile as you acclimate to your new family member.  Moms who want to feel more in control want to do everything they can to prepare themselves and their home before giving birth.  Today we’re preparing for baby and reminding you of five things to do for YOU before your baby arrives.

preparing for baby

Make Frozen Dinners and Stock the Pantry

Cooking and grocery shopping are two hard tasks to accomplish with a newborn.  Luckily you can plan ahead to ensure you have meals and snacks available.  If you feel particularly ambitious or are having extreme nesting instincts, you may want to devote a day to cooking meals that you can freeze for a later date.  Easy one-pan meals are best for freezing, such as lasagna, burger patties or stir frys.  Then you can simply defrost and reheat to have a home-cooked meal at a time when cooking is the furthest thing from your mind.  Also, stock the pantry with non-perishable foods that you and your family enjoy.  Try to avoid too many processed, sugary snacks and spring for healthier choices.  You’ll want to ensure you’re eating a wholesome diet to support breastfeeding when your baby arrives.

Visit all of your Doctors

After all of your prenatal doctor’s visits you may dread putting yet another doctor’s appointment on your calendar.  But before your baby arrives is a great time to see your dentist, optometrist, dermatologist and any other doctors you would need to see within the next six months.  Just getting out of the house with a new baby can be difficult.  Add time spent in waiting rooms and needing to focus on your doctor’s advice and you’ll realize that bringing your baby is not the best plan.

Get Thank You Cards

You’ll probably be staying in with your baby for the first few weeks after your bundle of joy comes home so you’ll want to use that time to be productive in your home.  Stock up on thank you cards so you can write your thank you notes when your babe is sleeping.  Fortunately, thank you notes can be written from the comfort of your bed so even as you’re recovering from childbirth you can check them off your list.

Watch One Last Movie

If you’re a movie buff, take in that last blockbuster you’ve wanted to see.  When your baby arrives, having time to go to a movie probably won’t happen for awhile.  Even watching a movie at home can be difficult between breastfeeding and your own ability to stay awake long enough to enjoy the show.

Pamper Yourself

As you will soon discover, motherhood can be a selfless experience. Take the time to pamper yourself before your baby arrives.  Get your last haircut, massage, mani/pedi, eyebrow wax, facial and any other beauty treatments that will make you feel gorgeous and relaxed.  These luxuries may be on hold for quite some time once you become a new mom.

Preparing for baby is comforting and stress-reducing for many expectant moms.  We hope you take advantage of these five things to do before your baby arrives.

Infant Sleep Part 3: Night Terrors

As we discussed in parts 1 and 2 of our series, infant sleep can be somewhat volatile.  Add in vibrant dreams, nightmares or night terrors and wakefulness may be the new sleepiness in your household.  We’ve already dissected dreams and nightmares so today we’re taking a look at night terrors.

Unlike nightmares, night terrors (sometimes called sleep terrors or confusional arousal) occur during a sleep transition. During sleep transitions your baby is fighting between staying asleep and being awake.  The goal is to “train” your baby to stay asleep, however sometimes wakefulness wins.  This is when night terrors of “confusional events” (as named by Dr. Ferber) happen.

infant sleepNight terrors and confusional events typically occur during the first two hours of sleep when babies transition from their deepest sleep of the night into a new sleep cycle.  Babies are not truly awake during these events although they may be moving about and even have their eyes open.  Mild confusional events last only a few seconds and are marked by small sounds and movements before a baby returns to sleep.

However it’s when babies wake suddenly and cry out in panic that a true night terror is occurring.  Night terrors can cause your baby to be hot, elevate her heart rate and she may cry out for a long time.  Because your baby is not fully awake, you may not be able to comfort her.  But this also means she probably won’t remember it at all and she’s not going to be traumatized by the fear.

Night terrors usually won’t last more than an hour, and are typically over in less than 10 minutes.  When they hear their babies cry during confusional events and night terrors, most parents run to pick up their babies out of concern.  However, it is best to give your baby a few minutes to settle herself.  This will help teach your baby to self-soothe and to let sleepiness reign over wakefulness during the transition between sleep cycles.  If you are worried about her safety from flailing about, go in a check on her but don’t wake her up.

Night terrors usually occur in older children, starting around age 10.  But they can occur in babies as well.  You may notice night terrors start just before age one.  If they persist, consult your pediatrician to see if you should try to change your baby’s sleep pattern for more peaceful sleep.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our series on infant sleep.  Wishing you and your baby sweet dreams!

Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Many new moms have questions about alcohol and breastfeeding.  Perhaps it is the stress of caring for an infant or the 9 months of pregnancy without alcohol that makes new moms want to have a drink.  Today we’re exploring alcohol and breastfeeding to share the potential side-effects and conventional recommendations on what is safe for your baby.

Alcohol in Breast Milk

Just like anything else you consume, alcohol will enter your breast milk to some extent.  However, only 2% of alcohol hits your bloodstream and your breast milk, which is a relatively small amount for you.  For your baby, it is still pretty small, but may have a larger impact on her immature liver.  Depending on your size, metabolism and fat storage, it takes alcohol and breastfeedingapproximately half an hour to an hour for alcohol to enter your breast milk if you’re drinking without eating, and up to 90 minutes if you consume alcohol with food.  Alcohol stays in breast milk as long as it stays in the bloodstream, but it does not accumulate in breast milk.

Also, pumping does not eliminate alcohol from breast milk.  Pumping is only necessary to maintain milk supply if you need to skip a regular feeding because you fear high levels of alcohol in your milk.  The milk should be discarded and you should continue to pump until the alcohol is out of your bloodstream and milk supply.

Effects of Alcohol on Breastfed Babies

It’s impossible to know how alcohol will affect every breastfed baby.  It is certainly dependant on the size and age of the baby as well as how much and how consistently the mother drinks.  Various research shows that alcohol may affect breastfed babies by reducing their length of sleep, amount they eat and impairing their gross motor skills by age one.

Safety Guidelines for Drinking Alcohol and Breastfeeding

Conventional guidelines indicate that drinking alcohol in moderation is OK while breastfeeding.  This means that if you can safely drive a car, you are safe to breastfeed your baby.  Experts advise occasional intake (one or two times per week) and not to have more than one drink a day consisting of 2 oz. of hard liquor, 8 oz. of wine or 2 beers.  It is safest to breastfeed two hours or more after consuming alcohol to reduce its impact on your baby.  Also, babies under 3 months will have more difficulty and take longer to process alcohol so abstaining during the first few months may be wise.

Alcohol and Breast Milk Supply

There is an old wives’ tale that beer increases milk supply.  No research supports this myth and in fact, the opposite may be true.  Alcohol is dehydrating, which may reduce milk supply.  It’s a good idea to drink extra water when drinking alcohol and breastfeeding.  If babies are eating less due to alcohol in breast milk, milk supply may decrease over time.  Additionally, alcohol limits production of oxytocin an essential hormone required to make milk.  Let downs may also be inhibited from excessive alcohol consumption.

The bottom line about alcohol and breastfeeding is that having an occasional drink is considered safe.  However, you should consult your pediatrician and monitor your baby for any negative effects of alcohol while breastfeeding.

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What to do in a Car Crash when you’re Pregnant
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What to do with kids on New Years
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white noise machine
why babies like baby talk
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Why Breastfeeding Makes you Hungry and Thirsty
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