Let’s Talk Toilet Paper

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

I want to talk to you about toilet paper today or more appropriate to our discussion, the lack of toilet paper. During this time of pandemic, everyone is on the look out for toilet paper. I actually spent some time today reading all about toilet paper making and the factories that make toilet paper. Did you know that toilet paper is not a big money maker so stores only carry a small amount of it. Factories apparently already work 24 hours a day making toilet paper so there wasn’t a whole lot that they could do to ramp up their production.

Luckily for you breastfeeding mamas, your body is capable of ramping up the making of breastmilk when needed.

Today I want to explain to you the analogy of a factory when it comes to making milk. Let’s put this in terms of toilet paper factories for giggles. As we all go to the store looking for toilet paper and we don’t find enough(or any), we start to demand that the factories step it up and make more. So since there is a greater demand for toilet paper and the shelves are getting empty the managers of the factory approves some overtime to get that factory pumping out even more toilet paper than they already were. Things are trucking right along, people are happy that they have toilet paper again, possibly even more toilet paper than they need. Stores start having some left on the shelf as people finally learn that they don’t have to hoard it.

But then as the demand for toilet paper goes down the managers of the factories start to get a bit nervous about all of this overtime that they have approved so they start cutting back on hours and production. Some slacking starts to happen now that the crisis has passed. The workers decide that they just don’t need to work so hard now or make as much. Production cuts way back. Afterall, the store shelves look full.

Now, I want to change this analogy to milk-making. It is just like a factory. The more demand that there is for milk the more milk you will make. When baby starts to nurse more often, don’t take it as a signal that you are not making enough milk. Consider that the baby(manager) could be letting the workers know that they need to step up production because there is a need for more milk, possibly a growth spurt.

On the flip side of that, if baby starts sleeping longer, you get busy while out and about so baby doesn’t nurse as often, or maybe you are a pumping mama and just feel overwhelmed with all that pumping so you decide to skip a pump here or there, that is like telling your workers that the need has decreased so they can take a break.

Process of milk packing on factory 3d isometric vector illustration
Food vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com

Low milk demand equals low/slow production, high demand equals faster/higher production. Full breasts make milk more slowly and drained breasts make milk more quickly.

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Engorgement

There are two ways to think of engorgement and I feel like it is important to understand the differences. If you have given birth in a hospital setting and have had IV fluids for an extended period of time, you could have a form of engorgement that stems from too much fluid filling the tissues of the breast from your IV. Or 2-3 days after birth when your milk transitions from colostrum to milk your breasts can become full, heavy and warm. They can be painful and hard as more milk is made than is removed at this point.

If you are experiencing excessive swelling that is keeping baby from latching well you can do what is called “reverse pressure softening” where you make a flower shape with your fingertips and form them over the areola (the dark part of your breast and nipple) and push gently in and back. Your goal is to gently move the fluid back and away from your nipple towards your armpits. This “softening” should allow some room for baby to be able to latch on. Here is a video you can watch on Reverse Pressure Softening.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW5rtTsR7os

Hand expression is always a great way to relieve some of the pressure so you will feel more comfortable and baby can latch better. Here is a video showing how to do hand expression if you need it.

https://med.stanford.edu/newborns/professional-education/breastfeeding/hand-expressing-milk.html

You can also stand in a warm shower, allowing the water to run over your breasts(avoiding direct spray onto the breasts) which can stimulate milk to flow out enough for baby to latch on once you are out of the shower. Pumping a little milk off just to comfort will also help baby to latch, especially hand expression. You really want baby to take what he wants and be the one to “empty”(although the breasts are never truly empty) the breast if possible as his nursing will start setting the stage for your milk production.

Soon the demand of milk will regulate the production of breastmilk through the frequency of feedings and the amount baby takes. But engorgement can sneak up on you if baby sleeps longer than normal or if baby is fed expressed milk while mom is away.

Here are some suggestions for dealing with engorgement from the La Leche League:

KellyMom.com has some great additional information on engorgement here including the use of cabbage leaves for engorgement. But beware that cabbage leaves are also suggested for helping to dry up milk so you want to just use them until you are comfortable. https://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/engorgement/

As always, if you have concern, fever, chills or reddened warm areas please check with your care provider. Engorgement can lead to mastitis if not corrected. If you feel that baby is not latching on appropriately or draining your breasts adequately, please reach out to a Lactation Specialist to determine how they can help.

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“C” is for Colostrum and Cluster Feeding

courtesy of Luiza Braun

“C” is such an important letter for us to discuss. Colostrum and Cluster Feeding can both put new parents into unknown territory.

First let’s dive in to colostrum…baby’s first food.

Colostrum starts being made during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. Unfortunately, many mothers feel like they don’t have enough milk right after birth but colostrum is available in similar quantities as a newborn’s stomach capacity.

Colostrum contains protective white blood cells that are capable of attacking harmful bacteria. It also “seals” the insides of baby’s intestines. This is so important! Colostrum is the perfect first food for baby. It is high in protein and low in sugar and fat. This makes it easy to digest.

Colostrum also stimulates the bowels which is so important for expelling meconium. Colostrum in frequent doses helps to dispel the excess bilirubin that contributes to jaundice. Colostrum has been called “liquid gold” and “baby’s first immunization”. My advice to new moms would be to nurse often in the early hours after birth, even though you may not feel like you are making milk. You are providing just what your baby needs.

If for some reason you need to feed baby by an alternative method, the best thing you can do is to hand express your colostrum and feed it to baby by spoon feeding, cup feeding, syringe feeding or another alternative.

Now on to cluster feeding

This is when baby eats frequently and close together. This common infant behavior can lead new parents to believe that their baby isn’t getting enough milk.

But it is normal for babies to breast feed often.

We tell parents that baby should eat every two to three hours but how that actually looks in real life can vary greatly. Baby may eat often, several times in a short span and then sleep for a longer stretch.

A common time for babies to cluster feed is in the evenings when prolactin levels are lowest. So if frequent feeding can possibly indicate that baby isn’t getting enough milk, how can we know if it is just cluster feeding? You will know by baby’s diaper output and weight gain. Input equals output so if baby is nursing enough and getting enough you will have adequate wet and poopy diapers. The best indicator is the poopy diapers. We will discuss tracking that in a future post.

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Tongue Tie…Is that really a thing?

Breastfeeding comes with its own challenges which can be from latch problems or even from tongue tie problems

I have nursed 6 babies and I must admit that I had never heard of tongue tie. If it is real thing how could I have not heard about it? Well for one thing I really didn’t have a lot of breastfeeding problems to prompt me to get any help or look for answers. I remember some times of excruciating nipple pain but it was short-lived so I just powered through it. Not a good idea if the pain doesn’t go away but I had never even heard of a Lactation Consultant or any other kind of breastfeeding specialist to go to.

As I started out on my journey to become a breastfeeding specialist I began to hear about this thing called “tongue tie” or Ankyloglossia. One of the first classes I took was on this subject and early chiropractic or bodywork for a newborn. Shortly after that one of my daughters had a baby with breastfeeding issues. As she looked into it she found out that her baby not only had tongue tie but also a need to see a chiropractor who was well versed in babies and practiced CST (craniosacral therapy). Along came my next grand baby a couple of months later and he, too, had breastfeeding issues which were diagnosed as a tongue tie. He also benefited from craniosacral therapy.

So began my fascination with all things “tongue tie”. I wanted to learn all I could about it so I could be better armed with information if my clients had this issue with their babies.

To answer my own question….”Is that really a thing?”…Yes it really is a thing. So why are we just now hearing about it? In my personal opinion and from snipets I have heard, I believe it probably was a problem in the past and possibly dealt with in some manner or another and mamas just dealt with the pain. But as breastfeeding fell out of favor from the introduction of bottles and formula it just wasn’t seen much anymore and just faded into the background. Also breastfeeding education and specialists were pretty rare. Even today it is difficult to find a pediatrician who knows much beyond the basics of breastfeeding.

More moms are choosing to breastfeed now and as they run into problems they are looking for answers. People are out there now who are studying the problems and finding answers. Some of the experts in the field are Dr. Lawrence Kotlow DDS, Richard Baxter DDS and Dr. Bobak Ghaheri MD. Some good websites to visit on the issue are https://airwaymatters.blog/, https://www.drghaheri.com/ and https://www.kiddsteeth.com/.

I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Dr. Ghaheri this weekend. I learned a ton. Some of the things that I learned that I want to highlight on this issue are that nipple pain and poor weight gain aren’t the only indications for intervention, some babies can compensate for their tongue or lip tie but that can cause negative downstream effects, untreated tongue- tied babies are 300% more likely to be exclusively bottle fed at 1 week of age, Ricke(2005) and that just because a baby can stick their tongue out doesn’t mean there isn’t a tongue tie. The issue of the tie is the elevation of the tongue and how that relates to breastfeeding.

If you have stuck with me this long, you must have a reason for reading this so let’s talk about the breastfeeding problems that can be associated with a tongue-tied baby.

Poor quality latch, falls asleep prematurely while nursing, slides of the breast, colic symptoms, reflux symptoms, gumming/chewing/chomping on the breast, pacifier problems, low milk supply, nipple damage(cracked, creased, bleeding), severe pain, poor/incomplete drainage of breast, mastitis/thrush, vasospasm, infected nipples, poor weight gain, baby’s lips are dark(like lip liner) while the edge of the lip is white which indicates baby is using his lips to hang on

Will your baby or you experience all of these symptoms? Not likely. Does having one or more automatically mean there is a tongue or lip tie? Not necessarily. But it does give an indicator that you and your baby need some additional help beyond your pediatrician. Seek out a breastfeeding specialist or IBCLC. They can help you figure out if there are other problems first before referring you to the appropriate ENT or pediatric dentist for help.

So besides researching the topic and being convinced that tongue tie is real I also have the real life experience of two of my grandchildren having a tongue tie. They both had the revision done and are thriving. There are after-care exercises and they are super important to do to keep the site from reattaching but it is doable and the short amount of time to do them compared to months and months of pain-free breastfeeding your precious baby are well worth it.

Breastfeeding can be a wonderful bonding time between mama and baby

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New Look New Business

When I started this website and blog months ago it was to promote and write about Postpartum Doulas. While I still think Postpartum doulas are needed and a valuable thing for any new mom, I have found that I have more of a passion for helping with breastfeeding. So I am working on making changes to the website and blog, updating my new look with a new logo and putting finishing touches on the services that I will be offering soon. I hope you will come back and check it out in the coming weeks. I am working on writing my own curriculum for teaching breastfeeding classes and classes to support moms who are returning to work and want to exclusively breastfeed and need to pump.

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The Breast Crawl

Babies are so amazing! Our Creator knew what He was doing when He created us! Did you know that baby will crawl up mom’s abdomen to find the breast within minutes of being born? To watch an amazing video of a baby doing the Breast Crawl watch the video below.

Also here is a great page to visit if you want to know about the breast crawl and the benefits…

http://www.magicalhour.org/aboutus.html

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More Babywearing

You may end up getting tired of my posts on babywearing, but you guys I am so excited to share this with you all. There are so many products out there designed to hold your baby while you get things done but I love the fact that babywearing is timeless and completely cross-cultural. We love to think we have it all together and have come so far from the past or more simple cultures but in that area we can learn from them.

If you read my post on babywearing you already know some, definitely not all, of the benefits. There are many great things about it. But there are so many different types of carriers, how can you know which one to choose? Well, some people choose to have a couple for different activities. As far as types of baby carriers, there is quite the gamut. Long cloth types such as slings seem to have been the norm way back when but then along came a more molded type of soft front carrier. In theory this one should have been easier to use but for me I always had issues with what to do with my newborn until his or her little legs were able to spread wide enough to straddle the leg holes. Next I tried the stretchy wraps that you wrap around yourself while feeling like a Jedi from Star Wars. I loved it once I got it on and found that it was useful for all ages and stages but I never quite mastered the wrapping of it.

As I was searching the “Neverland” of Pinterest on this issue, I discovered that some of the top brands such as the Maya wrap and Moby are now making a sling type carrier. I guess the old things die hard. Check out these beautiful slings…

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/492370171759252642/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/137289488801142118/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/863424559784830141/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/812899801470410407/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/788904059705640732/

If you are unsure about which type to buy since they are a bit pricey (but worth every penny), ask friends to try out theirs or see if your area has a babywearing library. Here in the Portland Metro area check out….

https://westportlandbabywearing.com/blog/

and

https://www.adjoyn.com/

A good ‘ole Pinterest search will bring up lots of information on babywearing, including tutorials on how to use them.

Leave me a comment and tell me your babywearing experience and what carrier you used and prefer!

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