Lots of breastfeeding questions that I hear are really questions about normal baby behavior. In our culture many parents don’t get to spend much time with babies until they have their own — and then they only spend lots of time with their own baby. It can be very reassuring to know what is normal. The blog, Secrets of Baby Behavior, tries to share research-based information with parents. I like this blog a lot.
Another resource is a new program called text4baby. Mothers can sign up for this program and get free texts to their cell phone about pregnancy and baby’s first year. The texts are timed to match baby’s age and if baby is born early, mothers can update their account. The program is sponsored by the US government and several private companies. My main concern with this resource is that it may be oversimplified and make some parents less comfortable with parenting. Anyone out there using this already? What has your experience been?
The bad news is that babies get exposed to pesticides and other harmful chemicals during pregnancy and through their mothers’ milk. The good news is that all the research we have shows that mothers’ milk is best for babies despite this exposure. But I suspect most mothers would be happy to minimize that exposure if they could. The Environmental Working Group has a tool you can use to do that: The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. You can look at their lists of most and least contaminated fruits and veggies and adjust what you buy. If you can’t afford to buy all your food organic, you can focus on the produce that is most likely to be heavily contaminated.
There are all kinds of things for sale to put on sore nipples. Most breastfeeding helpers agree that usually the best way to help sore nipples is to get good latch and treat any problems like infection or vasospasm. Many women that I talk with, though, say that ointments feel good to them. So it’s useful to know which ointments are probably harmless and which could be hazardous. The Environmental Working Group has a cosmetic safety data base, Skin Deep, where you can search for products by name and get information about their ingredients.
Did you know that Madison has it’s own breastfeeding promotion organization called the Madison Breastfeeding Promotion Network (MBPN)? This group has been working for years to make breastfeeding easier for women in Madison. They organize an annual free breastfeeding education event for health care providers. Now they’ve got a website, http://www.publichealthmdc.com/MBPN/, so that they’re easier to find. It’s attractive and links to the Public Health website.
Many package inserts say “Do not take this while pregnant or breastfeeding.” despite the fact that there is good evidence that a lot of medications are generally compatible with breastfeeding. So where can women go to learn about how taking a particular medicine could affect their milk supply or their baby? Here’s a few options:
LactMed is online, provided by the U.S. Library of Medicine (so free to users). It is easy to search for any medication and the results include research references.
Dr. Tom Hale’s Breastfeeding and Medications Forum online archives are open for guests to read. I’ve found information here on some topics (like safety with old dental fillings) that I couldn’t find other places.
A website hosted in Spain (the English language version) http://www.e-lactancia.org/ingles/inicio.asp One nice feature of this site is being able to search by groups – by a chemical’s use. For example you can look at the category “vitamin”.
American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on The Transfer of Drugs and Other Chemicals into Human Milk is available online. Other resources often list the AAP’s recommendation on the compatibility of a medication and breastfeeding.
Medications and Mother’s Milk by Thomas Hale is a relatively inexpensive, frequently updated, research-based reference book. I always have a copy with me when I’m working.
Nonprescription Drugs for the Breastfeeding Mother by Frank Nice is another inexpensive reference book.
Finally a resource that isn’t available yet but hopefully will be available soon, is a national call center called the InfantRisk Center. It will be directed by Dr. Tom Hale.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has created a resource kit, “Ten Steps to Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Centers Resource Kit”. It can be downloaded for free from the DHS website. It is attractive and seems easy to read. It has a brief summary of how a daycare provider can support breastfeeding for mothers that leave their babies with the provider. There is also information about making a daycare a breastfeeding-friendly employer. There are also references for reading more — including my favorite: a list of breastfeeding-friendly books to read to young children. If this isn’t enough, daycare providers can get CEU’s (continuing education units) from the Wisconsin Department of Families and Children after studying this resource kit.
No – the state is not paying me to advertise this. I just think it looks like a really great resource provided by our government. Isn’t that cool?
Going back to work while their babies are little is the reality for most mothers that I see. And while it is possible to feed a baby by cup or spoon or finger, most care providers really prefer to feed babies with bottles. So I’ve been trying to learn more about what kinds of bottles and bottle feeding methods best support breastfeeding. There isn’t a lot of good information out there. This new website, BreastandBottlefeeding.com, (and their book) is a start in the right direction. I found the book interesting and think it could be helpful to mothers that are trying to find the way to use bottles to maintain their breastfeeding relationship while they need to be away from their babies. I was disappointed at the lack of research-based information and references, though. It’s a thoughtful book but not heavily evidence-based — though that may not be the fault of the authors but just due to a lack of comprehensive research on this topic.
Are you wondering what breastfeeding mothers should do to keep themselves and their babies healthy during the flu season? I’ve been wondering too as I read the recommendations from different health organizations as they try to figure out what makes sense with the swine flu.
General consensus: wash your hands, take care of yourself, and breastmilk is good for babies. Also, don’t lick pigs. (ok, so they don’t mention the pig-licking but I had to have an excuse to include this picture in my post)
For the rest, check out these links:
American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations
Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
UK Department of Health
I just want to put in a plug for the October collection of blog posts for breastfeeding mothers on the theme “What I wish I’d known then…”. Here’s a link to my own post on Happy Bambino’s blog — scroll down to link to the rest of the posts.
Sometimes feeding at the breast doesn’t work, sometimes it isn’t what a mother prefers. In any case, the numbers of mothers that exclusively pump and feed their babies their expressed milk are growing. The website ExclusivelyPumping.com looks like it has lots of useful information for mothers that are EPing.