Many women in the USA return to work while their babies are just weeks or maybe months old. There are many ways employers can support breastfeeding employees – by helping connect mamas and babies for nursing breaks, by providing comfortable and convenient pumping spaces, by helping women access professional and peer breastfeeding support. For practical suggestions for making this work, check out
This is just a sample from a great post by Jaqueline Kent:
The breastfed infants, who were all growing normally, cued to feed between four and 13 times a day. Some of the infants (13%) only ever fed from one breast during each breastfeeding session, while 30% of the infants always fed from both breasts during each breastfeeding session. The remainder sometimes fed from one breast, sometimes fed from both breasts, and occasionally had a ‘cluster feed’, going back to the first breast after finishing feeding on the second breast. For a 24-hour period, mothers measured the milk intake of their infants by weighing their infants before and after each breastfeed, referred to as test-weighing. These data showed that rather than taking the same amount during each breastfeeding session, the infants consumed between 0 mL (the infant went to the breast and apparently suckled but removed no milk) and 240 mL.
Babies can nurse in lots of ways – it’s important to remember to define success in the outcome (thriving babies and parents!) rather than a one-size-fits-all description of how a baby “should” be nursing at any given age.
The emotions of having a new baby can be complicated: joy, sadness, love, anxiety. Postpartum can be a rough time for lots of families. The Dane County Perinatal Network is a great resource for parents that are looking for support with the sometimes overwhelming sadness and worry that can come with a new baby.
They have organized a local “Climb Out of the Darkness” to raise awareness of postpartum depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. It will be happening on Saturday, June 21 2014 at the Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton. If you want to be a part of this event, they ask that you register in advance (it’s free but they need to know who’s planning to be there). There will be a potluck after the climb so that people can have time to talk and make connections.
It is easy to forget that breastfeeding is much more than just breastmilk. When a nursing mama is sick and needs medical care it can be super stressful to bottle feed, pump & dump – even if her baby is still getting her milk that she expressed earlier. Because of this, it’s a good idea to only interrupt breastfeeding when the baby really is going to be at risk from continuing to nurse. There are great evidence-based resources that are free and available online to help families and care providers make good choices. I have links posted on my library page. A few really useful ones are listed below:
American College of Radiology Manual on Contrast Media
Infant Risk Center
Cuteness alert! These are sweet animations.
I was super excited to see this article reporting on research coming out of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. So many women I see struggle with low milk supply and there are very few answers for them. There is just a lot of basic biology of making milk that we don’t understand. This research is trying to get at some of those answers. From the news release I followed the link to the original journal paper and got even more excited. This paper by Danielle Lemay and colleagues is awesome for several reasons:
– It is a new way to investigate how milk is made. They are looking at the genes that are active during different stages of milk production by getting RNA from milk fat globules. As I understand it, it is sort of a sampling of what’s going on inside the milk-making cells. It is a way to find out what proteins these cells are busy making at different times. Since the researchers are using expressed milk it is easy for the women that participate in the study to give samples (unlike most other ways of getting breast cells for study!).
– They find a connection between insulin and what milk-making cells are doing. I’m still working my way through the paper and don’t entirely understand what they’re saying yet but this general connection is exciting. It could lead to some practical ways to help women that are frustrated with low milk supply. It could also help explain why so many women seem to struggle with production. A quote from one of the authors : “Considering that 20 percent of women between 20 and 44 are prediabetic, it’s conceivable that up to 20 percent of new mothers in the United States are at risk for low milk supply due to insulin dysregulation.” (Laurie Nommsen-Rivers)
– They published in a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, PLOS ONE. That means that anyone can easily access their research – even people like me (or maybe you) that aren’t currently affiliated with a university library or have enough disposable income to purchase journal articles.
Hand expression is so useful: engorgement, pump broken, away from baby longer than expected. It is a skill that is easier to learn by watching and doing than by reading about it. We’re lucky to have internet video now for learning by watching. Practicing in the shower can be a good way to learn by doing! I’ve got a collection of video links of hand expression on the library page of this blog. Here’s the one I just added to the list from Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio:
The Basics of Breast Massage and Hand Expression from Maya Bolman on Vimeo.