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Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I don't know everything when it comes to breastfeeding, but I do have some unique information based on my personal experiences. I planned to breastfeed my son, but did not plan on having a high needs baby. I didn't even know there was a name for his behavior until much, much later. So even though I had the best of intentions, I did not know how to handle this difficult baby and how he made me feel. The biggest problem was that I didn't know why my baby was crying and constantly wondered if it was my milk or something else. And if it was something else, what was it?!
After two weeks of trying to nurse my son, I gave up, and pumped milk for the next two months, supplementing his formula. After that, he was on formula exclusively, which I hope to NEVER have to do again. All those bottles were such a pain, and I know that formula was not the best thing for my son and that was very hard.

Breastfeeding Support

The most important thing I can tell new parents about breastfeeding a high needs baby, or any baby having difficulties nursing, is that it requires LOTS of support. If a new mommy is struggling, the last thing she wants to hear is that, "formula isn't so bad," or, "if it's easier, let's just give him a bottle..." She needs encouragement, sleep, meals cooked for her, sleep, foot rubs, sleep, and lots of love, not to mention sleep. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I told my husband, "No matter what happens, I am relying on you to help me nurse this baby. Don't let me use formula if it's easier. Do everything else that possibly needs to be done in the house so that I can work on my nursing relationship with our baby. I am depending on you to encourage me no matter how much I may want to quit." Luckily, it was much easier with my daughter, but I felt very comfortable that I would have the support I needed if we had problems. It still wasn't easy, but once the first four weeks or so went by, it got easier and easier, especially because she was sleeping so well and I was getting more rest.

Breastfeeding Is NOT Always Easy

That is the second thing I like to tell new mommies. It isn't always easy. With my son, I kept thinking I was doing it wrong, because the class I had taken made it seem natural, easy, and painless. I didn't learn until after I had weaned him that it CAN be painful, and usually is, to an extent. It is not excruciating, but it can be uncomfortable until your body gets used to having somebody sucking on it 8 hours a day!
If you do feel excruciating pain, there could be something wrong. There are a number of places to call or contact if you have problems. If it is during normal office hours you can try your midwife or doctor, or even your local La Leche League. They will be able to tell you what the problem might be, and remedies to fix it.

Breastfeeding Problems

Blocked Ducts and Mastitis

I suffered from mastitis (a breast infection) with my son, and it was very bad. The breast pain was nothing compared to the way my body felt. I had a fever of 103, chills, and could not sit up because I was so exhausted. Mastitis can develop from a number of things, usually from having a blocked milk duct that gets infected. A blocked milk duct can be described as a localized ache in the breast. To prevent or relieve them, nurse often, use different positions, and if necessary, use warm compresses before you nurse or pump. Because my daughter slept for such long stretches, when I felt a blocked duct coming on, I would pump while she was sleeping and store the milk for later. To help relieve the duct, I would massage the painful spot while I pumped and usually it was gone within hours.


One thing almost every nursing mom experiences is engorgement. This is where either the milk supply has finally come in, or baby has slept a long stretch and a feeding was skipped. Engorgement is characterized by hard, plump breasts that are somewhat painful. They can be relieved by taking a warm shower and hand expressing a little milk. Cabbage leaves also help. Try applying chilled cabbage leaves for 15 minutes, but be very aware that relying on this or using this technique too often will lead to diminished milk supply. You can also pump a little bit before the baby nurses. It is harder for the baby to latch on to an engorged breast. By following some of these steps, not only will you be more comfortable, your baby will not become frustrated and will be able to latch on like she normally would.
Booby Tubes 


Something I was terrified to get was thrush, which is a yeast infection. It is very difficult to get rid of and painful as well. It can be easily diagnosed by a phone consult, and your doctor or midwife can give you something to help it go away. Symptoms include cracked, swollen or red nipples and possibly itching, flaking, or a burning sensation of the nipples. The baby's mouth may have white patches on the tongue, cheeks, insides of the lips, or gums.

Cracked Nipples

Something that lots of breastfeeding moms suffer is cracked nipples. Breastfeeding properly will help prevent cracked nipples, but just one improper feeding can lead to an awful disaster. Once they are cracked, you have to pamper them in order for them to heal. The best thing to do is rub in some expressed milk after baby nurses, and let as much air to your breasts as possible. If you are wearing a button down shirt, leave it open. Wear cotton shirts or night clothes. Naked is best, especially once you realize that a shirt rubbing on cracked nipples can be excruciating. My solution to this was wearing my bra, but unhooking the shells so that they were open, but covering my nipples and protecting them from a shirt rubbing back and forth on them. If they don't seem to heal, try lanolin by Lansinoh. It goes a long way, and can be used later for diaper rashes if necessary.

Baby Allergies

Sometimes, babies don't respond very well to our breast milk and you may see reactions such as general fussiness, eczema, runny nose, and even bloody diapers. All of these are signs of allergies. BUT, don't worry! Your baby is not allergic to your breast milk, but to something that you are eating. The usual culprit is dairy, but it really can be anything. Cybele Pascal, author of The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, was not sure what was wrong with her baby, but after trial and error, soon found out that he was allergic to a LOT of stuff. Her second son, Montgomery, faired no better. But lucky for them, their Mama was an expert at cooking and proved to do just as well with limited allowable foods! She shares her recipes with the world in her book, including 200 recipes which eliminates the top eight food allergens as identified by the FDA. These include milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. If you suspect that your baby has similar allergies, you should definitely get her book. We love the recipes and it has something for everyone, no matter what cuisine you prefer!

Milk Production

There are lots of other things that can go wrong with breastfeeding, including milk production, and failure to thrive. You would assume that if you had plenty of milk your baby would grow, but it's also important that your baby get the right kinds of milk- both foremilk and hind milk. If your baby doesn't seem to be gaining weight, what do you do? If you are certain that you have enough milk, the best thing to do is get a baby scale and weigh her before and after feedings. This way you will know how much she is getting. It is hard to realize how much your baby is getting when you can't count down the ounces like you can with a bottle. We usually know they are getting enough because they are able to sleep after nursing (they don't seem hungry), and they gain weight. If you determine that she is getting enough milk, is she getting the hind milk? There are three basic "kinds" of breast milk:
No More Milk Tea
  • Colostrum is the yellowish breast milk that is produced in the first few days after baby's birth and before normal lactation begins. Colostrum is especially rich in nutrients and antibodies, and is the perfect food for a newborn baby. Even if you have decided to use formula rather than breast milk, you may wish to breastfeed your newborn for at least a few days after birth, so that he or she can receive the antibody protection and nutritional benefits offered by colostrum.
  • Foremilk is the milk which is first drawn during a feeding. It is generally thin and lower in fat content, satisfying the baby's thirst and liquid needs.
  • Hindmilk is the milk which follows foremilk during a feeding. It is richer in fat content and is high in calories. The high fat and calorie content of this milk is important for your baby's health and continuing growth. Make sure to let your baby drain one breast before moving on to the other, to ensure that she receives all the benefits of both foremilk and hindmilk. The hindmilk is important not only for weight gain, but for brain development as well. Babies need fat for so many bodily functions, but especially for the brain.

The Breastfeeding Mom

This leads us to you and how you are taking care of yourself. Let's face it, right after having a baby is the last time we want to cook healthy meals that will benefit our baby the most. Nor do we want to drink gallons of water. But even though you've delivered your baby, you still need to watch what you eat if you are breastfeeding him. You may also find, quite by accident, foods that will upset your little one that can include chocolate; spices (cinnamon, garlic, curry, chili pepper); citrus fruits and their juices, like orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit (also including strawberry, kiwi, and pineapple); the gassy veggies (onion, cabbage, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, and peppers); and fruits with a laxative effect, such as cherries and prunes. Another big one is dairy. I've known a few moms who had to quit dairy while nursing their babies, and they later turned out to have dairy allergies. You may have no problems with foods on this list and may even find that there are others that your baby has trouble with that aren't on the list! But other than these foods aversions, you really need to try your hardest to eat a well balanced meal, with a variety of foods, AND nutritional supplements. Notice I did not say prenatal vitamins.

Prenatal Vitamins and Nutritional Supplementation

Most prenatal vitamins are not worth the money you spend on them, and if you haven't already, find an alternative. I recommend Life Force Multiples by Source Naturals. It is not labeled as a prenatal vitamin, but it is chalk full of goodness for before/during/and after pregnancy.

Too Much Milk?

Speaking of an ample supply, one thing that can be aggravating in the beginning is squirting and leaking milk. Usually once your supply is well established you don't have these anymore, but I know moms who still had them months after their babies were born. The worst, however, is having a newborn baby get so much milk that she pulls away only to get a huge squirt in the face. If this happens, you can express some milk before your baby nurses, so that she doesn't get a big rush of milk. Leaking also happens when your breasts become full and the baby is either sleeping longer than usual or is not with you. Breast pads are available to absorb these leaks, and they fit right inside your bra. Be sure to change wet breast pads, because it is not healthy to keep wet pads on your breasts. Use cloth for better air circulation, and unless you are going out of the house, avoid the waterproof pads that prevent air circulation. Disposable pads are the worst, and cotton is the best to use for breast pads.

What about Breastfeeding in Public?

To learn about your rights as a breastfeeding mom, read this article by Elizabeth Pantley on Breastfeeding in Public. This topic has stirred up a lot of commotion recently in the US. Most of us form our decision about breastfeeding in public based on our own self-image and insecurities. There is nothing wrong with a modest mommy who only wants to nurse at home. But for others who believe the breast is more than a sexual object for men to ogle, feel free to feed your baby as necessary when out and about. It is your right!

Breastfeeding Your Toddler

Some of you new to natural parenting are cringing right now. I mean WHO would want to breastfeed a TODDLER?! Unfortunately, many parents feel that one year, or even less, of breastfeeding is enough. But if you really do your research, you will find that the health benefits of extending that period are well worth any stigma you might associate with a child who can ASK to nurse. We tend to transfer the child from breast to whole milk, and unfortunately, cow's milk is not particularly healthy. Not to mention, an early weaner might find that her toddler is allergic to milk or dairy. And THAT is a pain. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that "breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired."  The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that babies be breastfed for at least two years. You can read more about breastfeeding your toddler.

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