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Reasons you should feed your baby responsively

New parents are given lots of advice about how to feed their baby.  Where to feed, when to feed, how to hold baby, how long to feed, and so much more!

You may have been told to feed your baby at least 8 times a day or every 3 hours but feeding on a schedule doesn’t really meet baby’s needs.

Baby has a high need for frequent feeds to keep them alert and build their brains!  Research shows that with responsive feeding there is a high variability in how many times a day baby will feed but it’s much closer to 12 times per 24hours than 8.  

Preliminary research from Swansea University regarding how many times per 24hrs babies feed

Reasons you should feed your baby on cue:

Readiness – Feeding your baby when they cue means you are offering a meal when they feel hunger and are alert enough to communicate that to you.  Imagine being offered your favorite meals when you are super tired…would you feel ready to eat?  Or would you have just enough before falling into a deep sleep?

Meeting all baby’s needs – Baby wants to feed and be close to you for lots of reasons!  You are their home.  You smell like home, you sound like home, you taste like home.  Feeding our baby promotes bonding, reduction of stress hormones, brain development, and so much more than just calories and nutrients!

Milk supply – Your baby doesn’t feed on a regular schedule and your body doesn’t make the same kind of milk every 3 hours on the dot.  AM milk is different from PM milk.  Milk composition changes, too.  At different times of the day it will have higher fat or sleep hormones to help set your baby’s clock and meet their nutritional needs.  If we schedule all the feeds we miss the opportunity to give baby the perfect custom meal each time!

Feeding when baby asks also supports a robust milk supply! Frequent feeding communicates a need to your body to keep making lots of milk!

Capacity – Different breasts/chests hold different amounts of milk (no, this isn’t related to size).  Some people have smaller capacity and can make all the milk baby needs but they need to feed more often.  Scheduled feeds or expectation of only 8 feeds in the day can make parents feel like their milk supply is low – when it’s totally normal!

Responsiveness = communication, trust, and independence – What do all these words have in common? They are what happens when we are responsive feeders.   When we respond to baby’s needs and pay attention to their body language (rooting, sucking, wiggling, lip smacking) we tell them they are heard.  When we respond to our babies they build trust and know their communication will be heard and they will get their needs met.  And that’s how we get independence!  Studies show that responding to our children and meeting their needs results in more independence in toddlerhood and beyond.

❤ Megan

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Not pumping enough?

  1. Is your pump new?  Your insurance will provide you a new pump with each baby.  The motor wears out with use!

  2. Are you using the right size flange/shield?  It should be just big enough to comfortably fit your nipple.

  3. Have you tried other settings?  Many pumps have a “letdown” mode with stronger and faster cycles to start MER.  When your milk slows turn this mode back on.

  4. Visualization makes milk flow! Sit in a comfortable place, take some deep breaths, and imagine your milk flowing easily.  Cover up the bottle so you can relax and not worry about how much you are pumping.


  5. Membranes, valves, and tubing need replacing regularly (between 3 weeks and 6 months depending on how often you pump).

This is also a good time to explore what “enough” is. Some bottles are really huge! And other parents on social media share huge pumping session successes which may not reflect what is average or achievable.

On average, exclusively pumping parents can express 3-4oz (90-120mL) with each session. Whereas, parents pumping after feeding baby will express about 1.5oz (45mL).
This is a reflection of what baby’s stomach can hold. Around 4-6 weeks most babies reach their maximum intake and can hold up to 5oz at a time. This doesn’t mean they need all 5oz (I don’t want to feel Thanksgiving dinner full after every meal!).

Over the course of a day, baby will take 27-30oz and this does not increase with age for breastfeeding babies!

So….how are you doing? Are you expressing 3-4oz when you exclusively pump?

If not, try some of the tips above and if that doesn’t work, check in with your IBCLC for a full evaluation and support!

❤ Megan

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Should I get the vaccine if I’m breastfeeding?

Yes!

The vaccine is safe for breastfeeding people and effective at preventing infection. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby a Covid infection.

Here’s where to find out where you can get vaccinated

Here is more information from the CDC about getting the vaccine when you are breastfeeding

Recent research has shown that out milk contains anti-bodies in response to the vaccine that we then are passing onto baby. This may help protect baby from infection!

Antibodies and T-cells stimulated by the vaccine may passively transfer into milk. Following vaccination against other viruses, IgA antibodies are detectable in milk within 5 to 7 days. Antibodies transferred into milk may therefore protect the infant from infection with SARS-CoV-2
-Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine

Currently the Covid vaccine is available for people aged 12 and up. There are clinical trials in place for ages 6 months to 12 years to determine safety. Experts think that we may have expanded use for younger children available this Fall.

If you do become infected with Covid-19 while breastfeeding the CDC has guidance for you.

WBW

Get ready!

We’ve been busy all day today setting up for the World Breastfeeding Week event
Saturday August 7th from 10am-12pm in the parking lot at 315 SW 4th Ave, Albany!
Stuffing gift bags and organizing to get ready for you to join us!



Help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Linn County Courthouse annex parking lot, 315 SW 4th St., Albany.


Sponsored by the Linn County WIC program (Women Infant Children). Numerous partners will have displays and gifts.
Partners include: Linn County Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Services, Linn County Maternal Child Health, Linn Benton Lincoln Breastfeeding Coalition, La Leche League, Snap-food stamps, Pollywog, Capitol Dental Care, Kidco Head Start, Midvalley Doulas, Samaritan Health Services.


Linn County Public Health will also have its mobile COVID vaccination van on-site. 

This year’s international theme is, “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.”

World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated in 120 countries.


According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Breastfeeding provides infants with essential nutrients to support growth and development. It acts as a child’s first vaccine and protects them from many common childhood diseases.

We can’t wait to see you!!

supplementing

Paced Bottle Feeding: Part 2

Bottle feeding. While we are here to promote and encourage skin-to-skin breast/chestfeeding we also know it’s a practicality that most babies will have a meal through a bottle.

Bottle feeding is a whole different ballgame than breastfeeding and requires some different skills. Breasts and bottles behave very differently!

Let’s look at some tips and tricks to help your baby bottle feed with comfort and with ease.

Slow down the pace.

You may have heard of paced bottle feeding. This is a feeding technique which slows down the flow of milk and is response based. We pay attention to how our baby is acting throughout the feed. Are they furrowing their brow? Do they look super focused while they gulp gulp gulp?
These are stress signs during a feed and baby is telling you with their body language that they need a break.

The bottle can be tipped down and rested on the lips while baby catches their breath and gets ready to start the suck-swallow-breathe pattern again.

Look at the baby in the picture. What do you notice?

She is sitting is upright. This helps baby to regulate their feeding and it slows down milk flow compared to an angled bottle.

Her lips are out and have a good seal on the nipple. She’s almost touching the ring with her lips.
Her cheeks look relaxed and in general she looks pretty chill. This is exactly what we are going for.

So why else might we want to use paced bottle feeding?

It can prevent reflux and spitting up.

Babies who are gulping in milk quickly have a tendency to swallow air, too. Their tummies become overfull and they will often spit up or act uncomfortable and squirmy. The sphincter, which is a little “rubber band”, at the top of the stomach is immature in infants until they are about 6 months so it’s really easy for milk to come back up.

Reducing the air in the stomach can help prevent reflux and overfeeding which are the main reasons little babies have spit up.

It prevents overfeeding.

Okay, so overfeeding can cause spit up or even make reflux worse and it causes parents to worry about milk supply. Most people make all the milk their baby will need but if baby is chugging down a big bottle without any breaks, they can easily overfed. This makes it hard to keep up on the pumping! Babies rarely need more than 4 oz for a feed (maybe 5oz occasionally). Feeding more than that actually stretches their stomach beyond normal capacity.

A slower feed also helps babies suck for longer which is super comforting. Sucking regulates stress hormones, breathing, heart rate, and helps baby transition to deep sleep. Slow down that bottle and you will have a calmer baby!

It can prevent gas!

Just like swallowing air can cause spit up, the same is true for the downstairs. Gassiness is just a part of life for humans but it shouldn’t be painful or cause colic-like behavior.
Paced bottle feeding can help prevent these discomforts.

Ready to give it a try? Here is the lowdown on how to do paced bottle feeding.

Megan Dunn, IBCLC

breastfeeding, milk supply

Why I don’t recommend lactation cookies

Over the last few years it seems like everyone is jumping on the lactation cookie trend. New pre-made products have been popping up online and in stores all with strong claims about how they will help.
I love a cookie as much as any one (warm oatmeal or spicy snickerdoodle…yes, please!) but I don’t recommend them as a Lactation Consultant for milk production.

Image: Betty Crocker

This is for a few reasons. I have noticed that lots of my patients come to me already trying to take herbs and alter their diet to support milk supply. They invest hundreds of dollars sometimes without really knowing the exact cause of their milk supply problems. Often the issue is low milk supply perception without an actual issue but when there is a problem, it needs to be addressed by a medical provider who can investigate the source and give you personalized recommendations.

Different problems need different solutions.

A thorough assessment and history taking can often pinpoint the problem and then we can give you the right “medicine” for what’s really going on. Otherwise, it’s like throwing a dart in the dark. It might hit the target, it might get close, but it’s probably just a random shot.

Milk supply is governed by milk removal. When we take supplements to boost our milk supply there may be some effect but it might also temporarily boost our supply without setting us up for good long term habits. At the beginning, prolactin hormone brings in our supply and transitions milk from colostrum to mature milk. Oxytocin hormone is the main reason that milk sprays and drips out. Over time, our breasts become less sensitive to these hormones and what we need for continued supply is a baby who can breastfeed well!

Which brings us to the next issue. If we take herbs or eat cookies that artificially boost our supply it can mask baby feeding problems. If your baby’s suck is weak or uncoordinated, I want to know that right away and get you on the path to healing! We can work with suck training, a physical therapist, or occupational therapist to make sure your baby is thriving. We don’t want to miss those early signs .

Homemade baked goods are about the most delicious thing I can think of but sometimes the ingredients might actually lower supply. Many recipes call for a fair amount of sugar so if the milk supply problem is created by insulin resistance it won’t be supportive. Some of the other herbal ingredients might also lower supply. Some of the most common herbal ingredients for milk supply are not compatible with the medical conditions which are most likely to impact supply!

And lastly, I think it’s important to consider that we do not need to eat a special or different diet while breastfeeding. Our milk can be plentiful and super healthy following standard recommendations for adults. Our diets may need to be altered for medical reasons and if so, ask your provider to help you come up with a plan. Many of the ingredients in lactation cookies are expensive and hard to find. I’d rather see you snuggled up in bed nibbling on a grocery store oatmeal cookie than driving from store to store for specialty ingredients.

As always, take what works for you and leave the rest behind. Know that this Lactation Consultant won’t judge or tell you what to do. We are here to support you. And if you sister or kind neighbor brings you lactation cookies, feel free to eat them if they work for you and you want to. Just know you don’t *have* to eat them to make lots of milk.

If you are experiencing low milk supply check out our local Lactation Consultants for support and up-to-date information.

<3Megan Dunn, IBCLC

breastfeeding, supplementing

Paced Bottle Feeding

What is Paced Bottle Feeding?
Paced Bottle Feeding is a method of bottle feeding that allows the infant to be more in control of the pace of the feeding. This method slows down the flow of milk, allowing the baby to eat more slowly and take breaks. Paced feeding reduces the risk of overfeeding that may result in discomfort to the baby. This feeding method is recommended for any baby that receives bottles.

Many parents are worried about baby swallowing air or getting gassy with bottle feeding. The old-school way of bottle feeding often increases gas and air swallowing because the flow is simply too fast! Baby doesn’t have time to follow their suck-swallow-breath pattern and ends up accidentally swallowing air.

Just like you and I take breaks when we are drinking, baby needs them, too. Using a slower paced feeding method also teaches parents to recognize baby’s communication cues. Overall, the feeding is a lot more pleasant for everyone!

Caretakers and grandparents may need a refresher on how to give bottles in a way that respects baby’s needs. There are lots of videos on YouTube, Vimeo, etc which show how to do paced feeding. They all vary a little but this is how I teach it:

Paced Bottle Feeding Steps:
1. Choose a small, 4 oz. bottle and a slow flow nipple. Pick something baby can latch onto deeply, with fully flanged out lips.
2. Hold baby in your lap in a semi-upright position, supporting the head and neck.
3. When baby shows hunger cues, touch the nipple to baby’s lip so he opens his mouth wide.
4. Insert nipple into baby’s mouth, making sure the baby has a deep latch with the lips turned outward.
5. Hold the bottle flat (horizontal to the floor).
6. Let the baby begin sucking on the nipple with the bottle angled just enough to fill the nipple about halfway with milk.
7. Watch baby during the feeding: cues that baby may need a break can include leaking milk, hands held with the fingers wide apart, a creased brow, wide open eyes that look startled, gulping, or clicking noises
8. Every 2 minutes or if you notice any stress cues, tip the bottle down and remove it from baby’s mouth keeping the nipple just touching baby’s lips.
9. After a few seconds baby will try to latch back onto the nipple.
10. Continue this Paced Feeding until baby shows fullness signs – no longer sucking after the break, turning away or pushing away from the nipple.

After several days of Paced Feeding, babies often start to learn to pace on their own. You will notice them taking their own breaks, and then returning to feeding. Positioning the baby upright and holding the bottle in a flat position helps babies be in control of their own feeding.

Megan Dunn, IBCLC

breastfeeding

Does my baby need water on hot days?

No!

Baby does need to breastfeed often and keep cool in a shady place though. Baby may want to breastfeed more often during very hot weather. Offer unrestricted access to the breast to keep baby hydrated.

Your milk will adjust and increase water volume to keep baby well hydrated if you feed as often as baby wants.

Signs of dehydration to watch out for:

  • Urinates less frequently (for infants, fewer than six wet diapers per day)
  • Parched, dry mouth.
  • Fewer tears when crying.
  • Sunken soft spot of the head in an infant or toddler.

If baby exhibits any of these symptoms contact their doctor or visit the hospital right away.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend keeping newborns and infants younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. The best protection from the sun for these infants is to stay in the shade. Look for shade under a tree or bring an umbrella or sun-blocking tent for outdoor play.
In most cases, infant’s skin is too sensitive for sunblock so your best bet is to stay indoors or keep baby completely shaded.