“You need to nurse for 20 minutes on the first side and then move baby to the other side for twenty minutes.” or "You have to empty the first breast before going to the second breast".
Did anyone ever tell you these things? What if your baby only nursed for ten minutes? Did you ask what would happen? I suspect you may have been told that is not long enough for your baby to get the hindmilk (higher fat milk). Is 20 minutes that magic “long enough” time frame? What if baby wanted to be there for 25 minutes? What happens then? Do you have no more milk?
Have you ever expressed breastmilk? What does it look like? Have you expressed more than one time? Did your milk look the same each time? I suspect it varied from thin, watery and blue, to yellow and thick. Did you notice a difference with the time of the day you pumped? How about before a feed or after a feed?
What does the research say? In point form the basics are:
· As the baby feeds the content of the milk the baby receives is higher in fat
· Each feeding can vary in fat content over the course of the day
· The fattiest part of one feed might actually contain the same fat content of the start of another feed
· Milk is milk; no real need to differentiate foremilk and hindmilk. Some is more concentrated, some less so, but your baby needs it all.(Hindmilk would be better called "concentrated milk" and foremilk "dilute milk")
· Babies all stay at the breast for different lengths of time and what satisfies them varies
· The breast is not a reservoir. It is never “out” of milk. If babe hangs out nursing more milk will “let down”. If you switched breasts milk may flow faster because more milk is in that breast, but there is no rule to have to take a baby off one side to put him on the other because of foremilk and hindmilk. Yes, if we want "moremilk"
Is there a time when we might pay more attention to foremilk and hindmilk?
· Is there an issue with baby sleeping at the breast?
· Is there an issue with baby being fussy at the breast?
· Is there an issue with babes weight?
· Is baby swallowing at breast?
· Is baby relaxed, with wide open hands and content at the end of feeds or no?
If there are any of these types of concerns, seek out an IBCLC to address the concerns. It may be somewhat related to the so called foremilk/hindmilk. It can sometimes be ONE factor to take into account for the whole picture when some of the above issues are seen. But it would not solely be a foremilk/hindmilk issue.
When a woman plans to breastfeed her baby and that plan doesn't go accordingly, it can be a time of many emotions. This emotion is often referred to as "guilt". There is a common saying, "we shouldn't make women feel guilty for not being able to breastfeed." Of course, we shouldn't. There are so many factors, however it is not a black and white, can or can't, choose to or not, it works for some, not for others, etc.
"Don't make her feel guilty"
I don't want a mother to feel guilty, but I do want her to recognize her feelings about her situation. Feelings are not negative. Feelings are just feeling. And we need to feel to work through the struggles.
We need to explore the feelings women experience when it comes to feeding their infant. Everything we see now is "Breast is Best". We have become a society that is "great" at encouraging breastfeeding but we are not a society that is even "good" at supporting and sustaining breastfeeding. This means many women are not meeting their breastfeeding goals. With that comes many feelings.
Mothers who intended to breastfeed but struggle to meet that goal, feel a sense of loss. We know there is a connection to loss of breastfeeding and postpartum depression. We need to recognize that many mothers experience grief, and not guilt, in the postpartum period. I feel like grief is confused for guilt or a feeling of failure and it is not interchangeable. Mothers need to be given the opportunity to grieve what they had planned, what they believed postpartum would be like, the support they would receive but did not. Hearing “now, now dear, it’s ok, formula feeding is ok” doesn’t really help. It doesn’t help because it is not about breastmilk over formula. It’s about an expectation mothers had. It’s about a decision they thought they had control over, only to find out breastfeeding is difficult, but more so motherhood is difficult! It is all more difficult than society lets people believe. Breastfeeding is not well supported. It is not understood well. So many myths and wise tales still exist and are perpetuated daily, holding women back.
Women are finding themselves alone, feeling isolated & without reliable resources.
Women who choose formula from the start don’t feel this way because they got to make that choice consciously. Women who planned to breastfeed but missed out on proper supports don’t feel like they had any other options but to give up their plans to breastfeed. That’s not a choice. That’s survival. We need to guide mothers to the appropriate, breastfeeding educated resources in a timely manner. Mothers deserve to have choices, someone who can offer solutions that are acceptable to them & who can provide support and counsel when breastfeeding isn't the best option for them.
Many mothers will be able to relate to this experience. The experience looks the same; a routine infant check up appointment, baby gets a weight check, the parents are asked some questions about development, etc. Upon looking at the weight, it is determined the infant is not gaining weight as expected. What does this mean? What is the cause? What should be done?
It often is quite shocking to parents, especially mothers, to hear this news. They are perplexed because they thought feeding, usually breastfeeding, was going ok. How is it possible that baby isn’t gaining weight? How is it possible she didn’t know that baby wasn’t growing as expected? Can anything be done?
Common reasons provided for this phenomena is that mom has low milk supply, baby isn’t getting enough hind milk or baby is too sleepy and isn’t feeding often enough. I don’t think it is quite that simple.
What I find in these scenarios, because I get calls often after an experience like this, is that what is not communicated to the parents is why we do these checks, why they matter, what they mean and what should be done with the information.
The simple answer is that we expect babes to maintain their own curve that they plotted on at birth (or more ideally 24 hours). When babies start to drop off that curve, this gives us a sign to look and assess what might be happening. This is a clue to ask some more questions and see if there are other pieces that can help tell us what might be happening. We want to know more about feeding behaviour, mood, output.
Often what I hear is that there is no way baby needs to eat more. They are happy, content, sleep well, don’t really fuss. The opinion is that there is no way it is possible the baby isn't eating enough. People expect a hungry baby to cry, be irritable, to unsettled. I am going to say this is simply not true. I am sometimes more concerned about that “good baby” that sleeps well and always content. A very misunderstood piece of infant wellbeing is that weight gain influences appetite. What I mean by that, is that if a baby is gaining well, they demand to fed and show signs of being hungry regularly with easily identified feeding cues. What we think is a content baby because they have a calm mood, could be a baby who is content but not getting quite enough intake. A baby that is lower weight than expected, will have a lower appetite and will in fact cue less to be feed, will have subtle cues, likely won’t have a late hunger cueing & overall may make little fuss about it. If mother offers they will feed, but commonly have short feeding sessions. When they are being feed, their appetite is low so they do not do an efficient job, leading to milk being left in the breast and the body slowing down production. I give the example that if they are getting 70% of their intake requirement, they will eat at 70% efficiency (this will very baby to baby). This over time can cause a low supply, which influences their feeding because babies like flow...so low flow, means less interest in feeding and the cycle continues.
If none of that concern is explained to a family, they leave these routine visits confused and bewildered as to why some one had a concern or what they could/should do about it and have no idea why it happened in the first place. There are lots of factors to consider to understand why this is happening & what the appropriate action for each case should be.
If you are experiencing a difficult feeding situation where weight gain is a concern, booking a consult with an IBCLC is advisable. With a good assessment by an IBCLC, the root cause can often be determined and a solid plan can be put into place to get the baby fed, get weight gain concerns addressed, increase milk supply, maintain breastfeeding, etc.
Other things to note in cases of lower than expected weight gain could be:
Has someone suggested to you that your baby isn't gaining weight as expected and the solution is to get baby to ingest more hindmilk? It has become common knowledge that fat content of milk changes throughout breastfeeding. This is true. Milk doesn't change in each feeding session in the same way...it changes over the course of the day and feeding patterns. The anxiety about whether or not baby is feeding "long enough" to get to the hind milk is not necessary.
Something else that is true is that the longer a baby feeds, the more letdowns occur and more fat is released into the milk from the milk making glands, however...there are some things that need to be pointed out and kept in mind.
Foremilk and hindmilk are not two different kinds of milk. Women do not produce a low fat milk and a high fat milk. It is simply that the first milk a baby receives at the start of a feed is foremilk and the milk after that is hindmilk. The change is gradual It is not based on a percertange of fat content, like skim, 1%, 2% or whole milk that we are used to thinking of. There is no magic time in a feed that changes the fat content or we can see a switch of kind of milk. There is no percentage of fat a baby needs to be able to gain wright. On this note, all the foremilk is not always lower fat than all the hindmilk. Foremilk from one feed might have a higher fat content than hindmilk from the next feed, previous feed or other feeds in the day.
With this all in mind, when there is a weight gain concern, the focus needs to be on increasing intake of milk and looking at the factors that might be impacting intake & not trying to avoid foremilk. Strategies to avoid formal and increase hindmilk consumption are ideas like pumping foremilk before a nursing session, so baby can only access hindmilk or keeping baby on one breast for 15 or 20 or 40 minutes, depending on who is giving the instructions. In fact, sometimes these strategies means the baby is getting even less milk than before. It is the total daily milk intake that determines successful weight gain. We cannot look at one feed as the way it is for all feeds. We need to look at each day and all the breastfeeding sessions combined and then address ways to increase milk intake overall.
If you find yourself in the situation of having an infant that is not gaining as expected, not gaining at all, slowly gaining or losing weight, I suggest a full evaluation with an IBCLC.
I love talking breastfeeding and I really like talking the history of breastfeeding. When people find out I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, they often respond with, “you’re a what?”. As I continue to explain what I do they say “seriously? People have trouble with breastfeeding? How is it that the human race has made it this far if it weren’t for breastfeeding?” Oh, goodness, what era do you want to talk about? I mean there is so much history about how breastfeeding can fail and what resolutions people had for that, depending on the era and the region.
We are part of another era and in the middle of history. I call the time before where we are right now “Before Tongue Tie”. Really, as an IBCLC of just shy of a decade, I had MINIMAL education on tongue ties and their impact on breastfeeding. Like a dismel amount. Then several years ago, I attended a few conferences, online, in person, different geographical locations. Everyone was talking about tongue ties. I said to myself and to others:
“Can we not talk about anything else?”
“There is no way there are this many tongue ties”
“Did we even know anything about breastfeeding until now then, if tongue ties are to blame for everything?”
They had different potential solutions. I come into all of this ready to learn and see if we can address some of the challenges that faced breastfeeding families that didn’t seem to have resolve. Much of what I was learning was that there was hope for these ongoing struggles that my previous education and training didn’t teach about.
I dove in. I recruited other professionals as supports. We networked. We shared experiences. We re-evaluated. We want the best for families.
My job as an IBCLC is not the same as those other supports and professionals but I want to share some of my learnings and reflections. I know tongue ties cause a lot of issues. I will not deny that, but I will say that just “getting it snipped” or getting into a dentist for a laser revision isn’t a guarantee things are going to be resolved.
A really key piece I have acknowledged is how much better babies that are at an appropriate weight recover and catch on to breastfeeding post-revision compared to babies that are underweight or slow gaining, maybe gaining weight a little faster than what is called a slow gainer and who maybe is not getting much concern from anyone but still not growing on “their curve”. Doing a revision on these babies is something I really hesitate to do now and I won’t make a recommendation for revision until resolution has occurred in the weight department. This to me a really good reason to be working with an IBCLC before hand.
Another really important part to working with an IBCLC is to assessing milk supply. Babies respond to flow and without that flow, they just won’t want to try and improve anything. Add in a tongue tie and they just don’t care to breastfeed nicely or at all. If supply is low, again even with a revision, they just are not happy breastfeeders. Both this scenario and the above one make people say “the tongue tie wasn’t the issue” and sometimes add in that “they did the procedure for nothing”. Being able to get moms working on supply, which in turn can help the weight gain issue, if it exists, helps ensure that once they get those two factors sorted out, they are ready for revision and have a good foundation to make the revision successful. The pieces fall into place nicely and almost predictably. It also helps me be able to tell a mom a timeline for “when will this all be better”. I can help them set up a plan so they can see a means to an end, rather than “just keep trying, it will click soon”.
There is also maternal pain that is often a concern and should be addressed INDEPENDENTLY of a revision. Sometimes tongue ties cause pain, damage & trauma to mothers breasts and can be resolved with a revision, but ideally more should be done to address this instead of just waiting for things to get better. When we deal with the breast/nipple independently, it makes the revision seem significantly more effective.
Babies can have other factors/stresses affecting and influencing breastfeeding that are often identified by IBCLC’s or professionals who assess physical factors, like Chiropractors or Osteopaths. I also find when we resolve these issues first, or at least start working on them, that things get back on track faster post-revision.
Sometimes I am not consulted until after a procedure for a tongue tie has been performed. When I get called after, I can most certainly still help and we can get past these remaining pieces, it just is in reverse. What I find though, is it is all a lot more stressful for moms and families because they also have a cranky baby and after care exercises to get in, as well as possible pumping & supplementing, and perhaps appointments with the other professionals we work with. I personally think It is better when I can set up a plan in steps with one focus at a time. Once supply and weight is up, it is one less stress, so the family can handle the stress of the aftercare and extra needs of the baby.
I am also aware that some parents would rather not go through a revision at all and this is where my “Before Tongue Tie” experience and knowledge comes in. I say to the parents and myself, “what would we have done BTT?” Are there strategies that would be useful and address the concerns? Sometimes there are solutions that the parents are 100% ok with and will get the baby fed and minimize concerns. Sometimes all of those are tried and the revision conversation might have to happen again. This is where knowing the risks to the situation and knowing what else to watch for is important.
Tongue ties are a topic that people get really excited about from many different perspectives and I don't see that changing for awhile, but I wanted to raise the thought that we are in a place of breastfeeding right now that in the years to come will be a historical recollection. It might be known as something more eloquent than BTT but until then we can recall what it was like BTT.
What is really happening when the sponsorship of events is by pump companies or formula companies/pharmaceutical companies.
I want to be *explicitly clear* that this is NOT about individuals. This is not about the idea or execution of such events. This is not about women supporting or not supporting women. This is not about businesses who chose to plan events. This is not about businesses who participate in events. This is fully about the sponsorship by the companies covered by the WHO Code. (and I promise you they all know about the WHO Code and how that impacts their relationships).
So, what is the WHO Code?
The WHO Code is the common wording used to refer to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The Code was adopted by World Health Assembly and UNICEF in 1981. Since that time, a number changes have been made with the Code.
The purpose of the Code is to protect breastfeeding, to protect all mothers and babies, regardless of their desired feeding methods, and to prevent aggressive marketing practices that often interfere with mothers meeting their own breastfeeding goals. Infant formula, feeding bottles, and artificial nipples are the main products that fall within the scope of the Code. Breast pumps are not under the scope of the Code BUT some pump companies violate the code because they market bottles and artificial nipples. Again, the Code only applies to the marketing of these items–it does not affect whether they are sold or used. Confusing, right?
Confused? Of course you are!
The Code itself can be confusing, but then try to figure of which companies are WHO code Compliant and which are not is a whole other task. Companies come in and out of compliance all the time. Something that commonly happens is large companies merge, or enter into marketing relationships with each other and they also acquire departments from other companies with buying, selling and trading.
Then we have to consider who are the "kid" companies and who are the "parents"? Companies who are owned by Code violators are considered the same as their parent company. You really have to dig deep to find out a lot of this info, but if you start goggling different brands of formula, medications, infant supplies, etc you start to see that there are a lot of kid companies and just a few parents. The parent companies, of course, want to keep their smaller companies WHO Code violating record clean so that health care workers who have to adhere to the WHO Code can still have relationships with these companies, while the parent company gains benefits. They can also give items and samples not covered by the WHO Code and maintain compliance. But in the end, they are still violators.
As an IBCLC, I need to educate people about the WHO Code and marketing. What I am encouraging people to do, all across Canada, is to just keep their eyes open a little bit to who is hosting events, who is sponsoring events, what is that relationship like, who is providing the educational piece & decide if the information being given is evidence based and helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals or if the information might be slanted. You will see a large variety of how these events take place and some will be absolutely ok and some are going to have questionable practices.
This is not about you and it is not about me.
Again, none of this is personal. It is not an individual issue. This is a nation wide issue. If one baby store is approached to host an event, any baby store could be being asked. If any doula is asked to be at an event, it could've been any doula they approached. If any nurse is involved, it could be any nurse approached, It happens to doctors, chiropractors, pharmacists, or even IBCLC's. It is anybody who is nice and kind and is buying into the idea of hosting an events for moms to offer support and companionship and education. That in itself is a fabulous idea and needs to happen! I will say people are ALLOWED to do this. As an IBCLC, I choose to adhere to the Code so I will not participate I do let people know that if that is breastfeeding matters to someone else in their profession, they can choose to adopt to follow the WHO Code. I am not here to tell anybody how to run their own business. They CAN participate and have relationships like this if they chose to. But I will always protect breastfeeding in my community. True breastfeeding support does not come from WHO Code Violators.
I want this to be heard by everyone because if the doula/nurse/doctor/pharmacist or IBCLC, asked to participate this time walked away, the companies will just go to find another one. This also applies to educational events for professionals so not only do we look down, we have to look up. I want parents to hear this so if they go to an event they can also see who is providing the funding for the event and the information.
Do you remember that time I told you to throw away the Lanolin? (You’re welcome)
I am here again suggesting you keep again breastfeeding old faithful on the shelf! At bare minimum before taking fenugreek to help an unsteady to low supply, keep that bottle of fenugreek sealed until some further investigation as to why you might need something to boost supply is started.
We are starting to learn that fenugreek may not actually even help a supply but it can actually be quite harmful for many mothers who are struggling with a low supply, depending on why the supply is low. The very reason supply one mothers supply is low can be a contraindication for use of fenugreek on its own. For your own safety, you need to know the reason for the low supply, before taking fenugreek. Of particular awareness would be mothers with thyroid concerns, PCOS, IGT, diabetes, insulin resistant type health concerns. Women who have just had babies may not aware of or have an official diagnosis because until that time they have been mostly healthy. Sometimes it is not until the stress of a pregnancy and birth and early postpartum has an impact on the body that women start to feel unwell. And they might not even feel unwell, but just not be making a full supply. Producing milk is not a necessary part of living, so if the body has stressors then often production is suppressed. Breastfeeding is a time in life where a mother needs to take care of herself in order to be able to take care of the baby.
I think “breastfeeding issues” are sometimes breastfeeding issues but I also think that often time struggling with breastfeeding is just a symptom of something else. Paying attention to your supply as an indiction of something else, might actually help you understand more about your body and its personal needs.
This is not to say there are not good herbal options for supply, because there are. It is matter of knowing what is happening with your supply and your body, your own unique challenges and having a health history taken or worked up, so that the right herbal for each individual can be chosen/suggested. It might just be fenugreek for you. But, there is a good chance there is something better.
I will also add that many mothers experience upset stomach, gassiness, loose stools, diarrhea, dehydration, low blood sugar & unpleasant body odour when taking fenugreek. Baby may also show similar symptoms.
Breastfeeding help the way you want it? Or do you think it needs some improving? Now is your opportunity to help by providing feedback.
Newborn babies are dirty business and believe it or not that white substance on newborn babies is good for them and shouldn’t be washed away!
Here are 15 things you might not already know about vernix:
I think we can agree vernix is pretty amazing.
What is a Lactation Consultant, LC, IBCLC?
The term lactation consultant or LC has become the known, accepted title for a professionals with expert knowledge in breastfeeding. They may work with moms and babies to address breastfeeding issues and concerns. They may also teach classes, assist with establishing breastfeeding one on one, and promote and protect breastfeeding through policy, procedure within health care and government.
Origin of the term “Lactation Consultant
The accepted term for “IBCLC” or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in many geographical areas is "LC" or Lactation Consultant because, as you can see, that term is a mouthful.
“LC” is not trademarked and does not hold the professional standard like “IBCLC” does, so one will occasionally find a practicing LC who is not an IBCLC. Consumers (mothers and families) and other professionals (doulas and doctors) need to be aware of this.
As well, not all those who work as “lactation consultants” in health centres or breastfeeding support centres are IBCLCs. Some employers encourage employees to pursue the credential but don’t mandate it for employment. Many times, nurses with some basic breastfeeding education fill these jobs.
Why is this IBC part so important?
The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBCLE) awards the title of International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to only the candidates who meet the comprehensive pathway requirements and pass an international exam. This allows IBLCE to establish the highest standards in lactation and breastfeeding care worldwide and to certify only the individuals who meet these standards.
Breastfeeding alphabet soup
I’d like to explain some of the breastfeeding alphabet soup by using the birthing support alphabet soup, as people seem to relate to that.
All the roles are important, but they provide their own distinct scope, responsibilities, and abilities. They can all work together to provide comprehensive support.
Primary roles of the individual bodies
As you can see, I’ve broken this down into three primary roles.
3. Clinical management
Educators teach you about the normal and expected processes of childbirth and breastfeeding. They typically call themselves childbirth educators and lactation educators.
They teach the normal process of birth and what you can expect when having a baby, as well as encourage and promote breastfeeding.
This information helps you make decisions, helps you know if you are on track, gives you references for getting the birth and breastfeeding relationships you want, and helps answer your questions.
Educators typically teach community classes in group settings.
Support people are typically those who have additional training in supporting mother, baby, and family during crucial times: birth and breastfeeding.
They’re typically doulas and La Leche League (LLL) leaders. Doulas are usually paid professionals, and LLL is a mother-to-mother peer support group. These roles offer the encouragement and motivation you need to get through the processes of birth and breastfeeding.
They are well versed in normal and expected outcomes. They know to watch for red flags to ensure they can guide you further if you have come outside the normal, expected process. Their job is to provide physical and emotional support, encouraging you to ask questions of your caregivers to make sure you’re well informed about what occurs. They have resources and guidelines to reassure you that you’re indeed in the realm of normal, and if things deviate from normal, they can point you in the direction of more resources.
Lastly, we have the clinical management professionals.
These are the folks responsible for the clinical and medical bits of the scenario. They look at the facts and figures, big picture, and red flags to rule in or out the things that are not in the normal and expected category and then make management plans from there. They have the clinical experience of things that fall outside normal and how to manage them.
All of these people have a place in the realm of support and caregiving; what’s important is they know their role and responsibility and respect the others’. Where it becomes problematic is when the client receives something different from what she expected to receive. Sometimes, this occurs because the roles of each provider isn’t clear to her, and she might conclude that one person isn’t performing a role properly. Let’s look at how this might apply to IBCLCs specifically.
In our example, a mother assumes that a breastfeeding educator* is an IBCLC. She notices that despite consulting with the helper, her breastfeeding issue remains unresolved. She decides to seek more help through a La Leche League leader, who determines that the issue is outside her scope and recommends an IBCLC. The mother insists that she already saw an IBCLC, but received no help.
*this person could also be staff at a breastfeeding clinic or nurse who comes to her home
This example is typical, and it hurts all support people. The educator gets a bad rep because she didn’t help. The LLL leader is helpless because the needs were outside her scope. The IBCLC profession gets a bad rep because the client misunderstood the different roles and expectations.
Clients need to know clearly what their expectations are and who can best meet those expectations based on role, scope, and experience. I want to be asked and welcome being asked these questions! I want you to go and look at the IBLCE website to see what IBCLC's are all about and verify I am indeed and IBCLC and see what scope and standards are laid in place for my profession. I welcome the same questions about being a doula! I would love to see a blog about midwives and how they are different from doulas and childbirth educators (wink, wink, nudge, nudge midwives).
All breastfeeding and lactation professionals have a responsibility to work together to ensure mothers have accurate information, so they can receive the support and encouragement they need as efficiently and as quickly as possible.