breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

Biting and Breastfeeding

Possibly, this is something most mothers are afraid of when they start breastfeeding. It is something that is on their mind from the very beginning – a question I get asked about often in home visits and workshops.

Biting while breastfeeding comes up not because children bite while nursing. In fact, a baby can’t bite at all while nursing because of the tongue position! Biting happens either because of teething, ear infection or cold (blocked noses and nursing are not compatible) and lastly it can also happen out of other reasons.

Teething:

  • Do not show an external reaction to the bite, some children find it funny and start biting just to see you react!
  • Say a firm “No biting, it hurts mama”
  • Unlatch baby straight away for a few seconds or minutes (it is up to you to gauge how long it should be)
  • Alternatively, push baby into your breast for a few seconds cutting off the air supply so they let go.
  • Check baby position; over time, children may become a bit sloppy in their latch making you hurt
  • Be attentive! be aware of your nursing child so as soon as you see baby is becoming restless you switch or unlatch baby
  • Talk to your child to distract them and keep them focused on you while nursing
  • Compress your breast while nursing so milk is flowing quicker and all the time and not giving them the opportunity to bite

Cold/Ear Infection:

  • Always review the position first, while it might be hurting, it can stop being good due to active nursing babies
  • Keep baby upright, especially with a blocked nose to help open the airways
  • If baby is tugging at their ear go to your health care professional for it is possibly an ear infection. Once medication kicks in and baby doesn’t hurt while nursing the biting will stop

Other reasons:

  • Baby is distracted. If your baby is distracted forget nursing them till they show interest. If they are moving about, not settling etc it is better to wait or take them somewhere less distracting to feed.
  • Wanting attention. Sometimes a baby wants attention while they are feeding. Maybe we are reading, talking to some one etc. If that happens remove baby calmly from the breast and firmly say we do not bite. Give your child some attention before going back to what you were doing.
  • Milk isn’t coming quick enough. If your baby is impatient and want milk quickly, compress the breast and or pump a bit to get the let down going. This usually happens when baby is tired or very hungry! Again be aware of your child and if baby is getting nervous unlatch and latch on the other breast.
  • Biting because they are finished feeding. Yes some babies instead of simply unlatching will bite when ready from a feed. Awareness of your child to notice when they start playing and stop feeding to unlatch them straightaway is important. Of course if it happens again calmly and firmly let them know that biting is not an option.

Of course, biting is normally always a phase which goes by like all other phases. However, if need be feel free to speak to me so I can help you out further as needed.

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting, raw reality

Sexual arousal and breastfeeding

There is this big elephant in the room. No one wants to really see it and talk about it.

Yet, it is an important subject to discuss seeing that our breasts and specifically our nipples are an erogenous zone. It is in fact VERY common for a woman to feel aroused while nursing. Some can experience orgasm. There is nothing wrong with it per se. However, the idea of it, make us cringe, feel ashamed and for sure if it happens we are not going to talk about it! Most likely a mama will promptly decide that breastfeeding is not good for her and switch to formula.

As this study says:

One issue rarely mentioned is that the breastfeeding experience is very sensuous in itself and some mothers may become aroused during breastfeeding (Hotchner, 1979Lawrence, 1989Mueller, 1985Reamy & White, 1987). This is a normal phenomenon. Yet, mothers may feel guilty if they have these feelings. Consequently, some may decide to stop breastfeeding. Should a mother decide to speak about such feelings, both lay people and health care professionals may be shocked, may ridicule her, and may even report her to child protection services (Huggins & Ziedrich, 1994).

It is a sad truth! Women are feeling guilty, thinking something is wrong with them and quitting breastfeeding for the way our bodies are wired. In breastfeeding, oxytocin and prolactin are released to help us bond with the baby. The same hormones are released when having sex to create (a different) bond with our partner.

It is important that such issues are spoken more often, especially to new mothers. It not only starts stopping stigma for having natural feelings but it prepares a mum. Knowing it might occur, would definitely help accept such feelings without fear and guilt.

However, despite accepting such feelings, they will probably still make you uncomfortable, so here are 3 tips to help if such a case occurs:

  • Stop breastfeeding for a few minutes if possible
  • Think of mundane things, like the laundry or cooking
  • Look at your child. It reminds your brain you are nursing

Women be reassured that pelvic arousal while breastfeeding, is not unnatural but normal. It does not happen often but it is still a common occurrence.

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting, weaning from the breast

Is your baby on a nursing strike?

Babies are known to fool mums into thinking they are weaning from the breast.

The truth however is that between 3-5 months, babies can suddenly stop nursing and refuse to do so. That, is called a nursing strike! A nursing strike means that a baby will refuse to take the breast for a period of approximately 5-6 days. There are various reasons why they do that.

  • A cold or stuffy nose, which makes breathing difficult while nursing
  • An ear infection, which causes pressure or pain while sucking and swallowing
  • Discomfort from teething, a cold sore, or an infection (such as thrush)
  • A fever or a heat wave that makes bodily closeness less appealing
  • A newfound preference for bottles (if your child is given frequent bottles, they may like the faster milk flow, or be reacting to a reduction in Mother’s milk supply)
  • A major disruption in routine, such as moving or your returning to work after a maternity leave
  • Reduced milk supply – if you’ve been stressed out, your supply may be reduced
  • A change in the taste of mother’s milk, caused by the resumption of your periods, spicy or unusual foods, a vitamin or drug, or a new pregnancy
  • A new deodorant, soap, or perfume applied on or near the breasts
  • Strong let-down – the milk may be letting down too quickly for Baby’s liking, which may make him frustrated and refuse to latch on
  • Poor nursing habits – at around four months, when a baby begins to realize life is happening around him while he nurses, he may be squirmy or position himself awkwardly at the breast
  • Too much to do – busy six- to nine-month-olds are easily distracted and often opt to “snack” at the breast over settling down for a full meal
  • And sometimes for no perceptible reason at all!

To say nursing strikes are trying is an understatement! It can be a very stressful period for both mum and child. This previous blog post on nursing strikes gives you more information on how to deal with it.

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

The Elimination diet

Most breastfeeding mothers can eat anything throughout their breastfeeding journey. However, exclusively breastfed babies can be intolerant or allergic to traces of proteins that enter mother’s milk.

The most common culprit is cow milk protein, however there are other known allergenic food. Like, tree nuts, nuts, soya, wheat, egg and fish. The best way for a mother to deal with an allergy is to find which food(s) are causing the reaction and eliminate it from her diet. This is called an elimination diet.

How does an elimination diet work?

As mentioned above, an elimination diet works by removing the allergenic food from your diet. This can be very challenging, especially when the allergen is cow’s milk protein, because this is found in many other things that we do not think of and/or given unusual names we are not aware of. When doing an elimination diet, it is recommended to work with a dietitian that can support you not just through this challenging time but by helping you find alternative options that keep you healthy.

When a baby is sensitive to some food, it is very likely your child can be sensitive to other allergens as well. This can be very overwhelming to a mother and can feel very confusing to know where to start. Therefore, consider keeping a diary – mainly for food.

Keeping a food diary can help to quickly understand what is the allergen your child is reacting to. In it, you write the foods you ate throughout any given day and next to it your baby’s reaction.

An example can be ate pasta with tomato sauce. Later baby had a blocked nose, rash, explosive nappy, irritable, couldn’t sleep well…..

Because, some allergens can be found ‘hidden’ in other products – especially when it comes to cow’s milk protein – it might be prudent to also add unusual reactions that you believe are not associated with the food. Example, certain cosmetics contain dairy which can cause a reaction to your infant.

A mother has 2 ways to go about an elimination diet.

  1. Eliminating one allergenic food at a time, wait approx 6-8 weeks and if little to no difference noted add another food group. Example you took off dairy, you saw improvement within 72 hours but baby still has reactions. So you move on to another allergen, normally soya and so on and so forth till you notice no more reactions.
  2. Eliminate all allergens from your diet straight away and once baby has settled start introducing one food group at a time and see if there is a reaction or not.

Why wait 6-8 weeks to make sure about an allergen?

While a food protein will leave the breast milk within 2 weeks,it can take another 4-6 weeks for the baby’s gut to heal. Hence one needs 6-8 weeks to make sure about an allergen.

Help for your elimination diet

  • Tips for Avoiding Your Allergen by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)—a guide to help identify hidden allergens in several elimination diets including milk-free, egg-free, wheat-free, soy-free, shellfish/fish-free, and nut free diets.
  • Dairy Elimination Diet 2012 fact sheet on the Infant Proctocolitis website discusses the places to find hidden dairy and the unexpected names used labelling .
  • Soy Elimination Diet is another fact sheet on the Infant Proctocolitis website and includes a list of soy foods, ingredients and places soya can “hide”.

What is important to remember when your child is allergenic, is to take one day at a time. Making changes to your diet is never easy but it always the better choice for your baby. Also knowing that this will not be forever helps to minimize the overwhelm.

breastfeeding, encouragement, discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Where is self-care in your house? Post 3

We have explored self-care as basic physical needs and started dealing with self-care on a mental level. We looked at me time and time with friends. Today, the last post on self-care, we will look at self-development and time with your spouse/partner.

When we talk of self-development, we are not looking at keeping up to date on work related issues (though that is important). Yet, the self-development I have in mind is the searching of our inner soul. This inner work is another important part of self-care because it helps us understand ourselves and push against former fears and blocks we had which in turn helps us to be better humans and parents.

So what is exactly inner work?

Inner work is described as the psychological and spiritual practice of diving deep into your inner self for the purposes of self-exploration, self-understanding, healing, and transformation. And that is a tough path to take, but one I believe of great importance. Beginning with a mindfulness practice would be a great starting point!

The last part of self-care when married or in a relationship is to have time with that partner. When we become parents, our relationship with the other half can stop without our noticing. That can lead to separation from them despite still living with us; because we forget and take for granted our spouse, we start mostly seeing those things that don’t make them shine which brings into a vicious circle that doesn’t bade well in any relationship.

Making time alone with your partner is also self-care because you are caring for your needs with the person you trust to spend the rest of your life with. Yet, if we don’t take the time, we will forget what we loved in that person. We will forget why we chose them to be our spouses. Time with our partner doesn’t need to be a date night at the restaurant. It can be as simple as going out for a walk and chat. Taking time off work when the children are at school to do a hike together or a picnic. Dates, do not need to be expensive but they do need to be fun!

Lastly, when we do self-care, we are teaching our children the importance of taking care of our needs and not just those of others. We teach them how to balance the need of the immediate and extended family, work etc with our own needs without any guilt feelings attached.

breastfeeding, encouragement, discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Where is self-care in your home? Post 2

Last week we spoke about physical self-care with the very basics being nutrition, hydration, rest & exercise!

This week we will look at the more mental aspect of self-care which I feel is the most neglected of all. Maybe, because we do not ‘see it’ or maybe because of feelings that come up when we try.

The first I will tackle and possibly the least done by most parents is ………

I can feel you squirming, the guilt already pushing its head up at the thought of taking a time out for yourselves. So here I am inviting you, to take a quiet moment and think about it. WHY do you feel guilty of doing something for yourself? When we find the real reason behind the guilt, we can than move forward to stop having such feelings.

Women tend to feel more guilty then men. In fact, a 2009 research, study by Etxebarria, published in the Spanish Journal of Psychology, surveyed women and men from three age groups (teenagers, young people and adults) about what situations most often caused them to feel guilt. The researchers found that habitual guilt was higher for women than men in all 3 age groups.  Another study found that women report more guilt than men overall, when they take work calls or answer work e-mails in the evening.

Me time is an important aspect of self-care because it gives us a time to pause all the activities that we are juggling and breathe fully and deeply and actually more likely to see after this pause how to solve certain nagging problems. Me time can be lots of things but essentially it means doing something you truly enjoy doing.

So after exploring those guilt feelings, it is now time to think what makes you happy? (Yes, honestly think about it because when we become parents we forget the me that lived before and forget what made me happy). This could be taking photos, drawing, painting, hiking, reading (I can never get enough of that!), watching movies at the cinema, bowling, dancing and many many more. So look deeply into your soul, accept the guilt feelings and stay with them and let them flow and find out what makes you smile and happy.

The second part of mental self-care is time with friends – especially if you are a home maker and most of your time is with children! Because we all need some adult conversation. We all need to rant about the injustices, the frustration, the tiredness, the worry and the love we feel for our families. Finding a friend that will just listen to the ranting while laughing, crying and cursing with you is all we can hope for.

If friends seem far off, do reach out to health care professionals or support groups and try find your little support system that includes more than just your spouse.

What are your thoughts? how do you handle these 2 self-care habits?

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

Why do we need a world breastfeeding week?

Logo courtesy of waba.org.my

Why do we need a world breastfeeding week? You can say its complicated…..

Breastfeeding – the way ALL mammals feed…. the natural way to feed an infant!

Yet riddled with so many complications isn’t it? So many give up, so many do not even try!

And we find health professionals who glorify breastfeeding and insist and push parents towards breastfeeding; then there are the others who go completely the other way round and for every little thing breastfeeding gets the blame!

This year’s logo for WABA really resonates with me. As a counsellor, I find myself giving counselling in a very different way to what I was taught . I find empowering the parents to understand what they really need for their families is what is needed. I bow to the wisdom of parents because only they know what their family is like and what the needs are. So my job, is to state the facts than give them some food for thought to find the path that works best for them.

And so, we go back to world breastfeeding week….why is it needed? because so many parents, health professionals and the rest of the world have forgotten that we are mammals and breasts make milk for a reason. Many have forgotten that this milk is made especially for human infants and that every mother makes the milk differently to suit her particular child. Despite the many studies made and the 200% results in favour of breast milk as the necessary milk for infants, there are tons of people from every day busy bodies to health professionals who refute it or dub it as The Best milk…. meaning you need not go to the ultimate ideal but just the normal (and by normal they mean breast milk substitutes also known as formula). They refuse to recognise breast milk as normal continuing to making it the unattainable ideal for many.

Lastly but not least important at all, because many view breastfeeding and specifically breastfeeding in public as disgusting. So many get offended to see a breast being sucked by an infant…. and yet, and yet , hardly any one gets offended for seeing a breast without said infant.

So a breastfeeding week is needed to remind us all of our roots – breasts make milk to feed infants. Milk from said breasts is the normal milk for infants that suits completely their needs. A woman feeding an infant whether with the whole breast showing or none at all is simply feeding an infant and if any one feels uncomfortable they simply need to turn around and find a different subject to look at.

We, women who breastfeed, need to remember and embody within us, not accommodate the needs of others except of our infant. Not to feel embarrassed to show a breast in public but proud and confident that we are giving what is by rights their natural milk. Not to ask permission to give said breast milk but do so matter of factly and push through and eliminating this taboo.

It is not easy, but one woman at a time, one supporting partner at a time, we can once more bring breastfeeding to its true place – the normal way to feed an infant, without qualms. This we can do by simply feeding our infant, showing children how it is done. Be normal without the need to make an emphasis about it or comment to other parents. Just be real!