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Help! My Breastfed Baby Refuses to Take a Bottle!

birthandbreastfeeding

• It is best not to give your baby any artificial nipples (bottles/dummies) in the first 6 weeks. This period is aptly named the ‘calibration period’ – your body is still establishing your milk supply. During this critical period, you want Baby to do all his sucking at your breast. Breastfeeding requires a completely different sucking action than bottle feeding – it is much harder work! If you introduce Baby to bottles too soon, he could develop nipple confusion and flow preference and refuse the breast.

• If you are going back to work, or if you would like to leave your baby with a bottle sometimes, it is best to introduce him to it at six weeks. Don’t wait longer than 3 months. It is extremely stressful to go back to work if your baby refuses to drink from a bottle, so try your best to avoid this anxiety-provoking…

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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Forbidden Fruit Tastes the Sweetest: Which Fruits to Avoid during Breastfeeding

I’ve written about breastfeeding and diet before, but it remains a hot topic. Most of the questions and search terms on my breastfeeding blogs concern ‘forbidden’ foods, and fruit seems to be one of the most maligned ones. So, which fruits should you avoid during breastfeeding? The not-so-guilty secret is that there are NO fruits that should be avoided while you’re nursing. Great news, isn’t it? La Leche League International says it best in their maxim about diet: Eat a wide variety of foods, as close to their natural state as possible – everything in moderation. Sure, some babies will be sensitive to some foods, but there is no universal list of culprits that all nursing moms should avoid. No food (or fruit) causes cramps in all (or even most) babies. It’s sad, but it is nevertheless true: breastfeeding tends to get a bad rap in our society. Even common newborn niggles (in Mom and Baby) are blamed on breastfeeding. “Shame, are you exhausted? Blue? Must be the breastfeeding. Why don’t you put Baby on the bottle so you can rest and someone else can feed him?” Or: “Oh, that rash on Baby’s cheeks? It’s caused by acidic foods, you know. What did you have? Tomatoes? Oranges?” And the most common one: “Is your baby crampy? Gassy? It’s something you ate, Mom. Did you have any gas-forming veggies like broccoli or cabbage? Fruit also causes cramps, you know …” Well-meant as this advice is, it is not based on scientific evidence. ALL babies get cramps sometimes. Their digestive systems are still immature and very seldom your diet is to blame. Think about it: for the largest chunk of human history, our ancestors were hunter gatherers. What did breastfeeding moms eat? Exactly the same food as everyone else in the tribe; most of the time they didn’t have the luxury of choice. During lean times the only available food might have been a certain root or fruit, and they had loads of that, simply because it was the only option. They certainly didn’t have specially formulated breastfeeding shakes produced by the manufacturers of artificial baby milk ;). Nope, human babies have survived (and even thrived) on breastmilk, despite what their moms ate or did not eat. karoo (7)_edited-2Honestly, you can eat ANY fruits, as long as you do so in moderation. Limit your intake of fruit juice, as you can drink the juice of many more oranges than you’d be able to eat. This excessive intake might bother Baby. Don’t worry about ‘acidic’ fruits. The body’s pH level is kept within tight limits, and this applies to your milk too. A tomato or orange isn’t very likely to upset this system. Most babies give you a little preview of coming attractions (read ‘teenage acne’) around two weeks of age. This is due to the sudden withdrawal of your hormones, not to ‘acidic’ fruits. Enjoy your fruits and veggies – it’s good for you! Please don’t confine yourself to a diet of rice, meat and potatoes. We’re lucky to have access to a more varied diet than our hunting-gathering ancestors. Be grateful for this privilege and try not to see breastfeeding as a sacrifice you have to make. Mother Nature intended it to be fun and relaxing – as the mood-enhancing qualities of the breastfeeding hormones (prolactin and oxytocin) attest. Enjoy every moment of breastfeeding and don’t let uninformed advisors use it as a scapegoat for perfectly normal niggles. Your breastmilk remains the single biggest gift you will ever give your child.

 

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Exciting news!

I am thrilled to announce that my new ‘baby’, Breastfeed your Baby, will be on the shelves soon. My publisher, Metz Press has given me a due date for middle April. This is the fulfillment of a dream that was born right along with my first child, around 16 years ago. I can’t wait to hold my ‘baby’ and see her on the South African shelves! By the way, for my Afrikaans readers, there is an edition in their mother tongue. Borsvoed jou Baba is the first Afrikaans book on the topic in more than 2 decades. Soooo excited! Please go like the book’s FB page and follow updates on http://www.facebook.com/index.php?stype=lo&lh=Ac8sX-WfHvbW2SoW#!/pages/Breastfeed-your-Baby/314096398693068breastfeed your baby

 

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Help! My Breastfed Baby Refuses to Take a Bottle!

• It is best not to give your baby any artificial nipples (bottles/dummies) in the first 6 weeks. This period is aptly named the ‘calibration period’ – your body is still establishing your milk supply. During this critical period, you want Baby to do all his sucking at your breast. Breastfeeding requires a completely different sucking action than bottle feeding – it is much harder work! If you introduce Baby to bottles too soon, he could develop nipple confusion and flow preference and refuse the breast.

• If you are going back to work, or if you would like to leave your baby with a bottle sometimes, it is best to introduce him to it at six weeks. Don’t wait longer than 3 months. It is extremely stressful to go back to work if your baby refuses to drink from a bottle, so try your best to avoid this anxiety-provoking situation.

• Feed your baby only expressed breastmilk. Ideally he should be exclusively breastfed for about six months. Not only does he not NEED extra fluids like water or tea, these are actually harmful.

• Let someone else give Baby the bottle. This is a great time for Dad or Granny to get involved. Preferably you shouldn’t even be around. Take yourself out of the house, ideally for a special treat. Come on, think of all the money you’ve saved by breastfeeding!

• Baby doesn’t need a daily bottle. He only needs one or two a week in order to stay comfortable with them. Try not to skip a week, though.

• Don’t panic if Baby refuses the bottle. It can take a lot of patience, creative problem solving and just plain time to get him used to it.

• Experiment with different artificial nipples. Perhaps your baby prefers a different shape, or a rubber teat to a silicone one. Just remember to stick to a # 1 (0-3 months) nipple hole, no matter how old your baby. You don’t want the milk to flow too fast, you want him to work for it. Breastmilk is much thinner than formula, so if you use a bigger sized hole, it flows too fast.

• Try warming the bottle teat before feeds under warm, running water. Alternatively a teething baby might find an ice cold teat soothing to his sore gums.

• The person feeding Baby should try different positions. Let Dad hold Baby in a different position than the one in which you breastfeed. He could hold Baby upright, facing out, or even sitting in a car seat. He could also try walking around with him and rocking him rhythmically.

• Give Baby a bottle before his usual feeding time and before he is too hungry. This will make him more patient and willing to try new things.

• Feed Baby when he is sleepy. • Wrap him in Mom’s dressing gown or in something that smells of her.

• If Baby still refuses to take a bottle, don’t panic! Don’t feel guilty – you didn’t do anything wrong. Remember that even some bottle fed babies refuse to take their bottle from anyone else than their moms.

Alternatives to Bottles

• Babies can drink from a cup right from birth. Cup feeding is even used for premature babies! If your little one wants nothing to do with a bottle, he can drink enough milk from a cup while you are at work to stay healthy and happy.

• You can use any type of cup. Some moms prefer a flexible one. Others find that a small glass (like one used for shooters or sherry) works well, while others prefer a cup with a spout (a sippy cup).

• Let Baby sit upright. If he enjoys being swaddled, you can do so to prevent those little hands ‘helping’.

• Fill the cup halfway with expressed breastmilk. Tilt it so that a few drops of milk touch Baby’s lips. Keep the cup there, don’t tilt it further, so that Baby can pace his swallowing.

• Don’t underestimate your baby. Not one of my five babies ever drank from a bottle, but they happily drank from a cup – and even from a straw – from four months. In an emergency, the caregiver can even feed your Baby with a syringe.

• Babies often reverse their days and nights when their moms go back to work, sleeping more during the day and feeding very little while away from Mom. They make up for it at night, drinking more than 80% of their daily intake. This pattern might work well if you can manage to sleep while Baby feeds.

• Choose a caregiver who lives close to your workplace (instead of your home) and feed Baby at her place before going to work in the mornings and before returning home in the evenings. If it is practical, you might even slip away to feed Baby during your lunch hour. Another alternative is getting a caregiver who can look after Baby at your workplace in the first few months, so you can feed him at work. Think creatively about possible solutions.

If I can leave you with just ONE piece of advice, it is to keep calm and keep trying. Your baby won’t starve, he will get used to drinking his milk from a different container.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Breastfeeding

 

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Crowning

When a woman’s eyes

roll wild in their sockets

like those of a frightened foal

when you look into her face

and see nothing

but raw animal instinct

stripped bare of all culture and pretense

look between her legs

and you will find her labia bulging

with the mound of new life

you will see the baby’s head crowning

a glistening, pulsing moon

fragile as a soft-boiled egg

wrinkled as a walnut.

But alas

while you are distracted

by the dramatic birth

of the baby

you will miss

time and again

the more subtle secret birth

that happens simultaneously.

You will miss

the birth of the mother

the death of the ego

and

the resurrection

of humanity.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Birth Poems

 

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Top 10 Reasons Why Breastfeeding Rocks!

  1. Breastmilk is the perfect all-in-one food for the first six months of Baby’s life. He doesn’t need anything else – not even water on a hot summer’s day in Africa.
  2. Breastfed babies are healthier. Breastfeeding protects against illness and allergies. Breastfed babies visit the doctor and hospital 12 to 14 times less than bottlefed babies.
  3. Breastfeeding offers long term protection against obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  4. Breastmilk is brain food! Breastfed babies have an advantage of 7 – 10 IQ points.
  5. Breastfeeding helps moms lose weight.
  6. Breastfeeding is SO convenient: the milk is always available, always fresh and always the right temperature.
  7. It saves money – hundreds of rands per month and thousands per year.
  8. Breastfeeding saves time. There are no bottles to prepare, wash or sterilise. Furthermore, nursing time is time to relax, too. Mom can read, sleep, listen to music or watch her favourite movies, while simultaneously giving Baby the best start in life. Talk about multitasking!
  9. Breastfeeding gives mothers a biochemical advantage when it comes to coping with mothering and reading their babies. Remember, prolactin is called ‘the mothering hormone’ and oxytocin ‘the bonding hormone’.
  10. Breastfeeding is eco-friendly.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Breastfeeding

 

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Labour Pain

Women often ask me: Okay, so how much does labour really hurt? Well, how long is a piece of string? It depends. Labour pain seems to be unique and subjective. Every woman experiences it differently. For some women, labour pain is excruciating, especially towards the end. Others say they expected worse. It was intense, but it was manageable.

Medical researchers haven’t come up with much support for the pain threshold theory. It seems that the amount of pain you’ll experience depends not on your ‘pain threshold’, but rather on something else. Question is, on what?

If I’m asked the ‘how sore is it really’ question in my antenatal classes, I ask a question of my own. I say: “Labour is a lot like sex. The hormones and body parts involved are very similar. Is sex painful or pleasurable?” The first few women normally say that it is pleasurable. But is sex always pleasurable? What about rape? It is probably one of the most painful experiences a woman’s can experience in her life. Why? What makes it painful?

The answer I’m looking for, of course, is resistance. Sex becomes painful when a woman resists it. The same tends to be true for labour. Sure, the baby can be in a position that causes additional pain, like when he is lying posterior, but in general labour coping tools and techniques are all designed to minimise resistance.

Klaus and Kennell writes:

“Every aspect of labour support must start with the idea of reducing stress – mental, emotional and physical. The goal is to enhance the woman’s ability to relax. The body’s stress system is called the sympathetic nervous system, which produces what we call the ‘fight or flight response’. The opposite of the sympathetic nervous system is the system that creates calm and a feeling of well-being called the parasympathetic nervous system. The hormones of the sympathetic nervous system are epinephrine and norepinephrine. The parasympathetic nervous system produces a hormone called oxytocin. Reducing the stress response enhances the body’s own production of oxytocin, as well as natural opiates called endorphins.

When the woman can relax, oxytocin strengthens the contractions of the uterus. It also allows the muscles to function properly, the longitudinal muscles to expel the baby and the lower uterine muscles to relax, stretch, and open to release the baby. When a mother’s body is tense, the opposite occurs; the upper muscles of the uterus loosen and stop contracting, and the lower muscles tighten to retain the infant. This is perhaps nature’s way of stopping labour if the mother has to flee from a frightening experience … The fight-or-flight response occurs and the body gears for defense, sending blood to other organs of the body. If blood flow is reduced to the uterus, the uterine muscles constrict, causing the circular muscles of the cervix to tighten up, and dilation is impeded [and remember, the less blood flow to the uterus, the more pain]. Also, there may be less oxygen sent to the fetus. When the vertical muscles of the uterus continue their attempt to expel the baby, and the cervix resists, the baby’s head pushes against tense muscles. This causes more pain and lengthens labour.

When labour is not impeded by undue stress and fear, the woman’s own natural oxytocin is secreted from the posterior pituitary gland into the bloodstream. At the same time, her brain also secretes oxytocin to other areas within the brain itself. This has four effects. First, it markedly increases the pain threshold, so that the mother has reduced sensitivity to pain. Second, it results in drowsiness. Third, it results in some relaxation or calming, and finally, after the birth it helps the woman feel closer to the baby.” (The Doula Book, Klaus, Kennell & Klaus 2002: 70).

In other words, relaxation creates a positive feedback loop. The more relaxed the mother is, the better her secretion of oxytocin. In its turn, oxytocin leads not only to stronger and more effective contractions, but, paradoxically, also to less pain! The key to a less painful labour is increasing relaxation and reducing resistance.

But how do you reduce resistance? My top ten tips are:

  1. Practice relaxation techniques before labour, preferably with your partner. You can take a course like Hypnobirthing or The Mama Bamba Way, you can buy CDs on the internet, or you can practice yoga, meditation and/or visualisation. These techniques will all teach you how to relax into the intense experience that is labour, instead of resisting it.
  2. Support yourself with people that you love. Research has shown over and over that a mother who is supported experiences less pain. Consider hiring a professional doula to take some of the pressure off your partner and to support him as well.
  3. Ensure that you are labouring in an atmosphere that feels safe and comforting. If you are one of those people who tense up as soon as you step into a hospital, you should consider birthing at home or in an Active Birth Unit.
  4. Use water to relax you and to relieve pain. A birth pool is probably second only to an epidural in terms of pain relief. It really can provide extremely effective pain relief.
  5. Remember that your breath is your best friend in labour. You don’t need to learn a lot of complicated breathing techniques. You just need to breathe in a natural and relaxed way: in through your nose, out through your mouth. Try to make your out-breath a little longer than your in-breath and purposefully relax and let go while breathing out.
  6. If you find labour painful, tell yourself that this is healthy pain and that you welcome it. We are so used to resisting pain, to taking pain killers and rushing to the doctor. We are used to seeing pain as a message from our bodies that something is wrong. In the case of labour, however, pain has a purpose.
  7. Take it one contraction at a time. You can handle this one contraction, can breathe through an intense minute or minute and a half. What you may not be able to do, is cope with the idea of the contractions that have gone before this one (I’ve been in labour for fourteen hours!) or with the ones that are still to come (How long is this going to take?). The moment you start thinking of the past or the future – the moment you step out of the present – you are in trouble. See each contraction as one less, not as ‘oh no, not another one!’.
  8. Keep your mouth, your neck and your shoulders soft. It is almost impossible to hold tension in your body if these areas are soft. Blow soft raspberries with your lips, roll your neck, ask your partner for a shoulder massage in between contractions. Some soft, smoochy kisses will also do the trick.
  9. Make low-pitched sounds from deep in your belly. This increases endorphin release. If you find yourself crying ‘no’ and shaking your head from side to side as a contraction starts, try doing the opposite. Chant something like ‘yes’ or ‘open’ instead. Embrace the pain instead of resisting it.
  10. Use tools that will get you out of your normal state of consciousness into a more embodied, instinctive state. Lower the lights or close your eyes. Play relaxing music and move rhythmically with it. Dance with your partner. Spiral your hips.
 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in labour and birth, Natural Birth

 

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