Colic and the Elimination Diet

The difference between a fussy baby and a colicky baby, according to Dr. Sears, is that a fussy baby can be comforted when being held and soothed, while colicky babies are actually in pain and don’t respond to any sort of comforting. The term “colic” comes from the Greek kolikos, meaning “suffering in the colon.” These babies are hurting, not just high-needs.

So what can you do to help them?

If your baby is breastfeeding, you may have to sit down and think about your diet. The foods you eat affect your baby, and something in your milk could be causing his horrible tummy-aches and ear-piercing cries.

The idea of an elimination diet was developed by William G. Crook, M.D. (Detecting Your Hidden Allergies, Jackson, Tenn: Professional Books, 1987) and adapted by lactation counselor Martha Sears as follows:

The diet is based on eating the least allergenic food in each of the food groups. It can take up to two weeks for the offending foods to get out of your system, and bring your baby some relief.

1. For the first 2 weeks, eat only the following foods:

  • range-fed turkey and lamb
  • baked or boiled potatoes and sweet potatoes (with salt and pepper only)
  • rice and millet as your only grain
  • cooked green and yellow squash for your vegetable
  • pears and diluted pear juice for your fruit
  • Drink a rice-based beverage drink in place of milk on cereal or in cooking. Do not yet use soy beverage. (Rice products, such as rice beverage, rice-based frozen dessert, rice pasta, rice flour, and millet are available in nutrition stores.)
  • Take a calcium supplement.

2. At the end of two weeks (sooner if the colic subsides)  gradually add other foods to your diet, one every four days. Begin with those less commonly allergenic such as sunflower seeds, carrots, beets, salmon, oats, grapes, California avocado, peaches.

3. Wait a while before you add wheat, beef, eggs, nuts, and corn. Avoid for the longest time dairy products, soy products, peanuts, shellfish, coffee, tea, colas and other beverages containing caffeine, chocolate, gas-producing vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, green peppers), tomatoes, and citrus fruits. Vegetables and fruits are often tolerated in cooked form sooner than in raw form.

4. Keep a record of the foods you eat and the problem behaviors. You’ll hope to see a correlation between what you’ve eaten in the past day or two, and baby’s fussy spells. Writing everything down helps you stay objective, which is hard to do when you are sleep-deprived. This is especially important when baby has stayed fussy past four months of age.

5. Do not starve yourself. Although your choices will be very limited at first, you can still eat a nutritious diet. Eat more of the “safe” food until you determine what your baby can tolerate.

6. Older babies are often less sensitive to fruits and veges, so protein elimination is generally recommended. This means cutting out dairy, beef, eggs, chicken, shellfish, soy, corn, wheat, and peanuts, in addition to any other foods you suspect bother your baby.

The good news: Dr. Sears states that colicky babies usually respond to mother’s diet changes dramatically and quickly, often within one or two days. It may take longer with an older baby who is night-waking. Often , mothers will find that their baby may sleep better for a few nights only to start waking again a lot for a few days or a week, at which point the sleep again improves. It’s important to know this so you will not think “it isn’t working,”  and give up.

For more information on colic and tips to help you through it, visit Dr. Sear’s Coping with Colic page!

feature photo via Hug Your Baby

Mom Pumps and Donates Breastmilk in Stillborn Baby’s Memory

Here is a beautiful, heartwarming story that shows us all that even as we grieve, we can reach beyond our personal sorrow to make the world a better place.  According to The International Breastfeeding Symbol, Jennifer Coias gave birth to a still baby boy, Jude, on September 15, 2011. To honor his memory, she decided to pump her milk, and donate it to a milk bank in Brazil, where she lives.

Jennifer continues to pump about 7-8 times a day to keep her milk flowing, in order to help other babies. Cafe Mom reports that her donations compose half of all the milk that the hospital’s bank receives, and hers is the highest in calories and fat, which is important for the babies in the NICU who drink it. According to her reports on Facebook, before she started donating, the hospital had to ration out the milk for only the “sickest and smallest of the NICU babies.” Now, thanks to her, they have enough to feed every NICU baby with human milk.

Jude's milk pumped on the weekend of Sept. 24-25, 2011

photo via www.breastfeedingsymbol.org

I find this story very inspiring, especially for any women who have ever thought of donating breast milk. Mothers who have lost babies or simply have an overabundance of milk can really do a lot of good by donating it to babies who’s mothers can’t produce enough milk or who do not have access to breast milk for other reasons.

Visit Human Milk 4 Human Babies to learn more about donating or receiving breast milk.

If you want to help Jennifer continue her great act of kindness, you can send donations of milk bags or any other small, non-breakable containers to:

Jennifer & Miguel Coias
Unit 7500, Box 1381
DPO, AA 34030-1381

You can also find more ways to help by visiting her Facebook page:  Love & Light for Jennifer Coias & Family or by sending a donation via PayPal: donation page for Jennifer Coias.

Do you REALLY want to know what’s in your baby’s formula?

Oils, sugars, genetically modified organisms, aluminum, silicone, cadmium, MSG, Bisphenol-A… are you slightly horrified yet? What Everyone Needs To Know About Infant Formula Ingredients states, “This information is not readily available unless you work hard to seek it out, but I think that once you know it’s important to share it so others may benefit. I chose to write this for any parent who may be unaware of the full implications of formula feeding. Education is power and everyone deserves the ability to make an informed choice.”

Instant baby formula has saved lives. But to say that it is “just as good as” breast milk is very misleading. As scientist try to replicate breast milk as closely as possible, they are creating a substance that is increasingly more complex and questionable.  Because baby formula is categorized as “food” and not under “pharmaceuticals,” the FDA does not monitor the so-called “safe” ingredients that are added to it.

Some of these questionable ingredients include lactose, fructose, glucose, maltodextrose, carbohydrate (corn maltodextrin, modified corn starch ,corn syrup solids), protein (whey, casein, soy protein isolate), fat (soy oil, coconut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, palm or olein oil) which are usually sourced from GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Lots of sugar– in order to modify cow milk the protein and mineral content must be reduced and the carbohydrate content must be increased, which is done by adding sugars.

More unappetizing stuff: The DHA in infant formula is extracted from fermented microalgae, Cryptecoiunium cohnii, and ARA is extracted from soil fungus, Mortierelle alpina. These are new to the food chain,l therefor the long term effects of these ingredients are not known. The way they get this stuff (using hexane, a petroleum-refining by-product- a known neurotoxin and air pollutant) is concerning, too.

You might also find a mix of aluminum, silicone, cadmium, MSG, phytoestrogens, GMO soybeans, phosphate, phthalates and Bisphenol-A in your baby’s formula. And even the water used as the base can pose a hazard- even in developed countries.  Chlorine by-products, arsenic, solvents, insecticides and weed killers are common. Formula-fed babies are up to 25 times more likely to die of  diarrhea than breast-fed babies.

You can read more about this at Breastfeeding Moms Unite.

Also of interest is Dr. Mercola’s statement: Soy formula is FAR worse than conventional formula. He says that the estrogens in soy can irreversibly harm your baby’s sexual development and reproductive health. Infants fed soy formula receive a level of estrogen equivalent to five birth control pills every day! In addition, soy formula has up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk, which can lead to brain damage in infants, and altered behaviors in adolescence.  So please, do not ever feed your baby soy formula, and warn others who are pregnant or who you know are considering using formula over breastfeeding. The next best alternative to breast milk is to make a healthy homemade infant formula. There may be others, but here is one recipe for homemade formula created by the Weston Price Foundation, which I believe is sound.

The “Stuffing Baby at Bedtime” Syndrome

I bet there’s no parent out there who hasn’t heard the advice to “stuff” your baby with cereal or baby food before bedtime to help him sleep better (by which they mean, not wake up as much during the night.)  But not only does this filler fallacy not work, it may actually create early problems in appetite control, leading to later-on obesity.

Between the ages of six to nine months, babies can begin to taste “real” food, such as mashed banana and rice cereal. But up to a year of age, all the nutrients a baby needs are obtained through breast milk or formula. For a baby that’s nursing, there’s no reason to rush into solid food, which will only be taking the place of more nutritious breast milk.

Despite this fact, there are those who think that solids will fill your baby’s tummy better because they are more, well, solid than milk.  It would be logical to think that baby will wake less often to nurse if his tummy feels fuller. Nevertheless, controlled studies show that infants who are fed solids before bedtime do not sleep through the night any sooner than infants who do not get this extra meal.

Instead of focusing on ways to get your baby to sleep through the night (which, by the way, is defined by five hours of uninterrupted sleep–not eight or ten!) it would help to understand your infant’s sleep patterns, and why frequent night waking is actually beneficial to your baby’s health!  All babies reach the milestone of “sleeping through the night,”  but it is something that will happen when baby is ready.

Source: The Baby Book. See also Dr. Sears online

feature image: WebMD: Common Baby Feeding Problems

Feeding Your Baby: Birth – 24 Months

Here are some general guidelines about feeding your baby, what ages you can try to introduce new foods to your little one’s diet, and what food-related developmental skills you can expect at various ages. For a user-friendly chart version, please visit Dr. Sear’s Feeding at a Glace.

0-6 Months: Breast milk and/or iron-fortified formula. (Note that all efforts should be made to breastfeed, with formula being second best.)

Developmental skills: Your baby’s mouth is designed to suck, not chew yet. She has a “tongue-thrust reflex” that pushes out solid foods.

6 Months: Strained, pureed starter foods. Try bananas, pears, rice cereal, or unsweetened applesauce. Some suggest starting with more bland-tasting veges so that your baby doesn’t develop an early sweet tooth.

Developmental skills: Baby can now sit up in a chair. Tongue-thrust and gag reflexes lessen, so she is now able to accepts solids. She may also begins teething!

7-9 Months: You can now begin finger foods such as teething biscuits, cheerios and small pieces of soft, cooked foods.  Add additional types of pureed and mashed foods.  Baby may also start drink from a cup.

Developmental skills: You may notice your baby begins to reach for foods and utensils. She is now able to hold a bottle or sippy cup, and begins trying to pick up small food morsels with her thumb-and-forefinger.
Beware of choking hazards, as she will taste just about everything she can get her hands on! She’s really “acting like a baby” now, and enjoys banging, dropping, and flinging things.

9-12 Months: Baby is ready to try foods with a lumpier consistency. Make sure food is cut into small enough piece so she can’t choke on them. New foods to introduce can be lamb, veal, tofu, poultry, noodles, bagel, beans, rice cakes, peas, egg yolk, yams, cheese, oatmeal, and yogurt.

Developmental skills: Your baby’s self-feeding skills are improving, although she still loves to make a mess with her food. Try to let her feed herself even if she spills much of her food (or tries to smear it into her hair!); it’s good for her development!

12-18 Months: Let your baby participates in family meals. She can eat almost any foods the rest of you eat. See how she likes papaya, cottage cheese, apricots, grapefruit, whole eggs, grape halves, beef, strawberries, tomatoes, fish (salmon, tuna), pasta, crackers, broccoli, cereal, spinach, honey, cauliflower, pancakes, melon, muffins, mango, kiwi.

Developmental skills: Baby’s  “Do it myself” desire intensifies, but luckily she can hold her spoon better and spill less when eating and drinking. It’s still normal if some of the food ends up on her lap, floor, or hair.  If baby has begun walking, you may have a hard time getting her to sit still and eat. She may prefer to stop by and pick off of your plate now and then.

18-24 Months: You toddler starts the grazing stage, often earning her the title of “picky eater.”  Try tempting her with various foods to see what she likes. Some options include sandwiches, stews, smoothies, shakes, pate, dips, toppings, spreads, soups. You can also try to make food fun by creating
fun-shaped snacks, such as avocado boats, cooked carrot wheels, cheese blocks, broccoli trees, o-shaped cereals, toast sticks, and cookie-cutter cheese melts.

Developmental skills: Molars appear, so toddler begins rotary chewing. She can mostly spoon-feeds herself without too much spilling.  She may be able to say things like “more” or “all done” or signal those meanings. However, you’ll probably need to be more persistent or creative in order to keep her at mealtime. Her eating habits may be erratic, so focus on small meals or snacks throughout the day as opposed to three set mealtimes.

Source: Dr. Sears

Note: May parents are concerned that their children get “enough” milk and dairy products, mainly because of the calcium. However, due to the increase in sensitivity to cow’s milk, you may NOT want to include too much dairy in your kids’ diets.  In fact, milk may not even be the best source of calcium after all. Other foods to try are calcium-fortified orange juice, calcium-enriched cereals or calcium-enriched soy milk, sesame seeds and sesame butter (tahini), broccoli, collards, spinach, baked beans, and supplements.

Feature image from Bella Baby Food organic, frozen baby food.

Induced Lactation: Breastfeeding your Adopted Baby

The special closeness fostered by breastfeeding is indeed possible between a mother and her adopted infant. Whether you have been pregnant before or not does not affect your ability to produce milk (except for colostrum, which is only produced by postpartum women for a few days after birth). Even a woman who has had a hysterectomy may lactate.  Generally, all it takes is will, perseverance, and physical stimulation of the breasts.

During pregnancy, breasts are ordinarily prepared for lactation because of the influence of hormones including estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin. However, without pregnancy, you can start secreting prolactin simply through nipple stimulation. The basic principle in breastfeeding is supply-and-demand. That means that the more there is suckling on the breast (or stimulation with a breast pump), the more prolactin increases, the more oxytocin is released to signal the brain, and the more breast milk you will produce!

Mother & Baby Unit

image from Cheyenne Regional Medical Center

Nipple stimulation: You may be able to induce lactation by using a breast pump every 2-3 hours, either before the baby comes or after. Some also use a device such as the Medela Supplemental Nursing System or the Lact-Aid Nurser Training System. These both enable you to feed your baby while he is at your breast. This way, your baby gets enough milk while stimulating your body to produce your own milk. The key to all this is that the more stimulation your breasts receive, either by pump or baby, the more likely milk will be produced.

Hormone Therapy: Sometimes doctors prescribe supplemental estrogen or progesterone to mimic the effects of pregnancy. In some cases, other medications may be prescribed, such as Domperidone, although no drugs have been specifically approved to induce lactation, and potential side effects may be a concern. (Jay L. Hoecker, M.D., Mayo Clinic)  There’s even an approach called the Newman-Goldfarb Protocols, which uses birth control pills to simulate pregnancy in the body, followed by other deliberate steps to trigger lactation. Typically, hormone therapy is discontinued shortly before breast-feeding begins.

Herbs and Nutrition: There are several natural herbs that can help with milk production. According to Dr. Jack Newman, a pediatrician that specializes in breastfeeding issues, herbs can be taken without any harm to mother or baby when used as directed on his website. Increased food and water intake, proper rest, and avoiding sress can also help increase your milk supply, according to experienced mothers.

Breast Changes: Milk production typically begins between one to four weeks after initiating mechanical stimulation. At first, there may be only drops. During this time, you may notice changes in the color of the nipples and areolar tissue. Breasts may become tender and fuller. Some women report increased thirst and changes in their menstrual cycles or libidos.

If you want to induce lactation, you can get help and support from lactation consultants, such as at your local La Leche League. They’ll be able to provide information on the subject, connect you with other women who have induced lactation, and provide equipment (feeding tube devices, electric breast pumps) to help you get started.

Mothers who induce lactation vary widely in the amount of milk they are able to produce and in the amount of time required to produce milk. All agree that inducing lactation is a process that takes patience, commitment, diligence and education. A reasonable goal might be to try to provide some, or maybe most, of your new baby’s nutrition yourself, while fully enjoying the closeness and bonding that breastfeeding brings. This nurturing is by far more important than the actual volume of milk produced.

Sources:

AssociatedContent: How to Induce Lactation – the Well May Not Be Dry!

La Leche League: Can I Breastfeed My Adopted Baby?

Mayo Clinic: Induced lactation: Can I breast-feed my adopted baby?

Baby Zone: Induced Lactation

7 Need-to-Know Reasons to Breastfeed your Baby

I’m a huge advocate of breastfeeding, and this isn’t the first time I’ve written about the benefits that come along with it.  I think it’s so important that I have nursed both my children until age 2, and plan to breastfeed the next one for that same amount, too, if possible.

I know that breastfeeding causes many problems for new mothers, including painful, bleeding nipples, infections, and babies who don’t seem to be getting enough milk. Breastfeeding also requires quite a time commitment, especially for working mothers who need to pump or take time off to feed their baby. It’s not always simple, for many reasons that are personal to each individual woman. I  had a hard time in the beginning, and have had many friends and family members who were so frustrated they’ve given up breastfeeding altogether.  But I also think that the benefits of breastfeeding are NOT widely known, so if you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, here’s another list of reasons to remind you why nursing your baby is one of the greatest things you can be doing for him/her!

breastfeeding

image from HerDaily: Breastfeeding increases IQ

1. Breastfeeding Builds Your Baby’s Immune System

Newborns do not have a mature immune system to protect them from illness. Antibodies, or immune molecules, in a mother’s breast milk are transferred to the baby, giving them immunities to illnesses that the mother is immune to.  Beyond that, if your newborn is exposed to a germ, she will transfer it back to the mother while nursing. The mother’s body will then make antibodies to that particular germ and transfer them back to the baby at the next feeding.

Studies have also shown that babies who are breastfed exclusively have better functioning immune systems in the long-term as well.

Formula-fed babies have higher rates of:

  • Middle ear infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis, a digestive tract disorder that is a leading killer of premature infants

Breastfed infants have added protection against:

  • Heart disease
  • Immune system cancers such as lymphoma
  • Bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Respiratory infections
  • Eczema
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

2. Breastfeeding Improves Baby’s Brain Function

Breast milk is not only good for the newborn’s immune system, it is also good for the brain. Breastfed infants tend to have higher intelligence than formula-fed infants. This may be due to certain compounds found in breast milk, including omega-3 fatty acids.

For instance, one study found that the verbal IQ of 7- and 8-year-old children who had been breastfed was about 10 points higher than those who were not. Another 18-year study of over 1,000 children found that those who were breastfed had higher intelligence and greater academic achievement than children who were formula-fed as babies.

It is interesting to note that babies who are breastfed naturally spend more time in what is known as the “quiet alert” state, which is not only soothing for parents but also it is the state most conducive to the newborn’s learning.

3. Breastfeeding Reduces Obesity

Breast milk contains a protein that could reduce the risk of obesity later in life. In fact, the longer a child is breastfed, the lower their risk of obesity, according to a study by U.S. researchers. The protein affects the body’s processing of fat.

4. Breastfeeding Helps Babies Emotionally

Babies have an intense need to be held and one of the most comforting things for a newborn is the physical act of nursing. Leaving a baby alone with a bottle is not emotionally satisfying to the child and does not make them feel safe or secure.

Breastfeeding also promotes bonding between mother and baby in a way that bottle-feeding cannot. Most women naturally feel a strong desire to hold their baby and there are physical and emotional reasons for this. Breastfeeding ensures that mother and baby have some intimate time together and actually stimulates the mother’s release of the oxytocin hormone, which is known to promote maternal behavior.

5. Reduces Mom’s Risk of Cancer and Other Health Conditions

Breastfeeding is a mutually beneficial experience in that it helps both mother and child. Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis later in life.

6. Moms Return to Pre-Pregnancy Weight Faster

Breastfeeding women lose weight faster than those who do not. This is because producing milk and breastfeeding requires about 500 calories per day. This is the equivalent of jogging about five miles! Breastfeeding also stimulates contractions in the uterus that help it to shrink back to its normal, pre-pregnancy size faster. It also helps to reduce lower body fat.

7. Save Time and Money

Of course, your primary reason for wanting to breastfeed is for your baby, but the more material advantages of breastfeeding are hard to ignore. If you breastfeed you don’t have to prepare bottles and formula–breast milk is always fresh and ready to go. This will save you a substantial amount of time at a period in your life when you will need it!

Breastfeeding also saves you the expense of buying formula, which typically costs at least $800 per year. The savings continue to accumulate as your child grows, as breastfed babies tend to have fewer doctor’s visits and lower overall medical expenses. One study even found that a group of formula-fed babies had over $68,000 in health care costs for six months, compared to only $4,000 for the breastfed group.

From: Seven Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child That You Need to Know

More info: Breastfeeding A-Z Index

New Mothers: Common Breastfeeding Problems

For something that’s supposed to “come naturally,” there is a lot of discomfort and confusion surrounding the whole process of breastfeeding. New mothers are surprised at the pain and frustration that often accompanies the experience, which is generally made to look easy and pleasurable for both mother and baby.

Several problems common to breast-feeding mothers can be prevented or eased through simple techniques or addressed with common, simple treatment options. The following conditions, and the advice offered, are from true star health:

Sore nipples

Most women will experience some degree of nipple soreness in the first days of breast-feeding. Discomfort that occurs at the onset of breast-feeding and is relieved by feeding is normal. It is caused by the stimulation of the nipple by the hormone oxytocin, which stimulates milk let-down. True nipple soreness, in which the nipples appear red and are tender to the touch, is probably caused by the baby’s improper grasp on the nipple and areola (pigmented area surrounding the nipple) while feeding.

Proper latching: Correcting the baby’s position on the breast is the most important tactic for preventing and relieving sore nipples. A physician, nurse, or lactation consultant can assist in assessing and correcting an infant’s grasp of the nipple. Sore nipples can progress to more painful, cracked, and fissured nipples. As the condition worsens, the nipples are more susceptible to infection. In addition to correcting the baby’s position, there are a number of self-help measures frequently recommended for the relief of sore nipples. These are most effective when begun at the onset of symptoms.

Change positions: Check the position of the baby on the breast; the infant’s tongue should be under the nipple and the mouth should grasp both the nipple and part of the areola. Vary the position of the breast-feeding infant with each feeding to avoid soreness of a particular area of the nipple.

For more information on proper latching and positioning, see Dr. Sears advice on Sore Nipples.

Feed frequently: The infant should be fed on demand; an overly hungry infant may suck harder, causing nipple soreness. Mothers with sore nipples should begin each feeding on the side that is least sore, switching to the sore breast after the let-down reflex has occurred. The infant should not be allowed to suck on an empty breast, which can cause damage to the nipple. If the nipples are sore, a breast-feeding session of ten minutes on each side should be sufficient to nourish the baby.

Ice packs applied to the breasts prior to breast-feeding can have a pain-relieving effect. Applying your own breast milk to your nipples after nursing, and allowing them to air-dry can help to reduce nipple soreness.

Apply ointment: In the case of cracked nipples, the application of an ointment or cream can aid healing. Ointments or creams allow the skin’s internal moisture to heal deep cracks and fissures while keeping the skin pliable. A frequently recommended and safe ointment for cracked nipples is medical grade, purified anhydrous lanolin (derived from wool fat). The nipples should be patted dry prior to application of a small amount of lanolin.

Engorgement

Engorgement is a common condition that occurs as blood and lymphatic flow to the breasts greatly increases, leading to congestion and discomfort. The pain associated with engorgement can range from mild to severe. Engorgement typically occurs on the first full day of milk production and lasts only about 24 hours. The breasts may feel firm and hot to the touch and the skin may appear reddened. As with other conditions, the best remedy is prevention.

Feed frequently: Many health professionals believe frequent breast-feeding (at least every three hours) will successfully prevent engorgement. This is probably true for most women. However, the physical changes associated with initiation of breast-feeding may eventually lead to engorgement in some women. If engorgement occurs, the best remedy is to breast-feed frequently. This can relieve the engorgement and prevent the condition from worsening.

Applying heat and cold: Doctors often recommend additional options for women with engorgement. A well-fitted bra can relieve some of the discomfort of engorgement. Applications of moist heat may encourage flow of milk from the breasts. Women may apply hot packs to the breasts just prior to breast-feeding. Other suggestions include frequent warm showers or alternating hot and cold showers. Cold packs applied to the breasts after breast-feeding can provide a slight pain-relieving effect.

Express excess milk: Some infants will have a difficult time correctly latching on to an engorged breast. This can lead to inadequate nourishment and sore nipples. Expressing some excess milk, manually or with a pump, just prior to breast-feeding may relieve this difficulty. Women may also express milk after the infant has finished feeding to relieve any remaining sense of fullness. Massaging the breasts while breast-feeding may encourage milk flow from all the milk ducts and help to relieve engorgement.

Mastitis

Mastitis is inflammation of the breast that is frequently caused by an infection. The infected breast may feel hot and swollen. The breast may be tender to the touch, and fever, fatigue, chills, headache, and nausea may be present. Some women feel as though they have the flu. A breast infection requires prompt medical attention. Complete bed rest is important for a speedy recovery, and antibiotics are frequently prescribed. In addition, doctors often provide further guidelines for treating mastitis.

A woman should continue breast-feeding from both breasts; the milk from the infected breast is still good for the baby. Moist heat over the painful breast can be helpful, and cold applications after breast-feeding can help alleviate swelling and pain. Breast-feeding women should also avoid constricting or under-wire bras that may irritate the infected breast.

Other issues you might be facing include flat or inverted nipples, Candida (yeast infection), plugged milk ducts, breast abscess, babies who fight against breastfeeding, babies that bite, and colicky babies. I suggest Dr. Sears’ Breastfeeding Guide for information, advice, tips and treatment options.

Image from mylifetime.com

Breast Pumps: Tips on picking the right one

Breast pumps are used to suction milk from the breast into a container. But there are so many different types, how do I know which one is right for me? Dr. Sears explains that the differences among types of pumps include:

* the power source behind the suction
* how much suction the pump produces
* how the suction-and-release cycle is controlled
* how many suction-and-release cycles the pump is able to produce each minute.

Hand pumps: The mother provides the power and regulates the suction by mechanical means, squeezing a trigger, moving a cylinder, or even pumping with her foot.

Electric pumps:
The suction is generated by a motor. With some electric pumps, the mother uncovers and covers a small hole with her finger to regulate the strength of the suction and the suction-and-release cycles. With most electric pumps, the suction-and-release cycle is controlled by the pump, and the better pumps allow the mother to adjust the suction level and the speed.

Generally speaking, pumps that allow for more cycles per minute are more effective. A cheaper electric pumps with a small motor may be able to generate only five suction-and-release cycles per minute. The slower cycling rate is harder on your nipples, since they are subjected to longer periods of unrelieved suction. The better quality electric pumps (the kind you rent or can purchase for a higher price), cycle up to 60 times per minute.

How good of a pump do I need?

Some women can pump milk easily and get several ounces at a session no matter what kind of pump they use, but most women get more milk if they use a higher quality pump. What kind of pump to buy depends on why you are pumping milk:

* If you are pumping milk only to leave an occasional bottle for your baby or to store milk in your freezer for a rainy day, you don’t need a top-of-the-line pump.

* If you are using a pump to establish or maintain your milk supply for a baby who can not nurse at the breast or who has not yet learned how to nurse efficiently, you should rent a higher quality pump. Using a lower quality pump is not worth the effort involved or the risk to your milk supply.

* If you are a working mother, or pumping while on the job, the type of pump you use will depend on how long you are separated from your baby each day, where you will be pumping, how old your baby is, and other convenience factors. Don’t try to skimp and make do with a less effective pump. The easier and more convenient it is to pump the better you will feel about taking on the challenges of breastfeeding and working.

The more you are depending on your pump, the more important it is to use a high- quality pump. As you consider different pumps, take these factors into account:

* What is your reason for pumping? If you are trying to establish and maintain a milk supply for a baby who can’t yet nurse, you’ll need a better quality pump than if you are pumping occasionally to keep milk in the freezer for an emergency.

* How old is your baby? Will you be pumping for many, many months? (This may influence whether you rent or buy.)

* Will you be having another baby, so that you’ll use the pump again?

* Do you need the convenience and speed of double-pumping (pumping both breasts at the same time)?

* If your alternative to pumping is formula-feeding, compare the prices. Even the more expensive pumps may come out looking economical by this standard.

* Battery-operated pumps go through batteries quickly. Pumps that come with an adapter for electrical outlets can give you the flexibility you need without having to depend on batteries for power. Where will you be pumping the most: at home, in your car, at your desk, in the ladies’ room? (Some restrooms don’t have electric outlets.)

* Do you need a pump that’s lightweight and portable? Will you be carrying your pump back and forth to work every day, or will it stay in one place?

* Expect to take as much time to pump as the average time it takes to breastfeed your baby (which is usually around thirty minutes). A double-pumping system cuts the time in half and may yield more milk and higher prolactin levels in the blood. It might seem that double- pumping would require two hands, but enterprising mothers find a way to hold both breast flanges with one forearm, sometimes with the help of a desk or table. This leaves one hand free for answering the phone, turning pages, or eating your lunch. (The Medela company even sells a kit for hooking a pump up to your bra for hands-free pumping.) We know of one mother, a sales rep, who pumps one breast at a time while driving between appointments.

Where to purchase breast pumps

You can buy a pumps at the local discount or drug store, but these are often not the best choice. Companies that specialize in manufacturing breast pumps make their products available through lactation consultants, La Leche League International and other businesses that sell breastfeeding products. You can also buy pumps online or through catalogs. However, if you’re the sort of person who likes to be shown how things work, you might prefer to purchase your pump from a lactation consultant or La Leche League Leader who can show you how to put it together and answer questions you may have.

Pump companies state that breast pumps are one-user items, except for the rental pumps, and for those you must purchase your own accessory kit. It may not be a good idea to purchase a used pump–whether from a garage sale or an online auction.

Dr. Sear’s Breast Pump Guide has a detailed listing of types of pumps, brand names, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Image shows the award winning Medela Swing Breast Pump.

Smart Fats: Breast milk, Omega-3’s, and Baby IQ

When it comes to proper nutrition, there’s a lot of talk lately about omega-3 fats: “smart fats” that are  found in especially high amounts in seafood, as well as some plants (like flax seed oil, canola oil, nuts, and seeds).  Growing brains, especially those of infants and small children, need omega-3 fats in order to function properly.

Human breast milk is a high-level source of omega-3 fats may explain why breast-fed babies have a higher IQ than those who are not. In the words of Dr. Sears:

Oceans of recent research show that omega-3 fats make brains healthier, especially the brains of young kids and older adults. Researchers believe that the high levels of omega-3 fats in breast milk help to explain the differences in IQ between children who received human milk in infancy and those who did not. The body uses omega-3 fats to make cell membranes. Omega-3 fats are also needed to make myelin, the insulation around nerves, and to help neurotransmitters function at the optimal levels. Omega-3 fats are known as essential fatty acids from food. Other types of fats can be manufactured in the body, but the body cannot make essential fatty acids. That is why it is important for growing brains to get adequate amounts of these smart fats from food. If there are not enough “smart” fats available to make brain cells and other key substances, the body uses lesser-quality fats and produce s lesser-quality cells. The “dumb” fats (known as replacement fatty acids), the kind that come from the trans fats in hydrogenated oils, clog the receptors in the cell membrane, and the brain cell does not function well.

Neurotransmitters, the biochemical messengers that carry information from one brain cell to another, fit into receptors on cell membranes like a key fits into a lock. The keys and the locks must match. If the cell membrane is composed of the right fats, the locks and keys match. But if the receptors are clogged with the wrong fats, the neurotransmitter keys won’t fit, and the brain-cell function suffers. Omega-3 fats keep the receptors open so the neurotransmitters fit and the brain can function optimally.

For more info on omega-3’s and children’s health, visit these links:

A.D.D. or N.D.D. (Nutritional Deficit Disorder)?

Smart Foods for the Teenage Brain

Food for Thought: Best Brain Food

Dr. Sear’s L.E.A.N. Program: Making kid nutrition fun, tasty, and easy! nutrition fun, tasty, and easy

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