You might have noticed that after thawing your milk it has a peculiar odor. This does not mean that it has expired, but its taste might have changed a bit, becoming more sour. This does not happen to all moms, but if it does happen to you, it’s possible that the lipase enzyme is to blame. Some babies don’t notice or don’t seem to mind the change in taste – while others reject it completely. If your little one is one of those who reject thawed or previously refrigerated milk, here are some guidelines that’ll help you prevent the change in taste. Preparing milk for storage: • After extracting your milk, slightly warm it to a scalding point by putting it in a saucepan and heating just until you see small bubbles appear in the corners of the pan. Do not boil it. By scalding the milk, it might loose some of its properties, but it’ll help prevent the change in flavor. • When it reaches scalding point, remove the pan from the heat, let it cool down and then store it in portions of one or two feedings in clean, sterilized containers, suitable for freezing. • If you are going to freeze your milk, store it at the bottom of your freezer and use within two to four weeks. • Remember not to thaw in the microwave, it’s best to thaw in a container with hot water.
In different cultures the term weaning varies in meaning. However, in general terms, weaning begins at the introduction of the first solid food -as breastfeeding is no longer exclusive- and ends at the cessation of breastfeeding.
When solids are introduced, breastfeeding is still highly beneficial and recommended to continue until your toddler is at least 24 months of age but if you’ve decided it’s time to partially or completely wean your baby off the breast, the following steps can help make the process easier.
1. Choose a peaceful time where your baby is happy, healthy and there are no big changes going on in your family’s life (moving to a new house, beginning day care, etc.)
2. Talk to your pediatrician about formula recommendations. If you want your baby to drink breastmilk from the bottle, make sure you have an adequate supply stored.
3. Prepare the bottle and present it to your little in a loving manner. Explain to him gently that he will receive his milk through the bottle from now on.
4. If your baby resists drinking from the bottle, you can ask your partner or a family member for help. Your baby has learned to associate feedings with you, and may feel uncomfortable receiving it by other means at first.
5. As your baby gets used to the occasional bottle, begin to feed him yourself.
6. Continue supplementing breastfeeding with the bottle. Then slowly (or quickly) decrease breastfeeding every day until feeding him only from the bottle.
7. Practice lengthening the time between breastfeeding, so your baby gradually gets accustomed to weaning.
8. During this period, do not express milk unless you feel uncomfortable. If you eliminate only a few feedings each day, engorgement might not occur. However, if you speed up the weaning process, be sure to express some milk to prevent an infection.
9. Breastfeeding works under the law of supply and demand, as soon as you decrease feedings, your milk supply will decline too.
10. Try to introduce the sippy cup with a serving of water during the weaning process. Then gradually introduce milk in the sippy cup to prevent weaning your baby from the bottle later on too.
Remember that weaning may be a gradual or quick process. Listen to your baby’s cues. Some babies will be ready to wean even before mom is ready. It’s normal to feel a bit of sadness or nostalgia, but don’t worry, these feelings will pass when you see that your baby is completing new milestones in his development. Just don’t forget to be gentle with yourself and your baby during the process.
One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that you can express it, and still produce more! In most cases when your breasts fill up quickly, extracting it will help reduce and prevent engorgement. Plus, you can store breast milk for a time when you can’t breastfeed.
How do I express milk? you might ask. There are two ways; you can do this by hand or with breast pump.
To express your milk by hand:
1. Wash your hands and prepare a clean and sterilized container to store the milk.
2. Gently massage all the areas of your breast while watching a picture or video of your little one, as this helps stimulate milk production.
3. Place one hand under your breast and the other above. Move down the hand you have above to reach the areola. Continue massaging the breast evenly until your let down reflex begins.
4. Now, with your dominant hand, place your thumb on top of your breast and the rest of your fingers -from the index finger to the little one- under. Press all your fingers towards the edge of the areola, being careful not to squeeze the nipple. With repeated movement milk will start to come out.
5. Repeat the above movement changing position of your fingers to extract milk evenly from all the milk ducts in your breast.
To express milk using a breast pump:
There are many types of breast pumps. Which should you choose? Try to pick a high quality pump with good reviews. A low quality one will not provide an adequate expression and might even hurt you. When choosing you can also select either an electric or manual breast pumps. The electric one may be more expensive but they are most efficient. If you would like to use an electric pump, an affordable way to do so, is to rent it from a lactation center or a hospital. Make sure the one you choose has the option of changing suction pressure levels. If you like, you can also choose a pump that expresses milk from both breasts at the same time.
How long does the expression last? The answer is simple. You can pump milk until one a few drops come out or at any moment you desire before that. When done, you can store the milk in the refrigerator and use it within 72 hours, or freeze and use it within the first 3-6 months after extraction. If left at room temperature make sure to store within the first 4 hours, as leaving out of refrigeration for longer may cause it to expire.
All through pregnancy, your body has prepared itself for the moment you begin breastfeeding. As soon as your baby is born, you are ready to begin! But the let-down reflex (when milk production is released) may take a while after birth to stabilize. To help stimulate your milk production at home, practice the following tips:
• Bring your baby close to your skin. Skin to skin contact helps release prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that aid in milk let-down.
• Apply a warm moist towel to your breast a few minutes before breastfeeding.
• Make sure your baby’s position and latch is adequate.
• Seek a nursing position that is comfortable for both of you.
• Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, allowing your stomach to expand and slowly collapse.
• Play some soothing music.
• Try to breastfeed your baby every 2-3 hours (during the day) during the first months, instead of following a rigid schedule with long periods between meals. Breast milk production abides by the rules of supply and demand, the more you breastfeed the more milk you produce.
• If you can, avoid using formula to continuously produce milk.
• Consider extracting milk with a breast pump between meals, as long as you’re not too tired.
• Join a lactation support group. This groups provide support, help and great tips that help make breastfeeding easier.
• Make sure to rest when you can, and eat well. Exhaustion and a low-calorie diet can interfere with your milk production.
• Drink lots of water and liquids to stay hydrated. Fluids aid in milk production.
• Avoid smoking, surrounding yourself with secondhand smoke, consuming alcohol or drugs. These substances can affect milk production and they are also harmful for you and your little one.
• Finally, remember that the milk you produce will vary according to your baby’s needs and the number of times he feeds.
If I cannot breastfeed despite the above?
In some cases, breastfeeding is not possible. Sometimes it can cause too much stress. It may be that your way of life does not allow you to be consistent with breastfeeding, or there may be medical conditions that make it impossible. In case of a disease your energy to breastfeed may decrease, or if you may be taking a medicine that can be harmful to your baby. If you take a medicine that keeps you from breastfeeding, ask your doctor if there is another safe option so you can continue with lactation.
On the other hand, there are cases when the baby can’t be breastfed because his body doesn’t tolerate it. Such conditions include being born with galactosemia, a hereditary disorder that prevents the metabolizing of galactose, a sugar found in milk. Don’t feel bad if you cannot nurse; sometimes, in spite of all the support and desire, the body doesn’t seem to cooperate. However, there are many other ways to bond with your baby. You can caress him, touch his face, bring him closer to your body, cuddle him, sing and talk to him with a sweet tone of voice. This will give him lots of love. Finally, remember there is a vast variety of formulas in the market which can help you find the adequate nutrition for your baby.
Breastfeeding is a learning process that requires patience and practice. Experts recommend you try to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible, as being calm will help your baby feel calm too. Likewise, feel free to choose to breastfeed standing, sitting or lying down as long as you and your baby are comfortable.
If you choose to sit, you can try different breastfeeding positions such as the cradle hold (baby positioned in front of you with his head resting on your forearm), cross-cradle (baby in front of you, but held with the arm opposite to the feeding breast) or in a football position (as if you were carrying a football on your side). Whatever positions you choose just make sure that your baby’s whole body is close to yours.
According to La Leche League, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts the following steps will help make breastfeeding successful:
1. Make yourself comfortable assuring your back is fully supported. Having good back support will allow you to rest your baby on your body and not carry all his weight on your forearm.
2. Place a nursing pillow on your lap to help prevent arm pain. If you wish, you can place your feet on a foot stool to give your whole body support. For a hands free experience, you can also carry your little one in an appropriate baby carrier.
3. While breastfeeding, sip on a nutritional drink such as water, juice or milk and remember to keep hydrated as fluids help with milk production.
4. Hold your baby close to your breast and place him perpendicular to the orientation of your areola.
5. Make sure that your baby’s nose and chin are facing your areola, and his nose and the area between nose and mouth are facing your nipple.
6. When your baby opens his mouth, bring him close to the breast (if he doesn’t open his mouth, gently touch his cheek or lower lip with your finger or nipple to awaken his suction reflex). By this point your baby’s body should be up against your body.
7. Let your baby approach your breast rather than taking the breast towards him. Use your free arm to give extra support to your breast, squeezing it like a hamburger to make the latch easier.
8. Once your baby has latched on to your breast, verify that his mouth is closed around the areola, not the nipple as this can cause drying and cracking.
9. When done or when you wish to separate the baby from the breast, wait for him to stop sucking and then slide your pinky finger on his lips and gums. Don’t separate your baby if he is still latched on, as the suction is very strong and can hurt you and cause pain to your breast.
10. How did you feel? You may need to repeat the above steps to be sure the baby adheres well to your breast. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to breastfeed on your first attempt; both your baby and you are learning. It’s just a matter of practicing!
Breast milk is a great gift of nature and a universal aspect of motherhood. Not only does it provide adequate and personalized nutrition for your little one, but it also helps to strengthen the emotional bonds between you and your baby; providing complete nutrition in every way.
The composition of breast milk is ideal for babies, since it reduces the risk of acquiring diseases and infections and contains all the nutrients that a baby’s brain requires to achieve its potential! By consuming your milk, the eyes, heart, intestines and virtually every other organ in your baby’s body receives the benefits to work at their best potential. That is not all, breast milk contains antibodies and prebiotics that help with a good digestion and protect against gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. It also prevents ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis, the development of allergic reactions, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, and more. That’s just wonderful! Breast milk also helps promote bonding, protects the body from disease and helps with physical development, as its consumption contributes to the appropriate growth of your baby’s jaw and facial muscles.
As a mom, you also get great benefits from breastfeeding. Postpartum recovery is faster, helping you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy and contributing to the quick return of the uterus to its normal size. Furthermore, your hormonal health improves, it lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and it prevents postpartum depression. It is highly convenient, as it is ready whenever you need to feed your baby and it’s always at the right temperature. Also, we can’t leave out that it is affordable, since there is no monetary cost and given its nature, its use is eco-friendly.
As we can see, breastfeeding is beneficial for both you and your baby, psychologically and physically! For this reason, the World Health Organizations recommends that our babies should consume breast milk exclusively during their first 6 months of life and then along with complementary foods at least until 24 months of age. Though every mother’s decision is personal and nobody has the right to put pressure on you to do something you don’t want to do, breastfeeding has so many benefits that it is definitely worth trying.
During breastfeeding, it’s important to take care of our diet and eat a variety of nutritious foods. However, is following a special diet necessary?
According to nutrition experts, a perfect diet is not required. You just need to find a nutritional balance that helps you and your baby get the necessary nutrients. Likewise, don’t try a low-calorie diet; you will need lots of energy to produce milk. In fact, one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it can help women lose the weight gained during pregnancy! Furthermore, following a good diet will help you produce more milk and feel good when nursing.
You are probably wondering if there are any food restrictions – and luckily, there are no forbidden foods! However, each baby is different and what affects your little one may not affect other babies. It is widely known that the foods that cause more discomfort are gas producers, such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and others, including food that affects the flavor of milk, like garlic, onions, and some spices. You don’t have to avoid the consumption of these foods, just pay attention to what you eat and if you notice a pattern of cramping, gas or some discomfort in your baby that doesn’t stop, consult your pediatrician. He will most likely recommend avoiding the consumption of certain foods to see if any changes occur. With this in mind, you will be able to verify your baby’s reactions when you eat specific foods.
You may also have heard that you cannot eat fish during lactation. Do not worry about it. The benefits of fish consumption on health outweigh the risks. Just try not to eat fish on a daily basis. The only exception to take into account is fish rich in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. If you consume them habitually, you should eliminate them from your diet during and even after breastfeeding. However, any other fish low on mercury can be included in your diet.
After nine months of not having consumed any alcohol, you probably want to know if you are allowed to drink while breastfeeding. The answer is yes! You can have a glass of wine, a beer or a drink without a problem, even up to two servings. However, it is better to wait some time before breastfeeding, in order to have your body free of alcohol. Generally, two hours is a convenient time for a serving to be cleared from your body, four hours in the case of two alcoholic beverages. After that, you are ready to breastfeed. Meanwhile, you can always use previously stored milk.
What about caffeine consumption? There is no problem at all! As long as you consume it in moderation, it’s fine. You can enjoy your daily coffee, tea or soft drink occasionally. Just as long as you limit your caffeine intake to no more than two or three servings, you and your baby will be fine!
Deciding when to stop breastfeeding is a highly personal issue. You and your child know the best time, nobody else does. Even though your baby is probably already an expert at eating solids and breast milk is not the primary source of nutrition, it continues to provide energy, vitamins, and antibodies that strengthen your child’s immune system. Furthermore, breastfeeding remains a great source of comfort and security. Despite the fact that children’s excessive dependence due to breastfeeding has been criticized, research has shown the opposite. You may continue breastfeeding to reassure your baby when sick, altered, after a fall or just because you want to keep doing so. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods up to two years or beyond.
Dealing with criticism
People always seem to have an opinion about everything, breastfeeding during the first year, or even after 6 months is not an exception. Don’t let criticism affect you. Breastfeeding is a natural act full of tenderness and love! The best indicator to know that you are right is your own instinct, your partner’s support, but not the views of others. Likewise, if you feel that breastfeeding doesn’t affect your child’s social growth or interfere between you and your partner, just keep on breastfeeding.
Experts suggest that when your child begins to talk, you can create a secret word that only you and your baby know. In that way, when your child wants to be breastfed, your little one can say this word. You can also decide to only breastfeed at home, that way your child will know that when you are out he will drink milk out of his own bottle, and not from mom’s breast. Don’t forget to listen to instinct and think about what is best for you and your little one. It is a fact that you’ll have to hear some unsolicited advice or opinions from family or close friends. Listen to them and give your thanks for their concern. Use your sense of humor to lighten up the conversation, and remember that at the end of the day, you will decide what is best for your little one!
Breastfeeding for the first time is something entirely new! It’s an experience that takes practice and requires technique, patience, and perseverance to be successful. Moreover, even though it is completely natural, that doesn’t mean it “comes naturally” for everyone – it requires learning for both you and your baby. It is so new and different that you may even experience some pain and strange feelings at first. Don’t worry, that’s completely normal. As time passes by, you’ll notice it’ll get easier. At first, when you start breastfeeding, you may feel cramps in your lower abdomen; that is mainly due to the contraction of the uterus as it gets back to its normal size. Now, despite being aware that breastfeeding may hurt, you shouldn’t feel any pain after 30 to 60 seconds as long as your baby suckles correctly. Should you keep feeling pain after a minute is over, stop breastfeeding for a moment and then change your baby’s position. Just remember to wait until he stops sucking before removing him from your breast. Don’t forget to gently run your fingers through his gums to get him to release your nipple. This way you can prevent hurt and sore nipples. When you change your baby’s position, make sure that your areola is completely in his mouth and he is not just grasping your nipple, because this may cause you a lot of pain.
Now, if you feel pain in your breast for any other reason aside your baby’s grasp, it can be due to the following causes:
• Mastitis: an infection that presents itself with flu symptoms, including fever and fatigue, as well as sporadic chills and inflammation, red swollen body parts, hot, hard or sensitive breast areas.
• Yeast infection: burning sensation or deep pain in the breasts or nipples that surge during or after lactation, and which doesn’t stop after changing your baby’s feeding position.
What can you do to prevent pain and infection?
• Try to rest. Being exhausted lowers your immune system and can make you more prone to infections.
• Avoid washing your nipples with soap. The body is self-lubricating and there is no need for soap, so just rinse them with water.
• After bathing, dry your breasts gently, patting instead of rubbing the towel on them.
• Let your breasts dry thoroughly after feeding.
• Don’t let your milk ducts get clogged. If you’re in pain, you can carefully remove some milk with your hand or by using a breast pump to remove the additional milk.
• Place cold towels or an ice pack on your breast to help reduce the swelling.
• Take a warm shower or put a warm towel over your chest before breastfeeding.
• Try different breastfeeding positions, that way you can stimulate the whole breast and find the most comfortable position for you.
What you do to ease the pain?
• Take a hot bath, use hot towels and massage the affected breast with a firm movement toward the nipple. This can be done while you apply heat or during feeding. After this, we recommend lactating.
• You can also apply a cold towel or ice pack on the affected breast to reduce the swelling.
• Finally, take ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain, be careful not to exceed the suggested dose. If the pain persists, contact your doctor.
Although the major medical associations recommend breastfeeding as the best choice of exclusive feeding for the first 6 months of life, this is not always the best option for all moms. In this case, there are commercial formulas that provide adequate nutrition for infants and can meet your requirements since they contain the following advantages:
• Comfort: The father and other relatives are able to help moms in sharing the responsibility of feeding the baby.
• Flexibility and convenience: Mom can have more freedom to go out and transfer the responsibility to another caregiver, allowing her to plan ahead and organize her time.
• Time: The formula digests slower than breast milk so you have more time between each feeding.
• No dietary restrictions: Mom doesn’t have to worry about the type of food she consumes.
Now, like breastfeeding, bottle-feeding involves several cons that must be kept in mind:
• Organization and preparation: It is important to have fresh formula available for use. If needed, you have to carry bottles and formula when the baby is out and about. Finally, if the milk is not at the right temperature for your baby, it has to be heated under warm water or be taken preheated.
• Cost: Generally, formulas are costly and have an impact on the family economy.
• It is not tailor-made for your baby; formula can’t change according to the needs of every baby as breast milk does. Furthermore, it doesn’t contain all the antibodies that breast milk provides.
Despite the pros and cons of using formula, the final decision is yours and you know what is best for you and your baby! Breast milk can provoke physical or emotional difficulties, so if you decide that formula is for you, great! Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it. Furthermore, there are cases where it is not physically possible to breastfeed or your baby can’t digest breast milk. This doesn’t mean that you can’t give your baby the same love, nutrition, or affection he deserves. With the use of formula, you will be able to create an affectionate bond with your baby and assure good nutrition. Just remember to talk to your doctor so that you find the type and brand that best meets the needs of your baby and family.