Setting Yourself Up For Breastfeeding Success

 Setting Yourself up for Breastfeeding Success

Breastfeeding looks like a straightforward easy experience but it can be surprisingly challenging for the first time breastfeeding mother.  Here are some resources, suggestions and tools to set yourself up for a sweet successful experience.

If you are reading this and are still pregnant try to sit topless in the sun for 10 minutes a day, exposing your nipples to direct sunlight helps gently toughen them up. Also, while showering or taking a bath you can use a washcloth and gently rub it over your nipple, don’t rub until you feel pain, rub to the point that you think “hmmm that could feel painful if I kept going” the washcloth will also get your nipples used to some extra stimulation and ease the beginning breastfeeding experience.

I recommend checking out the la leche league website on proper latch (babies connection to your breast) and feeding here. For diagrams on positioning of baby see this link.

It is important for your baby to have your breast deep inside their mouth with their lips flanged (like they are puckering up) around your nipple and some surrounding areola. If your baby is sucking on just your nipple and not the nipple and surrounding areola the latch will be painful.

It is common for first time breastfeeding mothers to experience soreness or some cracking of their nipples in the first 10 days of breastfeeding. If you see that your baby has an improper latch at your breast simply wet a clean finger with your saliva, slide it into your babies mouth alongside your breast and turn it to the side to break your babies suction so you both can try again. Calmly bring your babe back to your chest and stroke the side of their cheek or tickle their chin with your nipple to get them to open wide so you can angle your nipple towards the upper back of their palate for proper depth so there is a good latch.

In the beginning both the baby and mother are learning how to breastfeed and the mother is not used to having so much suction on her breasts. Never fear, you both will learn how feed and it will become a beautiful and enjoyable experience.

 It is well worth your time to secure a few simple items before giving birth so you are prepared for a smooth and graceful transition into first time feeding. Here are some tools to help you through the first few weeks of feeding and beyond:

Glass-of-Water-1

 Tall Glasses of Water: Hydration is profoundly important during pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding. While feeding, your babe is not only getting food, they are getting hydration. It is important that the mamma stays juiced up so her milk supply is strong and her baby can receive what he/she needs. Drinking a tall glass of water (follow your thirst, if you are still thirsty keep drinking) just before or while feeding will help your milk flow easily and keep you from feeling parched.

goodfats

Good Fats In Your Food: Nutrition is paramount while pregnant and continues to be while breastfeeding. Your child is literally being built off of your breast milk and everything that you choose to consume. Having healthy fats in your diet in the first few weeks will help your milk come in and create richer milk which helps your child’s growth and brain development. Good fats are fats that are organic, unprocessed and either from an animal or uncooked plant source. A good piece of steak  or salmon is packed with nutrients needed to sustain mamma and babe, if mamma is vegetarian then turning towards raw, organic, cold pressed coconut oil (use it like butter on toast, in oatmeal, on potatoes – pretty much anything) as well as cold pressed, organic olive oil (don’t sauté with it, pour it over your food after it is cooked for maximum health benefit. Can be added to soups, salads, rice etc.) is wonderful.  Eggs, avocados, and nut butters are also fabulous sources of healthy nourishing fats. The first few weeks after giving birth are all about maximum nourishment and rebuilding your body, not a time to worry about loosing weight. Your happy breastfeeding babe will nurse any extra fats or food you consume right off of you as they gain healthy weight.

448030-03

Lanolin: Helps keep your nipples hydrated while first learning how to feed and prevents cracking and bleeding. Ideally the lanolin would be used in a situation where you are topless after feeding and alternating the breast which you are feeding from. For example, nurse your babe on your right breast until they are full then apply the lanolin to the right nipple to protect it. When your babe is hungry again they can nurse off of your left breast and after the second feeding the lanolin should be absorbed by the right nipple.  Lanolin residue is not harmful to the baby, but large amounts of it should be gently wiped off before attempting to feed – this will prevent your child from slipping all over your breast and getting an improper latch. The best quality of natural lanolin I have found can be purchased here.

boppy-pillows

Proper Pillow or Prop For Shoulder Support: The first few weeks your babe will be feeding round the clock and it is important to have proper support for your upper body while you feed. Different pillows work for different stages, I personally have had the best experience with this pillow while my daughter was small (this pillow also doubles as a great way to prop babe up when they are wanting to see what is going on in the room). Once she was three months old we switched to this Sweet Pea Pillow which doubled as a fabulous maternity pillow while I needed support when sleeping with my pregnant belly.  Having a pillow to rest your babe on takes the strain off of your body and allows you to fully relax which also helps your milk flow and the overall enjoyment of connecting to your child.

Happy Bonding and Nursing!

Labor Snacks, Sweet Simple Foods To Keep You Going

Labor Snacks, Sweet Simple Foods to Keep You Going

The process of giving birth burns on average the same amount of calories as a 30mile hike! When thinking about snacks to have on hand think hydrating, juicy, and easy to prepare treats that the momma and birth support will enjoy. All drinks can be offered through a straw for ease and sips should be given to the momma at least once every 15 minutes to help her stay hydrated.

Here are some sweet simple snack ideas to get you inspired:

Home Made Labor Popsicles:

popsicles

This is a simple way to stay both hydrated, and nourished throughout labor. Many women experience nausea with contractions, and these labor pops are a great way to head that off. The coolness is also refreshing and easy to take in.

You’ll need:

1-2 oz of dried red raspberry leaf

1 quart of water

Quart size jar with lid

Honey and lemon to taste

2-3 1mg calcium tablets

ice tray or paper dixi cups

To make the labor pops, steep 1-2 ounces of red raspberry leaf in a quart of water for at least 20 minutes up to four hours. Strain and sweeten with lots of honey and lemon, these will add much needed calories and lemon can help ease the nausea (as well as the red raspberry leaf). Crush the calcium tablets and add to the tea. Calcium is a muscle relaxant and can help with some aches and pains during labor. Pour the mixture into the ice tray. When labor commences, eat throughout the labor. They really are easy to eat when nothing else sounds to good! (credit to hakima widwifery).

Also Try Peppermint Tea pops, brew up a strong batch of peppermint tea and add a decent amount of honey to taste – the honey will give you a boost of energy while the cool refreshing peppermint will give you and your birth support just the thing you need to feel refreshed.orange-julius-diy

Honey Sticks are also great for a swift blood sugar booster – these can be snuck into a hospital which does not allow the laboring mother to eat foods.honey stick

Instant Miso Soup is a nourishing swift snack that can be prepared with simple not water in the hospital or added to some bone broth at home (see article on making bone broth for instructions and health benefits).KIKKOMAN INST MISO SOUP-TOFU 1.05 Z

Fruits and avocado – think lite and easy snacks that can be presented on a beautiful plate can boost the laboring womans spirits.RainbowFruitPlate

Coconut water either from the can or from a freshly cracked young coconut provides electrolytes and hydration which is essential for a yummy smooth birthing experience.Coconut_Water

Home Made Electrolyte drink:

In a mason jar of water fill with chilled fizzy water the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, two pinches of salt and either honey or maple syrup to taste. The lemon/salt combo provides electrolytes like any energy drink without the added dyes and preservatives.lemonaid

Once your baby is born the momma is going to be quite hungry (and rightfully so!) good post labor foods to have on hand are things that can be prepped/reheated easily that are rich in good fats and carbs. Think lasagnea, cheese tamales, good burger,  her favorite comfort foods. The richness of the post labor meal will help the mothers breast milk to come in.  Good fats and hydration are key to a healthy milk supply.

Happy Birthing and Snacking!

Ovulation – Hormones Explained

So what exactly is ovulation?

Ovulation is the release of a ripe fertile egg from the ovary, it is a womans peak time of fertility in the month.

The physiological journey that a womans body goes through every cycle to achieve ovulation is the product of a series of hormones that lead into one another. This article is intended to shed light on the hormones behind ovulation in a way that any of us could understand.

 The information in this article will first cover the full function of the glands and organs involved in ovulation so there is groundwork for understanding the overall sequence of events which will be covered at the bottom of this article. If you already have an understanding of anatomy and physiology feel free to skip to the bottom of these writings.

  The act of ovulation and menstruation are the result of a hormonal dance between the Hypothalamus (master gland), the pituitary gland, ovaries, and uterus.

 A fresh cycle begins with the first day of a womans bleed. The bleed causes estrogen and progesterone levels to fall and the Hypothalamus begins to work.

 The Hypothalamus is a gland and portion of the brain located above the pituitary gland.

 * It controls many physiologic mechanisms including: appetite, thirst, emotional reactions, and temperature.

* At menarche (first period) and throughout the reproductive life of the woman, the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary to produce both follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which in turn causes the menstrual cycle to occur.

* Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced in one part of the body, travel through the blood stream, and affect other parts of the body.

* The hypothalamus is influenced by our environment and emotional state and acts as a major computer in our body analyzing signals from other areas of the brain as well as hormonal signals.

The Pituitary is a gland is an endocrine gland about the size of a pea and weighs less than 0.02oz. It is a protrusion off of the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain.

 * The anterior lobe of the pituitary gland secrets FSH and LH that in turn stimulate the ovaries to mature and release ova (egg(s)). There is a feed back mechanism between the ovaries and the hypothalamus which increases or decreases the amount of FSH and LH produced in the pituitary. The pituitary gland also secretes prolactin to stimulate the production of breast milk.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): is stimulated into production at the beginning of the cycle, because of the decrease in the ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone production at the end of the previous cycle. FSH stimulates several of the most sensitive follicles in the ovary to begin growing.

* The level of FSH fluctuates and must reach a threshold level before any follicular growth takes place.

* Several days of follicle growth are required before the follicles secrete enough estrogen into the blood stream to signal the hypothalamus/pituitary that the threshold for FSH has been reached.

* There is an intermediate level of FSH which must be exceeded before the dominate follicle is boosted into its full ovulatory response.

*  There is also a maximum level of FSH, only 20-30% above the threshold which must not be exceeded, otherwise too many follicles would develop and multiple ovulations would occur.

* The drop in FSH after the intermediate level is reached causes the follicle to be receptive to the secondary pituitary hormone, LH which will surge before ovulation.

* Usually only one follicle is boosted to ovulation.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Stimulates certain cells that line the follicle (theca interna cells) to produce progesterone. The LH levels surge prior to ovulation and cause the egg to be ruptured from the follicle. Luteinization causes formation of corpus luteum from the ruptured follicle. Progesterone and estrogen are secreted by the corpus luteum. 

The corpus luteum (yellow body) is formed from the ruptured follicle and functions for 11-16 days in the absence of pregnancy. 

*The corpus luteum produces progesterone and estrogen.

Ovaries: Under the influence of FSH and LH the ova mature and are released from a cyst like structure called the follicle. Usually only one follicle reaches maturity and releases an ovum at ovulation. Following ovulation, the ruptured follicle collapses and becomes the corpus luteum. At birth, the ovaries contain about 500,000 eggs but during a womans reproductive life only about 500 ova will ever come to maturity. 

 * Folliculogenesis (maturation of the ova) takes 85 days.

 Estrogen

* FSH and LH, act as synergistis – cause the growth and development of follicles containing the ova and stimulate the production of estrogen.

*  Is the predominant ovarian hormone before ovulation.

*  Stimulate the growth and development of the reproductive organs prior to menarche (first period).

* Stimulates the cervical crypts to produce mucus

* Causes the endometrium to proliferate in preparation for implantation

* Causes the cervix to soften, open and rise.

Progesterone: with the rupture of the follicle and subsequent ovulation, the follicle collapses and is now known as the corpus luteum which functions of 11-16 days

* Through the influence of LH certain (granulose) cells in the collapsed follicle now begin to produce progesterone and estrogen.

* Progesterone is the dominate ovarian hormone after ovulation.

* Progesterone acts on the endometrium to stimulate the glands to produce fluids, which will nutritionally support a new human being.

 With that groundwork laid we can now understand the sequence of events that take place to make ovulation occur. 

1) Estrogen and Progesterone levels fall

2) Suppression of FSH(follicle stimulating hormone) and LH(luteinizing hormone) lifted, a new cycle commences

3) The hypothalamus produces GnRH (hormone which triggers the pituitary)

4) Pituitary produces FSH

5) The ovary grows follicles (a cluster of 6-7)

6) Which produce estrogen

7) Which causes growth of the endometrium and the cervix produces mucus

8) Estrogen feeds back to the hypothalamus which turns off FSH and sends out LH

9) which releases the ovum from the follicle

10) stimulating formation of the corpus luteum

11) which produces progesterone and estrogen

12) The progesterone changes the endometrium which affects the cervical mucus

13) If fertilization has not occurred, corpus luteum regresses after 6-7 days

14) Estrogen and progesterone levels fall

15) Suppression of FSH and LH lifted

16) Menstruation commences 10-16 days after ovulation, and a new cycle begins

Credit for the research goes to WOOMB (World Organization of the Ovulation Method – Billings).