Breastfeeding

Sore Nipple Strategies

2019-08-17T22:50:34+00:00August 17th, 2019|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , |

.Most of us had an idea in our head about how breastfeeding would go. You probably pictured the serene moments gazing into each other’s eyes, then your milk drunk baby slipping off to sleep in your arms.  The reality of the early days of breastfeeding can be surprising, as those of us that have lived them can attest. For 80-90% of moms, nipple and breast pain is part of their new mom life, at least in the short term since almost all nipple pain resolves in the first 2 weeks.

Nipple pain it’s not just for new moms, it can re-emerge with each baby. Issues like a shallow latch, slow let-down and tongue tie are unique to each baby. Although your breastfeeding experience will help you solve these problems much faster the second time around.

If you are suffering from nipple pain, here is a list of possible reasons and solutions:

-Shallow latch. You baby should have a wide open mouth before latching onto the nipple and surrounding areola, not just the nipple. Top and bottom lips should both be curled back and the chin firmly pressed on the breast. This position allows the nose to remain unobstructed with correct positioning.

– Pulling your baby off before breaking suction. When you are ready to take your baby off the breast, place a finger in the side of the mouth to release the suction first. Otherwise you stretch and strain tender nipple tissue.

-Slow milk flow. Your baby may be spending extra time on your breast or try to suck with greater force if your let-down reflex takes a while. To speed it up, self express a bit of milk before feeding to get milk flowing and soften up your breast before latching your baby. Once your baby is on the breast, use breast compression to keep milk flowing quickly without much suction from your baby.

-Using the same breastfeeding position every time. Depending on the angle, you baby’s mouth can apply pressure in different parts of your breast and nipple. If you have a tender spot when using the football hold, try lying on your side next time you feed.

-Dry, cracked nipple tissue. Your nipple has natural lubrication from the oils released by your Montgomery Glands, the little bumps that surround your areola. But the friction of your baby’s mouth can strip away your natural oils leaving your nipples red and cracked. There are several nipple creams available that can help your tender tissue heal. Check out our Milkies Nipple Nurture Balm  for an organic olive oil based cream that doesn’t need to be removed prior to putting your baby to breast.

Your nipple pain should taper off and go away entirely by day 14. If your nipple pain lasts longer or is accompanied by other breastfeeding problems like full breasts or a frequently fussy baby, see your lactation consultant.

 

Products Moms Will Love in 2019

2019-01-21T21:48:04+00:00January 3rd, 2019|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , |

Each year baby gear gets cooler, smarter and more parent-friendly. 2019 will be no exception, there are some ingenious products launching this year and I wanted to share my favorites.

My criteria for choosing the best products is simple, I ask myself “would I buy this?” I am notoriously cheap and like to keep clutter to a minimum, so I set the bar high for things I let into my house.

My top 5 products in no particular order are:

1. Keenz & Stroller wagonKeenz 7s Stroller Wagon (Grey)

I love how this folds down small enough to keep in your trunk but is roomy enough for a couple of kids and their gear. The roof would keep the sun or rain off little faces and looks like a rolling room. Tires are rugged enough for off-roading at the beach or hiking trails.

2. Little Martin’s Feeding Lamp

Little Martin’s Night Light for Baby Breastfeeding (Pink)

This soft light lamp is perfect for night time feedings. You can adjust the brightness by stretching the lamp upward for more light, or compacting it down for less. The LED light uses a USB cord so you can charge it and use it anywhere. And it comes in pink or blue to match your decor.

3. The Shrunks Bed Tent

Best-New-Baby-Products-for-2018

We live in the Pacific North West and camping is a part of every summer. Having a designated bed would be so convenient and safer too since sleeping arrangements can be tricky in a tent. This little bed tent would be great for living room or back yard camping too. The toddler bed would work well for road trips or anytime you have to travel with your little one. I wish they made this in my size.

4. Osprey Pack Kid Carrier

Osprey Packs - Poco AG 20L Kid Carrier - Seaside Blue

We used this all the time! My husband would wear it with our daughter in it when cooking dinner, I used it for taking walks with friends. We both like to hike and strollers aren’t practical everywhere, but this went everywhere with us. It really freed us up and strengthened our legs at the same time. We used a friend’s then gave it back when our daughter outgrew the seat, I am sure it has carried 2 or 3 more babies by now.

5. Milk-Saver On The Go

Collect and store more milk? Yes please. As a leaky mom, products that kept me dry and helped me collect more breast milk were always worth the price. As the creator of the original Milk-Saver this product is near to my heart. Moms left us hundreds of comments and reviews. Based on those, we created a product that could protect sore nipples and collect more than an ounce at a time. Easy to use and discreet, no one will even know you are wearing them.

There you have it folks, these are my favorite new baby products – I will be watching for more amazing products in stores this year.  Enjoy!

Five Tips for Exclusively Pumping Moms

2018-11-20T19:50:21+00:00October 17th, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , |

Breastfeeding isn’t defined by putting your baby to breast. Many moms choose to pump and use a bottle to feed. By choice or necessity exclusive pumping is growing in popularity as pump technology improves and moms are heading back to work with the intention to continue feeding breast milk. There are many reasons for exclusively pumping (EP). Some moms don’t feel comfortable putting their baby to breast or a baby may be born with a condition that makes breastfeeding impossible, like a cleft palate.

While exclusive pumping can be done, it takes some additional preparation to be successful and keep your milk supply strong. Here are some time-tested tips to help you meet your exclusive pumping goals.

1. Be ready for pumping to take over your life for the first week. While you establish your milk supply, pump 12 or more times in each 24 hour period. This works out to pumping every 2 hours day and night, it’s tiring and your breasts may become sore. But, the early days of breastfeeding aren’t easy either, establishing your milk supply and caring for a newborn are challenges for every mom. Once you find your groove and you become a more efficient pumper, you might be able to increase your time between sessions to 4 hours.

2. Have extra pump parts and bottles. Expect the unexpected. You might find yourself without a working pump or clean parts if you have an emergency at home or your car breaks down. Have a spare (or two) of everything, even an extra pump. If your pump motor tires out or a part breaks, you still need to pump and you won’t want to run to the store in the middle of the night.

3. Washing pump parts and bottles will take some time and space in your kitchen. You may feed your baby 12 times per day – will you wash the bottle after each feeding or use a new bottle each time and wash once a day? Either way you will need set aside time each day to clean and organize bottles, nipples and other feeding supplies.

4. Your partner can take on more feedings. No breasts are required for bottle feeding and anytime your baby is hungry, milk is available to for caregivers to feed. Pump before going to bed and let your partner handle the night time feedings. Sleep helps your supply by signaling your body to release milk making hormones.

5. Use hands-on-pumping. Get a hands-free pumping bra or make your own using an old sports bra and use your hands to shorten pumping time. Once your pump is in place and turned on, push with your palms to create gentle pressure starting near your ribs and move toward the nipple. This moves more milk out of your breasts to support a strong milk supply and you finish pumping faster – double bonus!

The one thing EP moms want to share is that it gets easier. The early days of pumping, washing pump parts and bottles non-stop can be overwhelming. But as you and your partner find a system that works for you and your baby, it becomes a natural part of life.

Jaundice 101

2018-08-22T16:31:36+00:00August 22nd, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , |

Most infants (50-70%) develop jaundice in the first weeks of life. If your baby has jaundice, he may have yellow-tinted skin or eyes. The yellow color is the result of too much bilirubin in your baby’s blood; bilirubin is a brownish – yellow color. Typically parents notice yellowing in the face and eyes in the first 2-4 days of life; the yellowing starts in the face and moves down to the toes. Bilirubin levels typically peak between 3 to 7 days after birth.

Before birth, your baby’s body uses your placenta to remove bilirubin from his blood. But during the first days of life, your baby’s liver can be slow to begin working and bilirubin can build up. We all have bilirubin in our bodies, it is a naturally occurring waste product created when our bodies replace red blood cells (the lifespan of a red blood cell is 120 days). Usually our liver filters out the bilirubin and we excrete it in our stool. If you have ever wondered where our poop gets it is color – look no further than bilirubin!

The best way to shorten the duration of jaundice, or prevent it all together, is to breastfeed your baby early and often. Breastfeeding within the first hour of life helps your baby pass the dark, sticky poop called meconium and takes out bilirubin with it. In the first hours, your baby is drinking colostrum, which is a laxative in addition to an immune system booster. Put your baby to breast often, frequent breastfeeding helps your baby pass more stool and bilirubin too.

There are 3 common types of jaundice:

1. Physiological jaundice. It is often most noticeable when the baby is 2 to 4 days old. The most common type of jaundice, it does not cause any distress and disappears without treatment by 14 days old.

2. Breastfeeding jaundice. This type often occurs in breastfed babies during the first 7 days of life. If your baby has difficulty breastfeeding or your milk comes in after day 3, your baby may develop breastfeeding jaundice.

3. Breast milk jaundice. Develops after the first 4-7 days of life, persists longer than 14 days and has no other identifiable cause. Doctors are still unsure what causes breast milk jaundice. However, evidence suggests it is related to the interaction between some of the components in breast milk and bilirubin.

If you notice a yellow tint to your newborn’s skin or eyes, talk to your baby’s doctor about the need for testing and monitoring her bilirubin level. Bilirubin levels can be tested with a blood or skin test. A very high level of bilirubin can result in a condition known as kernicterus and brain damage.

Most cases of jaundice resolve without treatment as the liver matures and filters blood more effectively; frequent breastfeeding helps the bilirubin pass through and out in your baby’s stool. More severe jaundice may require treatment with a bili-light (or phototherapy). Phototherapy is a common and highly effective method of treatment that uses light to break down bilirubin in your baby’s body. It looks like a little tanning bed; your baby will only be in a diaper and wearing protective goggles. Absorbing the special blue-spectrum light through the skin helps your baby break down bilirubin.

While most babies develop jaundice, few need treatment. The combination of frequent breastfeeding and your baby’s liver working more effectively usually take care of the problem. See your pediatrician if your baby acts more tired than usual or you have any concerns.

Fussy or Food Allergy?

2018-06-20T03:32:32+00:00June 20th, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , |

Variety is the spice of life and that goes for breastfed babies too. Your milk changes as your baby grows, if either of you is sick and takes on the flavors of the foods you eat. The changing flavor of your milk can help your baby accept different tastes later and reduce your chances of having a picky eater later on. So sharing your foods with your baby through your milk is a good thing right? Maybe, but there is more to the story.

Besides the flavors, other parts of the food you eat become part of your milk. Proteins, sugars and fats are absorbed by your small intestine and enter your bloodstream to be used by your milk producing cells, or lactocytes. In rare cases, your baby may be sensitive or allergic to the parts of your food that transfer into your milk.

Most babies, except the lucky few, have fussy times. Your baby may have periods of time when he seems inconsolable – if your diet hasn’t changed and the fussiness doesn’t follow meals it’s probably not related to your diet. Instead, think growth spurt, teething or who knows? If you notice any other signs of allergy like: rash, hives, eczema, sore bottom, dry skin; wheezing or asthma; congestion or cold-like symptoms; red, itchy eyes; ear infections; irritability, fussiness, colic; intestinal upsets, vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea, or green stools with mucus or blood, an allergic reaction may be the cause.

If your baby shows any of these symptoms and you have eliminated other potential allergens, your diet may hold the answer.The most likely food suspects are cow’s milk products, soy, wheat, corn, eggs, and peanuts.If you have a family history of allergic reaction to a certain food, it might be a problem for your baby too.

Symptoms can appear 4-24 hours after exposure to the new food. The symptoms can last for 2-4 hours then subside, except if your baby is allergic to a food you eat frequently. In that case the symptoms can persist. For example, if your baby is sensitive to dairy and you have creamer in your coffee, cheese on your salad and ice cream for dessert, your baby will be getting a steady diet of cow milk proteins and show allergy symptoms all the time.

To confirm your baby is sensitive to something you are eating, cut it from your diet for 2-3 weeks to see if your baby stops showing signs of a reaction. If the reaction symptoms stop, you may want to continue avoiding the food while breastfeeding. The 2-3 week time period matters since many foods, like cow’s milk protein, can stay in your body for 1½ – 2 weeks, and another 1½ – 2 weeks in your baby. Some moms find it helpful to keep a food journal to track symptoms and be sure to cut one food at a time to correctly identify the offender. Usually, you will notice improvement in 5-7 days although your baby may take weeks to completely get rid of all the allergy symptoms, especially if the food is one you eat frequently.

If you are eating the problem food frequently, your baby may seem to feel worse for about a week before symptoms begin to improve. You may begin to eat small amounts of the troublesome food when your baby is 9-12 months old or 6 months after you stopped exposure. If baby is only a little sensitive to a particular food, you may be able to cut back, instead of eliminating the food altogether. The exception is if your baby had breathing problems or bloody stool after exposure, talk to your pediatrician before reintroducing the problem food.

Sensitivities and allergies are rare, but they do occur. Watch for the symptoms and take the steps to identify and eliminate the offending food to help your baby, and your family, be healthy, happy and more comfortable.

The Real Scoop on Your Baby’s Poop

2018-05-21T00:45:25+00:00May 21st, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Babies can be mysterious creatures. They have few needs but the variations on those needs can be endless. So any clues into their wellbeing are helpful. One big source of information is your baby’s diaper – your baby’s poop can help you understand what is happening inside his or her body.

First let’s follow the path of normal digestion.

Food goes in the mouth and digestion actually begins here! Enzymes in our saliva start to break down the starches in cereal and bread (enzymes are chemicals that break our food down into smaller, more digestible parts).
Amazingly, your breast milk has the same enzyme, called amylase. Mixing breast milk with your first cereal feedings are a great way to help introduce a new food while using the enzymes in your milk in new ways.

Next stop is the stomach where strong acids continue the process of breaking down your milk into small pieces your baby can use. A cup of your milk contains about 2.5 grams of protein and 11 grams of fat (a study of 24 hour milk collection showed fat content was highest in mid-day and evening, lowest in the morning and late night feedings. These numbers can vary quite a bit.) Your first milk contains about 90% whey and 10% casein protein since whey is much easier for your baby to digest by an immature gut. As your baby gets grows, the type of proteins even out to about equal quantities.

As your milk exits the stomach for the small intestine and the real work of absorbing nutrients happens here. Some parts of your milk leave a protective coat on your baby’s intestines to keep illness causing germs out of the blood and moving down the digestive tract, leaving the body unharmed. Other parts of your milk are changed into glucose and absorbed into the blood, where insulin lets it in the cells to be used for energy and building new structures.

After the body has extracted all the possible nutrients from your milk, it moves to the large intestine where more water is re-absorbed and bacteria continues to break down the milk into smaller molecules that can consumed by the bacteria that live there. The food starts to look like poop by now. If your baby is exclusively breastfeed, their waste doesn’t spend much time here. Since breast milk is highly digestible, there isn’t much for the bacteria to work on and it moves to the rectum to accumulate into a bowel movement.

So what can go wrong?

Constipation – this occurs when the poop stays in the large intestine too long. If food moves too slowly, the large intestine continues to absorb more water from the poop, it gets harder, drier and more difficult to pass out of the body.

Food intolerance – if we don’t have the right enzymes, digestion can’t happen in the stomach and small intestine. Instead the bacteria in the large intestine get the job. These bacteria aren’t equipped to do the job efficiently and produce gas as a byproduct. Some gas is normal, but too much can be a sign of tummy trouble.

Spit up – there is a muscle at the top of the stomach called the cardiac sphincter (it’s near the heart, hence the name). Normally food enters the stomach and the muscle closes like a drawstring… so you can lie down and all your food doesn’t come back out. In some babies, this muscle doesn’t close completely and milk comes back up. Sometimes the milk has a sour smell due to the acidic environment of the stomach curdling your milk.

Diarrhea – when material moves too quickly through the large intestine, water and salt don’t get reabsorbed as usual. It just moves out too quickly. The body loses water and electrolytes it needs, if diarrhea is severe and goes on for more than 1-2 days, for an infant it could be fatal.

GERD – an acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease or heartburn. Also related to a loose cardiac sphincter. The strong acid from the stomach leaks up into the esophagus and throat causing pain from the acid actually eating away to the tissue. The stomach is protected by a tough mucus coating, but no other parts of the digestive tract have this protective cover. Anytime the acid from the stomach leaks out, it can cause injury and pain to the tissue it touches.

Red blood – if you spot blood in your baby’s poop it can mean the intestines are inflamed somewhere, a small crack in the skin around the anus or an allergy to something they ate. If your baby has 1-2 bloody poops, mention it to the doctor at your next appointment. If your baby is having 1-2 bloody poops an hour, acting tired and painful, page your doctor for advice.

Black poop – black or tar-like poop is a sign of digested blood. If your nipples are bleeding or you notice pink milk or “strawberry milk” when you pump, you might notice darker poop. Supplementing your baby with extra iron can also cause darker poop. If you have ruled out the common causes and you notice consistent dark poop, talk to your baby’s doctor.

Green frothy poop – the usual cause is too much foremilk. If your baby falls asleep at the breast before emptying it or fills up before getting to the hind milk later in the feed – try to keep your baby on one breast until it’s is empty, then switch to the second breast. Green poop can also be a sign of iron supplementation so consider this as well.

If you ever have any questions or concerns, collect a sample to bring to the doctor’s office. Your baby’s poop may not be your favorite surprise (especially an outfit wrecking blowout!) but it provides a valuable look into the workings of their little body.

Health Risks of Motherhood Are Higher for African Americans

2018-04-22T04:23:04+00:00April 22nd, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , |

As healthcare providers we strive to provide the same care to all of our patients and see good health outcomes across the lifespan, income level and educational status. Mostly, we have been successful – more mothers are insured, home visiting programs have shown promising results and more infants getting their vaccines on time. But as many health disparities are shrinking, one is growing. African American mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health. Compared to a white woman, an African American woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease, 71 percent more likely to die from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes.

In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, African American mothers were two to three times more likely to die than white women who had the same condition. African American mothers are 49 percent more likely than whites to deliver prematurely (and, closely related, their infants are twice as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday). And the number of complications is rising.
The high maternal mortality rate of African-Americans is the main reason the U.S. maternal mortality rate is so much higher than that of other developed countries. African American pregnant and new mothers in the U.S. die at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, according to the World Health Organization.

Experts do not know why African American mothers and babies are dying more than others. In the past, the researchers have assumed poverty, lack of education or low access to quality health care as some of the culprits. But educated African American mothers also have poor outcomes too. One study done in NYC showed college educated African American mothers had worse outcomes than white mothers that had never graduated from high school. According to the CDC affluent and educated black women are more likely to lose their newborn than uneducated white women who’ve had little or no prenatal care. African American women suffer the highest infant and maternal-mortality rates of any race, according to the CDC.

As public health experts try to pinpoint the reason for the disturbing difference in health outcomes, some researchers are taking a new look at racism and the stress it causes across the lifespan. Arline Geronimus, a professor at the University of Michigan – School of Public Health, coined the term “weathering” for stress-induced wear and tear on the body. Weathering “causes a lot of different health vulnerabilities and increases susceptibility to infection,” she said, “but also early onset of chronic diseases, in particular, hypertension and diabetes” — conditions that disproportionately affect African American mothers. Her research even suggests weathering accelerates aging at the molecular level; in a 2010 study Geronimus and colleagues conducted, the telomeres (chromosomal markers of aging) of African American women in their 40s and 50s appeared 7 1/2 years older on average than those of whites.

Weathering may play a part in pregnancy complications too. Pregnancy is the most physiologically complex and emotionally vulnerable time in a woman’s life. As we get older, our risk for complications goes up. The data shows the rate of complications increases for white women in their 40s and for African American women in their 30s. This means that many high risk pregnancies are not monitored as closely as they should be, and more pregnancy complications go undiagnosed in African American mothers.

The risks to mother’s health do not disappear with delivery, according to the most recent CDC data, more than half of maternal deaths occur in the postpartum period, and one-third happen seven or more days after delivery. For mothers with hypertensive disorders, diabetes and peripartum cardiomyopathy the postpartum period should be closely monitored. African American mothers have 25% higher rates of C-section than white mothers and are more than twice as likely to be readmitted to the hospital in the month following the surgery. They are also twice as likely as white women to have postpartum depression, which contributes to poor outcomes, but they are much less likely to receive mental health treatment for the condition. For all of these reasons, new African American mothers need careful monitoring as they recover from childbirth, establish breastfeeding and adjust to motherhood.

Poverty, access to care, culture, communication and decision-making all contribute to health outcomes for mothers and their infants. As researchers continue to discover more about the differences in health outcomes for mothers from all backgrounds, watch for more recommendations to best help our patients.

These are the resources used to write this article. Paste them into your browser to follow the links.

https://www.npr.org/2017/12/07/568948782/black-mothers-keep-dying-after-giving-birth-shalon-irvings-story-explains-why

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19788975

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/data/maternal-morbidity-report-08-12.pdf

Breastfeeding for 2 Months Halves SIDS Risk

2018-03-22T22:40:20+00:00March 22nd, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , |

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics is the first to determine the length of time a mother needs to breastfeed to protect her baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The researchers found breastfeeding for at least 2 months cut the incidence of SIDS by almost 50% even after adjusting for variables that could otherwise account for these changes, such as prenatal care and secondhand smoke. Partial and exclusive breastfeeding offer similar rates of protection from SIDS, the important factor seems to be the duration of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for less than two months did not provide the same risk reduction. The longer mothers breastfed, the lower the risk of SIDS.

To determine the effects of breastfeeding on SIDS occurrence, researchers examined the data from eight studies from around the world. Researchers tracked 2,259 cases of SIDS and 6,894 control infants where death did not occur. This large sample size helps to prove the reliability of the conclusion and importance of breastfeeding, despite different cultural behaviors across countries.

Based on their results, the researchers are calling for ongoing concerted efforts to increase rates of breastfeeding around the world. Here in the US breastfeeding is on the rise, but we still have work to do to increase initiation and duration in young, minority and low SES mothers. The percentage of babies who start out breastfeeding increased from 73% among babies born in 2004 to 83% among babies born in 2014-meeting the objective of 81.9% set by Healthy People 2020. Babies are also breastfeeding for longer durations – 55% of U.S. babies born in 2014 were being breastfed at 6 months, up from 42% in 2004. However, this metric does not meet the goal of 60.6% set by Healthy People 2020.

Researchers have yet to determine the reason breastfeeding has such an impact on SIDS risk. New studies are focused on breastfeeding benefits to immunity and the relationship between shorter sleep periods and breast milk digestion time. Read the study here http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/140/5/e20171324?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=1&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token

Sex and Breastfeeding – A New Level of Intimacy

2018-03-10T17:19:38+00:00March 10th, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , |

Loving our baby comes easy, the cute toes and irresistible baby smell win our hearts from the moment we meet. Caring for sweet our new little ones is a big job- so it’s lucky for them they are so cute. Sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, spit up covering every surface can leave you feeling like a milk soaked zombie –but a happy zombie that wouldn’t change a thing.

Sex might be the last thing you want to think about after a day of caring for your baby. The obvious reasons – exhaustion, insecurity with your body and living in sweatpants are only part of your lack of interest in being intimate with your partner.

A few common reasons for your lack of desire may be:

1. You may feel like your body isn’t yours anymore. Your baby finds comfort in your snuggles, food from your breasts and your nose detects if it’s time for a diaper change. The 24 hour a day nature of caring for our babies can leave us feeling like we sacrificed ourselves to motherhood and there is nothing left over for our partner. It feels good to tell someone “No, I don’t want to be touched.” Since you can’t say no to your baby’s hunger cues, reclaiming some control of your body may lead you to avoid physical contact with your partner.

2. Your breasts are painful. Breastfeeding means almost constant stimulation of your nipples and breast tissue. In the early days of breastfeeding, nipple pain is very common, reported by 80% of new moms. Usually the pain resolves by day 14, but your breasts may feel oversensitive for months. Some moms feel “touched out” and just want their breasts left alone when not feeding.

3. Your hormones are working against your libido. Prolactin has a positive effect on your milk supply, but the flip side is putting your sex drive in low gear. Maybe this is nature’s way of helping us space out our pregnancies, or conserving energy to care for our young. No matter what the reason, your lack of desire is normal while breastfeeding.

4. Unusual vaginal discharge. By 6 weeks post-partum, when intercourse can resume, bleeding and discharge from labor and delivery (lochia) may have tapered off or stopped – but may come back for 2 months or more. Breastfeeding also lowers your estrogen levels and can change the pH of your vagina, leading to odor.

5. Painful sex. Once you give birth, your estrogen and progesterone levels decrease dramatically. For some women this hormonal shift can cause in hormone levels can lead to atrophic vaginitis (thinning of the vagina walls) as well as soreness, itching and dryness. Along with these symptoms, you may not produce as much natural vaginal lubricant even when you get sexually excited, making sex even more uncomfortable.

6. Braless leaky breasts. You may worry about spraying your partner with your breast milk, and you might. If you reach orgasm, the same hormones are released as when your milk let-down. If you have a powerful let-down reflex when nursing or pumping, you may notice the same sensation and milk ejection during orgasm. If your partner wants to touch or suck on your breasts, he may accidentally, or intentionally, taste your breast milk.

With all the ways breastfeeding makes intimacy challenging, it can also be an exciting addition to your bedroom activities. Some partners find lactating breasts erotic. Your breasts may be larger and more sensitive; you and your partner might find new ways to enjoy your body together. Some partners are curious about the taste of breast milk and are excited by seeing milk ejection. But, you may see your breasts as purely functional, food makers for your baby and enjoying them sexually may be difficult for you.

Talk about your feelings and listen to your partner. If you are struggling to feel sexual desire, tell your partner what you need. Small gestures can make you feel cared for and reignite the attraction you felt for your partner before baby arrived. Could he take the baby for a walk while you nap? Watch the baby while you have dinner with girlfriends? The key to navigating the difficult waters of parenting is communication.

As your family grows it will only become more important to talk about tough issues like sensuality, parenting responsibilities, and time demands. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. If your breasts and nipples are tender, tell him look but don’t touch. Or you might try gentle cupping, no squeezing or sucking. If vaginal dryness is making you uncomfortable, explore some fun lubricant options. Your partner wants to be close to you and this is the perfect time to deepen your connection as you listen without judgement and expect the same in return. If you spend the day focused on your baby, your partner may need intimate time with you to feel like he matters too. Intimacy can mean different things, talk to your partner about meeting his needs for closeness and connection; don’t expect to read his mind either!

Talk to your partner about what you need, and listen when your partner talks about his expectations and insecurities. Try not to judge your partner’s feelings but listen and try to meet them as generously as possible. As your family grows, communication becomes even more important. Discussing your changing sexual preferences deepens your connection with your partner and lays a foundation for a strong family for years to come.

Breastfeeding as Birth Control

2018-02-21T20:28:40+00:00February 21st, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , |

Throughout history, women have used breastfeeding as a natural contraceptive. Researchers have found evidence of Egyptian, Native Alaskan and early European populations recognizing the connection between breastfeeding and family planning. This method of birth control is known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method or LAM.

The LAM method works because when you are breastfeeding, prolactin production is in high gear. The same hormone that tells our body to make milk, also keeps ovaries from releasing eggs. Without eggs available for fertilization, no pregnancy can occur. Studies show that LAM is 99% effective for short-term contraception as long as guidelines are followed.

The guidelines for the LAM method are simple to follow-

1. Watch for return of menses – For exclusively breastfeeding moms, you can expect to have a 6-12 month break from your monthly “lady’s days.” When your period returns, ovulation often comes too.

2. Exclusively breastfeed – Breastmilk provides all the food and fluid your baby needs to grow. There is no need to supplement with any additional foods until after 6 months or when your baby is ready to start eating complementary foods. Some babies aren’t ready until 7-8 months, watch your baby for signs they are interested in trying new foods.

3. Your baby is under 6 month of age – sleeping through the night 6+ hours and the introduction of complimentary foods usually happen around the 6 month milestone. Ovulation suppression is governed by how much milk you are making so the less milk your baby requires the lower prolactin level and ovulation restarts.

When all three of these conditions exist, you have has less than a two percent chance of becoming pregnant. Since no birth control method is 100% effective, LAM is as effective as condoms or oral contraceptives.

Scientific studies conducted around the world by the Institute for Reproductive Health and other organizations have proven that when guidelines are followed, LAM is an effective, safe, convenient short-term way for breastfeeding women to plan their pregnancies.

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