6 Tips for Weaning Your Breastfeeding Baby

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth and a combination of breastfeeding and solids until your baby is one. Some moms may choose to extend breastfeeding for longer while others may be ready to wean earlier. When to stop breastfeeding is a personal choice and one that may cause both sadness and relief. Try these tips to help ease the transition.

1) Let baby lead the way

You’ll have more success and less stress if you allow your little one to lead the process. In most cases, the transition will happen naturally as baby begins to become more interested in her new food options and more easily distracted. 

2) Don’t rush it

In the case of an injury or serious illness, weaning may be necessarily abrupt. However, the ideal is to allow the process to unfold gradually, easing baby into her new reality. This may take days, weeks, or months. Allowing for a slower transition will ease baby’s anxieties and also help to prevent engorgement as your breasts will gradually decrease milk production.

3) Make time for cuddling

Breastfeeding isn’t just about nourishment. It’s also a form of comfort and bonding, which can make giving up the breast an emotional experience for both mama and baby. To ease that aspect of the process, be sure to spend lots of time snuggling with baby to reassure her that mama’s still around when she needs extra affection.

4) Avoid weaning during stressful times

While sometimes stressful situations make weaning necessary, this is usually when babies (and even some mamas) are most in need of the comfort and routine of a nursing schedule. If you’re returning to work – a time that can be stressful to both mama and baby, maintain early morning and nighttime feedings. These tend to be the most stressful times of the day, and breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin and prolactin, which create a sense of calm and peace.

5) Make the most of distractions

Distraction is a practical tool throughout every stage of parenting. Refusing to breastfeed will often cause your little one to become hyper-focused on nursing. Instead, offer an alternative like expressed milk in a bottle or cup or a new food. 

6) Pump for comfort

As you wean your little one, your breasts may become engorged and feel uncomfortable. Remember that an empty breast will produce more milk, so it’s a good idea to pump just enough to relieve the engorgement until your body adjust to the new levels of production.

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Our 100% insurance and Tricare-covered Medela breast pumps are designed with a two-phase expression technology that feels more natural and improves the productivity of pumping sessions for nursing moms. They’re portable, easy-to-use, and robust enough to handle heavy pumping schedules until you’re ready to wean. Contact our customer care specialists today to learn more or order online in three easy steps.

How Often Should I Breastfeed My Newborn?

A Tale of Two Grandmothers: or, is breast milk better than rocket fuel?

Both my mother and my mother-in-law were convinced my son would starve to death before he was a month old. 

“He’s nursing all the time,” my mother-in-law would say, anxiously leaning over my shoulder to examine him. “He’s clearly not getting enough milk.”

“Sweetheart,” my mom would say gently, “You know, your breasts are so small. I don’t think he’s getting enough.”

I was doubtful myself. This was my first baby, and so I had nothing to compare the experience to. It did feel like I was a perpetual-milk-making machine. Maybe I wasn’t producing enough milk. Darn those A cups!

When I took my son to the pediatrician, I raised my concerns to the jolly Cajun doctor. “Oh, pshaw, sweetheart,” he laughed. “Them mamas from the fifties, they think ain’t nothing good enough for their grandbabies unless it’s got rocket fuel in it.”

He went on to assure me that near constant feeding in a newborn isn’t unnatural at all. In fact, breastfed babies do nurse nearly non-stop. Unlike formula, a one-size-fits-all food source, breast milk adapts itself to the precise needs of a baby. The grandmothers were comparing breastfeeding with formula-feeding, but formula takes much longer for babies to digest, which is why formula-fed infants don’t eat as often. 

Vindicated, I kept on doing what I’d been doing all along, feeding my little one whenever he seemed hungry. Sure enough, he’d doubled his birth weight before a month was out, and by six months, he was so heavy I wondered if my breast milk might have dark matter in it.

What does on-demand nursing look like in a newborn?

When you first bring baby home, your milk supply is still being established. Nursing on-demand is the best way to kickstart production, and your baby helps out by nursing every 1½ to 3 hours during the first month. Because her tummy is so small, she needs to eat at least every 4 hours. Yes, this definitely counts as round-the-clock nursing, but no, it’s not a problem. It’s perfectly normal. 

How do I know when my baby is hungry?

It’s going to be a while before you and your newborn speak the same language, which can make it difficult to know when she’s hungry. However, she will give you signs if you know what you’re looking for.

Your baby may be hungry if she begins:

  • Opening her mouth
  • Sucking on her fist 
  • Pursing her lips
  • Rooting or nuzzling
  • Sticking out her tongue
  • Crying*

*A word about crying

By the time baby is crying, she’s way past hungry. She’s hangry, which means it’ll be more difficult to calm her down enough to get her to nurse. You’ve probably experienced her frustration yourself when you wait too long to eat lunch. 

You’re doing a great job, mom!

Breastfeeding isn’t easy work. It can be exhausting, and when the people around you don’t fully  understand it, you may feel isolated and underappreciated. I’m here to tell you, moms, that you’re doing a great job. Trust yourself. Trust your baby. In a year, you’ll be looking back on this time as a fond memory. 

Magical Mammaries? How Do My Breasts Know What My Baby Needs?

If you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby, you probably already know all of the advantages of the biological elixir that is breast milk. It’s linked to improved immune responses, higher IQs, lower rates of obesity…the list goes on. 

What you may not know is that breast milk changes on a daily basis to provide your baby (no one else’s) the precise dose of nutritional and immunological ingredients she needs at the exact moment she needs it. I know. I know. It sounds crazy, right? How could breast milk possibly have insight into a baby’s biological needs? It doesn’t even have a college degree!

Need scientific evidence that breast milk has some nearly magical properties?

Exhibit A

When you first begin a nursing session, your breast produces a thin foremilk that quenches your baby’s thirst before transforming into a creamier, fat-rich hindmilk that eases her hunger. 

Exhibit B

When your baby is sick, the concentration of some immunofactors in your breast milk increase…even if you’re not sick.

Exhibit C

When your baby’s saliva interacts with your breast milk, the chemical reaction results in hydrogen peroxide which inhibits the growth of certain nasty pathogens like Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella spp.

How do my breasts know so much about what my baby needs?

If you’re like most new moms, it’s probably comforting to know that at least one part of your body knows what’s going on. No wonder people covet the breast! But your mammary glands can’t take all the credit. Believe it or not, your baby is probably passing secret messages via your nipples. Who knew breastfeeding was so full of mystery and intrigue?

Evidence seems to suggest that retrograde milk flow (fancy science jargon for baby backwash) delivers information to your immune system about baby’s nutritional and immunological needs. If your nursing baby is sick, pathogens will be mixed in with that saliva, delivering those into your nipple duct system as well. Immune molecules in your mammaries and your milk respond to these pathogens and protect your baby, whose own immune system is still developing.

Relax, mama. Your body really is a wonderland!

John Mayer probably had something else entirely on his mind when he crooned, “Your body is a wonderland.” But he was right on more levels than probably even he knew. Your magical body is capable of melting the fat in your derriere into breast milk and then transforming your breast milk hourly to meet the needs of a new human. That’s pretty incredible. So relax. There’s nothing to worry about. Your body knows exactly what it’s doing. 

Help Baby Sleep Through the Night with a Nursing Schedule

Nighttime feedings can leave moms feeling exhausted and depressed, and research shows that frequent night waking can also result in the early termination of lactation in breast-fed infants. But how can you convince baby to get with the program and sleep through the night? For many families, a nursing schedule helps. 

The following tips for developing a nursing schedule to help baby ease into a full night of sleep come from a study conducted at the University of Illinois. The objective of the study was to investigate whether exclusively breast-fed infants could be taught to sleep through the night, from 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM during the first eight weeks of life. Thirteen sets of parents followed the routine below while thirteen acted as a control. Of the thirteen treatment parents, 100% reported that infants were sleeping through the night after eight weeks. 

Differentiate night and day

Babies aren’t born with the same understanding of time as adults. Anytime is a good time for eating as far as a newborn is concerned. To help her begin to recognize that nighttime is for sleeping, maximize environmental differences between day and night. During the day, be sure to get baby outside where she can experience natural light. When she’s inside, let her have the full daytime experience: noises, activity, normal speaking voices, and playful interactions. In the evening, keep lights low and minimize noises. Use a hushed voice and keep interactions mellow and calm. 

Top off baby’s milk supply 

In the study conducted at the University of Illinois, parents were told to offer baby a focal feed between 10 PM and 12 AM so that she goes to sleep with a fully belly. If baby is asleep at the time you’ve adopted for this top off session, wake her up long enough to nurse. This will help her sleep for a longer stretch of time. Over time, your baby will recognize this feeding as “last call.”

Wean baby by offering alternatives

It’s going to take some time for the new schedule to take, so you’ll want to gradually lengthen the intervals between middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. To reinforce the idea that nighttime is for sleeping, when baby wakes substitute feeding with other caretaking behaviors such as re-swaddling, changing her diaper, or rocking her. 

What to expect and when to expect it

The treatment parents in the University of Illinois study reported that their infants were sleeping for significantly longer episodes at night by three weeks. By eight weeks, 100% of the treatment infants were sleeping through the night compared with 23% of the infants who were not introduced to the nursing schedule. 

While the infants with the nursing schedule did sleep through nighttime feedings after eight weeks, their milk intake over a 24-hours period didn’t differ from the infants who nursed throughout the night. Instead, the treatment infants compensated for the longer nighttime interval by consuming more milk in the early morning. 

There you have it. With a little planning, a nursing schedule can help parents and babies get a better night sleep. If you try out the schedule, leave a comment below and let us know how it worked for you!

How Breastfeeding Benefits Newborns and Moms

If you’ve ever wondered whether breastfeeding is worth it, the answer’s in: for sure. Not only does breastfeeding foster a strong bond between mama and baby, it offers both several unique advantages that can’t be found in formula.

Breast milk is easier to digest than infant formula

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, breast milk is “a living biological fluid with many qualities not replicable by human milk substitutes.” Among those qualities is the ability to adapt itself to the changing needs of an infant as she grows. During a single nursing session, breast milk transforms from a thinner foremilk that satisfies her thirst to a creamy hindmilk with higher fat content. 

Even when mother’s own diet is inadequate, breast milk contains the essential nutrients for her baby’s development. Naturally, since breast milk is produced specifically for the nourishment of an infant, it’s easier to digest and even includes digestive enzymes and bioactive molecules that keep your infant’s gastrointestinal tract healthy. 

While formula is designed to mimic as closely as possible breast milk, it’s impossible to replicate the components of mother’s milk. Baby’s gastrointestinal tract must adapt in order to process formula. For instance, breast milk contains higher levels of whey, which babies digest easily, than casein. Formula, on the other hand, has higher levels of casein, which takes longer for a baby to digest. Some babies also prove to be allergic to both cow’s milk protein and soy protein, which are the most prolific formulas. 

Breast milk boosts baby’s immune system

In addition to carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes and hormones, breast milk is rich in immune cells. Among these, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have anti-infective properties against against pathogens in the infant gastrointestinal tract, including Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter. The proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme prevent the spread of potentially pathogenic bacteria, preventing illnesses in infants. 

Breast milk reduces the risk of asthma and allergies, and infants that are exclusively  breastfed for the first six months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea. Recent studies have also suggested that breast milk protect infants from late metabolic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. All of these perks have led one study to call breast milk “a biological fluid required for optimal infant growth and development”.

Breastfeeding is linked with higher IQ scores

Breast milk is a natural source of fatty acids such as DHA and AA, which are critical in neurodevelopment. Several studies have shown a correlation between breastfeeding and increases in verbal IQ and performance IQ as children mature, and at least one group of scientists have found a relationship between breast milk and increases in white matter growth in children’s brains. 

Breastfeeding burns calories

All that good, brain growth-inducing fat in breast milk has to come from somewhere, right? Essentially, your body is melting your own body fat to produce rich, fatty milk for your baby. For mothers who are a healthy weight before childbirth, evidence indicates that breastfeeding helps to quickly shed those pounds gained during pregnancy. A 2008 study of 30,000 Danish women found that breastfeeding was associated with lower postpartum weight retention in all categories of prepregnancy BMI and concluded that breastfeeding as recommended could “eliminate weight retention by 6 months postpartum in many women.”

Breastfeeding offers moms health benefits, too

Believe it or not, breastfeeding even makes mom healthier! One recent study indicates that breastfeeding can reduce mom’s risk of breast cancer by up to 91 percent. Another study found that women who breastfed for more than 13 months were 63 percent less likely to develop an ovarian tumor than women who breastfed for less than seven months. The longer the women breastfed, the greater the protection they received. 

What are you waiting for? Start reaping the rewards of breastfeeding now. Call Milk N Mamas Baby or fill out your breast pump order form today. 

5 Common Breastfeeding Problems and How to Overcome Them

Yes, breastfeeding offers an abundance of health benefits for both mom and baby. Yes, it’s a unique and special opportunity to bond with your newborn. Yes, mothers have been doing it for time immemorial – it’s beautiful, it’s nutritious, and it’s natural. But just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Any modern mom who’s taken on breastfeeding knows this to be true. 

1) It hurts when my baby latches onto my nipple

When you first start nursing your baby, your nipples may feel sore. As you acclimate, that pain should decrease. If, after a minute or two, the pain doesn’t diminish, try repositioning your baby. You’ll know he’s positioned correctly when both his nose and his chin touch your breast and his lips cover your nipple and lower areola. 

If your baby is positioned correctly and latching still hurts, it may be that your nipples are dry. There are several ways to treat dry, cracked nipples. Allowing a dab of healing breastmilk to air dry on your nipples after feeding will often improve the situation. If that doesn’t do the trick, try a lanolin-based cream specially made for nursing moms.

2) My breast has a hard lump and I feel feverish

If your breasts are sore and you notice a small, hard lump, your milk duct may be clogged. This is more likely to happen if you go long stretches between feedings, but nursing bras and stress can also inhibit the flow of milk. If left untreated, clogged ducts can become infected, necessitating a trip to the doctor. While this won’t harm your baby, it will definitely affect your feelings about nursing, so it’s important to address the problem quickly and not suffer in silence.

To prevent clogged ducts, try to minimize your stress and get plenty of rest. Nurse more frequently to prevent engorgement, and treat your tender breasts to a warm compress and a massage to stimulate the movement of milk. 

3) I’m afraid my baby isn’t getting enough milk

Hormones trigger milk production, but once baby has latched on, production is driven by supply-and-demand. Breastfeeding babies tend to feed more frequently than formula-fed babies, usually nursing every two to three hours during the first few weeks. Often, moms mistake frequent feedings as a sign that baby is famished, but nothing could be farther from the truth. If your baby is on target for healthy weight gain, she’s getting plenty of milk, even if she seems hungry all the time. 

If your milk supply is actually low, you’ll see tangible indicators such as stalled weight gain, fewer diaper changes, and lethargy. A variety of issues can lead to low milk supply, including a sleepy baby, supplementing with formula, and drinking alcohol, to name a few. The best way to stimulate your milk supply is to get rest, eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and nurse your baby frequently. You can also pump to increase your milk supply. 

4) My baby sleeps through feedings

It’s tempting to let sleeping babies lie. However, if your baby shows signs of stalled weight gain or your breasts are engorged due to long periods between feedings, it’s time to wake her up. During the first few weeks of her life, your baby should be nursing eight to twelve times a day. 

To prevent your breasts from becoming swollen and sore, always start nursing your baby on your fuller breast. Swaddling keeps babies warm and cozy, which can leave her sleepy. Unswaddle your baby to stimulate her, and if she still dozes, tickle her feet or burp her to engage her interest. 

5) My baby isn’t latching onto my breast properly

Sometimes babies have a hard time getting the hang of breastfeeding. This may be the result of a premature or difficult birth, or the mother may have inverted or flat nipples. In some cases, it’s just a matter of both mom and baby getting used to the experience of breastfeeding. In any case, your baby won’t get as much milk if she isn’t properly latched, and you’re more likely to have sore nipples as a result. 

The first thing to remember is that your nursing sessions will be more productive if you and your baby are relaxed, so find a comfortable place to nurse your baby. Try different positions to find the one that works best for your baby. Whether you cradle your baby, lie on your side, or hold her at your side like a football, the key is to ensure her head and body are turned towards your breast with her lips at the same level as your nipple. She shouldn’t have to turn her head to reach it. Be sure that when she latches on, your nipple and the underside of your areola are covered by her lips to ensure optimal expressing.

Have you experienced any of these common breastfeeding problems? Breastfeeding should be a time for enjoying your special bond with your baby. If your experience is frustrating, don’t wait to get in touch with your doctor or a lactation consultant who can help you improve the situation.

Can I Drink a Glass of Wine While Breastfeeding?

While there are plenty of things for new moms to worry about, having a glass of wine with dinner shouldn’t be one of them. It’s true that drinking while pregnant is a no-no, but the same doesn’t hold true for breastfeeding moms. When you’re pregnant, any alcohol in your blood passes directly through the placenta to the fetus. However, when you’re nursing, your baby’s metabolism dilutes the alcohol in your blood. 

How to identify your milk alcohol level

When you have an alcoholic beverage, the level of alcohol in your blood is the same as the level of alcohol in your milk. A 140-pound woman who drinks three ounces (two glasses) of wine with 13% alcohol content will have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.006%. Likewise, her breastmilk will be 0.006% alcohol. The effects of the alcohol will peak about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, and then the alcohol will pass out of the mother’s system.

Interestingly, some studies indicate that lactation lowers peak blood alcohol concentration. Breastfeeding moms get significantly less intoxicated than formula-feeding moms and other women when they drink the same amount. 

What happens if I nurse my baby after drinking a glass of wine?

One glass of wine is unlikely to have any notable effect on a healthy newborn. According to La Leche League, maternal blood alcohol levels must reach 300mg/100ml before significant side effects are reported in infant. To put that in perspective, you would be well past losing consciousness at this point. In fact, a review of 41 studies in the journal Basic + Clinical Pharmacology + Toxicology found that “even in a theoretical case of binge drinking, the children would not be subjected to clinically relevant amounts of alcohol [in the breastmilk].” 

However, some studies do seem to indicate that newborns take less milk than they would otherwise in the 3-4 hours after an alcoholic beverage is consumed. As the alcohol exits the mother’s system, newborns will increase their intake to make up for this decrease. It’s believed that the odor of the milk is off-putting to infants. In other words, it doesn’t taste quite right, but it’s harmless. 

Should I pump and dump?

Sometimes mothers are advised to “pump and dump” to clear the alcohol out of their systems. This actually has no effect. As long as there’s alcohol in your blood, there’s alcohol in your breastmilk. If you’re not comfortable breastfeeding your baby while there’s alcohol in your system, it’s just a matter of waiting 3-4 hours after you indulge to nurse again. That allows plenty of time for the wine to pass out of your system. 

A note on excessive drinking while breastfeeding

While the occasional glass of wine or beer is perfectly fine for breastfeeding moms, excessive alcohol can create problems for newborns. Large quantities of alcohol can cause weakness, drowsiness, deep sleep, and abnormal weight gain in infants, and excessive drinking can lead to failure to thrive. A breastfeeding mother who drinks to excess regularly can impede her baby’s growth, and she compromises her ability to care for her child. 

Raise your your glass, mama!

Not only is a little alcohol permissible, it’s productive. According to Mayo Clinic, moderate alcohol use can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and even your risk of diabetes. So relax, mom. Whether you want to indulge with a glass of wine at dinner or a beer on the beach, enjoy! 


3 Essential Oils for Breastfeeding Mothers

What are essential oils?

Plants produce essential oils that protect them and lure pollinators to ensure their reproduction. These essential oils are composed of aromatic compounds that give flowers, leaves, and bark their fragrance. These aromatic chemicals can be captured for our use through distillation. 

How do they work?

Fragrant essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy. They may be inhaled or massaged into the skin to stimulate the limbic system, which plays a role in regulating emotions, memories, behaviors and even stimulates some unconscious physiological functions, such as breathing and heart rate. 

Three essential oils recommended for breastfeeding women:

1) Frankincense

Produced by the Indian Boswellia Serrata tree, Frankincense has been found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-depressive effects, making it ideal for women with tender breasts and tender hearts. 

2) Lavender

Lavender essential oil offers antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits, and the relaxing aroma helps to reduce anxiety while improving sleep. All of these benefits make it a go-to essential oil for weary and worn nursing moms.

3) Cypress

Derived from the medicinal Cupressus sempervirens tree, cypress essential oil can help fight infections and relieve cramps and muscle pains. Like lavender and frankincense, cypress also relieves anxiety.

Are essential oils safe for breastfeeding women?

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy cautions against using particular essential oils while pregnant. However, a high-quality essential oil such as DoTERRA used according to instructions should have no ill effect on breastfed babies and may offer mothers a natural way to soothe sore muscles and stress. Because babies are more sensitive to essential oil, it’s best if you use them in a warm bath or aromatherapy inhaler to restrict the effects to yourself and prevent direct skin-to-skin contact with your little one. Also, some women may have allergic reactions to essential oils, so consult your doctor before using.

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Caring for Baby around the Holidays

Don’t you just love the holidays? This time of years gives us a chance to reunite with friends and family and remember all the good times we had together. Unfortunately for new moms, the holiday season may not be quite as enjoyable. The holidays can be quite a busy time, and as the mother of a newborn, your stress level is probably already through the roof. Here are a few tips from Milk N Mamas Baby to help you get through this holiday season without spreading yourself too thin or sacrificing the crucial care and attention your new baby needs.

Let Someone Else Host

If you’re accustomed to hosting friends and family during the holidays, it can be hard to let go. Of course, your brand new baby needs attention more than your circle, and nobody will think any less of you if you abdicate your hosting duties during baby’s first year. When the party’s at someone else’s house, you retain the option of ducking out early if things get too hectic for you and the baby, plus you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after everyone else leaves!

Breastfeeding during the Holidays

Your baby needs to eat on a regular schedule and missing feedings can be bad for your health, potentially leading to blocked milk ducts or even mastitis, a painful infection of the breast tissue. But what’s a new mom to do when baby’s usual feeding time falls during the family meal or some other inconvenient time? The short answer is simple: feeding your baby should be your priority, no matter what time of year it is. It’s important to stick to a schedule, even if it means leaving the room for a bit while your family does other things. Most likely, they will understand and encourage you to do whatever you must to take good care of their newest family member.

Set Boundaries and Stick to Them

Before you set out on any holiday adventures, you and your partner need to get on the same page about boundaries related to how much contact family members should have with your new baby. Your family will no doubt be excited to meet your new addition, but if baby starts to get fussy, it might be a good time to reinforce those boundaries. If the little one is getting overstimulated, it’s probably best that you politely let your family know it’s time to give mom and baby some space.

The holidays can be a lot of fun but they can also be tremendously stressful, even without a new baby in tow. We hope that these tips will help you manage that stress so that you and your baby can have a joyous holiday season. Of course, accessories like nursing bras and automatic breast pumps can go a long way towards reducing your holiday stress. Before you close your browser, don’t forget to take a look at the range of products we sell here on our site at Milk N Mamas Baby. We’ve got lots of convenient products that can make your holiday season easier to manage, and you may be able to get some items for free through your health insurance. From all of us at Milk N Mamas, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year!