How do you know if you will be able to breastfeed?

Did you know that when you fall pregnant your body starts to get ready for breastfeeding? How do you know this is true? Well one of the first signs of pregnancy is tender breasts. This is your body preparing your breasts for breastfeeding. Your breasts are starting to develop and laydown ducts so that you will be able to make breast milk. As early as the second trimester your breast are already starting to make colostrum. Some moms will start to see some drops of milk after a warm relaxing shower. This is why mother of premature babies can product milk for her baby.

Your body has hormones that are responsible for the control of breast milk production. While you are pregnant your placenta produces high amounts of progesterone which is a breast milk inhibitor (stops the production of breast milk). Your body also starts to make small amounts of prolactin (milk making hormone) which is responsible for the drops of breast milk that can be seen during pregnancy. Oxytocin (let-down hormone) is responsible for squeezing the muscles around your milk duct which “lets down” your milk. It is also responsible for the contracting of your womb after you give birth. This helps to reduce your bleeding and return your womb to it normal size. That is why oxytocin is responsible for the “cramping” you might feel while breast feeding.

Once you give birth and you no longer have a placenta, the amount of progesterone decreases in your body. This allows for an increase in prolactin and oxytocin. As the prolactin and oxytocin increase so will your breast milk production, this can take a few days. The more that your breast are stimulated the faster your body will make milk. Emptying your breast as often as possible increases the amount of prolactin which will then increase you milk production.

Feedback Inhibitor is another hormone that is not often spoken about but also helps to control your breast milk production. When your breasts start to become full, the feedback inhibitor hormone starts to increase and reduces the production of breastmilk. The fuller the breast the slower the production of breastmilk. This is why it is so important to empty your breast often so that more milk can be made.

Your body also has the ability to make more milk while your baby is breast feeding. So you don’t have to worry about how much milk your breasts can hold as that is not an indication to how much milk you can make.

Your body has spent 9 months growing and preparing you for your baby, don’t worry your body has got the breastfeeding sorted. All that is left is for you and your baby to learn how to breast feed. That is a relationship that grows and develops over time.

Storage of Breast milk

The best time to start collecting you breast milk is about 2 weeks before you go back to work. This will give you enough time to collect milk for the first week or so when you go back to work. Remember that while you are breastfeeding directly from the breast you will not be able to express as much as when you are back at work. You do not need to have a full freezer stash ready for when you go back to work.

Tips for storing and collecting breast milk:

  • Collection
    • Try to collect milk in the approximate amount that you will feed. This helps to reduced milk wastage.
    • Collect and store your milk in food grade containers. These can be plastic bags, bottles or food containers. Make sure they can be frozen and will not leak.
    • When collecting try to add milk of the same temperature to each other. For example don’t add warm fresh milk to fridge or frozen milk. Rather wait for the milk to cool down and then add.

 

  • Storage
    • Milk can be stored as per this table
Milk  storage/ handling Deep freeze          -180C Refrigerator/ freezer

-180C

Refrigerator 40C Insulated cooler with ice packs 150C Room temperature 250C
Fresh 6 months 3-4 months 3 days      (72 hours) 24 hours 4 hours
Frozen, thawed in fridge Do not refreeze Do not refreeze

 

24 hours Do not store 4 hours
Thawed, warmed , not fed Do not refreeze Do not refreeze 4 hours Do not store Until feeding ends
Warmed, fed Discard Discard Discard Discard Until feeding ends

Maybe it is time to see a lactation consultant by Carey Haupt RD(SA).

You know all about the benefits of breastfeeding, you did your research. Breastfeeding was your plan. You and your partner decided together that you were going to breastfed your baby. He has been so great, he helped out at the hospital brought you your baby whenever she needed a feed. But something is wrong, you are just not sure. You have googled and research on how to latch better, if you have enough milk or why your baby is not sleeping.  You have asked for assurance on social media and all the other moms say: “its ok you will get through this”. Your partner is even now starting to ask: “is this really what we want to continue to do?” You can see that he is now hesitating and not sure if he wants you to continue because he can see how much pain you are in. Maybe you are even starting to feel like you have failed in some way? Maybe you feel you can be a better mom if you can just get this right.

Well you need to stop, you need to realize that you are not the only mom or family that is going through difficulties while breastfeeding. Yes you may not know it but there are other mothers that battle with sore/ painful nipples, worry about not having enough milk, how to get a pain free latch or not knowing which person to listen to for help. Social media is a great place to get support from other mothers but sometimes you might just need a professional to assess you and help you with your unique situation.

A lactation consultant is a person that has the ability to help you walk your breastfeeding journey with you. She will be able to help you with your breastfeeding and answer your questions regarding: “Can I make enough milk for my baby? Do I have Mastitis? Does my baby really have a tongue tie or how am I going to express enough milk for when I go back to work?” Her goal is to help you and your family reach your breastfeeding goal even if your goal is to just breastfeed for the first month or 3 years.

A lactation consultant is a professional that has specialised in the clinical management of breastfeeding. They are often medical professional (ranging from midwives, doctors, dietitians, physiotherapists, psychologists or occupational therapists). For a list of lactation consultants click here

 

Breastfeeding and going back to work soon? by C Haupt

You know it is coming, the date is burnt into your calendar. With every day that passes the worry and stress that is linked to returning to work mounts. Who will look after you baby? Can I work with so little sleep? How do you continue to breastfeed when you are away from your baby?

More and more mothers are opting to continue to feed their baby’s breast milk. There are 3 main things you need to work on to make sure you have enough milk. They are

  1. Expression
  2. Storage and stash
  3. Feeding

There are two main ways to express breast milk, using hand expression or a pump. Some moms find that using their hands and massaging the milk out of the breast works very well. Other mother prefer to use a pump. There are 3 main types of pumps that you can use. See here for more info. Make sure that you are using the correct pump for your needs. For example a double electric breastpump will help you save time by pumping both your breasts at the same time.

What to look out for when using a breast pump:      cupping-breasts-while-double-pumping-500x500-150x150

  • Is it a closed system?
    • Closed system pump are the most hygienic pumps as they do not allow your breastmilk to move into the tubing or even the pump itself. This prevents the growth/ bacteria or mould inside you pump which is not safe for your baby.
  • How easy is it to clean?
    • Does the pump have lots of parts that need to be cleaned and sterilized? How difficult are the part to clean? If you are not able to clean you pump properly it may result in bacterial growth that can contaminate your milk
  • Do the flanges fit my breast comfortably?
    • If the flange is too tight it can damage your nipple while you are expressing
    • If the flange is too loose, the pump will not be able to form a proper suction and you will not be able to express properly.
  • Does it hurt me when I pump?
    • If you pump is hurting you it could be because the suction is set at a too high a level. Reduce the level until it is comfortable and only increase as you are comfortable
  • Are the valves damaged?
    • If the valves are damaged you need to change them as they will affect the pumps ability to form negative pressure and reduce the amount of milk you can pump.
  1. Storage and stash

The best time to start collecting you breast milk is about 2 weeks before you go back to work. This will give you enough time to collect milk for the first week or so when you go back to work. Remember that while you are breastfeeding directly from the breast you will not be able to express as much as when you are back at work. You do not need to have a full freezer stash ready for when you go back to work.

Tips for storing and collecting breastmilk:

  • Collection
    • Try to collect milk in the approximate amount that you will feed. This helps to reduced milk wastage.
    • Collect and store your milk in food grade containers. These can be plastic bags, bottles or food containers. Make sure they can be frozen and will not leak.
    • When collecting try to add milk of the same temperature to each other. For example don’t add warm fresh milk to fridge or frozen milk. Rather wait for the milk to cool down and then add.
  • Storage
    • Milk can be stored as per this table
Milk  storage/ handling Deep freeze          -180C Refrigerator/ freezer

-180C

Refrigerator 40C Insulated cooler with ice packs 150C Room temperature 250C
Fresh 6 months 3-4 months 3 days      (72 hours) 24 hours 4 hours
Frozen, thawed in fridge Do not refreeze Do not refreeze 24 hours Do not store 4 hours
Thawed, warmed , not fed Do not refreeze Do not refreeze 4 hours Do not store Until feeding ends
Warmed, fed Discard Discard Discard Discard Until feeding ends

How much to express breast milk to leave for your baby

Baby’s age Average milk volume per feed Average milk volume per day (24hrs)
Week 2 & 3 60-90ml 450-750ml
Month 1-6 60-150ml 750ml-1040ml
  1. Feeding
  • Teach the person that will be feeding your baby how to warm/defrost the milk so that it is safe for your baby
  • You can show them how to cup feed or to pace bottle feed.
  • If you baby is consuming large amount of milk you need to check on how your baby is being feed as it is easy to overfeed a baby with a bottle or cup.

 

Featured Content

My story

We have all heard a gazillion times, that breast is best. Although I had been a breastfed baby, it was not really the “norm” of how people were feeding their infants while I was at growing up and so I first learnt about the benefits of breastfeeding while I was studying to become a dietician. I was amazed at all the excellent properties that breast milk had for not only the infant and the mother but was also dumbstruck to see that it had benefits that for the entire family. As a result I have promoted and encouraged patients, friends and family to breastfeed.

Years later, I am a mother of two exclusively breastfed children (for the first 6 months). I have learnt that breastfeeding has 2 sides, it is an amazing roller-coaster. I have felt the bond that it brings, the tingling sensation of the let-down reflex and the enjoyment of knowing your child is so close. However, I have also experienced the difficulties of breastfeeding that are not always spoken about.

Both of my children were premature, which resulted in them staying in ICU for 3 and 6 weeks. This caused a variety of complications with my breastfeeding; I have expressed my breast milk, needed encouragement, suffered from sore nipples, had difficulty with latching, had weak feeders and continued to breastfeed while returning to work. One source that I found very useful was the IBCLC, who provided me with the support and correct information that I needed to continue breastfeeding.

Due to these difficulties, I now understand why a mother would stop breastfeeding, and would not dream of judging mothers who do. This page has been created to supply breastfeeding information and encouragement, where needed, to pregnant women who are planning to breastfeed and mothers who are breastfeeding.

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