March 16, 2020
Tomorrow my book, The New Baby Blueprint comes to shelves everywhere, though there won’t be many people (or any) in bookstores, I imagine, at least not in Portland, when I live. There’s an eerie silence in my city at this moment, one that may stick around for a little bit.
That doesn’t mean life won’t, in at least some ways, go on. Today I saw parents of a three-day-old baby in
At times like these, it’s easy to get discouraged and to feel helpless, especially if you’re in that new parent phase when overwhelm, anxiety, and depression are already more likely to throw parents off their game. Opportunities for support are all around us, though, even if we have to be more creative to find them.
This week on the podcast, Katie Kennedy, IBCLC, joins us to talk about what to do to make breastfeeding successful long-term, and what success really looks like in the big picture.
Even if you can’t access lactation help as easily as you might when there isn’t a pandemic sweeping the nation, you can get reputable information. Check out our book, The New Baby Blueprint for more. Sign up for our online program: Taking Care of You and Your Baby. You are not alone!
This allows the food to go down versus up. Think about yourself when you eat a huge meal. You feel uncomfortable, right? You feel like burping. You might even feel a little bit of spit-up coming up. If you were to lie down, you would feel even worse. The same goes for a baby. Experts recommend an upright position after feeds as much as possible.
Ask your doctor or lactation specialist about laid-back positioning and about c-clamping if it seems like you may have
Laid-back nursing positioning is just that—you recline back onto a pillow or a couch so that you’re at more of a 45-degree angle with your baby, as opposed to leaning over your baby’s mouth, so that the milk flows more likea stream versus like a waterfall (which is less forceful).
C-clamping is when you make a c-shape with your forefinger and your thumb, encircling your breast just behind the areola. You latch your baby, watch the baby swallow your first letdown’s milk, and then, instead of clamping down and pushing forward, you clamp down and push back on the breast tissue to stop the flow. Wait until your baby takes a pause from eating, then loosen your clamp. Repeat this for the rest of the feed until your baby is done eating. Again, your pediatrician or lactation consultant will be the best person to let you know if this is appropriate for you.
If your baby isn’t getting enough milk, she can lose too much weight. By about day 3 to day 4, your milk shouldbe in. You’ll start to see and hear your baby really swallowing when she is eating, and you may see milk at the corner of her mouth. If that isn’t happening, again, it means you need help.
We expect that babies will lose up to 10 percent of their birth weight in the first few days after birth. But once your milk is well established, weight gain begins.
One of the major indicators of a normal progression is poop, which changes rapidly as your milk comes in and turns from just a few sticky, dark stools to a lot of yellow seedy stools when the milk is flowing well and your baby is processing all that good nutrition!
Breastfeeding is hard work…and it’s an area of severe disappointment for so many mamas. We wrote all about how to deal with your own personal breastfeeding story – joyous, overwhelming, disappointing or somewhere in-between here.
March 12, 2020
Women in the U.S. need all the help we can get when it comes to breastfeeding success. We live in a nation whose relationship with lactation is highly paradoxical —the societal pressures are high to exclusively breastfeed but real, practical information on how to make it go right and how to tell if things aren’t going right is spotty, to say the least. When I meet new moms in the hospital, I’m always trying to give breastfeeding advice to fledgling nursers on the most important rule of all: babies need to eat.
You’re probably thinking that sounds pretty basic. Obviously, babies require nutrition. But, exactly how much they need to eat and when they need it often gets significantly more convoluted. Thankfully, we can set ourselves up for better breastfeeding success by understanding a few basic principles and following some simple breastfeeding advice around newborn nursing needs. Let me break it down for you:
In the first few days to weeks, babies need to have a feeding attempt at least every three hours. We call it “three hours start to start” in my office – that is, it should be no longer than three hours from the start of one feeding to the start of another. Babies will often want to feed way more often than that, which is great and perfectly okay, but at the very least they need that every three-hour cueing. That means, set a timer when you start feeding your infant in the first few days. Three hours later, you need to start feeding again, even if your last feeding session only ended two hours ago.
Breastfeeding is a two-way feedback loop. The first feedback loop is for the mom; the more a baby’s suckling stimulates the breast, the more milk the mom’s body makes.
The second feedback loop is for the baby: the more the baby eats, the more food it takes in, the more alert and hydrated the baby, driving hunger and allowing the baby to eventually regulate its own feeding needs.
People are constantly talking about letting newborns breastfeed “on demand” – that they should drive their own hunger and can do so. That breastfeeding should be natural.
That’s totally true…eventually. But, in the beginning, a baby needs help to get her system going. Breastfeeding IS natural, but it’s not usually easy in the beginning for a new baby or a new mom – both have to learn new skills and how to “rev up the system.”
There’s also a ton of talk in the new mommy world about how a baby’s stomach is really small at first and they don’t need much milk. About how they really only need tiny bits of colostrum in the first few days.
That is absolutely true. Babies are often sleepy in the first 24 hours after they are born, mom’s milk hasn’t come in yet, the system is set up so that there’s a little grace period.
But here’s the catch – that is the time to prime the pump(s) by nursing frequently so that the milk actually does come in and so that baby is alert enough at day three to four so they can take the milk mom starts making.
Breastfeeding success isn’t quite that simple (believe me, I wish it was—it would have saved me a lot of time and money in lactation services with my first baby). Consider these factors as well.
Keep your baby active at the breast. You may need to stimulate your baby (tickling baby’s feet, using a cool washcloth at the forehead, getting baby undressed down to the diaper, rotating her arm gently) to get your baby to feed effectively.
Of all the advice I offer, this is the most important. Get help from the get-go with latch. Ask your nurse at the hospital to position correctly the first day. Ask for a lactation consultation right away (not day two or three) if you have any concerns at all (this is pretty much every new mom I meet, so don’t feel like you have to have major worries in this area to justify getting extra assistance. Sometimes, you don’t realize the questions or issues you have until an expert helps you out).
Like I’ve said before, if you lived in a home with all of your breastfeeding friends and experienced breastfeeder family members, you wouldn’t need all this outside help but, the reality is, you probably don’t. Lots of moms worried about they are a bother if they ask for help but that is not true at all!
When a baby is born, we expect that they will lose up to 10% of her initial weight at birth. This occurs because, in the beginning, they don’t get much milk. When the milk comes in (at about 72 hours), the weight starts to come back up again. If your baby loses more than 10% of her
By about day 3-4 of life, we expect milk to come in for most moms. You’ll know your milk is in because the poop will be changing, you’ll start to see your baby really swallowing when he is eating, and you may see milk at the corner of his mouth. If that isn’t happening, again, it means you need help. Ask your pediatrician for
Almost all babies spit up and (as long as the spit-up looks like digested milk, not bright yellow/green or bloody) although it creates a huge laundry problem, it’s not a problem for the baby. Sometimes, though, if your milk is coming out
Breastfeeding success, even if you follow every single piece of good advice you hear, is hard work. Sometimes, despite doing everything “right,” it’s still a huge struggle for new moms, contributing to a sinking feeling that they’re “lesser than” other first-time mamas out there and setting the stage, for some, for postpartum depression and anxiety. The truth is, breastfeeding is only a small part of motherhood—a part that is easier to approach and problem-solve when you have credible resources and knowledgeable support at your fingertips.
March 9, 2020
Everywhere you look, someone’s trying to sell you on ways to get your baby
There’s a billion-dollar baby industrial complex out there, designed to, you guessed it, make other people money, and to prey on our desire to be the best parents possible…and to raise kids who are the most successful possible. Commercialism threatens our ability to focus on what matters and to live in contentment every day with our kids. Which begs the question, what is the true measure of success? You can read our definition here.
This week on the podcast, John Medina, author of Brain Rules for Baby, joins us to talk about the science behind intelligence and about what truly makes babies really smart…in the ways that actually matter.
His ideas about what constitutes intelligence might surprise you…and relieve you. Turns out we have a lot more control over how our kids turn out (at least in terms of their emotional intelligence) than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. Hint: our relationships with our partners and the other adults in our parenting village have a ton to do with it.
February 27, 2020
They were straight-up petrified. A couple of new parents sitting there on the couch in my pediatrics office. Wide-eyed and hopeful, hopped up on information about “this year’s best stroller.” Filled to the brim with platitudes their friends and family all offered about what to expect when the timer went “ding” on their little bun in the oven. “It’ll be hard but you’ll love it. Enjoy your sleep now ‘cause it will never be the same again.” They had heard it all for months and, now, they were looking for REAL answers as to what would happen to their lives in those first few weeks. For the steps they actually could take to prepare themselves for the new little baby that was about to enter their world and turn it completely upside down (for a bunch of free help as you become a new mom, sign up for our free guide here).
I see it all the time in
They have no idea about the fact you have a limited maternity leave. It doesn’t matter to them that you’ve already lived 35 years and have a social life. They certainly don’t care if you have a certain level of sleep you’re used to. Their needs and desires are the same as the needs babies had thousands of years ago. When they are first born (and for the first three months afterward), they want only to keep things going as they were in that blissful, dark, loud, warm, cozy womb from which they just came. Dr. Harvey Karp wrote all about their primitive needs in his groundbreaking book, The Happiest Baby on the Block. It’s over 20 years old at this point but IT DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE BABIES HAVEN’T CHANGED ONE BIT since then and so the principles are just as true now as they were back in the day.
Before birth, your baby is swayed by the motion of your body throughout the day, lulled to sleep by the small and large movements you make. At night, it’s party time. If you are pregnant and reading this right now, you know EXACTLY what I mean. It’s reassuring on some level to feel a baby kicking around all night long, but it’s also hard to get some shut-eye some nights. All throughout the night, your body is not in motion and so your baby thinks it’s time to get active. After baby comes out, it takes awhile for your newborn to get the drift that night is actually night and day is actually day.
I know, I know, you already KNOW THAT. That’s why you’re so scared about this in the first place, right? But a new parent’s perspective gets thwarted easily. Somewhere along the line, people tend to forget this basic premise: this is not like all the modern things you normally do. They start trying to fix things instead. They try to make their baby get on a sleep schedule starting week one. (I do think that bedtime routines and sleep schedules can be a great thing, they’re just not the solution really early on for most babies.) They buy every product known to man. They fight and fight and fight baby sleep. I’ve been there. I’ve searched for hours for the perfect sleep solution. I’ve gotten frustrated with my baby, with my partner, and with the whole stinkin’ situation. And I’ve even lost sight of the fact that sometimes you can’t fix it. You just have to let it ride out. Let me give you a non-baby example: Think of the last really challenging exercise class or workout you did. The one where you had to psych yourself up to even make it down to the studio or to strap on those running shoes. You just KNEW that there would be a moment when you thought, “this is so hard.” Think of the moment you had to tell yourself, “just keep breathing, use your resources (distracting yourself with music, focusing on your form, thinking about your goal).” Think about how, at some point, your options were to just give up or to keep pushing through. There wasn’t anything you could do to make it substantially better, you just had to keep going. That’s kind of how, on some level, you have to approach new baby sleep. In the beginning, there are only so many things you can control (we’ll get to these in a second). Instead, you have to focus more on your own resources so that YOU can get through this tough time with resilience.
If someone tells you they can get EVERY baby to sleep well EVERY NIGHT using their methods, you’ve gotta be a little wary. I mean, come on, you are smart enough to never buy that when it comes to anything else in your life (think get-rich-quick schemes, perfect beauty tricks). So why would it be true for baby sleep when families and children are all so individual? No, babies are like Frank Sinatra – they do it THEIR WAY. A child’s temperament is a huge influencer of how well they sleep from the very, very beginning. Environment and parents sure help, but, in the end, temperament always plays a huge role. My first daughter was a bit of a nightmare when it came to sleeping well, but my second daughter was more of a breeze. Sure, I learned a bit about baby care in between. I’m not patting myself on the back, though. I can see the difference in their personalities in one hundred other ways, too.
Create an environment that is conducive to good sleep at night. Make the room dark, get the white noise going. Read Happiest Baby on the Block from cover to cover. Then read it again. Watch Youtube videos of how to soothe your baby. Make sure your partner understands the “5 S’s:” Swaddling, Shushing, Swinging, Side or Stomach (note: Side or Stomach is not a safe sleeping position for babies – but is great for soothing when awake) and Sucking. Don’t expect it, like any other book, will work perfectly, but expect it to give you a place to start when baby gets really worked up and won’t rest. You want to avoid feeling stuck, like you have no tricks up your sleeve. So, get the basics down ahead of time and add to your toolbox as you go, making lists of calming tricks if you need to and putting them on your fridge or phone so you can refer to them as you get familiar with what works for your baby.
This is the most important tip I can give you about newborn sleep. When I finished residency, I thought I would be all set to deal with sleep deprivation. I was used to staying up all night long, sometimes for up to 30 hours at a time for one shift. But the thing I forgot when I got into the whole new baby thing was the fact that I was also used to, at some point, having uninterrupted rest for hours at a time. Plus some weekends off. That is very different from the sinking feeling that you may never sleep again when your infant is brand new. While you can’t completely control how your baby sleeps, you can make sure you optimize your own sleep. Here’s how: You need to feed your baby really frequently in the early days and weeks but you don’t need to be the only one who soothes him or her in-between feeding sessions. That means your partner (or someone else – a family member, a postpartum doula) needs to step in and become “soother-in-chief” for awhile, as my work colleague likes to say. Otherwise, you will be at higher risk for postpartum depression and anxiety. Or you could resent the people around you and be less able to actually enjoy your baby during the day. If (again, back to our ancestors), you lived with all 20 of your favorite relatives in one common dwelling, this would be easy. In our culture of isolation, it can be trickier to find help for most new moms but it is SOOOO worth it. Even if you have someone designated as a soother every other night for one week, it will do wonders for your mental and physical health. The whole point is having a time in the future you can look forward to when you know you will get sleep (even if that time is two days away).
Be patient with your baby and with yourself. For some babies, sleep is great right away but for others, you’ve got to wade through the murky water until you get to the fresh stream a little further ahead. Use your resources and mindfulness, just like you would for any other challenging obstacle in your life. Of course, if your baby seems excessively fussy or you are concerned about illness, seek help from your child’s pediatrician. Get help from a lactation consultant if things seem to be haywire in the feeding department. So, is it possible for a newborn to sleep like a baby? Well, technically yes. They will sleep like the immature, womb-seeking, still-developing humans that they are. That’s the truth. Remember how primitive your baby’s needs are. Get your mind right. Get educated about how to soothe a baby and set up a sleep environment that optimizes rest for both of you. Above all, since babies aren’t modernizing anytime soon, make sure you get YOUR sleep by getting a solid team around you from the get-go. That way, even if your baby isn’t quite up to speed on how to calm and sleep when they first arrive, you can teach them with patience and perspective until they find their way.
February 24, 2020
This week on the podcast, we’re welcoming
Brianne is also sharing her experience with developing a business from the ground up, and following your dreams even if you’re not sure exactly what direction they’ll take you. Brianne’s website, Stroller in the City, is total eye candy for those who love to travel.
Brianne primarily works out of her home and on the go, so she has had to learn early on how to balance work life and home life in the same space, a feat I’m entirely in awe of. We also talk all about how to get your work done the most efficiently if you run your own small business (like she and I do) and how to give yourself a break when you’re feeling unbalanced. If you work out of your home, this episode is chock full of professional wisdom for you, Mama.
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