you can never overfeed a baby

It’s important to remember you can never overfeed a baby. Many new mothers won’t feed their baby if he has recently fed and is now crying “but I just fed him, he can’t possibly be hungry”.  A baby needs to put on weight every day, every week, every month and every year for healthy growth and development.

Look at your baby. Often his facial expression will tell you what is wrong with him. He might make a funny face followed by a poo or a big burp. It’s important to look at your baby. Look, watch and learn. Your baby will tell you exactly what he’s feeling.  You are the parent and know and love the baby the best.

If he is looking around, he has enough food in his tummy and is feeling very comfortable. If the baby is squirming around and making noises, he may have some wind going around his lower bowel which is not the end of the world or life threatening but may cause some discomfort. Everyone has wind it’s a normal body process for us all to pass wind but it seems to cause new parents so much concern. I receive so many calls about a baby and wind and really this is the least of your problems.

 

Your baby is not sick when he has wind it’s a normal process, often sucking at the great helps him pass wind…the body knows what to do…trust your babies body too!  Mother nature has been doing this for a long time!!  If a baby is sick the body will declare it…that is if he has a temperature or is unwell, he will look unwell, not feed well, have decreased urine output…all the opposite to a well and healthy baby.

Often feeding will help the baby what we call “the oral anal reflex” that is when the baby sucks either at the breast or on a bottle the anus is simulated and will expel what the body does not need anymore (poo) and making more room for more food (milk) to be ingested for growth…how amazing is our body!!!

After we have our baby most of us feel it’s natural to breastfeed the baby.  It’s a very emotional feeling and most women want to do it and feel it just comes naturally.  In my experience no two women lactate the same in fact sometimes no two breasts lactate the same! This causes a lot of anxiety to women.  I’ve seen women who have SO much milk, when they feed the baby the baby sometimes struggles to feed longer than 5 mins and milk comes out the nose and they cough due to an excessive about of milk the mother has with a good let down.

 

This type of lactation is not only with women with big breasts or small breasts.  On the other end of the scale, some women have the baby sucking and sucking and sucking and the baby is still looking for more milk. The woman tries to express milk and there is no milk at all.  It’s very difficult when you have professionals trying to encourage you when you don’t have enough milk and all the time the baby needs food. In this case I would give the baby some formula.

 

Formula is food made for babies and when a new baby is developing and hungry he needs food.  It’s not a failure if you give a baby formula. In twelve months time you would not withhold food from your baby, so don’t put pressure on your self if you need to give some supplementary food of formula in the very early and important days of the babies life and development.

Breast is Best ~ we all know that!

 

Breast is best there is no doubt about it but not every one can or wants to breast-feed.  If you have 100 women in a room…each will lactate differently in fact each breast may lactate differently.  One patient of mine successfully breast fed 3 babies on one breast only. There is huge pressure on women to breastfeed and only breastfeed.  Personally I breast-fed my son for a long time, it worked well and I was so happy to be able to continue to feed along with working out of the home.

 

In 2015 we have extremist ideas about breastfeeding and that everyone must and should breast-feed.  As a medical professional I recommend breastfeeding to new mothers but in my view anything in the extreme is not healthy for anyone!

In my practice I encourage mothers to breast-feed and I explain the history of breast-feeding and describe the function of the breast so they are informed and educated.  Most women think the birth is the hardest and breast-feeding will “just happen”. Sadly it doesn’t for everyone!

Breast-feeding has been the way to feed babies since life started.  Breast-feeding now has become to some women confusing with professionals having conflicting ideas on how to do a very simple art…that is to let a baby suck at the nipple.  The more we confuse women on this very simple art the quicker the new mothers are going to give up breastfeeding. Babies are born with primitive reflexes…one of them being sucking.  Babies want to live and sucking is their reflex to suck milk.

Babies start to suck their fingers, fists, hands or thumbs in utero and continue to put their fingers to their mouth for quite a few months after birth.  It’s not uncommon to see a ‘sucking blister’ on a hand of a baby who has been sucking away while growing and enjoying life inside the uterus.

This innate hand-to-mouth reflex is normal and one reason why we should not put mittens on babies hands or cover their hands with the end of the grow suit sleeve.  Mittens can be dangerous with babies putting their covered hands to their mouth and in fact can pull the mitten off causing a choking risk.

Feeding

Lots of mothers worry they won’t make any milk. Remember that lactation of your breasts is a given.   Your body knows it needs to lactate. Your baby is born, the placenta is delivered and your brain knows to trigger the body to make milk to feed the baby… You don’t need anything to stimulate your breasts. All you need is your baby close to you and let the baby suck on your nipple. The problem is that everyone lactates differently.

When the baby sucks on your nipple it stimulates a hormone to let down the milk into your breasts. It doesn’t matter if you have small breasts or large breasts. Again, think of the women in Africa. They often have little food and water, but they can still make food for their newborn baby it’s because lactation is a function of the brain.  Colostrum is the first milk of the lactation.

There’s only a small volume of colostrum but is rich in calories.  You do not need to express the colostrum; it’s not going anywhere. Le the baby suck you nipple to get the colostrum

Everyone lactates differently, and it’s important that women understand this. Not everyone has a huge amount of milk. Over my years helping women with lactation, I’ve seen women with so much colostrum that the baby is gulping colostrum straight after birth.  I’ve also seen women who produce very little milk. This can cause anxiety and grief, as the mother wants to nourish her baby.

Breast-feeding is far the best option for you and your baby. There’s a lot of pressure in society to breastfeed and if you don’t want to breastfeed your baby that is your choice. We are lucky these days to have formula that can be a substitute for breastfeeding; breast milk is best for your baby.  Don’t ever feel guilty about feeding your baby formula. It is more important that the mother is happy and functioning…if the mother is happy…the family is happy!

 

As a parent you will have enough to feel guilty about over the years! If you cannot breastfeed your baby and he is not getting enough milk from you, you may need to add some formula, that’s okay. Look at the formula as food and calories.

 

You need your baby to grow and thrive however that may be. You would never imagine withholding food from a one year old, and the newborn baby needs food urgently to grow and be healthy.  Formula is food made for a baby.  It is not going to hurt your baby and in some cases what is the alternative…to let your baby be hungry?

There’s a saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, and centuries ago, communities raised babies together. There were wet-nurses who breastfed the babies while other women went out to do the work. My point is, every woman is different, so don’t feel guilty if you can’t or don’t want to breastfeed your baby. At your child’s 21st birthday party, no one will be discussing whether he was breastfed or not.

Straight after birth, even though you’ve been through an incredible process, your baby comes out wide-eyed and awake, ready to look around and see what the world is going to offer him. If you’re going to breastfeed, it’s important to offer the breast within the first hour. Babies are alert within the first few hours and they will suck and suck and suck. Then, after a nice feed, they hibernate and have a really good sleep.  Keep the baby wrapped and let him sleep.  Sadly, this gives the mother a false sense of security. You think, I’ve got the best baby; I’m so proud I’ve got a baby who’s going to sleep. But wait a few weeks – we can discuss life with a wakeful baby!

 

Babies put their hands, fingers or thumb into their mouth as a way to calm, soothe and comfort themselves when upset, tired or distressed.  It’s normal so don’t try to put your little ones hands away…they loves their hands and fingers!

 

It’s all about food!

 

I often mention three words; food, love, warmth. As a parent, I believe if you go by these three, simple words you can’t go wrong.  It’s very basic. Food, love, warmth.  Keep those words in your mind. Keep saying them to yourself when you’re questioning your ability as a parent and when worrying about your baby.

New parents often look at their crying baby and try to work out what is wrong.  An important thing to remember is that your baby cannot be sick and well at the same time…so if your baby is well treat him as well, believe me you will know when your baby is sick.  You know your baby the best so when you look at your baby you know instinctively she is well…so treat her as well.  When a baby is sick you will know.

 

Let’s turn that around by looking at your baby and thinking, you are a well baby, but you are crying. If your baby is crying, you can put the baby back on your breast, or give him a bottle of formula. Wrap your baby up, keep him nice and close, walk around with him and talk to him gently.

 

You do not need to pace the floor for hours burping a baby.  If a baby does not burp the wind will pass through his gut and then come out the other end.  Believe me babies are good at wind form the other end!!!

 

It’s important to remember you can never overfeed a baby. Many new mothers won’t feed their baby if he has recently fed and is now crying “but I just fed him, he can’t possibly be hungry”.  A baby needs to put on weight every day, every week, every month and every year for healthy growth and development.  They need to put on weight to grow, gain weight and this gives them the capacity to sleep better!

This means the baby needs to be fed milk in the first year and then introduce some solids in the last 4-6 months of the first year as an educational or introduction of food.

 

Milk is the main food for the first year of life, then after 12 months milk becomes secondary to the family diet having 3 cups of milk a day along with other dairy products.

 

If a baby is not offered a bottle at all within the first weeks it will continue to refuse the bottle…a baby will never refuse the breast.  I have had many mums call me to say they are going back to work and their baby is refusing the bottle. Believe me if you want your baby to take a bottle long term you must offer it to him within the first weeks after birth either with formula or expressed milk.  If you wish to breast feed fully with no bottle feeding that is a perfect decision too, I just care for the mums and know if I look after the mums in the family…. everyone will be ok.

 

A baby will not refuse the breast.  I have heard from many mothers, who need to go back to work, go out to a wedding or are unwell and their baby refuses to take a bottle.  The bath and bottle routine gives your partner time with the baby and you as a new mother a bit of time to yourself.

Why you should wrap your baby

It is really important to wrap your baby.  If you think about when the baby was in the uterus he was safe and was very comfortable.  When the baby moved within the uterus he would feel resistance from the surrounding uterus so every time he had any movements in the uterus he felt contained and safe.

 

When a baby is born is born with primitive reflexes. These primitive reflexes are hardwired into the baby’s brain as the survival method to keep the baby alive. Babies are hardwired to stay alive. When the baby is born the primitive reflexes are present with the most prominent the Moro, crying and the sucking reflex.  These primitive reflexes allow a newborn baby to communicate to us as parents to say the he is hot, cold

 

To explain the Moro reflex it is a really deep-seated primitive reflex so the baby cannot feel fearful. If you think of a new baby that has no clothes on not in the uterus is just naked on a bed it will cry with advanced moving around crying and looking and searching for some comfort. This primitive reflex is fear reflex to prevent them from the fear of falling so they hands our outstretched looking desperately for someone to hold onto whether it be the mother or even a tree.

 

So it only makes sense to keep our new baby is feeling safe secure and comfortable as he was in the uterus. That is why wrapping is so important.

 

There are some legitimate concerns about wrapping. They are that if you wrap around the baby hips far too tightly you can cause damage to them. I invented a way to wrap babies that not only is safe for them around the hips but also contains those very vigorous energetic hands.

 

So at least for the first 6 to 8 weeks it is really important to wrap your baby for all feeds and all sleep.

As the baby grows and becomes more stable with its Moro reflex you don’t need to wrap as much during the day it definitely you need to wrap for sleep until about six months. Then you can transfer the baby into a sleeping bag.

 

The practice in most hospitals these days is to not only feed the babies and unwrapped but also to undress the babies. This makes no sense to me. Why would you feed a newborn baby that is cold, undressed with arms waving everywhere with an anxious mother and anxious father looking on? The explanation that is often given to new mothers by staff is that the babies are sleepy and you need to undress the baby to keep the baby awake so he will suck.

 

In fact, babies in the first 4 to 6 days are very sleepy and they will wake when they are hungry. I have a saying that the baby cannot be sick and well at the same time. He is either sick or he’s well. You can’t be both. When you have a well baby it is vital that you treat it as well rather than trying to problem solve what is wrong with the baby.

 

Not all rules apply to all babies in the first 4 to 6 days. You have premature babies, you have babies of diabetic mothers, you have little babies, you have very hungry babies, you have jaundiced babies and of course you have the very sleepy baby. All of these babies need to be treated differently not all the same way.

 

Premature babies often that in a special care nursery and too tired and too little to even suck so they are given supplementary feeding formula plus the mother’s breast milk through a little tube via their nose so they can sleep and grow and gradually get strong enough to suck at the breast or suck the bottle.

 

Babies of diabetic mothers often need formula within an hour or two of birth. Life in utero has often been a high level of sugar and when they are born their sugar level falls dramatically so they infect need a drink a formula to bring their sugar level up.

 

When babies are born at term but are little and we call that growth restriction these babies are often hungry and not only need breast milk but need additional formula to help them gain weight quickly.

These babies often have had a placenta that has been working a little slower than normal and that’s why they are smaller then the average baby.

 

The jaundiced baby is often born at term and also sleepy. These babies need to be put under ultraviolet lights to decrease the level of jaundice in their skin. These babies also need a mother’s breast milk and often-supplementary feed formula.

 

The hungry baby needs food. And food I mean milk either breast milk formula. There is absolutely no use in trying to express one or two mls of colostrum from the mother causing her discomfort and anxiety when she has a screaming baby at the breast.  The colostrum is not going to go away. If the baby is hungry and crying and not going to attach the breast the sensible way to settle the baby is to give him some formula to drink. You only need to give a few bottles of formula and as he feels less hungry and more settled and will attach to the breast drinking more effectively. The breast milk starts to come in everyone starts to feel happier these mothers breastfeed longer the babies are more settled and in the long-term everybody’s happy.

 

Then you have the very sleepy baby. These other babies that the midwives tend to undress and unwrap hoping that making them cold the baby will wake up. This only makes the baby lethargic and refuses to feed.  In this case these babies tend to lose up to 15% of their birth weight and cry a lot. You have a new mother in the hospital with the new baby screaming having 15 people telling 15 different ways how to feed a baby. As I follow through women and their partners and babies long-term I see that these women give up breastfeeding very very quickly.

 

My approach is to give these babies formula and calories, the breast milk will come the babies will attach to the breast is no hurry the most important thing to do is to feed the baby. When you have the fed baby you have a happy mother happy partner and the whole extended family is happy. Babies are very clever. You cannot overfeed a baby. Never. But you can under feed a baby.

 

And when you have a baby losing weight and consistently losing weight they start to fail. I like to have babies fed gaining lots of weight and I’ve proven that through this they not only are calmer and settled but they sleep well and the mothers breast feed a lot longer. It is all about weight gain.

 

So going back to my original heading of wrapping your baby I want you to think about how important it is to wrap your baby while you are feeding him. He needs to feel calm, warm and secure at your breast. Just like he was in your uterus. You need to feel calm breastfeeding him. And really it can be that easy-it works.

 

You do not need to have a baby in any other position other than across your chest is your baby’s head rested in your left elbow if you’re feeding on the left breast hold your breast just gently with your fingers and let your baby find the nipple. They are so clever. You do not need to teach a baby how to breastfeed. He wants to live. Babies are hardwired to feed they are not hardwired to stave.

 

Mastitis is an infection in the breast that can occur post delivery. It’s usually an ascending infection, spreading from a crack in the skin of the nipple. It doesn’t happen to everybody but for some women, unfortunately, it happens frequently. Women with mastitis feel terribly ill and can get sick very quickly. The treatment for mastitis is with a prescribed antibiotic.

 

It is important to know the signs of mastitis so you can catch it early and get onto antibiotics to treat the infection.  Often there is a red patch on the breast that causes the mastitis. You can also display flu like symptoms such as a headache, sore throat, hot and cold flushes, shivers, shakes and a feeling of general malaise. This feeling can take over within minutes and you feel very sick, very quickly.   I encourage mothers to start oral antibiotics ordered by the doctor as soon as you see a red making on your breast. Try not to wait until you feel very sick.

It’s very hard when you have mastitis, because you still need to feed your baby. Even though you feel unwell and your breasts are sore, you need to keep breastfeeding because the milk needs to continue to flow. It’s very important to have the baby suck on the breast that has mastitis.

You will need pain relief tablets, anti inflammatory tablets and antibiotics – all prescribed by your doctor.  Never take anyone else’s medication.

 

You must not massage your breasts when you have mastitis.

 

This is a common practice encouraged by some practitioners, but in my experience, massaging the breast actually makes things worse. For example, if you had a bruise on your leg that was sore and inflamed, you would not keep massaging it. It doesn’t seem right and would actually make it worse. It’s the same with your breasts. If your breast is red, hot, swollen and sore put a firm bra on, take your medication and let the baby feed.  Clean, cold (in freezer) cabbage leaves flowered around your breast will provide tremendous relief.

Once you start antibiotic therapy you should start to feel better within 24 hours. If you don’t feel any change, go to your doctor or local hospital straight away as mastitis can form into an abscess and you can become extremely ill.

Remember to trust your body. If you don’t feel well, tell somebody and get help. 

Nipples

 

I’ve seen thousands and thousands of nipples!  Some nipples are long and the baby can attach easily and feed well. Some are not so big. Some are inverted with the pointy part of the nipple going back into the breast. To breastfeed successfully your nipple needs to go on the baby’s tongue, which stimulates the baby to suck and then swallow.

There is help available if you don’t have long nipples and can’t attach the baby to your breast. Nipple shields have been around for centuries. Many years ago women would put a device over their nipple if it was sore or wasn’t long enough.

 

Even just thirty-two years ago, nipple shields were made from thick rubber and their use was frowned upon. Now nipple shields are made from a fine plastic . Don’t feel guilty if you have to use a nipple shield.

Believe me, they help and often the difference between breastfeeding and not breastfeeding. They also provide protection if you have sore cracked nipples. If you have a cracked or damaged nipple it is so important to put a nipple shield on.  When you wear a shield, the breast milk pools around the nipple, and the crack is usually healed within 24 hours.  The breast milk has healing powers.