The 5 Things You Must Do for Breastfeeding Success

One thing I hear all the time from friends who struggled with breastfeeding is “I wish I had done things differently at the start”. Pregnancy is such a whirlwind with all the preparations we make for baby, especially when it’s the first. Many people don’t give much thought to breastfeeding ahead of time, assuming it will just happen naturally after birth. The truth is, being prepared and knowledgeable can be the difference between breastfeeding stress and breastfeeding success.

must do for breastfeeding success

1. Nurse as soon as possible after birth

Following an uncomplicated delivery, request that the baby be put directly on your chest for skin-to-skin. Just following birth, the baby has a window of time when they are unusually alert and awake so you want to take advantage of this period. Research has shown that babies that attach to the breast within an hour after birth have more successful breastfeeding outcomes months later when compared to babies who were not placed at the breast until 2 hours later or more.

In the event of a C-section or other complications, it may not be possible to breastfeed within that first hour. Just make sure your medical professionals know that you wish to breastfeed as soon as it is safe for baby and mother.

During those first attempts at breastfeeding, some babies immediately latch on correctly and instinctively suck, swallow and breathe correctly. (Remember they have had practice in the womb drinking amniotic fluid and sucking their thumbs!) Other babies will not latch on right away but instead just hold the nipple in their mouth or move their tongue unproductively. This is not cause for concern, and after a few more tries baby should catch on.

2. Meet with a lactation consultant

If your goal is to breastfeed, part of your planning during pregnancy should be to line up a lactation consultant. Many hospitals have their own on hand, or you can ask your OB for a referral for one to meet with you shortly after birth.

A lactaction consultant has expertise at checking to make sure the baby has the proper latch and can fix any latch problems early on. A bad latch can cause damage to mother’s nipples, pain when nursing, poor letdown and subsequently poor supply. Meeting with a lactation consultant while you’re still in the hospital can prevent problems from happening later on. She can also make sure your posture and positioning is correct so you aren’t straining your back while nursing or disturbing your incision if you’ve had a C-section.

Note: I have heard a few stories of people who had a bad experience with a specific lactation consultant. If you are unhappy with yours, do not be afraid to find a different one! She is providing a service to you and if your needs are not being met, by all means have them met elsewhere.

Need help finding a lactation consultant in your area? The United State Lactation Consultant Association makes it easy with this searchable map.

3. Check for tongue tie

Some doctors do this routinely but you should take it upon yourself to make SURE yours does. I have heard a few breastfeeding horror stories centering around an overlooked tongue tie!

Tongue tie, or ankyloglossia as it’s called in the medical world, occurs in about 4% of newborns. It’s when the connective tissue holding the tongue to the bottom of the mouth extends too far. This makes it difficult for the baby to stick out their tongue, as it is seemingly “tied” down to mouth.

There’s a range in how severe tongue ties are. My fourth child was born with a mild tongue tie, meaning that his tongue was attached to the bottom of his mouth farther than normal but he was still able to extend the tongue past his lips. We monitored him at birth to see if he would need to have the procedure done to “snip” the frenulum (called a frenotomy). It turned out not to disturb his nursing so we opted not to do it. He has had no problems with his tongue tie since.

With a more severe tongue tie, the tongue is held almost completely to the bottom of the mouth. When the child attempts to stick out his tongue, the tongue will take on almost a heart-shape appearance as the center is still firmly tied down. Attempting to nurse a baby who can’t extend his tongue will result in painful, unproductive nursing.

must do for breastfeeding success
Photo credit: Top Health Doctors, Au

4. Feed on demand

Of everything you’ve ever read about what you must do for breastfeeding success, this is THE MOST CRUCIAL.

You can schedule your baby all you want after the first couple months, but in the beginning it is very important to breastfeed on demand. This is how you establish your milk supply.

The law of supply and demand is what regulates the entire breastfeeding process. Nursing frequently is what cues your body to make more milk. If you don’t nurse as often as baby wants, your supply will be too low. In the beginning stages when your body is just figuring out how much to make, it is not wise to go by the clock and try to “hold off” the baby from nursing again. Let nature do its thing and allow baby to determine how much milk you should be producing.

This means you will be breastfeeding very, very often in the first few weeks of your baby’s life.

One of the reasons newborns need to be fed very often is that their stomach is literally the size of a marble at birth. The small amount of colostrum you have to feed them after birth is enough to fill this tiny stomach. But their stomach is too small to keep them satiated for long, and they will need to refill themselves often, sometimes every hour to at the start.

Secondly, breastmilk is very easy for baby to digest. This is part of why it’s a perfect source of nourishment for your little one! It also means it is digested extremely quickly, much quicker than formula (about 1.5 hours vs. 3-4 hours). So even if you feel like you just fed them, they very well maybe hungry again.

It is extremely common and expected to feel like you are constantly feeding your baby during the newborn stage. Prepare for it and accept it!

5. Nothing else in the mouth for 3 weeks

The supply and demand process can be disturbed by giving baby a pacifier to try and buy time until the next feeding. When baby is crying to eat, that is the “demand”. Pacifiers delay the time between the baby demanding food, and you giving them the breast.  When you are still trying to regulate your supply this can disturb the cycle.

Many new moms inadvertently sabotage their own supply by worrying that they aren’t making enough milk. They may be tempted to pump and feed the baby bottles to see how much they’re getting. However this can lead to several more problems:

1.) The pump does not drain the breast as well as the baby does, so moms may see the amount they pump and think there is a supply issue when there really is not.

2.) Bottles are less work to drink from than the breast. The baby may decide he prefers the bottle and start to refuse the breast or start latching incorrectly at the breast.

3.) Pumping and feeding from a bottle may satisfy a Mom’s desire to feel “in control” of the feeding process. She may lose faith in her body’s natural ability to provide for her baby.

Remember that frequent nursing in the newborn stage is normal and does not mean the baby isn’t getting enough!

If you are unsure whether baby is getting enough, here are the signs:

must do for breastfeeding success

A note about nipple confusion: The idea of “nipple confusion” is debatable. Many babies, my own included, had no problem switching back and forth from bottle to breast. However I did not introduce a bottle (or pacifier) to them in their first few weeks of life.

What questions or concerns do you have about breastfeeding? If you’re an experienced mother, what helped (or hurt) you on your breastfeeding journey? Share in the comments!

Mom Talk Monday: What is your baby name crush?

Choosing the perfect name for your baby can be one of the most stressful parts of pregnancy. It is such a huge decision that can seemingly affect your child’s entire life. When you finally do come up with one you like, your partner inevitably tells you he hates it or it sounds funny with your last name.

Then there is the problem of making the name flow with the other people’s names in the family. When we were expecting our fourth, it seemed like every name either rhymed with or clashed with one of our other kid’s names. The boy name we had picked out for Elle was Leo, but we felt we couldn’t use Leo for number 4 because when saying “Elle and Leo” I was afraid it would sound like “LELELELELO”.

Maybe I was over analyzing things, but at the time we totally struggled with the decision and didn’t decide on a name until the absolute last minute. Baby names are hard.

Now that we are done having kids, I have certain names that give me a little twinge of regret whenever I hear them. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love our kids’ names and they suit their personalities perfectly. But I am a little sad for the names I used to lust over that I’ll never get to use.

My baby name crush list:

Mabel- The husband declared I had pregnancy-induced insanity when I suggested this one. I tried to sell him on “it’s so ugly it’s cute” but he wasn’t budging.

Meadow- He called me a hippie (like that’s an insult?)

Ava- I love it but so does everyone else. Too popular.

Penelope- Our last name also has three syllables and starts with “P” so yeah, it sounds ridiculous.

Reese- Love the name but feared a complex relationship to a certain chocolate.

Sylvie- I liked Sylvie, he liked Sylvia, and we were never able to meet in the middle.

Leo- I still sweat this so name hard!

Jude- Such a cute name but we tried to avoid any names that people associate with songs.

Don’t be shy, share with us…


baby name crush

5 Things Every Child Should Know by Age 5

Kid number 3 just turned 5 over here and for some reason that age stands out to me as a milestone. At age 5 they go to kindergarten and aren’t by our sides every minute. They have developed a sense of themselves and where they fit into the world. The therapist in me collides with the Mom in me at this age as I struggle to prepare her for all the possible dark scenarios she may encounter.

I’ve always been big on preparing my kids for the “what if”s: talking openly and honestly about topics even if they might be somewhat scary to little ones. Having worked with kids who have lived through a lot of scary stuff, I know it’s better to prepare my children than try to keep them in a happy, naive bubble.

Parents, don’t shy away from teaching and talking to your kids. There are more important things they need to learn than their sight words and ways to make 10.

safety skills for 5 year olds

1. Mom and Dad’s real names and contact info

Several times I’ve been faced with a lost child in public, and being the motherly soul that I am, I take it upon myself to help the crying kid. It usually starts like this:

Me: “What’s your name?”

Kid: [says name]

Me: “What’s your Mom’s name?”

Kid: “Mommy.”

Me: [Facepalm]

Think your under 5 year old knows your full name? Go give them a pop quiz and make sure.

Work on helping them memorize their address and phone number too. Since phone numbers can be hard for little ones, just pick the one number that is most important for them to know. Typically this is Mom’s cell phone and not the house line.

Pro tip: Make the phone number into a song to help your child remember it.

2. What an emergency is and how to call 911

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent the last 5 years trying to lock your kid out of your phone. If they get their hands on it, your camera roll ends up looking like this:

Regardless if they are allowed to use your phone or not, make sure you teach them how to call 911 in case there is ever an emergency. If you have an iPhone, they can bypass your passcode by pressing “Emergency” in the lower left corner and then dial 911.

safety skills for 5 year olds

Make sure you practice and rehearse this! My second child constantly mistook the emergency number for “991” when he was a preschooler.

While you’re teaching this, make sure they know what an emergency actually is. You don’t want your kid dialing 911 because their brother finished the Capn’ Crunch.

3. The bathing suit rule

If you haven’t worked with abused children, this might not be on your radar. But it should be.

The bathing suit rule is simple: any place on your body that a bathing suit covers can only be touched by Mom, Dad, or a doctor with Mom or Dad there.

And the same rule applies for the child touching other people. If their bathing suit covers it, you don’t touch it.

The bathing suit concept just makes it easy for kids to visualize and determine what parts are private. If you prefer to take the direct approach and name the body parts that are off limits, that works too.

Either way is far better than saying nothing on the topic.

4. There are no secrets from Mom and Dad

This one kind of goes hand in hand with #3, but can apply to many other situations as well.

Anytime a grownup tells your child that something is “their little secret” or that they shouldn’t tell their parents, that should set off an alarm in their brain to immediately go and tell Mom and Dad!

Unfortunately, most young children have been conditioned to blindly listen to any and all adults. Some will follow directions when a grownup tells them never to tell anyone their secret. Be clear with your kids that NOTHING is a secret from Mom and Dad, and anyone who asks them to keep a secret is breaking their family rule.

Note: All family members need to be aware of this rule. This means Mom can not take Suzie on a “secret” shopping trip that they aren’t going to tell Dad about. No secrets from Mom and Dad means no secrets from Mom and Dad!

5. Who the safe people are

Did you know that often times young children die in house fires because they are afraid and hiding from firefighters who are trying to rescue them?

It makes sense when you think about a small child, already panicked over the smoke and commotion, seeing a larger person with a dark suit covering their entire body including their face.

safety skills for 5 year olds
To a child this looks more like Darth Vader than an everyday hero

Prepare your kids by showing them photos of firefighters in full gear and labeling firefighters as helpers or safe people. Do the same for police officers and other community members that you want your child to turn to in case of emergency.

Along the same lines, identify specific neighbors to be their “safe people” that they will go to for help if they are ever locked out of their house or any other scenario where they are without an adult.

Can you think of more basic safety skills for 5 year olds? Do you think today’s kids are adequately prepared?

 

Mom Talk Monday: What’s your dream travel destination?

Travel has always been one of my greatest passions in life. Almost nothing makes me happier than planning a trip, especially to a new destination that I’ve never been to before.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always planning my next trip to Disney World, and coming up this spring, a Disney cruise. But at any given time, I can guarantee I’m also fantasizing about at least one new location.

With temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit this past week, I’ve been dreaming about a winter getaway even more than usual.

what's your dream travel destination
Even my children, who are normally immune to cold, only lasted about 15 minutes in these frigid temps

Since I could never limit my dream travel list to one destination, here is my current top spot per continent. I may never get to half of these, but like my girl Cinderella says, you can’t order me to stop dreaming 😊

North America

Tie. (Wow, aren’t I good at narrowing down my list?)

your dream travel destination
What happens in Vegas…

Las Vegas because apparently all the bachelorette parties I’ve been to were lame so I’ve actually never been there! I’m not a big gambler but I do enjoy dabbling in a little here and there and I think I’d like the fun vibe and pace of Vegas. I like to see shows too. And it just seems like a place I should go before I get too old to enjoy it.

your dream travel destination
An Alaskan cruise, perhaps?

Alaska would be my other top pick. I know, I know, I was saying I’ve been dreaming about warm destinations. But Alaska has been on my mind for the last couple years just because it’s such a different destination than I typically go to. My husband is a big nature lover and he likes more of an action-packed, outdoorsy trip than the usual beach vacation.

South America

your dream travel destination
Rickety bridge through the jungle? Bring it!

Costa Rica

I’ve had this trip planned out in my mind for at least 7 or 8 years now. If I stop having kids, maybe I’ll actually get to take it!

Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park, Monteverde Cloud forest, hot springs, waterfalls, rain forest, zipping, pura vida all the way.

Australia

your dream travel destination
Photo credit: Aitutaki Private Island Resort

Aitutaki

When I was researching destinations for my honeymoon, I stumbled upon this little hidden gem in the Cook Islands. A territory of New Zealand, the whole island is less than 7 square miles. Its romantic, empty white sand beaches seem like they are calling out directly to me.

Asia

your dream travel destination

Bali

Another contender when I was planning my honeymoon, Bali seems like an awesome mix of adventure, sightseeing, nature, culture, and relaxation. (We ended up going to Thailand by the way, which was a similarly amazing blend.) Realistically I don’t know if we will ever make it back to Asia, but I hope we do!

Europe

your dream travel destination
Is this even real?! Photo credit: Walksofitaly.com

Cinque Terre

I’ve been to Italy several times, but have never had the pleasure of exploring Cinque Terre, a string of 5 villages on the Italian Riviera. We plan on hiking the rocky terrain from village to village, lingering and enjoying each one. With the brilliant coastal views and trademark colorful buildings, the photos will absolutely rock my Instagram feed!

Africa

your dream travel destination
I’d trade frostbite for excessive sweating to visit these bad boys!

Cairo

At the risk of being the most cliche dreamer out there, I’m including one of the Seven Wonders on my dream travel list. My best friend growing up wanted to be an Egyptologist and some of her fascination seems to have rubbed off on me.

Antarctica

your dream travel destination
Actual footage of my best Mom friend and I walking the kids to school

My home currently feels like Antartica. Just no.

What’s your dream travel destination?

 

 

6 Fun Ways to Get Excited for Your Disney Vacation

If you’re planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, it can seem like the days are crawling by. How can you pass the long months before your trip AND get excited for your Disney vacation? Here are 6 awesome ways you and the kids can get in the Disney spirit and get pumped for your big trip!

get excited for your Disney vacation

Disclosure: We may earn money or products from the companies or links mentioned in this post. All opinions are my own.

1.  Movie party nights

Sure, your kids have seen Frozen 8,000 times, but have they seen all the Disney movies that are represented in the parks? Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, Lilo and Stick, and Monsters Inc are featured at the Magic Kingdom. Finding Nemo has its own ride at Epcot and a show at Animal Kingdom. Toy Story and the Star Wars movies are huge at Hollywood Studios. If your kids are old enough to handle PG-13 movies, watching Avatar would help them appreciate all the immersive theming in Animal Kingdom’s Pandora- the World of Avatar.

There are also character appearances from some of the older movies that your children may be less familiar with, like Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book, and the Aristocats.

With so many movies in the queue to watch, it is easy to pick a lineup and start a weekly (or biweekly) family movie party!

Make a snack or craft relating to the movie, and watch it all together as a family. Here are some great ideas to get you started:

Lady and the Tramp Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes

Beauty and the Beast Family Movie Night Games and Snacks

DIY Finding Dory Sensory Bag

2. Mickey Mail

Did you know you can have mail sent to your child from Disney World for free?

Our friends at Jones Family Travels will mail you a character autograph from Main Street, USA in Magic Kingdom! All you have to do it send them a stamped envelope with your child’s name and address on the front. Your child will love finding their own piece of mail straight from Disney.

For more details on how to receive your own Mickey Mail, click here!

3. Countdown Chain

The passing of time is a pretty abstract concept for small children, and they may not be able to understand the concept of a vacation that’s in the future. A physical object representing the number of days can help.

One easy way to do this is build a paper chain with each link representing a day until your trip begins. Each day that goes by, have the child rip off one link. This way they can see the chain getting smaller and understand that the trip is getting closer.

4. Park maps and Disney planning DVD

A few years ago, Disney used to send you huge fold up color maps of each park. My kids loved those maps and studied them like they were being tested on them. Sadly, Disney has since stopped sending physical maps and replaced them with online interactive maps. Kids might still enjoy the online maps, but if you want a physical paper map you will have to do some googling and printing.

get excited for your Disney vacation

Luckily Disney does still send free copies of their planning DVD, which you can request here. The DVD if pretty commercial-y and not very specific, but it could definitely generate some excitement for kids who only have a very general idea of what Disney World is.

5. Books with pics (or Youtube)

The more familiar the kids are with the specifics of the trip, the more excited they will be. Show them pictures of the resort you’ll be staying at, restaurants you’ll be eating at, and attractions you’ll ride. Birnbaum’s makes an awesome book for kids with lots of photographs of the characters and rides. It is fairly easy to read and includes cute snippets of kids discussing what they liked and disliked.

Watching ride videos on YouTube (look for POV or “point of view” videos) is another way to get the family super pumped for their upcoming thrills. These videos give a good sense of what it feels like to be on the ride. An added benefit to YouTube videos is you can gauge if young children will be afraid of an attraction.

6. Coin jar

Even if your trip is years away, kids can begin collecting change in a large coin jar. This a good exercise in learning about saving over time for a big expense, and kids will feel that they are contributing to the cause. Even better if the kids use their own change earned by doing chores instead of just throwing in Mom and Dad’s lose change!

get excited for your Disney vacation
Kids will love turning their change into Disney dollars

When the vacation finally gets close, take the coin jar to your local credit union to redeem it for cash or check. Then use that money to get each kid a Disney gift card for their spending money in Disney World!

Kids will love having their own “Disney money”. The kids can buy what they want for souvenirs with it, and no whining to buy more stuff because when it’s gone, it’s gone.

How many days are there until YOUR Disney trip?

No matter how close or far, NOW is the time to get excited for your Disney vacation!