breastfeeding

A is for Alcohol - Can I Breastfeed and Bottom's Up?

Alcohol .jpg

Because this question gets asked OFTEN. 

Most of us should know by now that alcohol in pregnancy is a big ol' 'nope'. The research and evidence tells us that anything but abstaining from your favourite alcoholic bevy is the way to go. 

But the more common questions we get is: 

 

Can I drink while I breastfeed? How much? Will it harm my baby? Should I pump and dump my milk? 

 

Parameters for alcohol consumption and breastfeeding seem be a bit less clear, but the current discussion suggests that the transfer of alcohol to baby through breastfeeding is minimal. “Two glasses a day” is a typical guideline given for safe consumption (breastfeeding or not, more than about 1-2 6oz glasses of alcohol is detrimental to your health), and the research seems to suggest that there is minimal transfer or impact on the infant. The information available also seems to agree that there is no need to express and dispose of your milk, and nursing as usual is typically recommended. The benefit of baby receiving your breastmilk seems to be greater than any minuscule amount of alcohol that may pass through your milk. 

The most important issue when it comes to alcohol consumption is keeping your coherence and mental state in check. The primary caregiver of an infant should be able to safely care for that infant without being compromised by the consumption of alcohol or other state-altering substances or medications.

It is especially important that you do not bed-share under any circumstances if either parent is under the influence of alcohol. This poses a significant risk for the infant, and baby should be kept in it’s own crib if either parent has had significant alcohol consumption. 

Is a post birth celebratory glass or two an acceptable option after your birth? Check out the articles below, speak with your doctor, and decide for yourself. The available information seems to suggest that you can safely enjoy snuggling up this fall with a blanket, a good movie, and your favourite glass of wine.

Safe Sleep & the Breastfed Baby and Alcohol and Breastfeeding 

See Jack Newman's Facebook post about alcohol and breastfeeding here. 

*This information should not be taken as medical advice, and does not replace the advise of your primary care provider on the safety of alcohol consumption and breastfeeding.*

- Andrea 

When Baby Bites (your nipple...youch!)

If you're reading this, it's probably because you've experienced the blight of the nurseling bite. And it hurts, just like they said it would. 

Baby may have gummed your nipple a few times in the months you've been breastfeeding, which in itself is an undoubtedly unpleasant experience; but the first time they take a chomp with their sharp little teeth, mid feed, you may just let out a startling cry, because: IT HURTS!

There are a few myths and quite a bit of conflicting information about your nurselings + biting. We hope to clarify this issue, give you strategies to avoid it, and help you carry on your merry way without fearing the next unsuspecting chomp…

 

The Myth: When baby bites, it’s time to wean. 

Your baby biting isn’t an indication that their time at the breast has run out. Biting while nursing is usually a sign of teething, boredom,  impatience or simply experimentation at the breast. Most baby’s will try out a nibble or two at some time or another in your nursing relationship. The minimum recommendation for nursing is 1 year, and World Health Organization suggests nursing until age two. 

The Reason

There are a few reasons that biting might happen. 

  • Teething: there's a good chance your baby is just looking for a good place to soothe those throbbing gums.
  • Impatient: your letdown might not be as quick as baby wants to drink milk, causing them to bite out of impatience and frustration
  • Bored: if baby is finished feeding, or distracted by the environment, this is a likely opportunity to get a bit lazy, or try something a little different (like latching onto your nipple with their teeth - fun for them, perhaps, but not for you!)

The Solution   

It's important to realize that biting can't happen if your baby is latched on properly. When your baby bites, he's lost his latch on your nipple, and is no longer trying to drink from your breast. So what can you do?

  • Pay attention to his cues. Baby's will often bite at the end of a feed. If you notice your baby seems to be finished at the breast, unlatch him before he can bite. If biting happens at the beginning of a feed, try some hand-expression to get the milk flowing before you latch baby on the breast. 
  • Try minimizing distractions: try (if you can), to nurse in a quiet, uninteresting environment so that baby doesn't get distracted from breastfeeding and pull your nipple along with a curious head turn  (we like to call this, "nip lash", and it's often accompanied by biting) 
  • Offer something for teething before hand - a cold cloth, teething oil, or whatever comfort measure you have been using for those sore little gums that may be causing him to bite.

What to do if it happens (again)

Try your best not to startle baby with a yelp or a shout. This is often upsetting for your baby, and can cause them to refuse the breast (otherwise known as a nursing strike). Instead, unlatch your baby carefully, take them off the breast, and tell them a firm but gentle, "no". This shows them that biting means that milk goes away, and hopefully will help break the cycle. Some baby's will be entertained if you give them a strong reaction, and bite to get that reaction out of you again (they're smarter than we think!) 

So, You Just Had a Baby

It is such a strange but liberating feeling to go from heavily pregnant, to holding your baby in your arms. Suddenly you’re no longer unevenly balanced from carrying a constant, heavy load in front of your body. You're FREE! I’ve always thought it was a bit like taking off skates after you’ve been on the ice for a couple of hours…you know that feeling? It’s a sweet sigh of relief. (I might tie my skates too tight.)

This new freedom might come with some feelings of sadness, but mostly you're enjoying the ease of being able to move, walk, bend, or tie your shoes! And as the early days pass, the busyness builds: the piles of laundry, the  meals needing to be cooked, the dishes needing to be washed, the floors needing to be swept, the toddler needing to be pushed on the swing, and the list goes on, and on. 

But try, if you can, to take a breath, take a break, put the lists down and the aspirations aside, and slow your pace for just this brief space in time. And not because, “you’ll never get this time back”, and “these days will pass you by”; do it for you; do it for your healing; do it for your body, mind, and soul. 

 

You’ve just accomplished a major physical feat, and not just for one or two laborious days, but for 9, long months. I encourage families to try and block out at least two weeks; two weeks of rest, two weeks of zero obligations, two weeks of rooming in, laying low, and gently adjusting. Why? : 

You’re going through an intense, hormonal shift. You’re body is re-regulating it’s hormones. Your emotions might be a bit unstable, your mood might shift, your whole internal endocrine system is adjusting to this life on the outside. 

You’re producing a food supply and learning to use your body to feed a baby; nourishing food, rest, and time, are all necessary pieces to this process. 

You’ve become a whole new unit; perhaps two has become three, or four, or more. Let that sink in a while.

You’re running on a lot less sleep, with much greater demands; you’re everything to one small person, don’t undermine all that you give and do by just being what your baby needs. 

The dinners can be made by someone else. The laundry and dishes will be there tomorrow. The eager visitors can lend a hand. Your loving partner can carry the load for a while. Honour you, relish this time, hold this space for a while, the rest of it can wait. 

{Also - we know a few great doulas that can lend a hand with each and every one of these things, and it’s one of our favourite things to do.}

- Andrea