This content originally appeared on the HCA Virginia Physicians blog.
Breastfeeding A Baby
1 AnswerThe American Academy of Family Physicians recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding for infants. Breastfeeding provides vital nutrients to your infant that change and develop as he or she gets older. Studies show that infants who are breastfed have less frequent instances of otitis media (ear infections), gastroenteritis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), lower respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There are also links to obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and asthma for children who were not breastfed in infancy.
This content originally appeared on the HCA Virginia Physicians blog.
1 AnswerDarria Long Gillespie, MD, Emergency Medicine, answeredIt depends on what’s in the medicine, so you really have to read the labels.
It’s hard to determine if a medication is safe to take while breastfeeding, because you can’t really conduct a study and require someone who is nursing to take a drug that may not be safe! The evidence mostly comes from reports of women who took the medications. For me, I avoid cough and cold medications, simply because while many are probably ok, we just don’t know for sure.
That said, acetaminophen is ok. On the other hand, antihistamines and other medications that could dry up secretions are not recommended because they can decrease your milk supply and may cause baby to be more drowsy or to eat poorly.
Instead of taking medicine, try a cool water vaporizer (but avoid menthol as it may irritate baby’s nasal passages). Neti pots and saline nasal sprays are highly effective for clearing out your nose and sinuses for both allergies and infections, with NO impact on the baby. (Neti pots are advocated as better solutions even for people that are not breastfeeding, so not only are they safe, they’re a better option in general).
If you really need to use a medication, then nasal sprays are probably better choices than oral, since they will have less aborbption into your blood (and then into your milk), but always check with your doctor before you use them. Also, remember to use them for no longer than 3 days.
2 AnswersHealthyWomen answeredStatistics from a 2013 report showed that more mothers have been trying to breastfeed their children -- more than three out of four, in fact. Breastfeeding has been shown to have numerous benefits, including a reduced chance that breastfed babies will become overweight. Some experts have pointed to this increase as one reason obesity rates may be falling.
1 AnswerBody odor is most commonly caused by the breakdown of fatty excretions from the apocrine glands, which are located in the armpits, nipples and areolas, as well as the genitals. During breastfeeding, a mother may excrete different pheromones -- one theory is that these pheromones act as a way of communicating with the newborn and help with feeding and bonding. Another theory is that the infant's saliva may also contribute to a woman's body odor. While such changes in body odor due to breastfeeding are fairly common, they can easily be managed with washing and deodorants.
1 AnswerGenerally you can store breast milk in clean glass or hard plastic baby bottles, with an emphasis on washing hands with soap and water before handling the expressed milk. Generally breast milk lasts at room temperature for about 6 hours. It can be refrigerated for up to a week. Keep it at the back of the refrigerator, not in the door. If long-term storage is needed, breast milk may be frozen for three to six months in a standard freezer. Again, place it at the back of the freezer, not in the door.
1 AnswerMarch of Dimes answered
Support her decision to breastfeed. It's not always easy, and she may need some encouragement along the way. Help her during feedings. Bring the baby to her and help them get comfortable. If your partner uses a certain pillow or sits in a certain place to breastfeed, make sure they’re clean and ready for her to use. If you're using stored breast milk, learn how to warm it so it's just the right temperature for your baby. Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Read books, watch videos, find information on the Internet, and ask other dads what they did to help.
Breast milk is the best food for your baby. Doing what you can to support your partner in breastfeeding helps give your baby a healthy start in life.
1 AnswerIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain HealthcareTips for using stored mother’s milk:
- Check the label on the container. You want to review the date the milk was stored -- and also be sure that your baby is getting your milk.
- Always use the oldest milk first, unless otherwise directed by your baby's caregiver.
- Defrost or warm the milk by placing the container of milk in a bowl of warm tap water.
- Allow 12 hours to slowly defrost milk in the refrigerator.
- Never use a microwave or boiling water to warm milk. A bottle warmer is okay to use, however.
- Gently shake the milk to blend in the cream layer.
- If your baby does not finish the bottle of milk, throw the rest away -- do not refreeze.
1 AnswerDavid L. Katz, MD,MPH, Integrative Medicine, answeredAccording to Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, PhD, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert Project, roughly two-thirds of all hospitals nationwide allow food and pharmaceutical companies access to their maternity wards. The companies hand out "discharge bags" of free infant formula to new moms. The bags are, of course, decorated with company insignia and formula names -- and are accompanied by discount coupons for subsequent purchases of the same formula.
Karla Shepard Rubinger, executive director of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, had this to say: “Although the formula companies all give lip service to ‘breast is best,’ their aggressive advertising and marketing do everything to undermine it. And there is a significant amount of research to show that where formula is provided free, breastfeeding rates are lowest."
Ms. Rubinger went on to assert why the promotion of breastfeeding is so important: “It is universally available, evidence-based, supported in all cultures throughout time, [shows] documented benefits for mother and baby, and [is] ‘green’ into the bargain.”
Dr. Ben-Ishai confirmed that simply distributing formula and coupons substantially reduces breastfeeding rates. She noted that the practice extends at times from the hospital to the offices of both gynecologists and pediatricians.
Public Citizen is sponsoring a petition to end food marketing to neonates. Dr. Ben-Ishai noted: “This is not about setting any limits on mothers’ choices; it’s about opportunistic marketing by the formula companies, and the ethics of the hospitals that allow this marketing to take place on their turf.” A formula industry valued at well over $3.5 billion and an exhausted new mother with a newborn in her arms looking to a ward full of health professionals for guidance -- seems a very unfair matchup indeed. By distributing their goodies on maternity wards, the formula companies are getting a halo effect -- making it seem as if the hospitals and health professionals are recommending formula.
If we want more children to get the benefits of breastfeeding, we need to unmuddle the message being delivered on the rarefied terrain of the nation’s maternity wards. "Breast is best" needs to be uncoupled from "but here’s a free bag of formula and some swell coupons!"
Ideally, formula companies should simply abandon the practice. If they don’t, hospitals should defend their turf against it.
1 AnswerIntermountain Healthcare answeredAs you may know, "regular" cotton breast pads are tucked into your bra cups to help absorb any leaking milk between feedings. For very sore nipples, however, you may want to use gel pads instead. Here are the basics about this helpful product:
- Gel pads are worn in your bra and help soothe and protect your nipples. And like regular breast pads, gel pads absorb leaking milk.
- Gel pads feel cool against your skin -- and if you put the pads in the refrigerator, they give even more cooling relief to sore nipples.
1 AnswerIntermountain Healthcare answeredIf the skin isn't broken, try soaking your nipples in a mild salt solution (saline). Here's what to do:
- Mix 1 teaspoon table salt with 2 cups warm water.
- Dip two 2x2-inch gauze pads in the salt solution and remove them without wringing all of the salt solution from the gauze.
- Place the wet gauze pads on your nipples, molding them to cover all of the sore areas.
- Keep the pads on for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove them and blot your nipples dry. (You don't need to rinse off your nipples.) You can then apply lanolin, a gel pad, or vegetable/olive oil for extra soothing. Repeat the steps above 3 to 4 times a day after breastfeeding.