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Do my breasts need time to “refill” after a feeding?

Here’s a question from Carly in Huntsville, ON:

Q: I’m expecting my first baby soon. I’ve heard that in order to increase your milk production, you should wait at least 3 hours after you empty the breasts at a feeding to feed your baby again to allow the milk to fill up again. Is this true?

A: Good question, Carly, but this isn’t actually the case. Research shows that since milk is being produced at all times, the breast is never actually empty. In fact most babies remove an average of 75-80% of milk at a feeding, so there is always milk remaining in the breast after a feeding.

The strategy of waiting a set amount of time to nurse your baby (under the mistaken belief that the breasts need time to “refill”) will be counterproductive to your goal to increase your milk supply. This is because milk production slows down when milk accumulates in the breast. So, the best strategy is to feed your baby frequently, thus emptying the breasts as much as possible, especially in the early days. Newborns will often “cluster feed” which means that for a period of a few hours a day they will feed almost continuously, and this is very helpful in increasing your milk supply.

Nancy Lahn RN
Deveoper of the Cozy Cuddles Nursing Pillow

Originally posted 2015-04-28 13:13:10.

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Help! Soreness has returned!

Here’s a question from Jade in Sudbury:

Q: My baby’s a month old and has been nursing well. The nipple tenderness I felt at the beginning went away – until now! I feel a shooting pain when she nurses on one side that lasts throughout the feeding, and after as well. The baby often fusses during a feeding and pulls away. I noticed that the milk seems to be curdling in her mouth – it looks like cottage cheese on her tongue! Is this normal in the heat of the summer?

A: What you’re describing, Jade, sounds like a yeast infection, commonly known as “thrush”. It’s caused by the fungus candida albicans and fortunately can be treated by a topical anti-fungal medication you can get from your doctor. (More details: You’ll both need to be treated, as the infection passes between you – that is likely what is causing the white coating on her tongue and your nipple pain. It can also pass through the digestive tract and cause diaper rash, which will also need to be treated.

Nancy Lahn RN

Developer of the Cozy Cuddles Nursing Pillow

Originally posted 2015-09-10 16:06:38.

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Is breastfeeding a reliable method of birth control?

Here’s a question from Jessie from Guelph, ON :

Q: I’ve heard that breastfeeding delays the return of menstrual periods, so it’s safe to assume you can’t get pregnant if your periods haven’t returned. Is that right?

A: It’s true that breastfeeding tends to delay the return of your periods, but you will ovulate before your first period resumes. You could therefore become pregnant before your period returns.

The best way to use breastfeeding to delay the return of ovulation (egg production) is to observe the LAM, or Lactation Amenorrhea Method which is said to be 98% effective, but only if the following rules are observed:

– Your baby is younger than 6 months old

– Your periods have not returned

– You are exclusively breastfeeding on demand, night and day

“Exclusively breastfeeding” means a minimum of six long breastfeeding sessions every 24 hours – with a gap between feedings no longer than four hours during the day and six hours during the night. It’s also important not to give other fluids or solid foods to your baby. Soothers can also interfere with the success of LAM, as your baby’s suckling stimulates the hormones that suppress ovulation.

Nancy Lahn

Owner, Cozy Cuddles Baby Products

Originally posted 2013-09-04 13:46:34.

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Will massage help if my baby has gas?

Here’s a question from Tammy S. in Halifax, N.S.:

Q: My baby is 8 weeks old, and seems troubled with painful gas attacks. He draws his knees up and gets red in the face and cries as if he’s in pain. It’s worst in the evenings. I’ve tried eliminating dairy from my diet (he’s breastfeeding) but that doesn’t seem to help. I’ve heard that massage can be helpful but I don’t know how to do it.

A: It’s very common for babies at your son’s stage of development to have colic, Tammy. It’s always a good idea to have them examined by a doctor, but usually it’s not an illness – just a symptom that occurs as their digestive system matures. Massage can indeed be helpful in helping them to pass the uncomfortable gas. You can try this method: First, rub his abdomen from ribcage to diaper, one hand after the other, for a count of 15. Then, take his legs and bend them to his belly and hold for a count of 15. Next, rub his belly in a clockwise motion for 15 seconds (it’s important to rub clockwise, as this follows the direction of the bowel and helps the gas to be moved out). Last, bend his legs to his belly again for 15 seconds. It’s recommended that you repeat this massage session three times a day. Many find that this technique helps them to soil their diaper as you do it, so do it with them lying on a diaper or you may get a surprise! :)

Originally posted 2015-02-24 14:44:50.