Archive for the ‘Breastfeeding Info’ Category

Pregnant? Nursing? Here’s What You Need to Know About Medication

January 17th, 2017

Congratulations! You’re pregnant (or thinking of becoming pregnant). Or you just had the baby and plan to breastfeed. All wonderful news. . . until you think about reaching for the medicine bottle. How do you know if that medication—whether prescription or over-the-counter—is safe for you and your baby?

It’s not easy.

The problem is that drug companies are not allowed to test investigational drugs on pregnant women – it’s simply not ethical. So the only information we have about the potential risks of medications during pregnancy or breastfeeding come from animal studies, post-marketing reports to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or pregnancy registries. The registries are, essentially, large databases that collect health-related information from women while they’re pregnant. You can view a list of registries by medical condition (cancer, epilepsy, autoimmune disease, HIV/AIDS or a transplant) or by the name of the drug or vaccine here.

You can also learn more about the drug’s possible effects during pregnancy by reading the drug label. All labels must have information about the use of the drug during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Current pregnancy labeling uses five categories—A, B, C, D, and X.

Pregnancy category A.

This category is for drugs that have been tested in well-designed studies and show no risk to the baby throughout pregnancy. You can find a list of category A drugs here.

Pregnancy category B.

This category is for drugs for which animal studies show no risk to the fetus yet for which there are no well-designed, controlled studies in women. You can find a list of category B drugs here.

Pregnancy category C.

This category is for drugs in which animal studies show harm to the fetus and there are no well-designed studies in pregnant women, yet the benefits of the drug may be worth the risks.

Pregnancy category D.

This category is for drugs for which there is evidence of harm to the baby based on data from studies or real-life experiences, yet the potential benefits may still outweigh the risks (such as a drug needed in a life-threatening situation or serious disease for which safer drugs cannot be used or are ineffective).

Pregnancy category X.

This category is for drugs for which any studies (animal or human) or real-life experiences show harm to the fetus and the risk of the drug clearly outweighs any possible benefit (for instance, safer drugs or treatments are available.)

Drugs to Avoid During Pregnancy

When considering whether to take a medication during pregnancy, it’s important that you and your doctor consider your stage of pregnancy. Certain drugs are classified as “teratogens” because they cause changes in the development of the fetus early in the pregnancy, typically the first three months, but may be safe later in pregnancy. The most common birth defects include neural tube defects such as spina bifida; congenital heart problems; cleft lip or palate; and miscarriage or stillbirths. 1

“Adverse fetal defects” occur later in the pregnancy, and include neurological problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism; metabolic abnormalities, such as an increased risk of diabetes; and congenital heart problems. The good news is that just 2 to 3 percent of all birth defects are related to medications. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand the risks associated with certain medications so you can have an informed discussion with your doctor.

Among the drugs associated with birth defects are: 2 3

·      The antibiotic D-penicillamine and tetracycline antibiotic

·      The hyperthyroidism medication methimazole (Tapazole)

·      The anti-anxiety medication diazepam (Valium)

·      Opioids

·      Alcohol

·      Certain high blood medications

·      Certain anti-seizure medications

·      Warfarin (Coumadin)

·      The acne medication isotretinoin (Accutane)

·      The bipolar medication lithium

·      The anti-ulcer medication misoprostol (Cytotec)

·      Certain antidepressants

Talking to Your Doctor or Midwife about Medication

Even if your medication appears safe, make sure you check with your doctor first. The same goes for stopping any medication when you learn you’re pregnant. You and your doctor also need to discuss the pros and cons of the medication you’re taking and the risks to you and your baby if you stop taking it versus the risks if you continue taking it. You should also check with your doctor or midwife before taking any over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and nutritional supplements.

When you talk to your doctor about medications during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, make sure you ask the following questions:

  • What does the evidence show about its use during pregnancy/breastfeeding?
  • Does the dose need to be changed?
  • What are the risks of not taking it?
  • Are safer options available?
  • Are there different complications or side effects I should be aware of?
  • Will the drug affect me during labor and delivery?
  • Is there any evidence of later complications, such as in the growth, development and maturation of the baby?
  • Are there ways to minimize the baby’s exposure to the drug through my breast milk?
  • Are there any signs I should watch for that suggest the drug might be affecting the baby while nursing?

Paying attention to everything you put in your body during pregnancy and breastfeeding will help you in your quest to have a healthy baby.



  1. Burkey BW, Holmes AP. Evaluating medication use in pregnancy and lactation: what every pharmacist should know. J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2013;18(3):247-58. 
  2. Rai D, Lee BK, Dalman C, et al. Parental depression, maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy, and risk of autism spectrum disorders: population based case-control study. BMJ. 2013;19;346:f2059.  
  3. Yazdy MM, Mitchell AA, Tinker SC, et al. Periconceptional Use of Opioids and the Risk of Neural Tube Defects. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;122(4):838-844. 

Ask the Experts, Breastfeeding Info

Using herbal supplements to enhance milk supply and breastfeeding

June 2nd, 2015

Written by Clare Boyle, Midwife & Breastfeeding Consultant. (

[All the herbs mentioned in this post are available to buy from]

The vast majority of breastfeeding mothers have no problem with their milk volume and supply; breastfeeding is simply a matter of responding to the baby’s feeding cues and allowing the baby to feed when he or she wants to and for as long as he or she wants and when they have had their fill they will either fall asleep or come off the breast. When breastfeeding is proceeding normally baby will gain weight appropriately and breastfeeding is very rewarding for both mum and baby.

Sometimes however this isn’t the situation, and despite mum putting baby to the breast and allowing baby to feed frequently and for as long as the baby wants to the baby either doesn’t appear satisfied, and or does not gain weight appropriately for his or her age. In this situation it is possible that mum isn’t producing enough milk but this may not be the whole story and we should not automatically assume that the mother just simply can’t produce enough milk because it is quite possible that there is something going on with the baby and breastfeeding that results in low supply.

It is very important to understand that in the vast majority of cases the amount of milk a woman makes comes directly from how frequently and how effectively the baby is feeding and although there are some women who won’t make enough milk they are a very small percentage of the population (around 2%). Making milk is essential to human survival and it is therefore biologically imperative that it is successful most of time. The element that most people don’t realise is that how the baby breastfeeds is the key to a good supply. I like to say that the baby is the foreman of the milk making factory and every time baby feeds he is putting in an order to make more milk! A good example would be a mum who is breastfeeding twins; her body is getting twice the order so will produce twice as much milk. We know that most women will on average be able to easily produce enough milk for up to two babies. During the first three days and up to the first six weeks of breastfeeding it is imperative that baby is feeding frequently (at least 8 to 10 feeds in 24 hours) but just as importantly is also feeding effectively so as to ensure good milk transfer as this is a time of calibration for the body – it is trying to figure out how much milk this baby needs and respond accordingly. However, if baba has a problem and isn’t breastfeeding well then mums body doesn’t receive the order to make more milk and this can result in low supply.

The two most common causes a baby may not be able to stimulate an effective milk volume is that baby is sleepy and or the baby has a tongue tie, essentially the baby isn’t putting in his or her order to the milk making factory properly. Sleepy baby often occurs in the first week after the birth and baby is not breastfeeding the normal 8 to 10 feeds every 24 hours and not feeding for at least 10 to 20 minutes per feed – for more information about sleepy baby please read   Tongue tie can have a profound impact on the baby’s ability to breastfeed effectively and is a very common cause of low milk supply and for more information about this please read .

Both of these issues can take time to diagnose and rectify and often by the time the problems are being sorted out the milk supply has decreased and is not as plentiful as it needs to be. Using herbal supplements are one of tools I use to help mothers re-establish their supply to full production. The advantage of the herbal supplements are that they are easy to use and they are a really effective method for increasing the supply promptly while the underlying issue or cause of the low supply is being addressed. When I am working with mums with low supply I usually recommend that they take two herbal remedies at the same time because I have found that this has the most beneficial and quickest response. I use GoLacta and Goats Rue, both have an excellent track record for increasing milk supply and the mothers I work with often report an increase in milk supply within four to five days. GoLacta capsules are made up of the Malunggay plant that as well as increasing your milk supply also has many other health benefits. Galega officinalis is the latin plant name for Goats Rue and it has been used to increase milk supply for years

I usually recommend that mum start taking both at the recommended amounts and then we evaluate her milk supply in about 5 – 7 days. Usually by this time mum will have noticed that her breasts feel more full in the morning and that baby is glugging more during a feed and is also coming off the breast satisfied and she may notice that she has more milk leaking from her breasts. We also check in weekly with the weight gains and once we are happy that the supply is on the increase we will start to decrease any supplementing that was put in place. I will also recommend that mum do some pumping during this time as well in order to stimulate more milk production but the frequency and length of pumping times that I recommend varies depending on a mothers individual issues.

Low milk supply is actually quite a complex lactation problem and using herbal supplements is generally just one aspect of a treatment plan so it is a good idea to work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in order to ensure that breastfeeding is maintained. Dealing with low milk supply issues can be very stressful for a breastfeeding mum and an IBCLC will be able to provide a tailor made plan for her specific situation and provide on-going support and guidance so that the mother can reach her breastfeeding goals. In Ireland most hospitals have breastfeeding clinics run by IBCLC’s and there are also IBCLC’s who work in private practice throughout the country . Having the right support can make all the difference.

Ask the Experts, Breastfeeding Info, Increase Milk Supply

Herbs to increase Breast Milk

January 7th, 2015

Mums around the world have turned to Go-Lacta to increase their breast milk production. Made from the leaves of the Malunggay tree (moringa oleifera), Go-Lacta is nature’s own galactagogue. It’s the natural way to help you increase the amount of breast milk you produce.

Go-Lacta is a plant-based supplement that has scientifically shown to increase mum’s breast milk supply. Mothers who ate Malunggay produced substantially more milk than mothers who didn’t.

Go-Lacta is 100% vegan and uses premium Malunggay leaves and 100% vegetarian capsules. Produced in an ISO-certified facility, Go-Lacta ensures a high-quality and safe premium product for mum and baby.

Give your baby more of the perfect food — your own breast milk. Make sure you produce enough with Go-Lacta!

Available to purchase online from Once Born:

Why is Go-Lacta good for mum and baby?

  • Its natural properties increases mum’s breast milk which makes baby happy, healthy and full.
  • 100% vegan. 100% plant-based, 100% natural.
  • It’s a superfood! Go-Lacta is a good nutritional support for mom and baby.
  • Go Lacta Nutrition


Breastfeeding Info, Increase Milk Supply

20 Incredible Facts About Breast Milk

December 15th, 2010
  1. A drop in hormones triggers breast milk: Most people think of pregnant women being as being hopped up on hormones, but as the body is born (removing the placenta), a major drop in hormones occurs. This allows a hormone called prolactin to activate, which signals to your breasts that it’s milk-making time.
  2. Breastfeeding might lower risk for childhood obesity: A couple of years ago, a study broke that proposed breastfeeding leads to better eating habits in preschool aged children. Kids who were bottle-fed — even if they were drinking pumped breast milk — were less able to tell when they were full, so they kept eating. It’s more of a behavioral link, scientists believe, than a nutritional one.
  3. Breast milk needs water: Women who breast feed are more thirsty than normal, and the USDA recommends that they drink one glass of water for every breastfeeding session.
  4. Breast milk glands grow during the second trimester: Your breasts get ready to produce milk during the second trimester when sac-like glands grow, thanks to an increase in estrogen, lactogen, and other hormones. Once your baby is born and starts suckling, prolactin is activated, which then spurs on another hormone called oxytocin, which actually releases milk.
  5. Breast milk can’t be duplicated: Breast milk is always changing, and it can’t be duplicated. No two mothers have the same breast milk, and breast milk taken from one woman during one part of the day won’t even be the same as a sample taken from the same woman later in the day.
  6. Milk changes during each feeding: That’s because the actual make-up of your breast milk changes from feeding to feeding. When your baby first starts feeding, your milk contains mostly lactose and proteins, and is a bluish color. At the end of the feeding, your baby starts drinking hindmilk, which is mostly made up of fat and gives your baby the calories it needs.
  7. Breast milk contains two major types of protein: Your breast milk contains two main types of protein, called whey and casein. There’s more whey protein than casein, and it has the greatest infection-fighting powers. If you use formula, make sure the whey-to-casein protein matches natural breast milk, or your baby could have a higher chance of infections and have trouble digesting milk.
  8. Your breasts will always produce just enough milk: Remarkably, your breasts will only produce as much milk as your baby needs, no more and no less. When you start breastfeeding, your breasts will start producing more milk, but as feedings slow down, your body just naturally stops producing it.
  9. Your breast milk contains only as many vitamins as you take yourself: One common misconception about breast milk is that it’s inherently superior to formula, simply because it’s natural. But breast milk only contains the vitamins that are already in your body, which is why it’s important for pregnant and nursing women to take supplements and eat a healthy diet to get enough Vitamin A, D, E, K, C, riboflavin, niacin and panthothenic acid.
  10. Alcohol is present in your breast milk: If you plan on breastfeeding, you need to be conscious of your alcohol intake even after you give birth. Alcohol is present in your breast milk, just as it is in your blood stream. Drinking isn’t prohibited, but it’s recommended that you have only a drink or two a few hours before breast feeding so that your body can metabolize the alcohol. If you drink more, pump your breast milk so that feedings aren’t interrupted and your baby’s health isn’t compromised.
  11. Fresh breast milk lasts up to 8 hours at room temperature: It lasts 5-7 days in the refrigerator, too, but just make sure it’s labeled to ensure freshness and avoid any accidents involving dunking Oreos into it.
  12. You can freeze it: You can also freeze breast milk if you’ve got extra time to do some pumping and are afraid you won’t be able to meet regularly scheduled feedings because of an out-of-town trip or work commitment. You can freeze breast milk in a freezer-safe container for up to 3-4 months in a regular freezer, and up to 6 months in a deep freezer set at 0.
  13. Microwaving breast milk isn’t the best option: Don’t ever microwave breast milk to heat it up or thaw it, though. Because a microwave heats unevenly, the milk might get too hot in one spot, even though you’ve tested it safely in another.
  14. Each nipple has 15-20 openings to release milk: Each nipple has tiny little openings that release breast milk, about 15-20, doctors estimate.
  15. Colostrum, or early milk, releases slowly: When your baby’s tummy is at its smallest — the first few days after birth — your “early milk,” called colostrum, is released in tiny amounts, so as not to overfill your baby. It’s high in protein and antibodies from the mother — it contains three times as much as mature milk — but low in fat and sugar, which your baby doesn’t really need in the first few days.
  16. You can cross-feed: Wet nurses may have died out in the U.S. for the most part, but cross-feeding is still possible. Some moms don’t like that they don’t get to experience the emotional bonding time with their baby if they use a wet nurse, but for busy moms who don’t want to pump, it’s a viable option. Some moms even cross-feed, switching babies among groups of nursing moms to satisfy hectic working schedules or even accommodate for breast surgeries.
  17. You can make cheese with it: It might sounds nauseating to you, but one prominent New York chef used his wife’s breast milk to make cheese and serve it in his restaurant. The New York Health Department quickly banned it, but a food critic from The Daily Beast was on a mission to try it anyway, finding that, although “it is quite bland, slightly sweet…It’s the unexpected texture that’s so off-putting. Strangely soft, bouncy, like panna cotta.”
  18. Breast milk boosts IQ: In addition to lowering the risk of childhood obesity, breast milk may boost IQ in nursing infants, scientists believe. Their IQs may even reach 8 points higher than babies who aren’t breast fed, especially in verbal evaluations. It’s a two-part hypothesis: the nutrients in breast milk helps brain development and mental skills while the actual act of breast feeding is an intimate experience that aids baby development, too.
  19. Breast milk is the best medicine: Babies receive all the nutrients and disease-fighting powers they need from breast milk, which helps keep infections and other illnesses at bay. If you switch between bottle feedings and breast milk, babies won’t get the same benefits, and breast feeding for six months is recommended to stave off infections for the first year. And after that? This woman squirted breast milk into her preschool-aged daughter’s eye to cure pink eye. She recovered quickly with no meds, but a scientific study hasn’t been scheduled to follow up.
  20. Milk composition changes during the day: Just as your milk changes during each feeding, its composition also changes throughout the day, affecting the number of calories your baby gets during nursing sessions. Another factor that might influence milk composition is the mother’s diet, which can determine how much fat and calories are then passed on to the baby.

Breastfeeding Info

The Normal Newborn and Why Breastmilk is Not Just Food.

October 6th, 2010

What is a normal, term human infant supposed to do?

First of all, a human baby is supposed to be born vaginally. Yes, I know that doesn’t always happen, but we’re just going to talk ideal, normal for now. We are supposed to be born vaginally because we need good bacteria. Human babies are sterile, without bacteria, at birth. It’s no accident that we are born near the anus, an area that has lots of bacteria, most of which are good and necessary for normal gut health and development of the immune system. And the bacteria that are there are mom’s bacteria, bacteria that she can provide antibodies against if the bacteria there aren’t nice.

Then the baby is born and is supposed to go to mom. Right to her chest. The chest, right in between the breasts is the natural habitat of the newborn baby. (Fun fact: our cardiac output, how much blood we circulate in a given minute, is distributed to places that are important. Lots goes to the kidney every minute, like 10% or so, and 20% goes to your brain. In a new mom, 23% goes to her chest- more than her brain. The body thinks that place is important!)

That chest area gives heat. The baby has been using mom’s body for temperature regulation for ages. Why would they stop? With all that blood flow, it’s going to be warm. The baby can use mom to get warm. When I was in my residency, we would put a cold baby “under the warmer” which meant a heater thingy next to mom. Now, as I have matured, if a baby is “under the warmer,” the kid is under mom. I wouldn’t like that. I like the kids on top of mom, snuggled.

Now we have a brand new baby on the warmer. That child is not hungry. Bringing a hungry baby into the world is a bad plan. And really, if they were hungry, can you please explain to me why my kids sucked the life force out of me in those last few weeks of pregnancy? They better have been getting food, or well, that would have been annoying and painful for nothing.

Every species has instinctual behaviors that allow the little ones to grow up to be big ones and keep the species going. Our kids are born into the world needing protection. Protection from disease and from predators. Yes, predators. Our kids don’t know they’ve been born into a loving family in the 21st century- for all they know it’s the 2nd century and they are in a cave surrounded by tigers. Our instinctive behaviors as baby humans need to help us stay protected. Babies get both disease protection and tiger protection from being on mom’s chest. Presumably, we gave the baby some good bacteria when they arrived through the birth canal. That’s the first step in disease protection. The next step is getting colostrum.

A newborn baby on mom’s chest will pick their head up, lick their hands, maybe nuzzle mom, lick their hands and start to slide towards the breast. The kids have a preference for contrasts between light and dark, and for circles over other shapes. Think about that…there’s a dark circle not too far away.

Mom’s sweat smells like amniotic fluid, and that smell is on the child’s hands (because there’s been no bath yet!) and the baby uses that taste on their hand to follow mom’s smell. The secretions coming from the glands on the areola (that dark circle) smell familiar too and help the baby get to the breast to get the colostrum which is going to feed the good bacteria and keep them protected from infection. The kids can attach by themselves. Watch for yourself! And if you just need colostrum to feed bacteria and not yourself, well, there doesn’t have to be much. And there isn’t because the kids aren’t hungry and because Breastmilk is not food!

We’re talking normal babies. Breastfeeding is normal. It’s what babies are hardwired to do. 2009 or 209, the kids would all do the same thing: try to find the breast. Breastfeeding isn’t special sauce, a leg up or a magic potion. It’s not “best. ” It’s normal. Just normal. Designed for the needs of a vulnerable human infant. And nothing else designed to replace it is normal.

Colostrum also activates things in the baby’s gut that then goes on to make the thymus grow. The thymus is part of the immune system. Growing your thymus is important. Breastmilk= big thymus, good immune system. Colostrum also has a bunch of something called Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA). SIgA is made in the first few days of life and is infection protection specifically from mom. Cells in mom’s gut watch what’s coming through and if there’s an infectious cell, a special cell in mom’s gut called a plasma cell heads to the breast and helps the breast make SIgA in the milk to protect the baby. If mom and baby are together, like on mom’s chest, then the baby is protected from what the two of them may be exposed to. Babies should be with mom.

And the tigers. What about them? Define “tiger” however you want. But if you are baby with no skills in self-protection, staying with mom, having a grasp reflex, and a startle reflex that helps you grab onto your mom, especially if she’s hairy, makes sense. Babies know the difference between a bassinette and a human chest. When infants are separated from their mothers, they have a “despair- withdrawal” response. The despair part comes when they alone, separated. The kids are vocally expressing their desire not to be tiger food. When they are picked up, they stop crying. They are protected, warm and safe. If that despair cry is not answered, they withdraw. They get cold, have massive amounts of stress hormones released, drop their heart rate and get quiet. That’s not a good baby. That’s one who, well, is beyond despair. Normal babies want to be held, all the time.

And when do tigers hunt? At night. It makes no sense at all for our kids to sleep at night. They may be eaten. There’s nothing really all that great about kids sleeping through the night. They should wake up and find their body guard. Daytime, well, not so many threats. They sleep better during the day. (Think about our response to our tigers– sleep problems are a huge part of stress, depression, anxiety).

I go on and on about sleep on this site, so maybe I’ll gloss over it here. But everybody sleeps with their kids- whether they choose to or not and whether they admit to it or not. It’s silly of us as healthcare providers to say “don’t sleep with your baby” because we all do it. Sometimes accidentally. Sometimes intentionally. The kids are snuggly, it feels right and you are tired. So, normal babies breastfeed, stay at the breast, want to be held and sleep better when they are with their parents. Seems normal to me. But there is a difference between a normal baby and one that isn’t. Safe sleep means that we are sober, in bed and not a couch or a recliner, breastfeeding, not smoking…being normal. If the circumstances are not normal, then sleeping with the baby is not safe.

That chest -to -chest contact is also brain development. Our kids had as many brain cells as they were ever going to have at 28 weeks of gestation. It’s a jungle of waiting -to-be- connected cells. What we do as humans is create too much and then get rid of what we aren’t using. We have like 8 nipples, a tail and webbed hands in the womb. If all goes well, we don’t have those at birth. Create too much- get rid of what you aren’t using. So, as you are snuggling, your child is hooking up happy brain cells and hopefully getting rid of the “eeeek” brain cells. Breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, is brain wiring. Not food.

Why go on and on about this? Because more and more mothers are choosing to breastfeed. But most women don’t believe that the body that created that beautiful baby is capable of feeding that same child and we are supplementing more and more with infant formulas designed to be food. Why don’t we trust our bodies post-partum? I don’t know. But I hear over and over that the formula is because “I am just not satisfying him.” Of course you are. Babies don’t need to “eat” all the time- they need to be with you all the time- that’s the ultimate satisfaction.

A baby at the breast is getting their immune system developed, activating their thymus, staying warm, feeling safe from predators, having normal sleep patterns and wiring their brain, and (oh by the way) getting some food in the process. They are not “hungry” –they are obeying instinct. The instinct that allows us to survive and make more of us.

Dr. Jenny Thomas – Lakeshore Medical Clinic ( Breastfeeding Medicine).

Breastfeeding In the news, Breastfeeding Info

It’s National Breastfeeding Week…20% off everything!

October 1st, 2010

To celebrate National Breastfeeding Week, October 1st to 8th, we are offering a 20% discount off everything! Wow!

This offer is valid on everything including baby products, nursing/maternity clothes, lingerie, sleepwear, breastfeeding and hospital bag essentials!   


National Breastfeeding week is celebrated every year during the first week in October. The significance of this week is that it follows 9 completed months of the year. It therefore represents the end of a pregnancy and the beginning of breastfeeding. This progression from birth to breastfeeding should happen normally and naturally, but for the majority of Irish infants this does not occur and they are therefore deprived of the major nutritional, immunological and psychological benefits which breastfeeding confers.” – Dept. of Health & Children

Here at Once Born we want to do everything we can to encourage and help new mums to breastfeed! We appreciate your business, and hope you will shop with us again! 


Simply enter the coupon code ‘OfferBF’ at checkout to redeem your 20%.

Breastfeeding Info

Breast Isn’t Best…

July 10th, 2010

FREE Shipping on all Maternity & Nursing Bras!

July 10th, 2010

We are now offering FREE shipping on all maternity and nursing bras for the foreseeable future!

All nursing bras also double up as maternity bras.

Breastfeeding Info, New Products, When & How to Measure for a Maternity Bra and Nursing Bra

Great Article: The Learning Curve of Breastfeeding

June 18th, 2010

By Danielle Rigg, JD, CLC

One of the biggest keys to succeeding at breastfeeding is to set your head for a learning curve experience. Learning to breastfeed is no different than learning to swim, knit or sing: there may be bumps along the way, but keep your eye on the prize and before you know it, you’ll be doing great! Unfortunately, many new moms set themselves up for disappointment by expecting that breastfeeding will come “naturally” — “how hard can it be? Women have been doing it for millennia” –or they expect it to be painful and difficult because they have heard stories about how hard it can be. The truth is neither. The truth is that although breastfeeding is instinctive, it is a skill that both mother and baby have to learn and master. This is what we call the learning curve of breastfeeding and it usually takes about 4-6 weeks.

To see the full article:

Breastfeeding Info

Good article in defense of extended breastfeeding

May 18th, 2010

I got this from Friends of Breastfeeding Facebook page. 🙂

The Issue of Informed Consent

by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D.

In the midst of this discussion/argument about whether mothers should breastfeed and for how long, I would like to interject an analogy about a different topic, but which has at its basis the same issue, that of informed consent for the parents. The following are my humble opinions only.

I have a child with Down Syndrome. He was born in 1985 at Bloomington Indiana Hospital, after an uneventful pregnancy which included no ultrasounds and no amniocentesis and no AFP (alpha-fetal-protein) tests. I was 29 when I conceived and 30 when I gave birth. Peter had surgery at 10 days of age to correct an intestinal defect found in some children with DS. Peter today is 10 years old, can walk and talk and tell funny jokes, and goes to a regular school, in a regular classroom, with a modified curriculum. He starts 4th grade tomorrow! He can read at a 2nd grade level, his math is still kindergarten level. He is the light of our lives and a cherished member of his family, school, and community, with many many friends. What does this have to do with breastfeeding?

Peter was the next baby with Down Syndrome born at Bloomington Hospital after the 1981 birth and death of “Baby Doe.” Maybe some of you remember this case. Baby Doe was a little boy with Down Syndrome who had tracheo-esophageal fistula (a hole between his windpipe and his esophagus), which can be correctly surgically, but if not corrected will be fatal. Like Peter’s intestinal defect, this is found in some children with DS. Baby Doe’s parents decided not to allow him to have the surgery. They decided that he should die. Since you can’t legally “put children to sleep” like you can cats or dogs, the hospital kept the baby in the nursery but did not give him any food or water. It took him either 7 or 9 days to die, I forget which. Anyway, a long time. There was much hue and cry in the country at the time because of the obvious discrimination against Baby Doe in terms of the surgery simply because he had Down Syndrome. If the baby had been “normal” the parents would of course have allowed the surgery to fix the relatively minor physical problem. Am I angry at Baby Doe’s parents for allowing their child to die? No, not at all. Why? Because I know that they were told by their ob/gyn that children with Down Syndrome are always severely mentally retarded. He told them that their child would never walk or talk, never recognize them as his parents, never know that they loved him or love them in return. They were told that children with Down Syndrome are vegetables, and that their child would have to spend its life in an institution, suffering only pain. And so I can understand perfectly why Baby Doe’s parents chose death for him. They should not be made to feel guilty for the decision they made based on the misinformation supplied by the doctor. I *am* incredibly angry at the doctor for telling Baby Doe’s parents all these lies. I do not understand his motivation. He apparently had a distant relative who was mentally retarded, though not with Down Syndrome. And yet, even though it is well-known that children with Down Syndrome are usually only mildly mentally retarded (Peter is borderline “normal” in IQ) many many textbooks still say things like “All children with Down Syndrome are severely retarded and are an economic and emotional burden to their families and societies.” Many many people think that the handicapped lead lives of misery and are better off dead. Again, what does this have to do with breastfeeding?

When I hear that someone has gotten a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome and has gotten all the most recent research and visited families with children with Down Syndrome, even met my own child Peter, and knows very well what it is like to have a child with Down Syndrome, and they choose to abort — I respect that decision completely, and I don’t think they should feel guilty about it for one minute. Some families are better able to deal with handicaps than others, and it would be extremely sad for a child with Down Syndrome to be born into a family that did not like the child for that reason. So if an *informed* parent makes a choice to abort, I respect that decision completely.

When I hear, on the other hand, that someone has gotten a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome and chose to abort because they had heard that these children are “monsters” and are all severely retarded, that makes me angry. A little angry at the parents for not taking the time to get the facts, and a lot angry at whoever led them to believe that people with Down Syndrome are monsters. Because this attitude affects how my son is perceived, and how his society will treat him. I had a woman come up to me in a supermarket once and ask me “What’s the matter with him?” and when I said “He has Down Syndrome” she replied “But he’s cute!” Yeah, he’s extremely cute. Then Peter said something about Louis Armstrong playing on the Musak in the store (he was about 6 years old) and she said “But he can talk!!!” And I said, yeah, he never shuts up! And he really likes Louis Armstrong. It turned out she had aborted a child with Down Syndrome because she believed all the awful things she had been told. She was amazed but also dismayed to see Peter, as she said she felt she could easily have dealt with such a sweet child who recognized Louis Armstrong songs (Peter is also an Eagles fan, big time).

So, what does all this have to do with breastfeeding?

If you don’t want a child with Down Syndrome, don’t have one. But don’t tell me, or anyone else, that children with Down Syndrome are monsters, or are ugly, or are always severely retarded, or will never walk and talk, read and write — because these statements ARE NOT TRUE.

If you don’t want to breastfeed your child, or don’t want to breastfeed for very long, that’s fine by me. But don’t tell me, or anyone else, that formula is “just as good,” or that nursing an older child is “perverted” — because these statements ARE NOT TRUE.

Just as I get angry when I hear that doctors have told someone that their child with Down Syndrome will be a vegetable, so I get angry when I hear that doctors have told someone that the benefits of breastfeeding stop at three months, or that children should be weaned at one year.

The issue here is the very same. INFORMED CONSENT. We all take risks with our children every day — by taking them out in the car, letting them participate in sports, going hiking, traveling to foreign countries (my own daughter almost died of malaria in 1989 when she was with me in West Africa while I did research on infant feeding and child health). We all take risks every day, it’s a part of life. But we should be taking these risks, and making these decisions, with our eyes wide open, with all the information available to us. The medical research shows that the health benefits of breastfeeding continue up to two years — beyond that, the research has not been done, due to the low frequency of children nursing beyond two years in this country. If you nurse your child for 6 months, good for you! If you nurse your child for 6 weeks, good for you! If you decide that other factors in your life make breastfeeding not an option at all for you, fine — be glad you live in a country with good sanitation, good medical care, and modern infant formulas. If you decide that any particular length of time breastfeeding is ENOUGH for you, and you don’t mind losing the benefits of breastfeeding longer, fine. But please, please, don’t go around spreading the misinformation that the benefits stop at six weeks or three months or a year. Don’t go around spreading the misinformation that it is abnormal or wrong to be nursing an older child. Don’t criticize people who have made the choice to give their children this best start in life.

Prepared  August 18, 1995.

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