Krista Gray, IBCLC

Krista Gray, IBCLC – Lactation Services

Positioning and attachmentWhether you’re preparing to breastfeed or need support with your current situation, Krista Gray, IBCLC – Lactation Services is here to help.  I am a certified lactation consultant and offer face-to-face and online breastfeeding support (as well as prenatal breastfeeding classes) to assist you in meeting your breastfeeding goals.   I see clients throughout the Upstate of South Carolina and North East Georgia as well as via Skype and FaceTime worldwide.

Lactation Consultations

Initial Consultation – $135 for a 1 – 1 1/2 hour private consultation.  Sometimes you just need that bit of extra support to get breastfeeding off to a good start or to overcome challenges. I can help you reach your personal breastfeeding goals. This visit can take place in your home or my home office.  (Follow-up phone/text/emails for home or office consultations are always free!) Discount for clients who have a prenatal appointment with me.*

Follow Up Consultation – $75 For new concerns and follow up appointments*

Pump Consultation – $60 Heading back to work and want to make sure your pump is working properly? I can help get your pump set up, ensure the flanges are the right size, and share tips and information about maintaining your supply as you return to work.*

Virtual Consultation – $50 I offer virtual breastfeeding consultations worldwide via Skype or FaceTime. (Up to one hour consultation; Payment made via PayPal) 

Telephone/E-mail Consultation – $30 Do you have a specific breastfeeding question? I can discuss this with you on the telephone (up to 30 minute call) or through e-mail.

Monthly Retainer Option – $150 For those who would like me to be available for unlimited calls/texts/emails throughout the month.  There is no limit to how often you can contact me and, if I am not available at the time of a call/email/text I will always respond the same day.

*In home rate applies to homes within 15 miles of 29655 zip code.  Beyond that area, there will be a fuel surcharge and hourly travel fee, which will be quoted at time appointment is made.

*Payment can be made with cash, check, and PayPal.

*Payment is expected at the time services are rendered.  Nursing Nurture does not file insurance on your behalf, but will provide you with an itemized Super Bill for your health insurance provider.

What happens during a consultation? Find out more here.

Download the forms for your breastfeeding consultation.

Learn more about Krista Gray, IBCLC or contact Krista to schedule a lactation consultation. Continue reading »


Ethnic Hispanic Mother breastfeeding her son

Breastfeeding Positions

How should I breastfeed my baby?

There is no right or wrong way to nurse your little one.  Any position that is comfortable for you and your baby is just fine.  And while it is important to ensure your baby is positioned and latched well in the beginning, after a few months your growing baby and then active toddler just might choose some positions you never would have considered!  The following breastfeeding positions will give you ideas of ways many moms have comfortably and effectively nursed their babies.

Positioning Techniques

Many moms find it helpful to have plenty of pillows to prop up around them so they don’t have to support the weight of their baby while nursing.  Other moms find having pillows and feeling like they can only nurse in their “nursing station” to be cumbersome.  These moms prefer to not use pillows or other support.  Either way is perfectly fine!

What is most important is to make sure your baby is supported throughout his head/neck/shoulder region, his head and neck are in alignment, and he has equal muscle movement on both sides of his body.  This means you will want his body gently pressed against yours – his tummy on your body – and your hand securely holding his head between his shoulder blades.  Make sure your hand does not hold his head though as this is very uncomfortable and keeps a baby from latching well.  (Imagine if you had to keep your chin down on your chest while you chewed and swallowed your food!)  His head should be free so that he can bring it back if his nose becomes blocked.  Your baby should have firm contact against his mother (skin-to-skin is ideal!).

Latching Techniques

In addition to ensuring good positioning in the early days, it is equally important to ensure a proper latch.  A mother can support her breast with her hand if necessary.  Make sure to keep your fingers behind the areola and position fingers in a C-hold so that you can easily help your baby latch on and take enough breast into his mouth.  A baby’s nose should be level with the mother’s nipple.  Your baby should have his head tilted back and lead his mouth to the breast with his lower jaw.  His mouth should be opened wide, tongue down and extended over the bottom gum, with nipple pointing up toward roof of baby’s mouth.  His chin should be pressed against breast with bottom of jaw/lip taking in more areola than the top.  Your baby forms a teat with the nipple and breast tissue, which should be tucked well into baby’s mouth.  His mouth should be open very wide with both top and bottom lips relaxed on the breast and flanged outward.  There should not be any pain!  Make sure to allow your baby to nurse as long as he wants – don’t set a time limit.

Cradle Hold

Cradle Hold

Cradle Hold

This is one of the most popular nursing positions.  A baby lies on the forearm of the side she is going to nurse, and her body extends across the front of her mother.  Her head may be cradled in the bend of the elbow or down lower on the mother’s forearm depending on the size of the baby.  The baby’s chest is against her mother’s chest without space in between; baby’s chest should not be facing up toward the ceiling.  Her legs/feet may be tucked in around the mother’s waist to feel more secure.  It is important that baby is held at breast-level rather than the breast being lowered down to reach baby (which can alter the latch, put pressure on the breast, and keep milk from draining adequately in some areas leading to plugged ducts and mastitis).

Cross-Cradle Hold

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Cross-Cradle Hold

Similar to the cradle hold, but the baby is supported in the arm opposite of the side she is nursing on.  If nursing on the left side, baby would be held by the right arm.  In this example, a mother could support her breast with her left hand and help ensure an optimal latch.  This position is often used with preterm infants.

Football/Clutch Hold

Football Hold

Football Hold

In this position, a baby lies at breast level on the arm of the side she is going to nurse.  Her head is by her mother’s hand and her body wraps around the side and back of her mother.  This hold is especially helpful for a mother who needs to be able to better see her baby’s latch – with large breasts or with a painful latch – as well as after a c-section so baby doesn’t put weight on the incision.  Many mothers of twins also nurse their babies in this position.

Laid-Back Nursing/Biological Nurturing/Reclining

Laid-Back Nursing

Laid-Back Breastfeeding

It has a variety of names but in this position, rather than sitting straight up, the mother is comfortably reclining.  She could simply slide down in a straight back chair, sit in a reclining chair, or lie on a bed propped up with a couple pillows.  A baby can then be positioned across the mother’s body allowing gravity to securely position baby’s body against hers as well as allowing gravity to help with the latch.  This position allows a baby’s natural breastfeeding instincts to kick in.  It is particularly helpful for a tired mom to get rest while nursing or when your baby struggles to open wide to latch such as in cases of tongue tie.

Nursing Lying Down (Side-lying)

Side-Lying Breastfeeding

Side-Lying Breastfeeding

Nursing lying down is an essential tool for breastfeeding and sleep.  Since babies need to nurse at night but mothers also need sleep it is a wonderful way to meet both needs.  In this position, mother and baby lie next to one another on a safe surface.  Baby is securely pressed against mother’s body, and a mother protects her baby with her legs curled around the bottom of her baby and arm over the top.  It can be challenging to first learn this position, but with practice most mothers find it very relaxing to know they can nurse while also getting rest.

Upright Nursing (Baby Sitting)

Upright Breastfeeding

Upright Breastfeeding

Some babies prefer to be in a seated, upright position when nursing.  This type of position is especially useful when a mother has a forceful milk ejection, baby has breathing or swallowing issues, cleft palate, etc.  This position helps reduce choking from a fast flow of milk.  It is still important to adequately support a baby in this position allowing her body to feel a secure touch across her body as well as ensuring her head is well supported by holding one hand in between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck.


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Perseverance at the Pump

Mary Straits HeadshotMary Straits resides in North Carolina with her husband of ten years and two energetic boys, ages six and three.  She earned a B.A. in English and music from Columbia College and a Masters of Education from Liberty University.  In her spare time, Mary teaches 8th-grade English and somehow finds time to blog at www.marystraits.blogspot.com.

When our ob gave us the list of classes the hospital was offering for soon-to-be parents, we actually said, “Nah.  We don’t need the breastfeeding class.  I mean, how hard could it be?  It’s natural, right?”

Out loud.  To each other.

It took about two hours of mommy-hood for me to realize that breastfeeding, albeit natural, is an art form.  It takes coaching and practice and patience and sometimes a trip to the ER at 2 am.

When my first son was freshly born, we started nursing about two hours later. I came to the hospital ready.  I didn’t just have a Boppy—I had a “My Breast Friend.”  I had my own pump and all the parts.  I thought breast-feeding was going rather well until the nurse came in and started saying things like, “Nope.  He’s not latched.  Let’s try it again.”  And, “It’s not supposed to hurt.  You’re wincing.”

Then, when they called in the lactation specialists, things got real.  I learned about all sorts of positions that involved stacks of pillows.  They gave me something called a nipple shield.  Then came a syringe with a tube to connect to the shield.  In the tube, we put formula.  The idea was to make baby associate my breast with his food source.  But we couldn’t use the shield too long or he would become dependent on it.  And then we’d REALLY have problems.  I was to feed baby with the system and then pump to get my milk to come in faster.

Two days later, we went home with a shield and a syringe feeding system, which I promptly abandoned once my milk came in the next day.  In fear, I used the shield off and on, and pumped after each feeding.

When our pediatrician’s lactation specialist called me at home to see how nursing was going, I stupidly said it was going fine.  And no, I didn’t need to see her.  She didn’t let me off the hook, though.  When she found out we were bringing baby in for his weight check, she said, “Great!  I’ll check in with you then!”

The next day, however, I came down with a high fever and chills that would not go away.  Being that our baby was five days old at this point, we ended up in the emergency room at midnight and I endured all sorts of trauma I hope I never relive.   I was discharged hours later with a heavy dose of Tylenol and a label of “Fever of Unknown Origin.”

When we showed up at the pediatrician the next day, I looked like a mess.  But not your average mess.  A HOT mess.

The lactation nurse took one look at me and said, “Oh, you poor thing.”  Then, when we showed off our breast-feeding ritual, she knew we were really in bad shape.  My nipples were raw and cracked in several places.  She said I had a touch of thrush as well and gave me a concoction of creams to put on my nipples after every feeding:  Neosporin, Monistat, and Lanolin.  We were to use only the shield until my nipples healed and continue pumping in between.  And see her again in two days.

A few days later we checked back in, and my skin was on the mend finally.  Baby, however, was not latching properly.  Come to find out, his frenulum was tight, which prevented him from latching properly.  We had to drive across town to the pediatrician who could clip his frenulum and then continue on with the work of breast feeding.  With the shield, pumping after a feed.

At this point, my milk supply was very profound, as I was pumping off 4-5 ounces after baby was done with a feed.

A few days later, the fever came back with a vengeance.  It hit me almost instantly, and I struggled to even pick up the baby to feed.  I somehow loaded up the baby, lifted the car seat, and headed to the ob-gyn, who said I had a bladder and sinus infection.  They gave me a z-pack and sent me on my way, and I felt remarkably better in about 6 hours.

At this point, I tried abandoning the nipple shield, but it didn’t take long for me  to get a little crack and then have shooting pains during a feeding.  I promptly used the compound the lactation nurse told me about.  A few days later, we found out both baby and I had thrush.  At this point, I didn’t try to feed him straight from my breast, but just pumped and bottle fed until we both were cured.

The next week or so, the fever came back AGAIN on a Saturday.  This time I had a red patch on one my breasts, which really freaked me out, but I took ibuprofen and waited for my primary care doctor to open on Monday.   All the while, I continued to pump for feedings, as I was too weak to try and latch baby.

On Monday, all mysteries were answered.  My primary care doctor finally figured out what was causing the fever:  Mastitis.  There is a specific antibiotic that treats it, and he advised me not to feed the baby the milk I was expressing but to be sure that I completely emptied my breasts often.

At this point, my milk supply reached epic proportions, as I was pumping for a long time every two hours or so.

After I finished the antibiotic, my husband and I decided that we had enough drama with this breastfeeding journey.  But, it was so important to me that my baby had breast milk.  For one, I knew it was the best for him.  For two, formula feeding would have cost us $30 a week (at least).  For three, we had a great pump and my supply was ample, to say the least.

I ended up pumping on a schedule of 5:45 am, 8:30 am, 11:15 am, 3:15 pm, 6:30 pm, 10:30 pm, and maybe during the night if baby woke up.  It took me about 10 minutes to totally empty both breasts, which was a lot easier/ faster for me than before.  After a while, I was able to drop a pumping session and still maintain my milk supply very well.  In the end, in fact, I ended up giving my sister bags and bags of frozen milk and using the other bags of frozen milk in baby food purees.

I found pumping much less stressful than our previous experience, which I learned later was pretty extreme.  When I ran into the lactation nurse on a routine pediatrician visit when Noah turned one, she congratulated me on making it a full year and assured me that pumping “counted.”  For some reason, I had it in my head that I wasn’t really breastfeeding by pumping full-time, but I couldn’t bring myself to give up and quit.  And I knew it was best for my baby.

When our second son was born, as soon as we started having latch problems and I started getting cracked nipples, I broke out the pump and began pumping full time.  With a very energetic almost three-year-old, I did not have the stamina and the time for any semblance of our first go round.  I brought out my trusty pump (Medela, if you’re wondering!), and once again, had a solid supply in about 5 days time.

The second time around, though, I worked on pumping a bottle right before baby would eat so that he could have fresh milk more often than not.  I ended up having an epic milk supply the second time around, all from the pump.  At one point, I had so many bags of milk in the freezer, that our freezer actually broke.  Ha!

The point of my story is this:  If you’re passionate about breast feeding and struggling to find peace from any challenges you may be facing, consider pumping full time.  Don’t listen to the masses, who tend to view a breast pump as a ball and chain.  It was an awesome avenue for us to be able to give our boys the most optimal start. And saved us hundreds of dollars!

{Note from Nursing Nurture: Mary’s determination allowed her to give her babies breast milk even when the medical system really failed her.  Though every issue she had could have been remedied with good, qualified lactation support this mother – like so many – did everything she knew to do.  If you are experiencing breastfeeding issues and your lactation support is not helping solve the problems at hand, find someone else!  Look for an IBCLC – which is the only certification showing a lactation consultant is a specialist.  And, if your IBCLC is not helpful, find another (just like you would any medical doctor you weren’t pleased with).}


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5 Ways Grandmothers Can Support Breastfeeding Moms

Family and BreastfeedingHaving a baby is an exciting time for everyone in a family and the grandmas-to-be are no exception.  Grandmothers can’t wait to hold their new grandchild, brag about their new grandchild, and share parenting wisdom from their experiences of motherhood.

But when it comes to breastfeeding, many grandmothers who were mothering in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s not only didn’t breastfeed, but were told that holding a baby too much would spoil her baby and that babies need to “cry-it-out” to learn how to sleep through the night.  Much has changed since those days and we now know that these myths couldn’t be further from the truth.

The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other pediatric associations around the world recommend that children should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, with continued breastfeeding alongside solids until two years old or beyond.

Even if you didn’t breastfeed your own children, it is possible to be a grandmother who is a new mother’s biggest breastfeeding supporter and advocate.  Here are 5 tips how:

  1. Support the new mother
    Regardless of how she feeds her baby, a new mother will need lots of help and support in the early days.  If she wants to breastfeed her baby, support her.  Be excited for her and your grandbaby.  Know that there will be benefits for your daughter/daughter-in-law and benefits for your grandchild that will last for their entire lifetime.It isn’t that “breast is best”…it is of course, but it is also the norm for infant feeding.  Formula feeding is linked with lower IQs, increased rates of asthma, allergies, ear infections, obesity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and more. So, no matter the challenges your daughter may face, be her biggest supporter and advocate.If breastfeeding is what she wants to do, don’t do anything that communicates you aren’t 100% on board with her decision.  Sore nipples and breastfeeding pain/problems are not the norm so help her get qualified breastfeeding support if she faces challenges, rather than discouraging her breastfeeding decision.
  1.  Encourage her
    Being a new mother can be tiring.  Being a baby’s only source for food and having a baby who seems to eat non-stop can be exhausting.  Rather than telling your daughter to “just give one bottle” so she can get some rest, encourage her in her breastfeeding decision.Share how quickly these days really are in the whole scheme of things and give her a vision beyond that moment of exhaustion.  Be an encouragement with your words and help her believe she really can do it.You have a wonderful and unique role to help her succeed…be the person she looks back to and says, “My mother/mother-in-law believed in me and encouraged me and that’s why I persevered through those early days…”
  2. Help her
    You may not be able to feed your grandchild, but there are many things you can do to help a new mother.  Take over the running of the household – prepare meals, grocery shop, do dishes, wash and fold laundry, clean house, take care of older siblings, protect her when visitors stop by and make sure she has all the time she needs to nurse her baby and sleep when her baby does.There are many, many ways you can serve and help her!  Not only is there the running of the household, but there are things you can do with your new grandbaby: change diapers, burp him following feeds, rock him, etc.Be the person that your daughter trusts and relies on to help her with whatever she needs in those early days while she is getting breastfeeding established and learning about motherhood.
  3. Build her up to others
    Don’t just encourage and support a new mother when you are speaking to her, build her up when you are talking to others.  Share her determination despite obstacles and how proud you are that she is giving your grandchild breast milk.  Your daughter will know when you build her up to others and this will serve to encourage her even more.  Your full support really does matter!
  4. Trust her instincts
    Maternal instincts are there for a reason.  When your daughter feeds her baby on demand, (which may seem like all the time) don’t discourage her.  Babies can’t eat too often and they aren’t being spoiled by being held and breastfed all day and night.In fact, we know that breastfeeding works best when babies are fed on their feeding cues, not on a schedule.  If she chooses to bed share or co-sleep, help her create a safe sleeping environment.  Babies aren’t being manipulative when they wake at night and they don’t need to have their sleep scheduled either.Encourage your daughter/daughter-in-law to meet her baby’s needs and not worry about what parenting books might say or how things were done when you had your children.

Being a helpful, encouraging, and supportive grandma will help you build a strong bond with not only your grandchild but your daughter/daughter-in-law as well.


Pros & Cons of Breastfeeding Twins

Probably no woman is completely prepared to hear the words, “You are pregnant with twins” even if it isn’t a complete surprise.  Once the reality sets in, there is a lot to do to get ready for these new little blessings.  One of the many decisions a mother of multiples will need to make as she is preparing for their arrival is how to feed them.

Advantages of Breastfeeding

There are many benefits to breastfeeding for both a mother and baby.  However, there are some advantages specific to nursing twins and higher order multiples (HOMs) as well.

  1. High chance of premature delivery
    The majority of mothers carrying multiples will deliver early.  The March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center statistics show that in 2010, nearly 60% of mothers in the US carrying twins or HOMs delivered their babies prematurely and another 34% had late preterm deliveries (before 38 weeks). 1 Breast milk is completely unique and unlike any other mammalian milk, and breast milk has even added benefits for preemies.  Though nursing a preterm baby presents its own set of challenges – such as separation while your babies are in the NICU and trying to build your milk supply – breast milk can mean the difference between life and death with a premature baby.  Many mothers of premature babies will give their babies breast milk while they are premature and later decide if they will continue with breastfeeding.  (Just a note of encouragement though…it is completely possible to transition your babies to the breast if they were born prematurely and you had to start off pumping and giving your milk by different methods; kangaroo mother care can also help make this transition happen more smoothly.)
  2. Immunological protection of breast milk
    Breast milk as immunological antibodies that are made specifically for the germs and bacteria your baby confronts each day.  Since multiples have a higher risk of prematurity – and therefore illness – giving breast milk can significantly boost their immune system and protect them from illness.  But not only if they are premature; with multiples, if one baby gets sick the chance of having all of them catch the illness is high.  Breastfeeding can save time and money from visiting the doctor both while they are young and over the course of their lifetimes.
  3. Promotes bonding
    Twins and HOMs will keep a new mother extremely busy.  Sometimes it is harder to bond when you have multiples because of time constraints – there is just more that must be done since there are more babies.  However, breastfeeding allows a mother built-in time all throughout the day and night to stop and relax and just hold and feed her babies.
  4. Easier to feed two at the same time
    Whether you have twins or more, you still only have two hands.  It is much easier to use your hands to hold/support your babies at the breast than it is to sit them down and hold the bottles.   Your babies will have more times of physical touch and cuddling which is beneficial to their mental, physical, and social development as well.

Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

There are also many disadvantages – or perceived disadvantages – to nursing twins.

  1. More Work for Mother
    It is true that with breastfeeding, only the mother has the equipment to feed her babies.  Many mothers of multiples have extra help and support from family and if they give bottles would be able to have others feed their babies as well.  However, this must be weighed against several factors:  the time of mixing formula and cleaning/sterilizing bottles as well as whether or not this extra help will be around for the entire first year or two.  It may be easier in the beginning, but if this extra help is gone after a month or two, bottle-feeding may be more cumbersome than breastfeeding.  Also, if a new mother does have extra help and support (and please try to have extra help and support – you will need it!) they can do many other things while a new mother is breastfeeding – cook, clean, change diapers, burp babies, rock babies, etc. It is common for new moms, especially mothers of multiples, to wonder when life will ever return to normal!
  2. Concerns of sleep deprivation
    This is also related to the first reason.  If a mother is not breastfeeding then when her babies wake to feed at night someone else could feed them.  Again, this must to be weighed though: will the help be around for the first year or two?  Will they be the ones to do night feeds? If not, breastfeeding would allow a mother to get more sleep than her formula-feeding counterparts.  A breastfeeding mother does not have to arouse as fully to scoop up her babies and latch them to her breast as a mother who must mix formula, give the bottles, clean the bottles, and get her babies back to sleep. Even while feeding two, a breastfeeding mother can nurse lying down for added sleep/rest. And breastfeeding produces oxytocin which has a relaxing effect on a nursing mother, thus making it easier to fall back to sleep.
  3. Concern over pumping/transitioning to the breast
    Many moms are concerned that they will spend the time pumping and building a strong milk supply only to find that later their babies do not transition to the breast.  While this occurs (rarely) the vast majority of babies will transition to the breast once they are full-term. Even if your baby doesn’t transition to the breast, pumping and expressing is not only healthier for your babies’ bodies but much less of a financial burden than buying formula.

How can I prepare to breastfeed my babies?

There are many things a mother can do while she is pregnant to prepare for breastfeeding her babies!

  1. Find a qualified lactation consultant
    You are going to be nursing twins or more and having qualified, hands-on support to make sure you get breastfeeding off to a great start is critical.  Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in your area and meet with her prenatally.  Many lactation consultants have prenatal workshops and then will offer a discount for breastfeeding support once your babies arrive.  This will be money well spent – and much, much less than the cost of bottles and formula if you didn’t breastfeed.
  2. Meet with a lactation consultant to discuss maximizing your milk production
    While it is completely possible for your body to make enough milk to exclusively breastfeed twins, triplets, or more, having a plan in place that involves lactation practices to maximize your milk supply is critical.  During the first few weeks after giving birth your body is laying down the prolactin receptors that will regulate the amount of milk you will make for the duration of breastfeeding. You want to make sure you maximize what your body will make and the importance of having a plan in place so you know the best way to initiate breastfeeding in the early days cannot be understated.
  3. Begin attending a mother-to-mother support group
    Find a La Leche League or other breastfeeding support group in your area.  There may even be a group specifically for nursing multiples!  Knowing other mothers who have successfully nursed their twins or HOMs will be a great help and encouragement to you – trust me!

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Dads & Breastfeeding Babies

1150787_10103463127706250_814534659_nDads are a vital part of breastfeeding.  Without their love, compassion, support, and encouragement a mother’s ability to nurse their new baby is not only more challenging, but will many times fail entirely.  However, many first-time fathers may feel insecure in their new role as the mother and baby seem to get all the attention; he finds it challenging to bond with his child who seems to spend most of her time breastfeeding; he feels helpless during breastfeeding; and/or he struggles with the idea of his wife’s breasts either exposed or full of milk.

2013-08-06 21.21.32All of these feelings can be normal emotions!  But, there are so many ways for a new father to not only bond with his baby but help his partner with breastfeeding.  Focusing on these things can make breastfeeding a wonderful relationship for all three of you.  It will also provide your baby with all the antibodies, immune defenses, and life-saving properties in a mother’s rich, creamy, organic, free, perfectly prepared, always-ready, delicious, amazing milk.

Here are 10 ways for dads to bond with their breastfeeding babies (and help the new mom too!):

  1. Positioning
    Breastfeeding is normal and natural, but it’s not always easy.  The number one reason that moms feel pain during breastfeeding is due to poor positioning and attachment of the baby at the breast.  A new mom may be flooded with emotions and stress, but dads are usually able to pay close attention to breastfeeding help given after the birth and are a tremendous source of help in getting the baby at the breast correctly.  Breastfeeding is new for both mom and baby and they often need support; there is no better person to help make sure baby is properly positioned than dad!
  2. Diaper changes
    IMG_7989 editNewborns nurse frequently; they also make lots and lots of wet and dirty diapers.  Mom is usually tired in the first weeks of motherhood and having someone who helps with (or takes over) diaper changes is a huge blessing!  Not only does it help mom but it is also a great way to bond with your little one.  Babies need to feel love and security, be fed, and be changed.  If dad takes over this responsibility your new baby will learn to look to dad to fulfill this need.
  3. Bringing baby to mom/burping afterwards
    Though mom is the only person who can breastfeed your new baby, bringing him to mom, helping him get positioned correctly, and then burping him afterwards are great ways to help mom and spend lots of quality time with your baby.
  4. 1150375_10103463101324120_177252421_nWear baby in sling
    Newborns love to be held and, despite what some “experts” might assert, you cannot spoil your baby by holding him too much.  In fact, sometimes your baby is fussy not because he’s hungry but because he wants to be held close to his parent’s heart.  Tucking your baby in a sling or wrap to help him fall asleep (or just feel your touch) is a great way to bond with your baby.
  5. Give her a bath
    Baths can be fun and relaxing times for your baby that she looks forward to.  And this is a great way for dads to bond with their babies.  In fact, water is so relaxing that you could even take a bath together and hold your baby skin-to-skin!
  6. Baby massage
    This is another great technique to calm, relax, and bond together.  Learn how to gently massage your baby and do it frequently – even every day!
  7. 1011505_10103463127676310_1126405870_nRock your baby
    Babies love movement.  Perhaps because they were in their mother’s womb for nine months and gently swayed in the amniotic fluid as she went about her day, babies continue to enjoy gentle movements once they are born.  Rocking your baby in a chair or gently gliding around the floor with your baby in your arms are wonderful calming and bonding techniques.
  8. Read books together
    Get some board books, cloth books, and bath time books and read them with your baby often.  Their attention span might be extremely short in the beginning but the stories will become familiar and they will love the feeling of curling up with dad and reading books even as they grow older.
  9. Sing
    Sing funny songs, made up songs, nursery rhymes, praise songs, prayers, and more.  Babies love sound and are not only calmed by singing they will get to know your songs and, as they grow, begin to sing them with you.  Then, one day, you might even hear them singing these songs to their little ones…
  10. Go for walks
    What can be better than some fresh air, a gentle breeze, warm sunshine, falling leaves, or even bundling up in the cold and going for a walk?  This is another great way for babies to feel movement, have a change of scenery, and feel the outdoors – which can do everyone a world of good.  Whether you tuck your newborn in a wrap/sling or put him in a stroller, take lots of walks together.

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Birthing Practices that Help Breastfeeding

Having the freedom to move during labor is important for natural birth.

Having the freedom to move during labor is important for natural birth.

A typical hospital birth in the western world is overmedicalized – to the point where there’s almost a belief a woman’s body cannot perform this most natural of things without assistance.  We know in the rest of the mammalian kingdom that if birth is interfered with there is a great likelihood of the baby dying (usually by rejection of the mother and not suckling).  Could this actually be happening right before our own eyes with human babies and modern medicine?  Of course most mothers don’t “reject” their babies, but interventions affects a baby’s ability to latch and suckle effectively; rob mothers and babies of the critical minutes and hours immediately following birth where hormones are at their peak and establishment of a lifelong bond is beginning (could this time be even more important for teen moms, unplanned pregnancies, etc.?); and negatively impact a mother’s milk supply.

There are many simple things that can be done to improve birthing practices and allow new moms and babies every opportunity possible to succeed at breastfeeding.  The following list includes important points to consider in preparing for your birth:

  1. Plan for a natural birth.  Read books, decide what you want to have happen, write out a birth plan, and discuss it with your doctor or midwife.
  2. Select a doctor & hospital that is supportive.  The current c-section rate in America today is 1 in 3!  That’s saying that 1/3 of all women’s bodies are incapable to do what they were created to do without medical intervention.  Instead, it is much more likely to be the other way around – when you get involved in a natural process problems occur which lead to more problems and interventions…a slippery slope for sure. Doctors with low c-section rates, midwives, and birthing locations with Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative status are all better options.
  3. Plan for baby to be given to mom immediately following delivery – postponing all newborn procedures on a healthy baby until after the first few hours following birth (or allow procedures to be done while in skin-to-skin with mother).
  4. Don’t wash the baby – babies use their sense of smell to find the nipple and moms are drawn into their babies with hormones of love and bonding through smell and touch.  There is no need to scrub a newborn down before cuddling and spending precious hours in skin-to-skin care.  In fact, consider waiting a couple days before giving your baby his first bath.
  5. Dim the lights – bright lights are harsh on a new baby’s eyes.  If you have to have bright lights on, shield baby’s eyes.
  6. Allow skin-to-skin time to continue through first breastfeed- and then as much as possible in the first few days following birth.  Skin-to-skin is the most important single thing to help breastfeeding success.
  7. Delay cord clamping – this is oxygen rich blood that your baby needs.  Wait until the cord has finished pulsating – or, even better, wait to cut the cord until the placenta has been delivered.
  8. Have a Plan B in place – though you plan and prepare for a natural birth, sometimes things don’t go as planned.  For example, if you need an emergency c-section, who could hold your baby in immediate skin-to-skin following birth until mother is able?  Does your hospital have a policy of oral suctioning if your baby passes meconium in labor? Could you sign paperwork in advance to prepare for this scenario or others that might occur so you can still have your birth wishes fulfilled?
  9. Less is more – Less intervention means a more natural birth.  This is the goal.  A woman’s body knows what to do if she is not stressed, under time constraints, in a strange or harsh place, etc.  Sure, there are times when medical intervention is necessary.  But birth is natural, normal.  Plan, prepare, and expect a natural birth.
  10. Relax and don’t stress – plan and prepare and do all that is in your power to have a natural birth.  Then relax and enjoy the thought of the day you will get to meet your new little blessing!  Birth is not something to fear; rather it’s an exciting time where your body is doing what it needs to in order to birth a new life.  Trust your body; remember you’ve done all you can to prepare; relax and enjoy the experience of birth.

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Why Natural Childbirth Matters

911666_10100156572893941_1838070281_nBirth is not just a painful hoop a woman must go through to meet her baby; rather it is a critical stepping stone that has major implications for breastfeeding and bonding over a lifetime.  In fact, if we look at all other mammals (and remember, humans are mammals!), when birth gets messed up so does bonding, breastfeeding, sometimes even life itself.  It has been said that if we want to fix breastfeeding, we must first fix birth. 1

When I was a child my friend’s cat had a litter of kittens.  I thought they were the cutest little kittens I’d ever seen and ran to pick one up.  But I wasn’t allowed too…because everyone knew that if I touched a baby and took it from her mother the mother might reject it and the baby could die.  Now, of course humans have brains with great reasoning skills and we don’t typically reject our babies when the doctors take them off to be weighed and have other “normal newborn procedures” done to them.  But the point is still the same. . . our births in the western world have become so medicalized, so far from natural, we don’t even recognize birth interventions as a valid reason for breastfeeding complications.

Other mammal mothers labor in a quiet, dark, relaxing place, upright, with as much food/drink as they like – without bright lights, stressful surroundings, medications, and time constraints.  They immediately lick, touch, or nurse their young after birth.  And when their babies are taken away, or when birth interventions are done, there is a high rate of rejection, breastfeeding problems, and even death.  Among mammals, a sign of good mothering is being fiercely protective. 2

Contrast this scene to a common birth in the west:  in a hospital, lying down, monitors on, with drugs, an unfamiliar setting, bright lights, stress of time constraints and medical staff doing “routine” checks and coming and going, dutifully “obeying” the system.  Deliveries many times involve forceps or vacuum extractions, episiotomies, or even C-sections.  Babies are promptly cleaned (we must get that icky goo off, we believe!), weighed, given an injection, oral suctioned, and the list goes on.  The baby is then dressed, swaddled, and, finally, given to his mother.  Delayed skin-to-skin, no opportunity for mom and baby to bond with the initial smells before cleaning, no chance to soak in such an amazing experience and bask in the wonderful hormones of love, attachment, and bonding those critical minutes/hours after birth offer.  A typical hospital birth today is about as opposite to a natural birth as possible.

It’s incredibly rare for a normal mammal not to nurse.  Why is it so common for human babies?  Well, birth really does matter!  And birthing practices definitely have an impact on breastfeeding success.


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Making Your Birth Plan

iStock_000014079658XSmallPlanning and preparing for the type of birth you want to have are important steps in achieving your birth goals.  Having a birth plan is an important part of this process.  Having a plan written down that you can talk about and share with your doctor, midwife, doula, and nurses at delivery can help ensure you are able to clearly communicate your wishes and desires so that during labor your expectations are clearly understood.  Below are some important do’s and don’ts when writing a birth plan:

  • Limit to one page
  • Only include things that are not standard practice – you don’t want it to be too long
  • Clearly communicate your birth expectations and desires
  • Include what you want to happen in a “Plan B” scenario…IF this happens, THEN x, y, and z are my wishes…
  • Bold or highlight key points you want to stand out
  • Share your birth plan with your doctor(s)/midwife BEFORE your birth
  • Make sure doula has a copy (if you have a doula)
  • Take with you to hospital/birth center and share with nurses when you arrive (consider having a small basket ready that includes some fresh fruit, chocolate, etc. along with your birth plan as a kind gesture to the nurses who will be in your labor and delivery room)

Click here to see a sample birth plan.


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Sample Birth Plan

Labor:

  • Drugs – I desire a drug-free birth.  Please do not offer pain medication or Pitocin.
  • Vaginal Exams – Minimal
  • Monitoring baby – Intermittent only
  • Movement – I would like complete freedom of movement during labor.
  • Stripping of Membranes – Please do not strip my membranes.
  • Breaking of Water – Please allow my bag of waters to break naturally.

 During the pushing stage:

  • Positions – I would like the freedom to push in any position that is comfortable for me.
  • Perineum – I would like to try for an intact perineum with massage, support, hot compresses, controlled and guided pushing, and positions to promote perineal stretching.
  • Episiotomy – I would prefer to tear naturally and not have an episiotomy.
  • Forceps/Vacuum extraction – I do not want these used unless my baby’s life is threatened.
  • C-section – A last resort and only to be considered if my life or baby’s life is threatened.
  • Time – As long as baby is tolerating labor well, I would like to labor at my own pace without time constraints or labor augmentation.

 After Birth:

  • Baby – To be laid directly on mother’s chest after birth and allowed to breastfeed in skin-to-skin contact.  Any observations or measurements should be done while baby is on my chest.  Please allow baby to be laid on mom even through delivery of placenta and any repair work.  My husband and I would like to be present for all newborn procedures.
  • Cord – Please allow cord to stop pulsating before it is clamped.  Please do not milk the cord to speed the process.  Please do not clamp the cord early.  If possible, I would like to leave cord attached until placenta is delivered.
  • Placenta – Please allow the placenta to be expelled on its own, with no pulling or tugging.  I do not want to be given Pitocin unless fundal massage to control bleeding is not effective.
  • Temperature – I would like to hold our baby skin-to-skin during the first hours to help regulate baby’s body temperature.

 Baby Care:

  • Rooming In – To begin immediately.  All necessary examinations should be performed w/us present.
  • Breastfeeding – The baby will be breastfed exclusively.  Please do not give baby a pacifier, bottled water, glucose water, formula, etc.
  • NO lab work is to be drawn, no injections or medications of any kind are to be given without our prior consent.

Alternate Plans:

  • Should a C-section be necessary, I would like my husband to be hold baby in skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth until I am able to hold baby.
  • Should baby need special care after delivery, my husband or I would like to be present in the NICU or elsewhere.

Click here to download a .pdf of this sample birth plan.