Archive for the ‘ Breastfeeding ’ Category

Is Your Newborn Losing Too Much Weight? Now There’s a Tool to Help You Know

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

newborn-weightI’ve always envied how moms of bottle-fed babies know exactly how much milk their kiddo has ingested during a meal. As a breastfeeding mom, any guess I made was just that. And while this piece of information wasn’t so crucial once I had been nursing for a while, it was everything to me in the first days of my baby’s life. After all, a belly full of milk meant a certain number of dirty diapers and a steady, reassuring rise on the growth chart.

But as I found out the hard way, a breastfed newborn often loses weight in the beginning until milk production begins in earnest. Though some trimming down is to be expected, too much can lead to dehydration or hyperbilirubinemia, a type of jaundice. A normal range of how quickly and how long the weight loss lasts hasn’t been fully known — until now.

A team of researchers have developed the Newborn Weight Tool, or Newt, which compares a newborn’s weight in the first few days of life against those of other babies. The free tool relies on hourly birth weights from more than 100,000 breastfed newborns delivered at Northern California Kaiser Permanente hospitals (between 2009 and 2013) to make the comparison. A handy graph shows moms and pediatricians where the baby’s weight falls on the growth chart so they can figure out if it’s time to supplement with formula or continue nursing exclusively.

“For parents who are concerned about their newborn’s weight loss, they can be shown how their baby compares to the study sample, and whether they fall into a dangerous zone,” says Valerie Flaherman, M.D., lead author of the study and a pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. “It also provides a tool for pediatricians to determine which babies are at high risk, addressing a major clinical gap because there are no current criteria for newborn weight loss.”

Personally, I would have appreciated such a tool after my baby was born. I knew I wanted to breastfeed exclusively as long as I could, and I figured that when the time came, whatever colostrum I produced would be more than enough to sustain him until the milk came in. Yeah…not so much. When our kind pediatrician gently suggested after the first 24 hours of nursing that we supplement with a bottle — just for now — I felt like someone punched me in the gut. I don’t know if it was the freewheeling hormones, but I took the unexepcted news pretty hard. If I wasn’t second-guessing the quality of my colostrum, then I was trying to shake the feeling that I was already a failure as a mom. It didn’t help that my lactation consultant pooh-poohed the idea of supplementing and encouraged me to go rogue and refuse the formula. I ended up siding with my doctor, but I wish I had a graph or point of comparison to help me make a more informed decision.

Tell us: If you breastfed your newborn, did you end up having to supplement with formula?

Not sure how comfortable you’ll feel nursing? You can take our breastfeeding quiz to find out. Also, calculate your growing child’s height and weight on our baby growth chart. And don’t forget to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby-related news.

How to Find a Lactation Consultant
How to Find a Lactation Consultant
How to Find a Lactation Consultant

Image of newborn courtesy of Shutterstock

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Finally, an Easy Way to Tell When Medicine Is Safe for You and Baby

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

fda-prescription-label-requirementsDo the letters A, B, C, D and X mean anything to you? Yeah, me neither. But apparently, prescription drug manufacturers have been using them on medicine labels since the ’70s to alert pregnant women and breastfeeding moms to the potential risks of taking certain medications.

Though ridiculously simple on the surface, the lettering system has been anything but effective. In fact, Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the Federal Drug Administration’s Office of New Drugs, said it “has been highly, highly inconsistent,” often contained outdated information and was confusing, the Washington Post reports.

Needless to say, it was time for a change.

So after six years of development, the FDA last week unveiled a shiny new set of requirements aimed at helping doctors and patients make more informed decisions about what they’re putting into their body (and their baby’s). Chief among them is that drug makers will be required to include information packets with the prescription that spell out any potential risks to pregnant or nursing moms, babies, and small children, or people considering getting pregnant — plus whatever research backs up those claims. Each packet will contain three clearly marked sections: “Pregnancy,” “Lactation,” and “Females and Males of Reproductive Potential” for easy skimming.

Starting June 2015, all new prescription drugs and biologics will be subject to the revised system, as will drugs approved by the FDA since 2001 that didn’t provide info related to about pregnancy and lactation. (Note that requirements don’t apply to over-the-counter meds.)

As someone who pestered her OB with frequent “is-this-safe-to-take” questions during pregnancy and nursing, I think the new rule can’t go into effect fast enough. While nothing can replace a quick convo with your healthcare provider, the information packet sounds like a great alternative. After all, when you’re pregnant or nursing — and extra conscious of what’s going into your body — having the most current facts about a medication at the ready can go a long way toward giving you peace of mind.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your take on the FDA’s new requirements for drug manufacturers? How likely are you to read the information packets before taking the medication?

Have questions about your baby? We have answers — just check out our comprehensive Baby Q&A. And be sure to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby news!

Meds and Breastfeeding
Meds and Breastfeeding
Meds and Breastfeeding

Image of woman holding a pill bottle courtesy of Shutterstock

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Alyssa Milano’s Breastfeeding Selfie Has Nursing Moms Fired Up

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Two Hollywood mamas showed some flesh recently but with very different results. Last week, Kim Kardashian famously tried to break the Internet by showing off her naked booty (and everything else) for PAPER magazine. A couple of weeks before that, Alyssa Milano posted a couple of pictures of daughter Elizabella breastfeeding that showed—gasp!—part of her breast. While the sight of Mrs. West’s oiled-up backside was considered OK, Milano was criticized for daring to show her daughter mid-suckle.

The former Mistresses star struck back with a tweet that fired up nursing moms everywhere. She wrote: “Wait! I don’t get it. No disrespect to Kim but… people are offended by my breastfeeding selfies & are fine with her (amazing) booty cover?”

It’s a fair question and one that’s inspired women to flood Milano’s Twitter feed with their own breastfeeding photos, hashtags, and shows of support. A sample of a few: “Respect to anyone who chooses to breastfeed and post photos. This one is for you @Alyssa_Milano,” wrote Mrs Mildinhall. ”#Support @Alyssa_Milano let’s #BreakTheInternet and make breastfeeding as natural as it should be! #breastfeeding” tweeted Kathryn Correa. “@Alyssa_Milano Your pic is beautiful. It’s what theyre made for anyway! #NormalizeBreastfeeding #BreastfeedingSelfie,” said Samantha Richards.

Did Milano intend to become the latest celeb to take up the cause of breastfeeding? Who knows, but I think it’s remarkable that she’s using her status to raise awareness that nursing isn’t just natural, it’s also something moms shouldn’t feel ashamed about doing in public. Just as gratifying is how many women have already publicly expressed their support for her (some want to try to break the Internet with their breastfeeding selfies!). We have a long way to go before a mom can nurse in public without getting a side-eye, of course — even women’s clothing stores still have an issue with it — but the more it’s out there on social media, in stores or at restaurants, the more “normal” it becomes.

Tell us: Do you nurse in public? Would you try it? Why or why not?

Not sure how comfortable you’ll feel nursing in public? You can take our breastfeeding quiz to find out. And don’t forget to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby-related news.

How to Hold Baby While Breastfeeding
How to Hold Baby While Breastfeeding
How to Hold Baby While Breastfeeding

Image of Alyssa Milano breastfeeding courtesy of Alyssa Milano via Instagram

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See What One Graduate Mom Did With Her Breastfeeding Photo

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

When Jacci Sharkey graduated from Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland (USC), she had more reasons than some to celebrate. Not only had the 24-year-old finished her degree, she also had two babies in the process. The years of juggling diapers and feedings with midterms and homework were tough, yes, but Sharkey felt indebted to school for its support. So she decided to send them a thank-you note.

To fully express her gratitude as a mom and student, Sharkey sent administrators a photo her sister-in-law took on graduation day showing the mom breastfeeding her son, Alek, in full cap and gown. And that was that.

Until USC posted the sweet picture on its Facebook page (with Sharkey’s permission, of course)– and it promptly went viral. As of this writing, the post has 278,974 likes and nearly 10,000 shares. It’s gotten more coverage than Alyssa Milano’s recent nursing selfie: Media outlets around the world have picked up the story, calling the photo “beautiful” and crediting it for “normalizing breastfeeding.” It’s a much warmer reception than the one California mom Karlesha Thurman received when she nursed her baby during her own graduation earlier this year

But here’s the funny (and kind of awesome) part: Sharkey says she wasn’t trying to make some big declaration about breastfeeding. Nope, she was simply a mom who was feeding her hungry baby, and she thought the photo perfectly summed up her years as a parent and a student. “It wasn’t a statement [on breastfeeding] or anything like that. I would have sent the same picture to the uni had he [Alek] had a bottle or a sandwich … it was just the fact that I’m a mum, it’s not I’m a breastfeeding mum, just I’m a mum,” she told Australia’s ABC. Sharkey’s right, of course. And hopefully, photos like hers will keep driving home the point that for women who nurse, breastfeeding (in public or at home) is as much a part of motherhood as diaper changes or bath time.

Tell us: What are some of the more unusual places you’ve nursed?

Have questions about your baby? We have answers — just check out our comprehensive Baby Q&A. And be sure to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby news! 

How to Hold Baby While Breastfeeding
How to Hold Baby While Breastfeeding
How to Hold Baby While Breastfeeding

Image of Jacci Sharkey courtesy of the University of the Sunshine Coast via Facebook

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Will Your Baby Have a Better Diet If You Went to College?

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Even if you never gave much thought to nutrition before, chances are it’s top of mind when baby arrives — and especially so once she starts eating solids. Pediatricians offer some guidance, but for the most part, they leave it up to us to decide what goes into her three squares a day. This means your child’s early meals are heavily informed by your tastes, your culture and, as a new study discovered, your socioeconomic background.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo, examined findings from a two-year Infant Feeding Practices Study that involved 760 boys and 795 girls aged 6 to 12 months. Based on that data, UPI reports, scientists found that a mother’s household income and level of education play a significant role in how well her baby eats (as if we didn’t have enough reasons for mommy guilt!).

The numbers break down like this: Moms who earned more than $60,000 a year and/or completed at least some college were more likely to feed their babies nutritious meals, which includes solid foods and breast milk. On the flip side, moms who made below $25,000 a year and weren’t as well educated (defined as “some or all of high school”) were more likely to give their children foods high in fat and sugar as well as more cereal.

As researchers point out — and moms of toddler can tell you — there’s a short window of time to establish good eating habits. You usually only have the first year to get them hooked on the healthy stuff. “There is substantial research to suggest that if you consistently offer foods with a particular taste to infants, they will show a preference for these foods later in life,” said lead study author Xiaozhong Wen, an assistant professor in Buffalo’s Department of Pediatrics. “So if you tend to offer healthy foods, even those with a somewhat bitter taste to infants, such as pureed vegetables, they will develop a liking for them. But if you always offer sweet or fatty foods, infants will develop a stronger preference for them or even an addiction to them.”

While I think the findings are a great reminder to introduce baby to all sorts of healthy fruits, vegetables and grains — especially while they’re still open to it — this can be easier said than done. I believe most parents would prefer to serve their baby the most nutritious food out there. But the reality is, eating well often hinges on two precious resources: time and money. When you’re living hand to mouth, every penny has to count. And if your choices are a fresh avocado (good for two or three side dishes) or an equally priced box of cereal (good for a week’s worth of breakfasts), which would you pick up?

Keep track of your baby’s developing body with our Growth Chart. And be sure to like All About Babies on Facebook to keep up with the latest baby news!

How to Start Solids
How to Start Solids
How to Start Solids

Image of baby eating courtesy of Shutterstock 

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