good to know

Breastfeeding Q & A

Breastfeeding Q & A from Isis Parenting

August is World Breastfeeding Month and while I nursed my children, I did so because it worked for my family not because it is the only way to be a good mother. I am really uncomfortable with all of the judgement going on around breast feeding/bottle feeding. Really, do what works for you and your child. Nothing else. Dr. Claire McCarthy says it better than I can here in Breastfeeding and the Mommy Wars.

Go read it now. I’ll wait.

Back? Glad you read it? Me. too.
Here is an excerpt from Dr. McCarthy’s post:
I think we need to be ground rules when it comes to talking about breastfeeding, something along the lines of:
1. Nobody may berate any mother for her breastfeeding choices.
2. All mothers deserve not just information about and support for breastfeeding but the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the choices they make.
3. We all need to acknowledge that there is more to parenting than breastfeeding.
I think that if we could agree to ground rules like these it would help all mothers, whether or not they breastfeed. As a pediatrician and a mom, that’s what I want most of all.

I’m sharing this because I find it helpful, kind and the way it should be. That said, I am also sharing the following information in honor of World Breastfeeding Month, and because I love the tagline from the Isis Parenting (a great resource), Because babies don’t come with instructions. (they sure don’t).

Nancy Holtzman, Vice President, Clinical Content & Learning at Isis Parenting, answers two of the more common questions she gets from new nursing mothers.

Q.     Latching on – how does a mother ensure the latch is good?
A “good latch” is one that is comfortable for the mom, and provides good milk transfer for the baby. There are all kinds of beliefs about what a “good” latch should look like, but the reality is that a latch can look great, but that’s going on in the baby’s mouth isn’t great at all.
So back to the basics: If the latch feels okay to mom (not pinching, burning, clamping or causing pain), and if baby is swallowing milk, softening the breast, and gaining weight, it’s a good latch.
In general, the baby’s jaw should be dropped, mouth open wide before latching, with lips flanged out, not tucked into the mouth. It helps for baby’s head to slightly recline back (lead in with the chin, over and on) when approaching the breast. Having the chin tucked down toward the chest restricts the baby’s ability to open wide. (Try it yourself: curl your chin down toward your chest and try to open your mouth wide. Restrictive).
Another way moms inadvertently restrict baby’s ability to get a “good” latch is by holding the breast too close to the areola and nipple. If your fingers are in the way, baby can’t get a deep mouthful of breast tissue. Try supporting the breast with a big “C” of your hand closer to your ribs, and make sure your index finger doesn’t creep too close to the areola.

Note: If there is initial nipple damage, latching will probably hurt until the crack or abrasion heals. Just like a skinned knee – the initial damage can cause ongoing discomfort during “use”, even if the latch is corrected. The good news is that when correcting the latch, damage should heal and not reoccur.

Note: Tender latch from “newness”. Sometimes even when the latch is good, there can be temporary latch discomfort during the first week or so of breastfeeding – even without damage. Both the external skin, and the internal tissue of the nipple, will adjust quickly, but sometimes a new mom will have latch discomfort for the first few sucks – After counting to ten and/or taking a few deep breaths, the pain should be gone and the feeding should feel like a gentle tugging sensation and not painful. If a mom continues to have pain throughout most feeding sessions, or nipple damage that isn’t healing, then it’s time to call a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for help.

Q: What are best positions for nursing?

·         There are as many different breastfeeding positions, as there are, mothers and babies. In general, some key things to pay attention to are:

Baby’s comfort for eating:
-Baby should always have nose and belly button in a straight line. Why? Well, if baby is laying on his back, with his head turned to the side, it’s very difficult to swallow. Try it yourself: look over your shoulder and try to swallow.

-Baby should feel securely supported. If baby’s hips or legs are “dangling”, he may compensate for this tenuous position by clamping hard with his gums. Ouch!

-Foot reflex: make sure your baby’s feet are not pressing up against the sides of the chair when nursing in a cross-cradle position, or against the back of the couch or chair when nursing in a football/clutch hold. A young infant will reflexively press against the chair (stepping reflex) which results in arching away from the breast. Baby becomes frustrated because he wants to eat, and mom becomes frustrated because she doesn’t understand why baby is arching away from the breast.

Mom’s Comfort:

 -Mom may be comfortable sitting upright in a supportive chair with a footstool and firm cushion or pillow to support either the baby, or her arms holding the baby.

 -Mom may be comfortable reclining back on a couch or propped up on her bed, with the baby draped tummy-down over her chest.

 -Make several rolled “sausages” (tightly rolled flannel blanket secured with a piece of tape) which are left in usual nursing spots. These are very helpful to support mom’s wrist, baby’s head or neck, or even tucked under a heavy breast.

-Mom should be able to “relax” her neck, shoulders, arms and wrists once baby is comfortably latched on. Keeping a tense, tight “chicken wing” position can lead to muscle soreness and tension headaches. Having supportive materials to assist finding a good feeding position will help this.

There are so many nuances when it comes to positions. Special positions can help special situations, like a very heavy milk let down (commonly causing baby to cough/choke/splutter at the beginning of a feeding), or a baby with a tongue-tie, preemie, or lower muscle tone.

For more tips on positioning, here’s the webinar on that topic:

There is a live Breastfeeding Webinar and Chat each Thursday at 12:00 PM ET and all are welcome to attend. Discussed are specific nursing or pumping related topics, or specific weeks are dedicated to “All Questions and Answers”.

There are 40 recorded breastfeeding webinars available on topics including blocked ducts and mastitis, nursing the first week, pumping and storing milk, helpful products for nursing/pumping moms, breastmilk and childcare, introducing solid foods, and “help, my baby won’t take a bottle!”.

Great resources for if you are nursing – no pressure if you are not.

Back To School…Ready Or Not (and a gift card to help out)

Back To School…Ready Or Not (and a $50 gift card from Wayfair to help you get ready).

The answer in our house is always decidedly not! I love summer (crazy carpool schedules notwithstanding), the slower paced days, the fun activities and the family time and since everyone’s schedule is more relaxed, we get to see more of our cousins and grandparents and that is always good.

But I also love the crisp air of autumn, the spring in your step it gives you and knowing that another year of school (I know my children agree) is around the corner. Plus, it is really, really fun to go Back to School shopping (I know my husband does not agree)!

How do you get it together – exchange sandals for shoes, beach reads for textbooks and beach bags for backpacks? How do you cope with first day excitement/nerves?

Transition can be tough and here are some ways to make it easier.

Visit the school

For the young ones, make the school a familiar place. If possible, visit it several times before school starts – go to the orientation, use the playground, visit an older friend who already goes to the school, even just walking by it and talking about it makes it a more familiar place.

Read all about it

There is no shortage of great books about Back to School for all ages. Pragmatic Mom is my go to for this and she kindly added some books to my Pinterest Board. Personal Fave –

The Kissing Hand

by Audrey Penn

Set expectations

Talk about what a typical day will be like. I still remember being told I could read all day in Kindergarten – I was on board with that! My mom did not tell me that she would be leaving (Lasting visual – looking up to see my pretty pregnant mom sprinting by the window and my sister almost flying out behind her. Seriously Mom, I remember that. You were wearing that lavender maternity dress), and that there would be other activities and, this was another surprise, children I did not know. I’m over it, though. Really.

Go to school with a friend or two, meet them and walk in together. The bustle of the first day can be overwhelming.

Use Props

This is where your back to school shopping pays off. The shiny new lunch box, the pretty pens, the new backpack and you don’t have to spend a lot – and crayons are the best and least expensive back to school item.

Dwell lunch box from wayfair capability mom wants this for herself
Dwell lunch box from

Most backpacks and lunch boxes are washable (I do it all the time), but check the label first.

Spruce up and personalize a backpack with add on decorations (key chains and buttons are a cute inexpensive way to change up the look).

Let your child help with lunch choices and add when they aren’t looking add a little note and for older kids I add a word of the day – it is a win-win. You get to write a note, they learn a word.

Word of The Day resources

Grades 4-6

Grades 6-9

High School


Make time and traditions

Make it special! Have a family dinner the night before with a reasonably early bedtime – this is admittedly tough to do – everyone is so excited!

A good breakfast is key but it doesn’t have to be fancy or huge or made to order if that is not your thing. Unhurried is best. Cut up fruit, whole wheat toast (peanut butter or avocado for protein) or granola bars and yogurt.

I’m all about the food (yes, healthy food, too). Check out 10 Get Healthy Tips from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children for some great ideas.

Take pictures – You’ll love looking back on all the first days of school memories.

Relax and Have Fun

We had a great Wayfair Back to School Twitter Chat #HomemakerHappyHr – with Wayfair giving away a $25 gift card every ten minutes! Here are some great tips from our super mom friends:

Transition by moving bedtime earlier a few weeks ahead of school start date. Get into a routine to help settle back to school nerves.

Take a picture at the beginning of the first day of school and the end of the day! Expand that to the first and last day of school – really have a record of how they have grown!

Have a special snack together and get the details of the day – Keep communication lines open. (Pizza, anyone?)

Keep their artwork and papers in bins and display them on a pin board or in inexpensive frames. Send “older” works of art to family and friends to make room for the new.

Healthy favorite foods: Peanut butter and jelly, the classic (soy nut butter is a great alternative if you have a nut-free classroom) and hand’s down fave, followed closely by turkey or ham and cheese. For snacks – granola bars, fruit, veggies, yogurt, cheese and crackers.

Set a routine and keep it up – it helps everyone! Set up a quiet place to do homework (I like mine close to the kitchen for those homework questions that inevitably come up while I’m making dinner).

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Twitter Chat – Great suggestions and ideas! Many thanks to Wayfair for making this happen and giving away great gift cards – Time to shop for Back to School!
Wayfair is kindly giving away a $50 gift card as part of this post. Enter by liking Wayfair’s Facebook Page. What is Wayfair? Check out them out (their tagline is a zillion things home), and they do have almost everything you need for back to school (just maybe not the PB & J, but I think you’ve got that).

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