Coffee and Breastfeeding

Do you wonder whether it is okay for you to drink coffee while you are breastfeeding? The simple answer is yes, with moderation and a few things to keep in mind.

Too much caffeine may interrupt your sleep cycle and if you are trying to follow the old (and invaluable) adage “sleep when your baby sleeps”, then that precious mid-morning nap may evade you.

Be mindful that too much caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety, which may already be high with being a new mom and all there is to learn. Try a decaffeinated coffee, or a delicious latte with just one shot of espresso. You get a delicious treat without too much caffeine. Some moms enjoy a cup of tea, which again has even less caffeine.

If you decide to go ahead and have some coffee,  limit your intake to one mug. In addition, a good time to enjoy a cup of coffee would be after a nap,  or when you first wake in the morning, so that the effects of the caffeine will have waned by the time your next nap comes around. Here are some quick facts you may find useful:

– Aim not to exceed 300mg of caffeine per day

– Tall (12oz) cup of Starbucks brewed coffee = 260mg caffeine

– Medium coffee at Tim Hortons = 100mg caffeine

– Tall (12oz) latte at Starbucks = 175mg caffeine

– Tall (12oz) chai tea latte at Starbucks = 70mg caffeine

Join a friend at the coffee shop with babies in tow, and savour the taste and the company!

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How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough?

One of the most common questions that arises when I am helping a mom with breastfeeding is “how do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?”

This question is totally understandable for any mom, considering that breasts don’t come with volume measurements written on them. So what do I tell them? Well, I reassure them that there are actually several ways to tell, and that looking to their baby for the answers is the best place to start.

I show moms how to tell if their baby is sucking or drinking at the breast. Dr. Jack Newman’s video is great for showing this. A baby who has had enough milk will in most cases be content after a feeding. He will not be sucking his fists, rooting or headbutting mom’s chest. He may still want to be held close and carried instead of being put down in a bassinet or bouncy seat.

The next tell-tale sign is the baby’s diaper output. If he is more than 5 days old, is he having at least 6 wet diapers and several soft, loose bowel movements in 24 hours?

Finally, is he gaining weight? A newborn baby commonly gains about 20-35 grams/day and regains back to birth weight (or close to it) by about two weeks. For weights to be considered a helpful tool, the baby must be weighed completely naked each time, on a digital, calibrated scale, and ideally, on the same scale for consecutive weight to be comparable.

Moms have great instincts, which are not to be underestimated. I always tell them to keep that in mind too.

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Breastfeeding and Biting

Breastfeeding and biting…they do not go together.

I know that so many breastfeeding moms worry about how breastfeeding will be when their babies start getting teeth. I always tell moms that babies don’t use their teeth to breastfeed, and that if they should get nipped, that it doesn’t mean that breastfeeding has to end.

In my practice, I find that by asking some pertinent questions in these cases, I have been able to work with moms to resolution, and as long as the biting hasn’t gone on for weeks.

The key element to successfully overcoming this problem is two-fold. First, early intervention is a must and second, anticipation. It seems to me, that most babies bite the breast because the breast milk flow has slowed, and so they become distracted and start to play, or they become frustrated. This is where the “anticipation” element comes in. If a breastfeeding mom is able to identify when her milk flow starts to slow, then she can take action. She can use breast compressions, or she can help her baby to de-latch and switch sides or end the feeding if baby is satisfied.

So, in summary, once baby has bitten you once, take action by watching your baby and your milk flow, and use the tips above to quickly overcome it. If your flow has decreased quite a bit, then other strategies may need to be used and this would be a good time to get in contact me. In the meantime, enjoy nursing and don’t let teeth get in your way!

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