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Breastfeeding Support PDF Print E-mail

I have heard Dr. Jack Newman speak at many breastfeeding conferences through the years, and I believe he is one of the foremost authorities on breastfeeding.  I’ve included this information to support mothers and babies at this very special time in their lives.  When I was pregnant with my first baby, one of my midwife’s stipulations was attending a series of 4 La Leche League sessions before the birth.  Not only did I gain invaluable breastfeeding information, I also made friends-ones I was comfortable to call when I had questions after my son was born. 

The La Leche League Help Line in Canada is 1-800-665-4324 and 1-847-519-7730 in the USA.

Bev Hoefs – H2H founder

 

(Dr. Jack Newman has personally given us permission to copy his material and provide it for public use)

 

 

JACK NEWMAN, MD, FRCPC is a Toronto pediatrician who has practised medicine since 1970. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto medical school. In 1984 he established the first hospital-based breastfeeding c linic in Canada at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. He has practiced as a physician in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, where he became aware of the importance of breastfeeding for underprivileged populations, and of the catastrophes that the promotion of breastmilk substitutes can cause. He now holds breastfeeding clinics in several hospitals in the Toronto area. He is a consultant with UNICEF's Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and is a popular speaker at breastfeeding conferences across North America and beyond. He is the father of three children, all breastfed.

Breastfeeding—Starting Out Right

Breastfeeding is the natural, physiologic way of feeding infants and young children, and human milk is the milk made specifically for human infants. Formulas made from cow’s milk or soybeans (most formulas, even “designer formulas”) are only superficially similar, and advertising which states otherwise is misleading. Breastfeeding should be easy and trouble free for most mothers. A good start helps to ensure breastfeeding is a happy experience for both mother and baby.

The vast majority of mothers are perfectly capable of breastfeeding their babies exclusively for about six months. In fact, most mothers produce more than enough milk. Unfortunately, outdated hospital routines based on bottle feeding still predominate in too many health care institutions and make breastfeeding difficult, even impossible, for too many mothers and babies. For breastfeeding to be well and properly established, a good start in the early few days can be crucial. Admittedly, even with a terrible start, many mothers and babies manage.

The trick to breastfeeding is getting the baby to latch on well. A baby who latches on well, gets milk well. A baby who latches on poorly has more difficulty getting milk, especially if the supply is low. A poor latch is similar to giving a baby a bottle with a nipple hole that is too small—the bottle is full of milk, but the baby will not get much. When a baby is latching on poorly, he may also cause the mother nipple pain. And if he does not get milk well, he will usually stay on the breast for long periods, thus aggravating the pain. Unfortunately anyone can say that the baby is latched on well, even if he isn’t. Too many people who should know better just don’t know what a good latch is. Here are a few ways breastfeeding can be made easy:

1. A proper latch is crucial to success. This is the key to successful breastfeeding. Unfortunately, too many mothers are being "helped" by people who don’t know what a proper latch is. If you are being told your two day old’s latch is good despite your having very sore nipples, be sceptical, and ask for help from someone else who knows. Before you leave the hospital, you should be shown that your baby is latched on properly, and that he is actually getting milk from the breast and that you know how to know he is getting milk from the breast (open mouth wide—pause—close mouth type of suck). See also the videos on how to latch a baby on (as well as other videos). If you and the baby are leaving hospital not knowing this, get experienced help quickly. Some staff in the hospital will tell mothers that if the breastfeeding is painful, the latch is not good (usually true), so that the mother should take the baby off and latch him on again. This is not a good idea. The pain usually settles, and the latch should be fixed on the other side or at the next feeding. Taking the baby off the breast and latching him on again and again only multiplies the pain and the damage.

2. The baby should be at the breast immediately after birth. The vast majority of newborns can be at the breast within minutes of birth. Indeed, research has shown that, given the chance, many babies only minutes old will crawl up to the breast from the mother’s abdomen, latch on and start breastfeeding all by themselves. This process may take up to an hour or longer, but the mother and baby should be given this time together to start learning about each other. Babies who "self-attach" run into far fewer breastfeeding problems. This process does not take any effort on the mother’s part, and the excuse that it cannot be done because the mother is tired after labour is nonsense, pure and simple. Incidentally, studies have also shown that skin-to-skin contact between mothers and babies keeps the baby as warm as an incubator (see section on skin to skin contact). Incidentally, many babies do not latch on and breastfeeding during this time. Generally, this is not a problem, and there is no harm in waiting for the baby to start breastfeeding. The skin to skin contact is good for the baby and the mother even if the baby does not latch on.

3. The mother and baby should room in together. There is absolutely no medical reason for healthy mothers and babies to be separated from each other, even for short periods.

1. Health facilities that have routine separations of mothers and babies after birth are years behind the times, and the reasons for the separation often have to do with letting parents know who is in control (the hospital) and who is not (the parents). Often, bogus reasons are given for separations. One example is that the baby passed meconium before birth. A baby who passes meconium and is fine a few minutes after birth will be fine and does not need to be in an incubator for several hours’ "observation".

2. There is no evidence that mothers who are separated from their babies are better rested. On the contrary, they are more rested and less stressed when they are with their babies. Mothers and babies learn how to sleep in the same rhythm. Thus, when the baby starts waking for a feed, the mother is also starting to wake up naturally. This is not as tiring for the mother as being awakened from deep sleep, as she often is if the baby is elsewhere when he wakes up. If the mother is shown how to feed the baby while both are lying down side by side, the mother is better rested.

3. The baby shows long before he starts crying that he is ready to feed. His breathing may change, for example. Or he may start to stretch. The mother, being in light sleep, will awaken, her milk will start to flow and the calm baby will be content to nurse. A baby who has been crying for some time before being tried on the breast may refuse to take the breast even if he is ravenous. Mothers and babies should be encouraged to sleep side by side in hospital. This is a great way for mothers to rest while the baby nurses. Breastfeeding should be relaxing, not tiring.

4. Artificial nipples should not be given to the baby. There seems to be some controversy about whether "nipple confusion" exists. Babies will take whatever gives them a rapid flow of fluid and may refuse others that do not. Thus, in the first few days, when the mother is normally producing only a little milk (as nature intended), and the baby gets a bottle (as nature intended?) from which he gets rapid flow, the baby will tend to prefer the rapid flow method. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out, though many health professionals, who are supposed to be helping you, don’t seem to be able to manage it. Note, it is not the baby who is confused. Nipple confusion includes a range of problems, including the baby not taking the breast as well as he could and thus not getting milk well and/or the mother getting sore nipples. Just because a baby will "take both" does not mean that the bottle is not having a negative effect. Since there are now alternatives available if the baby needs to be supplemented (such as a Lactation Aid, or finger feeding ) why use an artificial nipple?

5. No restriction on length or frequency of breastfeedings. A baby who drinks well will not be on the breast for hours at a time. Thus, if he is, it is usually because he is not latching on well and not getting the milk that is available. Get help to fix the baby’s latch, and use compression to get the baby more milk. Compression works very well in the first few days to get the colostrum flowing well. This, not a pacifier, not a bottle, not taking the baby to the nursery, will help.

6. Supplements of water, sugar water, or formula are rarely needed. Most supplements could be avoided by getting the baby to take the breast properly and thus get the milk that is available. If you are being told you need to supplement without someone having observed you breastfeeding, ask for someone to help who knows what they are doing. There are rare indications for supplementation, but often supplements are suggested for the convenience of the hospital staff. If supplements are required, they should be given by lactation aid at the breast, not cup, finger feeding, syringe or bottle. The best supplement is your own colostrum. It can be mixed with 5% sugar water if you are not able to express much at first. Formula is hardly ever necessary in the first few days.

7. Free formula samples and formula company literature are not gifts. There is only one purpose for these "gifts" and that is to get you to use formula. It is very effective, and it is unethical marketing. If you get any from any health professional, you should be wondering about his/her knowledge of breastfeeding and his/her commitment to breastfeeding. "But I need formula because the baby is not getting enough!" Maybe, but more likely, you weren’t given good help and the baby is simply not getting the milk that is available. Even if you need formula, nobody should be suggesting a particular brand and giving you free samples. Get good help. Formula samples are not help.

Under some circumstances, it may be impossible to start breastfeeding early. However, most “medical reasons” (maternal medication, for example) are not true reasons for stopping or delaying breastfeeding, and you are getting misinformation. Get good help. Premature babies can start breastfeeding much, much earlier than they do in many health facilities. In fact, studies are now quite definite that it is less stressful for a premature baby to breastfeed than to bottle feed. Unfortunately, too many health professionals dealing with premature babies do not seem to be aware of this.

Questions? (416) 813-5757 (option 3) or or my book Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding (called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers in the USA)

Handout #1. Breastfeeding—Starting Out Right. Revised January 2005
Written by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC. © 2005

This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission,
on the condition that it is not used in any context in which the WHO code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes is violated

 

The Importance of Skin to Skin Contact

There are now a multitude of studies that show that mothers and babies should be together, skin to skin (baby naked, not wrapped in a blanket) immediately after birth, as well as later. The baby is happier, the baby’s temperature is more stable and more normal, the baby’s heart and breathing rates are more stable and more normal, and the baby’s blood sugar is more elevated. Not only that, skin to skin contact immediately after birth allows the baby to be colonized by the same bacteria as the mother. This, plus breastfeeding, are thought to be important in the prevention of allergic diseases. When a baby is put into an incubator, his skin and gut are often colonized by bacteria different from his mother’s.

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We now know that this is true not only for the baby born at term and in good health, but also even for the premature baby. Skin to skin contact and Kangaroo Mother Care can contribute much to the care of the premature baby. Even babies on oxygen can be cared for skin to skin, and this helps reduce their needs for oxygen, and keeps them more stable in other ways as well.

From the point of view of breastfeeding, babies who are kept skin to skin with the mother immediately after birth for at least an hour, are more likely to latch on without any help and they are more likely to latch on well, especially if the mother did not receive medication during the labour or birth. As mentioned in the information sheet, Handout #1 Breastfeeding-Starting out Right, a baby who latches on well, gets milk more easily than a baby who latches on less well. When a baby latches on well, the mother is less likely to be sore. When a mother’s milk is abundant, the baby can take the breast poorly and still get lots of milk, though the feedings may then be long or frequent or both, and the mother is more prone to develop problems such as blocked ducts and mastitis. In the first few days, however, the mother does not have a lot of milk (but she has enough!), and a good latch is important to help the baby get the milk that is available (yes, the milk is there even if someone has proved to you with the big pump that there isn’t any). If the baby does not latch on well, the mother may be sore, and if the baby does not get milk well, the baby will want to be on the breast for long periods of time worsening the soreness.

To recap, skin to skin contact immediately after birth, which lasts for at least an hour has the following positive effects on the baby:

    1. Are more likely to latch on
    2. Are more likely to latch on well
    3. Have more stable and normal skin temperatures
    4. Have more stable and normal heart rates and blood pressures
    5. Have higher blood sugars
    6. Are less likely to cry
    7. Are more likely to breastfeed exclusively longer

There is no reason that the vast majority of babies cannot be skin to skin with the mother immediately after birth for at least an hour. Hospital routines, such as weighing the baby, should not take precedence.

The baby should be dried off and put on the mother. Nobody should be pushing the baby to do anything; nobody should be trying to help the baby latch on during this time. The mother, of course, may make some attempts to help the baby, and this should not be discouraged. The mother and baby should just be left in peace to enjoy each other’s company. (The mother and baby should not be left alone, however, especially if the mother has received medication, and it is important that not only the mother’s partner, but also a nurse, midwife, doula or physician stay with them—occasionally, some babies do need medical help and someone qualified should be there “just in case”). The eyedrops and the injection of vitamin K can wait a couple of hours. By the way, immediate skin to skin contact can also be done after cæsarean section, even while the mother is getting stitched up, unless there are medical reasons which prevent it.

Studies have shown that even premature babies, as small as 1200 g (2 lb 10 oz) are more stable metabolically (including the level of their blood sugars) and breathe better if they are skin to skin immediately after birth. The need for an intravenous infusion, oxygen therapy or a nasogastric tube, for example, or all the preceding, does not preclude skin to skin contact. Skin to skin contact is quite compatible with other measures taken to keep the baby healthy. Of course, if the baby is quite sick, the baby’s health must not be compromised, but any premature baby who is not suffering from respiratory distress syndrome can be skin to skin with the mother immediately after birth. Indeed, in the premature baby, as in the full term baby, skin to skin contact may decrease rapid breathing into the normal range.

Even if the baby does not latch on during the first hour or two, skin to skin contact is still good and important for the baby and the mother for all the other reasons mentioned.

If the baby does not take the breast right away, do not panic. There is almost never any rush, especially in the full term healthy baby. One of the most harmful approaches to feeding the newborn has been the bizarre notion that babies must feed every three hours. Babies should feed when they show signs of being ready, and keeping a baby next to his mother will make it obvious to her when the baby is ready. There is actually not a stitch of proof that babies must feed every three hours or by any schedule, but based on such a notion, many babies are being pushed into the breast because three hours have passed. The baby not interested yet in feeding may object strenuously, and thus is pushed even more, resulting, in many cases, in babies refusing the breast because we want to make sure they take the breast. And it gets worse. If the baby keeps objecting to being pushed into the breast and gets more and more upset, then the “obvious next step” is to give a supplement. And it is obvious where we are headed.

Handout #1a. The importance of skin to skin contact. Revised January 2005.   Written by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC. © 2005

This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission, on the condition that it is not used in any context in which the WHO code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes is violated.

 

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