Helping parents nurture healthy babies

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Barbara Dehn, RN, MS, NP is an award-winning author and women's health nurse practitioner with over 20 years experience listening to and caring for women of all ages. She has helped countless new moms through their pregnancies and with breastfeeding. Barbara's years of experience helping her patients find the best way to feed and nurture their babies while taking care of themselves has given her an honest, practical, unbiased, and realistic approach that her patients value. Her decision to act as the health expert for Moms Feeding Freedom grew from her desire to support and encourage all women in all situations in a "Guilt Free Zone" of acceptance and understanding.

Barbara's most recent publication, Your Personal Guide to Breastfeeding, has proven techniques to help you get your baby latched on as well as helpful information and practical tips about the most common challenges moms and baby's face. This guide is jam packed with effective strategies for crying and colic, how to pump and store your milk and what to do for mastitis and plugged ducts. The Breastfeeding Guide has simple illustrations and helpful To Do lists that help mom and baby enjoy this magical time.

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Tara | Will I be able to breastfeed?

I'm pregnant for the 1st time and 1 week before my due date. I've tried to see if I have milk and when I check, nothing comes out, does this mean that I won't be able to breastfeed?

Though some women will see some yellow or whitish 'milk' coming from the nipple before delivery, it's also perfectly normal for you not to have any secretions from your breast at this time. Good luck with your delivery!


What is colostrum?

Before your milk comes in your breasts produce a thick, yellow fluid, or first milk known as colostrum. This is a rich source of nourishment from protein, fat, minerals, milk sugar (lactose), and antibodies that help protect the baby from infection.


How will I know if my baby is getting enough breastmilk?

The best way to feel reassured is that a newborn baby who is drinking colostrum, (the milk that is made in the first few days) will have 1-3 wet diapers and 1-5 stools each day. After the milk comes in the number of diapers increases to 5-8 and the number of stools to 1-5. Another good way, is to go to your lactation center and weigh your baby before and after nursing.


What are the signs of mastitis?

Mastitis is caused by an infection in the breast or a when a plugged duct becomes infected. It can develop quickly, is usually only on one side and can be slightly to extremely painful. Many moms with mastitis have flu like symptoms and feel achy all over. Be sure to call your health care provider if you have any of the following:
- Fever over 101
- If your breast is pain, red, hot to the touch, or swollen
- If you have flu like symptoms or feel achy all over
- There is blood or pus coming out of the nipple


I've heard that after I delivery I should try and breastfeed immediately, in the first 5 minutes after the baby's born, is that true?

Babies do very well with breastfeeding in the first 2 hours after their born. And though, we certainly want to encourage moms to breastfeed soon after birth, but please don't worry that if it's not within the first 5-10 minutes that there will be a problem. Of course, if you and the baby are feeling fine immediately after the delivery and you want to put the baby to the breast, by all means go ahead. Many moms and babies need a few minutes to regroup after the delivery, before they feel comfortable breastfeeding. Some of my patients like to wait until the placenta is delivered and some of the people leave the delivery room, so that they can get into a comfortable position to breastfeed.


My friend's baby was tongue-tied and couldn't breastfeed. That sounds like some old wives tale, is this a real thing or an excuse?

I can assure you that this is a real experience, and not an excuse or old wives tale. Some babies have difficulty extending their tongue to grasp the nipple, because the frenulum, cord that attaches the underside of the tongue to the mouth) is too short. This prevents the tongue from protruding enough to get a good latch on the nipple. Many lactation consultants and pediatricians will recommend that the frenulum be clipped. This quick office procedure (about a minute) can be done by a pediatrician or dentist.


My milk production has been great until I my family came for a visit. I was running around, cooking and entertaining, could that have affected my milk production?

Absolutely. There are 3 things that women need to make plenty of milk. 1st, lots of stimulation from their babies, 2nd is rest and 3rd is plenty of fluids. Our bodies can only do so much in one day, and making plenty of milk is a full time job! Most women can multi-task and do lots of other things too, like care for other children, work outside the home, shop, cook, etc. Sometimes adding one more task to a long To Do list will decrease supply.


How can I increase my milk supply?

Rest, rest, and more rest. Then lots of fluids, Breast feed the baby more often, pump after feedings or at least 2-4 times each day. Also try fenugreek, this herb has been shown to increase milk supply and is perfectly safe. It's always a good idea to see a lactation consultant if any problem persists. Good luck!

From UK

I have mastitis and there is pus coming out of the nipple on the affected side. Is it safe to feed my baby on that side even though there is pus? I am not very effective at expressing.

Hi, I would encourage you to use warm compresses and massage as much pus out as possible, then put the baby to the breast. There are protective antibodies in that milk. If you're not comfortable or there's too much pus, then pump your breast and discard the milk, until you don't see any more pus. With mastitis, it's critical that you continue to nurse on both sides, to help prevent clogged ducts that can make it worse. Good luck.

Tara Grandy
From Arizona

I've been told that my baby needs to have at least 24oz in 24 hours. How long can I keep this as rule of thumb? When can I switch him to soft foods? When can I switch him to solid foods?

Glad you asked. In the first month, babies need between 24 to 32 ounces each day. By 2 months, they can have up to 36 ounces each day. By 5 months, it's up to 40-42 ounces each day. Each child is different, so it's best to discuss specific guidelines with your pediatrician.
At 4-6 months most pediatricians will advise that moms introduce rice cereal and soft foods. Wait until 6 months to introduce fruits and Vegetables. By 7 months, most babies can try an arrowroot cookie and soft finger foods, even crackers, bagel or toast. By 10-12 months most can start enjoying table food. Breast feeding or infant formula is recommended until 12 months, so please do not introduce milk until after the first birthday.

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