Transcript: Tips and Tricks For Breastfeeding a Newborn
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Tips and Tricks For Breastfeeding a Newborn and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Helen Thompson: For many mums, breastfeeding has its challenges and I’m regularly asked for tips and advice on breastfeeding a newborn, particularly from those moms that are experiencing challenges with their breastfeeding. In this week’s episode, I’m chatting with lactation counselor, Lacy Reason, all about breastfeeding.
Lacy is a mum of 3 who teaches moms how to breastfeed and help them through their challenges. During this episode, you’ll hear Lacy talk about tips to reduce soreness when breastfeeding, tips to help your baby when they have tongue tie or lip tie, the difference between foremilk and hindmilk, and so, so much more.
I’ll include links in the show note to Lacy’s website and to a free inventory tracker that she’s offering to listeners of First Time Mum’s Chat, which will help you track frozen breast milk to help ensure that you don’t waste any of that valuable milk that you’ve taken that time to pump. I’ll share this at the conclusion of the episode, so please be sure to listen to the end.
Hi Lacy, and welcome to first Time Mum’s Chat. It’s a pleasure to have you here. I’m looking forward to chatting with you all about breastfeeding. So do you wanna start by telling us a bit about your background and your journey to becoming a lactation counselor?
Lacy Reason: Absolutely, thank you for having me. I’m Lacy Reason and I’m a lactation counselor. So I think the biggest difference with lactation consultants and counselors are that a consultant is going to be at the hospital and a counselor is going to be educating you on the process of breastfeeding and we do all the little problems that come up.
I don’t do the things that are in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), the little preemie babies, but other than that, I teach all things breastfeeding. So my background is I have 3 kids that I’ve breastfed all, and I became a lactation counselor after my second. Breastfeeding was a bit of a challenge after my second, and it was a humbling experience for me. With my first, it was very easy and I loved it, and I was like, why wouldn’t everyone do this?
With my second, as much as I knew about breastfeeding and how passionate I was, I realized that there could be some help in education out there for other moms, and I would love to share that with others. So I became a lactation counselor and helped other mamas learn how to breastfeed, and also just all those little problems that arise in the process.
Helen Thompson: I bet there’s a few. So I was gonna start by asking you, with breastfeeding for a newborn, what are some of the things that come up that first time moms should know?
Lacy Reason: So my experience is probably gonna be not the most common, with my struggles. I would say the most common one is going to be not having a correct latch. I, for some reason have had no problem getting my babies latched on, and a lot of that is with anatomy. So if someone has a particularly harder anatomy to latch onto, if you think of it like a balloon. If you have a balloon and you have the end of a balloon where the tie is, it’s very much easier to latch on. Whereas if you have the round shape of the balloon, it’s gonna be a lot harder to latch on. So it just depends on someone’s anatomy when it comes to that, or even the baby’s anatomy.
So, I have had one baby, my first one had a tongue tie and a lip tie, but it just never affected us. So that can be a big problem. But the issues that I had with my second was he wasn’t having an organized suck. He had a disorganized suck. So there’s a pattern when newborns are sucking, all babies, but you start listening to the pattern and so when they’re starting and you can see these in pumps as well, when you have that fast rhythm, right and so they’re gonna be suck, suck, suck, suck, swallow, suck, suck, suck, swallow and then it goes down and it goes to like, suck, suck, swallow, suck, suck, swallow, suck, suck, swallow, and you’ll see this pattern.
My son wasn’t having that, so even though I had no problem with the latch, I had no problem making milk, my problem was I wasn’t transferring the milk because he wasn’t having that pattern so it wasn’t efficiently transferring, and he was just frustrated from the beginning. And then I was getting frustrated because my first baby was pretty calm and easygoing, and my second one was pretty colicky and so I was just trying to figure out how to juggle with two babies, but also how do I calm this baby down, how do I calm my three year old down, how do I navigate pumping and nursing at the same time and how do I get this latch to work out better?
So if I knew back then that it was the disorganized suck, how can I fix that, what kind of steps could I do, it would’ve been a different experience for sure.
Helen Thompson: And what kind of things can you do? How can a mom who’s going through that help it?
Lacy Reason: The first part is, now with my third, I learned, one thing is a timer to make sure that I don’t go past 2 or 3 hours and that’s gonna range on the baby’s temperament, and that’s also gonna range on the time of day. So, in the evening, they’re gonna wanna nurse all the time, and so you might wanna have just a timer every 2 hours in the evening, right before that fussy time happens in the mornings or in the afternoons, have every three hours just from the beginning of the nurse session to the next nursing session. That way they’re not getting really over hungry.
And then also, one thing that would help out huge for me, especially with a colicky baby that just can’t calm down, swaddle them before you nurse. This is gonna be dependent on the position, but for just a typical cradle, cross cradle hold, one of those, swaddling them helps them feel very organized and calm down. And if I did that and I made sure that I was nursing him every 2 to 3 hours, cause my babies are sleepy, so they will go longer than that on their own if I let them.
Then the last thing is I would do some hand expression to get the milk out first to help him and then once the milk is flowing, he’s not frustrated and he is able to do the suck, suck, swallow, because it’s already going and then if he’s getting frustrated because the let-down is stopped, take a second, burp him, change sides, and do it again.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, it’s interesting you say about burping cuz I know that burping, especially when they’ve got colic, is really important and how long should you breastfeed on one breast? I’ve heard mums saying, oh, I’ve been told to breastfeed for five minutes on this one, and five minutes on the other one. So what’s your take on that?
Lacy Reason: It all depends on the baby and it depends on your milk flow. I would never stick to a specific time. So I know one mama, she lost her supply because the lactation consultant said nurse for 15 minutes each side and that just wasn’t enough for her. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s so many problems with cutting it off too short. So don’t stick to a schedule on how long the session should last because you’re only gonna get the foremilk and not the hindmilk. So the first milk is very watery, and then the after milk that comes in is very thick and creamy. It has the high fat and that’s gonna keep them helpful and satiated longer.
And if you have this imbalance where you’re just cutting them off too soon, you can actually have a really upset baby cuz they have a very upset tummy because the lactose balance is off. So anyway, without getting too deep into that, it does range per baby. Some are very quick and efficient and if your milk is flowing, you have a strong let-down, it could be very fast, it could be 10 minutes per side or it could be 20 or more minutes per side. So my babies, even though I have a pretty fast letdown, they take their sweet time as little newborns and it is about 20 minutes or more each side. They’re still getting the hang of it, they’re still learning and sometimes they just need a little bit more, or maybe they’re falling asleep in between each nursing session, so it really depends, but it really is down with you and your baby. It all depends.
Helen Thompson: And it doesn’t matter if you don’t breastfeed on the other side. it just means that one breast will be fuller than the other. Is that right?
Lacy Reason: So I always like to offer the second because you want to see if they do want some more. So if they nurse all that they felt that they’re getting on the first side, always burp, to get that gas out and then see if there’s still room off for the other side. You’re going to feel very lopsided. So that’s kind of more for the mama side nurse on the other side, get the let-down, get everything out because you’re gonna have a cup size difference on each side.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I can imagine.
Lacy Reason: Yeah. And you also wanna make sure that you have an equal supply on both sides. A lot of mamas like to call it the slacker boob, where if they only nurse on one side, predominantly on that side first. So if I always nurse on my right side and then I always finish on my left side, they’re going to have a higher demand on my right side, and I’ll be producing more on my right side. So it is important to always offer both sides in case they need more, but also you want to switch sides on which one you’re offering first, and that I’ll make sure that the demand is equal on both sides.
Helen Thompson: And you mentioned about how the milk comes down. You’ve got the watery milk. That’s all to do with colostrum. So does that come on both sides? If you’ve breastfed on one side and then you breastfeed on the other side, is the colostrum coming from both breasts?
Lacy Reason: So the colostrum is a little different. That’s right in the new days of motherhood . It’s a very thick, they call it liquid golds and it is amazing, coating the baby’s stomach and the intestines and that prevents infection and all the bacteria that your baby is now introduced, that’s never been introduced before, right, so that is so important to give your baby the colostrum. Cuz there are holes. Your baby’s digestive tract is not fully closed and formed and so it really just coats the layer to close those holes so things can smoothly move through the digestive tract. So that’s very helpful.
The foremilk and the hindmilk, that is just what’s in your milk ducts. So first it’s very watery and it’s going to be more in the morning. It’s been sitting a lot longer in your breast, and so you’re gonna see the colors gonna be different. So this is when it comes to mature milk, but you’re always gonna have hindmilk and foremilk, and so the first milk that comes out that’s gonna be very liquidy light, watery, it kind of looks like milk.
And then at the end the thicker stuff starts to come out and that’s when it starts to slow down and that just has more of the fat content and you’re gonna have that on both sides. It’s just at the end of the nursing session on each side. And you will have more of the fatty content in the evening and less of the watery content in the evening. In the morning, more watery, less fat.
Helen Thompson: That’s interesting. In the evening that probably helps them to sleep better.
Lacy Reason: Yeah, you’ll notice they’ll have that first stretch. So they’ll wanna nurse all the time. They’re just cluster feeding and that’s when they’re just nursing, nursing, nursing. And they will be trying to get all of that fatty good milk and then that fills them up and keeps ’em full longer and they usually have a really good sleep stretch after that cuz they’re full of very high fat milk.
Helen Thompson: I didn’t know that, that’s interesting and I know some mums have saw nipples.
Lacy Reason: Oh yeah.
Helen Thompson: So what would you suggest? How would you support a mom with that?
Lacy Reason: Yes, I’ve had sore nipples with my first, and it was just a little improper latch a couple of times and also your body’s just not used to the amount of friction that’s happening, right, for that many hours but typically if it’s really sore, there is an improper latch, something’s going on, so it might be not deep enough, so you’re not getting enough of the breast. So it is called breastfeeding, not nipple feeding. So you wanna make sure you’re getting as much of the breast inside the mouth as possible and you wanna make sure that their lips are flared out.
If their lips are curled in, you’re gonna have a lot of friction on some sensitive skin over and over and over again. So if you are having a hard time with that, or they already are sore or cracked, then I would highly recommend switching positions. So if your baby’s head is on one side, so you’re holding them, called a cradle hold, but like a typical nursing position that you’re used to. Try it, it’s called the football hold. So you’re gonna actually have your baby on the same side, their body’s gonna be on the same side, almost holding like a football, and the baby’s head is gonna be positioned the other way. So then the friction is gonna be on a different side of the nipple, and at that point can be fixing, the flanging of the lips, so you don’t keep getting that and then focusing on a deep latch, because if it’s shallow and you’re hearing clicking, that means the tongue is just hitting the tip of the nipple over and over again and so you’ll see it’s called lipstick nipple, it looks like a little bit of a tip of the lipstick and you’ll see it like a white line. That’s telling you right there, that it’s not a deep enough latch. So if the crack is there, you know you need to get it deeper. If it’s on the outside of the nipple, you know that you need to flare out the lips more. So I would do that and use a nipple shield if that really helps.
Helen Thompson: I’m just gonna add this cuz you mentioned it before. If your baby’s got tongue tie, it might not be appropriate to breastfeed. If the baby’s got that I’m assuming that it’s not a good idea to breastfeed?
Lacy Reason: So actually, I had no problem. So there’s a tongue tie and a lip tie, and so that is when the skin is just not as stretched out, it’s very short and they’re not able to extend their tongue far enough, or their lip is not able to flare out far enough, and so it’s going to be more difficult to latch on correctly or get a deep enough latch, but not impossible.
A lot of mamas just find that at that point it’s easier to pump but there are so many things you can do. So a lot of people do get it clipped and it will heal. You have to do stretches. I never had to do that and some mamas never do that, and they’re fine. There are positions to bring the tongue forward that are really helpful. So if you’re going to lay back, there’s a position called laid back breastfeeding, and that will bring your baby’s jaw and tongue forward. So they’re on top of you and you’re laying back like in a recliner, not on the side. So gravity’s working in their favor, and that will bring their tongue forward and really will help the latch and then just being really aware, just keep flaring up the lips or making sure that you’re getting the deepest latch possible if you decide not to clip the tongue tie.
Helen Thompson: I know from talking to other mums I’ve realized that that can be quite distressing for both the mum and the baby because the baby’s not getting enough milk and sometimes moms don’t realize why they’re not getting enough milk and I figure they give up breastfeeding because they think this is all too hard so they go to the bottle. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. But it must be frustrating for the mum if they don’t know if that’s the problem or not.
Lacy Reason: Yeah and that is something that either a pediatrician or a lot of dentists, there are pediatric dentists that specialize in that. So a lot of times they actually do get missed. So if a lactation consultant sees you in the hospital and you still feel like that might be the issue, go to a dentist and have it checked out, that does specialize in that, and they will actually be able to properly tell you. I have had chiropractors also be able to tell me that specialize in pediatric and feeding occupational therapists are able to, so I didn’t even know that my son had a lip and tongue tie until he was six because he went to a feeding therapist and that is something that if it’s not ever fixed, which is fine, but it might have an impact on the language, having their speech delayed or have difficulty speaking in food cuz they’re having a hard time manipulating food with their tongues cuz they’re not easily able to move around as much.
I’m not saying one is better than the other, cuz you can still of course work through things, no problem. I never got my son’s tongue clipped and it was totally fine but it is something to be aware of. If somebody says, you are fine, your baby does not have a tongue tie, just go speak to someone else and they might say that they might think otherwise.
Helen Thompson: I was gonna just ask one more thing about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding. Cuz on your website you actually talk about mixing breast milk and formula for good results. What’s your take on that one?
Lacy Reason: So that is something that a lot of moms are searching, right and so that depends on why. Why are they needing to mix? Is it because they think that their baby’s gonna sleep longer at night? Is that the only benefit, because I would say in some experience that is not always going to be the case because formula is a lot harder to digest.
So if you are giving your baby formula, if you’re mixing it just in hopes to have them sleep better, it could backfire because in my experience, it will just upset their tummies cuz they’re not used to it or it can make that easier cuz they’re sleeping, it takes longer to digest, it’s just also harder. You also might wanna be doing it cuz you’re supplementing, you’re not producing enough or you’re just trying to make it until the next time you need to pump for whatever reason. There’s many, many reasons why you wanna mix. One thing to note though is if you are pumping, let’s say you have an ounce and you wanna have a four ounce bottle, is it worth it to mix them and then your baby only drinks three ounces and then some of the breast milk goes to waste.
You might rather feed them the breast milk first, so none of the breast milk that you worked so hard on to pump out doesn’t ever get dumped. And then you can also top them off with the formula after. So just note, if they are wanting to mix and they’re just trying for whatever reason, whether they’re supplementing or not, it might be better to just top them off after. If is cuz they’re trying to wean their babies from breast milk and they’re trying to get them used to the formula, that’s a great way to do it cuz they’re used to the taste of breast milk and formula tastes very different so they can mix them. So the biggest thing that you do, the most important thing is obviously have clean bottles, clean hands, and then you’re going to prepare your formula how it says on the directions. So some of them are concentrated, so you’re gonna have to water them down with distilled water, some of them are powder based, so you’re gonna have to mix in the water and some are just ready to go formula. So it just depends on the type of formula and from there, you just add in the breast milk that you have that you wanna add in properly, shake it up, and then store it and you can store it in the fridge for up to 48 hours if it’s not used for 24 hours. If it has been used.
Helen Thompson: So how much breast milk would you put into the formula?
Lacy Reason: I guess that depends on what you are after. So if you are saying I was only able to pump an ounce today and my baby needs to drink four ounces, then you’re going to supplement with three ounces, right? So you make three ounces. One thing I will note is never change the breast milk with the water. So if you are making formula, don’t use breast milk instead of water. So mix your formula as you will with the water that it’s needed and then add in the breast milk so you’re not changing out any of that cuz that could actually harm your baby. So properly mix the formula, then you can always add in the breast milk if that’s what you desire.
So you can mix them in with the same bottle, that’s totally fine. And then the storage. So, breast milk is much better. It has those antibodies at killing bacteria that it’s been exposed to, that is its job, right? Formula does not have that so once you introduce that bottle, you don’t want it to grow bacteria, right, so it’s not going to sit as long as a bottle of fresh breast milk.
Helen Thompson: And can you freeze breast milk?
Lacy Reason: You can freeze breast milk. Absolutely it depends on the freezer, so if you’re storing it in a normal freezer, it’s gonna be three to four months in the freezer. If it’s a deep freezer, you can do up to six months. So just make sure that you are rotating and making sure that you have the oldest in front so nothing goes to waste. I have an inventory tracker for freezers, I always give to mamas. I’m happy to give to your audience where they can write down what batch of breast milk it is and where they stored it, just so that they know how much breast milk they have in their freezer and nothing gets lost and wasted in the back because there’s nothing worse than expired breast milk that you’ve worked so hard for and you have to throw away.
Helen Thompson: Thank you, Lacy, you’ve shared some great information on breastfeeding for moms. How can moms find out more about you and your services? Have you got a website?
Lacy Reason: Yeah, of course, my website is EarlyMotherhoodGuide.com and I have hundreds and hundreds of articles written on breastfeeding, pumping, storing, you name it, is there and then I also run a free 5 day bootcamp for mamas to boost their milk supply and fill their freezer, so if they’re going to work or if they just have, for whatever reason are lowering their supply, cause there’s so many reasons why your supply can lower for periods of time. If they just need an added boost or support, I have a 5 day bootcamp for them.
Helen Thompson: Well, thank you for all your wonderful information. I could sit here forever talking to you about breastfeeding cause it’s a fascinating topic. I know it can be hard for some mums. I’ve looked at your website and I know how resourceful it is. As you say, you’ve got a lot of really good topics and blog posts and information. I’ll put that in the show notes.
Is there any tip that you would give to a mom struggling with breastfeeding?
Lacy Reason: I would say the biggest thing is just take a deep breath and say, you got this, mama. Don’t beat yourself up don’t beat yourself up over expectations that you had before you had a baby. You are learning to breastfeed, your baby’s learning to breastfeed, just give yourself some grace and you’ve got this, reach out for support the second you think that you need it, because sooner rather than later is always easier to intervene. But mostly give yourself a pat on the back, you’re trying, you’re doing your best and you have this.
Helen Thompson: Thank you Lacy. I thank you for all your pearls of wisdom and I really appreciate you being on the podcast, so thank you for taking the time to be here.
Lacy Reason: Yes. Thanks so much for having me.
Helen Thompson: Wow Lacy shared some great tips on breastfeeding and I learnt a lot from her. I’ve included links to Lacy’s website and to her free inventory tracker that was mentioned during our chat in the show notes, which can be accessed at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/105. Next week I’m chatting with Andrea Ippolito, who is the founder and CEO of SimpliFed, an organization that supports moms with baby feeding and breastfeeding.