The Golden Hour: Those First 60 Minutes After Birth Are in Fact Pure Gold

golden hour birth

The first 60 minutes after your baby is born are remarkably beneficial for bonding and attachment between mama and her new babe. What is the golden hour exactly? How can you maximize attachment and bonding in this hour? How long should skin-to-skin be established before those medical tasks and procedures are performed? These questions all point to this golden hour and its magical luster.

Congratulations! Your baby has been born. You have finally gotten a chance to gaze in their eyes for the first time after feeling all the pregnancy symptoms and baby’s movements. You are on the other side of labor and it feels so incredibly relieving.

That uninterrupted contact between mother and baby during the “golden hour” after birth is critical to the child’s growth and development. In the past, often times, the baby was whisked away from mother to perform all the essential procedures such as weight, bath, vaccinations (if consented by parents), diapering and swaddling. Mom would be waiting to receive her new bundle back once tasks were performed. Health care providers now understand and know that the more skin-to-skin mom can have with baby immediately after the birth, the better chance of bonding the mother will have and also the better overall experience the family will have as they embark on their new parenting journey.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends the following guidelines:

  • Healthy newborns should be placed directly “skin-to-skin” with mom until the first round of breastfeeding is established.
  • The medical caregiver and the nurses can conduct the first round of physical assessments on mother’s chest.
  • Conventional procedures such as weighing, baths, measuring, injections or blood tests should wait until after the first round of breastfeeding.
  • Baby and mother should remain together throughout the recovery period.

So what exactly are the benefits?

  • Giving birth generates changes in the mother’s brain chemistry and increases her desire to nurture. Taking advantage of this window is beneficial to both the mom and the baby.
  • Skin-to-skin contact and the baby’s suckling at the breast releases hormones that help the mother connect to her child and also encourages the uterus to contract and stop bleeding.
  • Nursing in the first hour, research has shown, improves infant survival rates and makes it more likely for the mother to continue breastfeeding

Expectant mothers can talk to their care provider about the standard procedures for this postpartum period. Your birth plan can also include these 60 minutes immediately following birth. Every mother and baby should have a chance to experience their “golden hour.”

 

The 4-1-1 on Breastfeeding with Katy Linda, IBCLC

baltimore breastfeeding

We’ve got the fabulous and incredibly knowledgeable Katy Linda on the blog today asking her all things breastfeeding. With her wealth of knowledge, this is sure to be a treat for all. She is an IBCLC and a mom of 4 amazing kids. She’s the founder of The Breastfeeding Den and has three students working to assist her. The Breastfeeding Den provides personalized 1:1 support in your own home. Katy truly believes that seeing you in your comfortable space will provide the most tailored and supportive care for your individual needs. Katy and her team stay focused on the big picture of breastfeeding and help families work through unique circumstances to create a goal that works well for all.

*What is one piece of advice you would give soon-to-be new moms about their breastfeeding journey?

This is such a hard question, one piece of advice isn’t much! But, I always tell families that many generations ago, lactation consultants didn’t exist because our families were closer together physically, and we had better support systems. If there is one thing a family needs, it’s a quality support system. Find your team who will lift you up and encourage you and embrace that. Support will get you through the hard days of parenting.

*What are effective ways to build milk supply?

The best way to increase supply is to demand more. The more frequently the breasts are emptied the more milk the majority of parents will make. For many families this is through direct breastfeeding. For families whose babies are not efficient at emptying the breast, pumping with a quality (typically hospital grade) pump will likely be necessary.

There are many herbs and foods that may help with milk supply, however which herbs and foods will work for each family is very individual. Having a full health history is an important piece of recommending these galactagogues to families.

*What are ways to reduce milk supply?

There are many reasons families might feel that they should work to decrease supply. My first question would always be WHY. I want to see the parent and baby and be sure that they aren’t misreading signs from their baby. True oversupply is very rare.

If they have to wean quickly for medical reasons, we will want to look at the underlying concerns and make a plan tailor-made to their situation.

For those who are trying to wean because it’s the right time for their family, removing the feeding that the baby is least attached to, and getting into a new normal, and then removing another.

*Can pumping more than needed become a problem?

Absolutely. Pumping more than you need could increase difficulties if the milk supply becomes too much. Some babies struggle with too much milk. Sometimes the pumping parent can experience challenges such as plugged ducts or even mastitis if there is too much milk that isn’t moving through the breasts.

*What pump do you recommend? Why?

There is no right pump for every person, if you will be separated from your baby for extended periods of time, or your baby has health complications, you may need a hospital grade (typically rental) pump, if you are going to be working full time away from your baby, you’ll want a double electric pump, and if you just need to pump occasionally you may be fine with a hand pump. Which brand and features you need are variant upon circumstances. Feel free to reach out, I’m happy to help with pump selection.

*Should foremilk/ hindmilk be a consideration when nursing?

In most circumstances, no. Your baby is smart, and they will typically let you know what they need. We actually just posted this blog on this topic.

*Is timing breastfeeding sessions necessary?

In the early days it can be helpful to make sure feedings are lasting at least 5 minutes, and to make sure they aren’t lasting 45+minutes on a regular basis. If there are concerns around your baby’s feedings it can be helpful to keep track of things until all is going well. Most babies need to eat 8 – 12 times a day, and typically feedings last 10 – 30 minutes. A few feedings outside of the normal range is reasonable, if every feeding is lasting a long time, it would be wise to seek the support of an IBCLC to assess the situation.

*For new moms, what is the greatest mental/emotional challenge to overcome when it comes to breastfeeding?

Everyone has different challenges. For many moms, one of the big challenges of breastfeeding is the fact that most human breasts don’t contain ounce markers, and many families find it challenging to trust that their baby is getting enough to eat. Story after story talks about those who struggled to make enough milk, and it can induce a lot of fear into new parents who just want to ensure that their baby is doing well. Rest assured, the vast majority of women make enough milk for their baby. A baby who is well fed will be content after feedings, pooping regularly, and growing as expected. If your baby is doing all of those things, you are just fine.

*For new moms, what is the greatest physical challenge to overcome when it comes to breastfeeding?

For many new parents, being needed as much as babies need their parents can be challenging. Babies are pretty helpless creatures and they depend on their adults for everything that they need. They also need to eat frequently to stay alive, which means new parents aren’t getting big chunks of sleep. Being needed 24/7, and not getting the sleep you are used to can be exhausting. But, parenting is also an amazing experience, so it is all worth it in the end!

Fourth Trimester… Oh My! Tips for sanity and survival

fourth trimester

Congratulations. You have grown a baby. The 40 or so weeks of waiting are finally over and you are wondering what on earth to expect now. While your body is no longer housing a tiny human, something still feels off. The fog has not lifted. Your energy is low, your hormones are whack, and your stamina is half of what it used to be. Life seems to be filled with endless feedings, swaddling, burping, soothing and not sleeping. The days are blurry and the nights are endless. You have officially entered the fourth trimester. These next twelve or so weeks are a completely different marathon. Below are 6 tips that I felt helped me transition into motherhood with grace and kindness towards myself and my baby.

1. Take it easy the first few weeks. You will be back to “yourself” eventually but right now, your body is healing. Healing from pregnancy and birth. It will not feel “normal” anytime soon.

2. Never say “no” to someone offering help. People, in general, want to know how they can help. Let them cook meals, buy you Starbucks, clean your house, hold/feed your baby, carry your purse… anything. You don’t have to do it all. Even ask for help if you need it. You are not weak if you ask. You just made a human. That’s pretty damn strong.

3. Do not put pressure on yourself to get that pre-pregnancy body back during this trimester. It will not happen and you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things are a little more shifty and squishy. It is ok. No one is judging you and if they are, you don’t need them in your life.

4. An hour or two goes by VERY quickly. Especially realized when a newborn baby is eating that often. At the end of the day, if you are wondering where the day has gone, know that you kept your baby fed. That is a big feat in itself. But everyday, try your best to do at least one thing for yourself. Eat a cookie. Walk slowly around the block. Ask for a massage from your partner. Take a bath. Read something (googling articles about your baby doesn’t count).

5. These first three months are all about SURVIVAL. Forget ALL. THE. RULES. and trust your instincts. If you hold your baby all day for him/her to nap, fine. If you get take out for 12 weeks straight, great. If you rock or nurse your baby to sleep, job well done. There is no “right” way to parent. Your mama instincts are powerful. You have everything you need inside of you to care for your baby. Silence the judge-y noise.

6. Believe the saying “the days are long but the years are short.” Although it feels like you’ll never have poopless days, you will. Try your very best to enjoy the little moments of sweetness. The coos and giggles. The messes and madness. These times are tiring times, but bound to make our hearts and lives oh so full.

You got this, mama. I believe in YOU!

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” –Robert Browning

Introducing Solids With Baby Led Weaning

baby led weaning

Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy Of Pediatrics recommend exclusively breastfeeding your infant for the first six months. As you approach this milestone, you’re probably thinking about introducing solids to baby. There are two ‘schools of thought’ regarding the the addition of complementary foods. Feeding milled cereals and puréed foods by spoon is the traditional approach. Another way to offer solids is through Baby Led Weaning (BLW).  This style encourages baby to feed herself and skip the spoon, completely. The following is a guide to help you learn about, and decide if, a baby-led approach is right for your family.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

BLW is a theory originated by Gill Rapley, a British health nurse. The word ‘weaning’ is the UK equivalent of Americans saying ‘starting solids’.  With BLW, you forgo spoon feeding, a parent initiated method, and trust your baby to nourish herself, a baby initiated approach

When is my baby ready to feed herself?

Spoon feeding is so popular and almost unchallenged in our culture. Many families choose to introduce solids prior to six months.  Before this age, babies are not developmentally ready to feed themselves. With BLW, you wait until baby is developmentally ready to eat. When your infant reaches the following milestones, she is ready to start exploring food:

  • is at least six months of age
  • has lost the tongue thrust reflex
  • can sit with little or no assistance
  • reaches and bring objects to her mouth accurately
  • shows focused interest in food and your eating

Why choose BLW?

It’s progressive and instinctual! A baby initiated approach to food is an extension of breastfeeding. A healthy, full-term baby can feed herself as soon as she is born. Baby tells you when she is hungry, she nurses at her pace, and knows when she is full. BLW builds on this philosophy and applies it to complementary foods. This style is also easier. Your baby enjoys the foods you cook for the entire family.  There is no need to prepare separate recipes for you infant.

How safe is BLW?

‘I am worried my baby will choke on food!’ The BLW philosophy makes sense in theory, but many parents are nervous to try this approach for fear of choking. BLW is as safe, or safer than traditional spoon feeding. As long as your baby is ready to feed herself, as listed above, she can engage in BLW.

baby led weaning info
What food should baby eat?

For safety, foods should be served in large chunks that baby can easily grasp in hand. These are a good start:

  • Soft fruits cut in big pieces – bananas, peaches, ripe melon, avocado
  • Steamed vegetables – sweet potato, summer squash, pumpkin, broccoli
  • Buttered toast cut in slices
  • Omelette
  • Pasta
  • Mini muffins
  • Steamed fish
  • Well cooked steak

Here are an additional 100+ foods and recipes to enjoy.
To learn more about Baby Led Weaning, check out Rapley’s series of books.

What Do I Wear Now That I’m Breastfeeding?

breastfeeding attire

Now that you’ve gotten this breastfeeding thing figured out, you may be trying to find the best things to wear for comfort, access and you may be worrying about coverage. Here’s a round-up list of some crowd favorite breastfeeding attire.

The key is layering! Each layer serves a purpose.

1) A well-fitting bra. This is ESSENTIAL. Don’t just make whatever cheap, half-functional nursing bra you can find work. This is a commitment and your breasts deserve to be supported for the foreseeable future! Also, keep in mind that for most women, it’s best to stick with a non-underwire option, at least in the beginning, so you’re avoiding any unnecessary pressure on your milk ducts.

First, get a good, in-person bra fitting. Some local options include, Necessary Secrets in Greenspring Station, Lingerie Lingerie at Kenilworth, and Nordstrom at Towson Town Center where they can make any bra into a nursing bra for you by sending it off.

Some favorite brands you’ll find while there include Cake, Anita and Elomi.

2) Nursing tanks. These offer support and shape all around, and are convenient as they open and close as you unlatch or latch the bra for feedings/pumping. An overwhelmingly popular favorite here is the Bravado nursing tank. Many local moms report they got 2-4 tanks in basic colors and wear them daily. Other brands include the Undercover Mama, and Cake lingerie tanks.

3) The top layer. Here, you can wear a breastfeeding-specific top or dress, a v-neck or other top. If you go with a non-breastfeeding specific top, it’s easy to do the “one up, one down” with a nursing tank underneath covering your belly and back.  You just pull up the top layer enough to access the latch on the tank.  You can always just pull your breast up and over in a v- neck, too.

Favorite breastfeeding-specific brands include Milk Nursing Wear, Latched Mama, and Momzelle Breastfeeding Apparel.  A non-breastfeeding-specific dress that some have raved about is the Lands End Fit and Flare dress. A personal favorite, is this hoodie from target that has a great side-split for easy access.

A Mama’s Mailbox nursing apparel subscription is a really fun option and great way to build a versatile, stylish breastfeeding/pumping wardrobe.

4) The scarf. Finally, toss on a lightweight scarf or infinity scarf as we head into cooler weather. These provide a nice distraction for baby to play with and can allow discreet breastfeeding, providing enough coverage that many may not even know you’re feeding your baby. Bonus, they’ll add some style too.

Now that you’ve built your layers, go out and breastfeed feeling comfortable and confident!

5 Ways Partners Can Bond With Their Breastfed Baby

5 Ways partners can bond with their breastfed baby

By Alayna Spratley

During this first week of August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. This global awareness initiative is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), an international network of organizations working to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.  Learn about World Breastfeeding Week 2016 here.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week here are five ways fathers and non-nursing parents can bond with their breastfed babies:

  1. Skin To Skin Contact

Holding a newborn baby on your bare chest has so many benefits beyond the obvious snuggles. Skin to skin contact helps normalize baby’s body temperature and glucose levels; heart and respiratory rates also stabilize.

  1. Babywearing

Successfully carrying an infant in a sling, wrap, or a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) is life changing! Most babies love to nestle on mom or dad’s chest. Wearing baby provides the physical closeness infants need while freeing a caregiver’s hands to participate in daily activities. It is so empowering to accomplish any task while babywearing.

  1. Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is a superb way to feel deeply connected to baby, while getting a more restful night’s sleep.

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  1. Movement

Inside mom, babies spend approximately nine months in motion.  So it is no surprise that they crave similar movement once born. Rock, sway, or bounce (I suggest using a Pilates ball) that baby! You will help soothe, calm, and lull your infant to sleep.

  1. Rituals

When baby starts having a more predictable rhythm, have dad start a short daily routine. A morning ritual could include taking baby upon waking, changing a diaper and clothes, and wearing her while making breakfast. An evening routine, that implements several bonding strategies, could include a taking a bath, enjoying some skin to skin time, and having a cuddle in the rocking chair.  

Supporting breastfeeding is a cultural responsibility that begins in the home.

We want all families committed to breastfeeding to succeed. If you reside in the Baltimore area, we offer postpartum services to help all family members be included, confident, and supported throughout the nursing journey.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

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