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Jaundice & the Breastfed Baby

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Newborn jaundice is normal in most cases, appearing within 2-3 days post-birth, and affecting up to 60% of full-term babies.

Physiologic jaundice is caused by a buildup of bilirubin, which is produced when red blood cells are broken down. The liver is responsible for eliminating the bilirubin, but a newborn’s liver is often too immature to efficiently handle this process yet. This causes a yellow cast on the skin (which can be trickier to detect in dark-skinned babies) and the eyeballs. This resolves itself in a week or two as the baby matures further and red blood cell levels have lowered.

In a breastfed baby, jaundice is more common and tends to persist longer than a formula-fed baby (as breastfed babies are the standard, this means it’s the norm). True breastmilk jaundice, which only affects 0.5% to 2.4% of newborns, sticks around longer than one or two weeks, sometimes up to twelve (now, this shouldn’t be confused with breastfeeding jaundice, which is caused by starvation/lack of proper milk intake). Bilirubin levels might even increase at the two-week mark. None of this is a cause for concern in an otherwise healthy baby.

On how breastmilk and formula compare in causality of newborn jaundice, Dr. Sears says:

“The difference is thought to be due to an as-yet unidentified factor in breastmilk that promotes increased intestinal absorption of bilirubin, so that it goes back into the bloodstream rather than moving on to the liver. Higher rates of jaundice in breastfed infants may also be related to lower milk intakes in the first days after birth, because of infrequent or inefficient feeding.”

Hence, why medical treatments should be avoided unless truly necessary because they threaten to interrupt breastfeeding further. As breastmilk helps move the baby’s bowels to remove excess bilirubin, frequent feedings will hasten the normal bodily process.

If bilirubin levels have reached more than 20 milligrams, a health provider might recommend treatment with phototherapy (ask about fiber optic blankets, an especially good option for nursing moms).

What not to do: do not supplement with sugar water, and do not restrict the baby from breastfeeding.

Links:

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Vegan While Breastfeeding

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Photo credit: Bloom Photography & Design

Is your little bean sprout kind of literally a bean sprout, thanks to your meat-free milk? Many women remove animal products from their diets in hopes of improved health, and thankfully it has been shown that animal-friendly lifestyles are not only perfectly safe but also as beneficial to a breastfed baby as his mother.

I read about maternal vegan diets while breastfeeding and had no concerns that my milk would still be perfectly healthy (in fact, likely more so). When my baby was exclusively consuming vegan breast milk, he was in the 94th percentile for weight, delightfully roll-y, meeting all milestones, and clearly not starved for nutrients. Continue reading

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Encouragement For Full-Term & Tandem Breastfeeders

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🌻 These two milk siblings, blood brothers, M and J. Just over 5 years and almost 2 years old, respectively — the former the same age as my nursing journey overall and the latter the same as my experience in tandem nursing. Such tiny numbers really. Hard to imagine we were nothing and growing and birthing and birthed and empty and nourished more than once over in that amount of time.

M and J don’t like to be separated. Though they annoy each other and feel overwhelmed with the art of sharing from time to time, as siblings do, they prefer each other’s close company. J learns a lot from his big brother (like how to get dressed and sing) and M never hesitates to include J in his activities.

Their bond began when J was in my womb, every day growing stronger until one day he’d feel ready for life Earthside. From age 2.5 to 3.5 years, M watched my belly swell bigger and bigger. He knew his little brother was inside ‘swimming in water.’ He knew J could hear him so he spoke to him often. He said “Good morning!,” and “Good night!” every day for months, with a morning kiss and night kiss (and lots of extras in between).

He saw J for the first time around midnight, about an hour after he was born. I was laying in our bed with J on my breast. M gave J a kiss — a real, live, salty, good morning and good night kiss — right on his freshly born little head.

M had the honor of separating his little brother’s cord. We chose a Sacred Severance ceremony involving quiet, meditation, and burning of the cord instead of cutting. M, his dad, and our doula held candles to the cord in gentle recognition of this significant alteration. M was not present for the birth so this was his special contribution to our welcoming of J into the land of lung breathers.

J has known M his whole life. Though M was Earthside 3.5 years longer, it seems he’s known J just as long. Continue reading

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Breastfeeding Moms, It’s Time To Ditch Dairy

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In the process of birthing her child, opening up to allow life to pass through her and howling or whimpering along with thousands of other human mothers and multitudes more female creatures, a woman feels a primal connection to her animal nature. Herein is sparked an unspoken understanding of The Mother Code: all mothers worldwide, of all ages and races and species, learn this unspoken language in their gut and communicate it with their hearts.

This Code is founded upon an equal, shared love for our babies, a desire for the best for our babies — and what’s best for our babies is, by protective feature of Mother Nature, likewise best for us. The Code recognizes another mother’s profundity of pain when her child is hurt or lost, and it celebrates her joy when motherhood is thriving. It sees the essential closeness of mother and baby as gold; the syncing of their bodies and spirits as fact.

As a breastfeeding mother, you know the depth of emotions that make breastfeeding possible. You know the struggle when it doesn’t work, and when it gets painful and exhausting and when we face external obstacles. You know the anxiety when questioning whether your body ‘works,’ whether biology has failed you or if you’re ‘woman enough’ to handle the pressure of this responsibility. You know the Breastfeeding Mother Code.

Lactation works the same in all mammals. Emotions and hormones are the fuel for the mechanics of lactogenesis, a natural triumph of a nurturing, healing system that has secured mammalian survival since, well, the evolution (or divine creation) of mammaries.

So keep this Code in mind, because now it’s time to talk about dairy cows.

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Limited Time: Crunchy Wear Discount!

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So I’ve had this blog running since fall of 2014. My oldest child had just turned two, and I really wanted to share our experiences and what we’d learned about breastfeeding and this parenting thing (so far!).

If you’re a regular reader you may have noticed my blog posting frequency has slowed down in recent months. There are a few reasons for this.

First, life has gotten terrifically busy with the addition of another child and two rescued companion animals.

Second, I hope to work on other projects soon to get me closer to my goal of publishing a novel.

Third, I am still undecided about whether to continue blogging (and maintaining associated social media feeds) in the midst of the aforementioned First and Second. I’ve never been paid to blog. I’ve shared my writing entirely for free and, in fact, have been PAYING to do so because I’m so passionate about it. However, I’ve come to a point where I can no longer afford to keep renewing my domain and paying to maintain this site.

So, here’s the thing. If you have enjoyed my posts thus far and want to see more fresh content, OR even just to ensure the site remains accessible as is, please consider helping out.

It costs $208 per year to keep this site as you see it. As I mentioned, I’ve never made money from ads, affiliates, or fundraising to cover this annual expense.

Now I’m finally asking for a little help to meet that goal! And you get something rad in your mailbox, too.

Here’s what you do:

CrunchyWear is giving a discount for the launch of their awesome crunchy themed gear! Mama’s Milk, No Chaser followers can use the discount code for 10% off orders over $30, AND 10% of profit will be given toward MMNC to help cover costs to keep the site running.

It’s EASY and you get some cool new advocacy threads!

  1. Visit CrunchyWear.com!
  2. Shop your style! ~ Breastfeeding ~ Genital Autonomy ~ Positivi-Tees ~ Veganism ~ Vaccine Awareness ~ Woke Wear ~
  3. Use discount code MMNC10 at checkout!

BOOM done! Offer ends 3/31 so don’t dilly dally if you see something you like!

THANK YOU for your support. ❤ It has been quite an exciting and moving journey over the past 3.5 years and I hope we can keep it up!

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7 Tips For Nursing With Large Breasts

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Women with large breasts (and those who are also heavier all around) may face special challenges when it comes to breastfeeding.

Plus-sized women are less likely to breastfeed than normal-weight mothers, a study found. This may begin soon after birth as plus-sized mothers’ milk is often delayed to come in, causing these mothers to abandon it. Even if a mother is not curvy all around but simply has very large (DD-cup or bigger) breasts, she may struggle with unique problems that are typically not discussed in breastfeeding classes.

Unless you believe you might have gigantomastia (read about it in the links below), here are a few tips that can help.*

*Please note, I’m not plus-sized or large breasted. These tips were compiled from other sources that attest to their reliability, not from my own personal experience.

Continue reading