Posts Tagged ‘breast feeding’

If you are one of the lucky mom’s who has still not had the return of her monthly period- then count yourself luck! My menstrual cycle returned when my son Cooper was 6 months old. Prior to that, I had one fluke period when Cooper was two months old. I have had my period three times and each time the week leading up to my period my milk supply decreased significantly. I was terrified that I was drying up. My son was fussy because he was not getting enough milk. The first time this happened I went searching the internet for help. Here is what I discovered has helped me and I hope it will help you:

  1. calcium/magnesium supplement: take one a day and this is suppose to help with maintaining your milk supply levels prior to your period
  2. Nurse more frequently: because your supply level is lower, it will mean your child will become hungrier faster. My son is on a 4.5 hour schedule. During the week leading up to my period  sometimes feed him every 3.5 hours or less (if needed). Yes, this messes up the schedule somewhat, but it helps him get enough to eat.
  3. Supplement with frozen breast milk: This I read no where, but I started to do it on my own. I found that I was just not producing enough milk and after each feeding I would offer my son a few more ounces of warmed breast milk that I had  stored in our freezer. I stored the milk in ice cube trays. Each ice cube is equal to 1 oz of milk. It was easy for me to take 2-3 cubes out and warm them to account for the decrease in my supply. This method worked the best for my son and I.
  4. Pump:  Your milk can have a slightly different flavor due to the hormonal changes in your body. My son does not nurse well because of the change in flavor. He often will pull off and refuse to relatch even when I have milk left. In order to keep my milk supply up, I often pump after he is done nursing to keep my milk supply up and running. I would then offer him some warmed frozen breast milk that I had previously pumped because it does not have the strange taste he is resisting. Seems to work.
  5. Funugreek capsules/ more milk plus: I have found both supplements to help increase my milk supply at various times while I have been nursing. I have found the most success at taking more milk plus. I bought it at an organic market. It comes in a liquid form. I took it for 36 hours and saw a huge different in my milk supply. This is not something you would want to take long term, so just do it leading up to your period. http://www.motherlove.com/product_more_milk_plus.php

Other Problems with Breastfeeding while menstruating

  • Baby can be more fussier than usual
  • might refuse to nurse or shorten length of nursing
  • sore nipples
  • flavor of milk can appear more sour or bitter- causing baby to refuse nursing or nurse less

Yes, I know it is frustrating that you have to put all this extra work into breastfeeding during your menstration. I know I have had moments when I am totally ready to throw in the towel and say the hex with breast feeding, let’s just switch to formula. But then my period comes, my milk supply returns, and Cooper and I go back to nursing as usual. No one ever said that breast feeding would be easy. And if you are an unlucky one like me, your nipples are so sensitive while mentrating, making breast feeding even more difficult. But hang in there- breast feeding is the best food for your baby and it is worth it!

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There are two books that I highly recommend you read if you have a small infant: Babywise and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. These two books have been a huge resource to me, especially when Cooper was under 4 months old. I have turned through the pages of these two books plenty of times. Both books talk about a daily schedule that follows a very simple pattern it looks something like this:

  1. Eat
  2. Awake/ Play
  3. Sleep
  4. Repeat (eat, play, sleep)

This pattern is important to follow because your baby does not learn to depend on eating (nursing/bottle) to fall asleep.

Be careful not to hyper schedule- be flexible

Depending on how old your baby is will determine how long each cycle (eat, play, sleep) will be. Your baby is not a robot and each cycle may vary by a few minutes each day. It is important not to hyper schedule and only feed the baby by the clock. Also keep in mind that at different parts of the day, your baby will be able to go longer between feeds than other times of the day. My son was only able to go 2.5 hours in the morning between feeds when he was under 3 months old. The rest of the schedule he was able to go 3 hours between each feed. Be flexible. Find out what works for your child and build your schedule around that.

Schedules Change

Schedules are constantly changing based on the developing needs of your child. Keep that in mind too! What worked last week might not work this week. Consider changing the amount of time your child stays awake if you child is having trouble napping by either decreasing or increasing his awake time.

What happens to the schedule when your baby has a growth spurt?

When a baby is in the middle of a growth spurt, if you are nursing, you must increase the number of times you feed your baby. This will only last a few days and you can go back to your normal schedule. If you are bottle feeding during a growth spurt, you can just increase the amount of formula in each bottle.

What determines the length of each cycle?

  1. Eating: this depends on how long your baby takes to eat (nurse/bottle). Newborns can take 20-45 minutes to nurse. As babies get older they get more efficient at eating. My son is now 6.5 months old and he nurses for 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. When he was a newborn he was a fast eater, only nursing for a total of 15-20 minutes. Each baby is different and some take longer than others.
  2. Awake/ Play: this will depend on two factors- how old your baby is and how long it takes them to nurse. If your baby takes a long time to nurse then he will not have a lot of time left over to play. Below are some recommended awake times for each baby. Not all babies are the same. Some babies need shorter awake time while other may need longer. Remember to include how long your baby east when calculating awake time. As your baby gets older, wake times could vary. They tend to stay awake for a shorter time in the morning, longer in the afternoon, and even longer in the evening. See my post entitled 2-3-4 Nap Schedule for more on this: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/
    Newborn 50-60 mins
    1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
    2 months 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins
    3 months 1 hour and 20 – 30 mins
    4 months 1 hour and 45 – 2 hours
    5 months 2 hours – 2.25 hours
    Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-2.5 hours
    6.5 – 7 months 2.75-3 hours. Some are getting more.
    8 – 10 months 3 – 4 hours. Some are getting more.
    11 – 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap
  3. Sleep (naps): this depends on how long your baby can stay awake and how long they can go in between feedings. Below is a the number of naps that each baby should take each day (this could vary). See my post Infant Sleep Requirements which gives more information about how long each nap should be.
    Newborn- 1 month 3-4 naps
    2- 3 months 3-4 naps
    3 months 3 naps
    4-5 months 2-3 naps
    6- 8 months 2-3  naps
    9- 18 months 2 naps
    18+ months 1 naps

I typed the schedules that I kept with my son every month. They have changed quite a bit as he has grown. https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/infant-schedules-by-month/

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