Feeding Baby

Top Five Breastfeeding Essentials for the First Two Weeks Postpartum

 photo credit: Meredith Westin

photo credit: Meredith Westin

Breastfeeding is a journey, both beautiful and challenging at times. To help ease the first two weeks of your postpartum we have put together a list of items that will hopefully make things easier!

Motherlove Nipple Cream: Nipple cream is essential, especially in the early days. Your baby will want to nurse very frequently. Even with a great latch, it takes some time for your nipples to get used to this. Put nipple cream on your nipples after each feeding. No need to wipe it off before feeding your baby.

Nursing Bra / Tank: You will want to have these before your baby is born. It can be helpful to get sized; after 36 weeks is a good time for this. During the first two weeks of postpartum you will find yourself living in your nursing tank!  It is easy and you don't have to put anything else on. Nursing tanks are supportive to your breasts and you can find ones that also support your postpartum tummy. I recommend having 2-3 of both nursing tanks and nursing bras.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Hydrogel pads are a serious life saver for sore, cracked nipples. After about 24 hours your nipples will feel much better if they are cracked or very sore. In saying this, if you find yourself with very sore, cracked or bleeding nipples, be sure to contact a lactation specialist. It is normal for a little bit of soreness. If you are wincing in pain when it is time for a feeding, this is not normal.

Nursing Pads: Once your milk is in, you may find that your breasts are leaking milk. Whether you are nursing on one side and the other side begins to leak or if you have a let down when your baby is not feeding, you will want nursing pads in your bra at all times. There are washable and disposable options; get both.

Resources: I cannot stress how important good resources are during the early days of breastfeeding. Maybe it is your mom, sister or a good friend, someone to talk to on rough days, and someone with breastfeeding experience. Choose one or two people to reach out to for advice otherwise too much advice can be overwhelming. Never hesitate to reach out to a lactation consultant if you need help with latch or have production issues. A great website to turn to is www.kellymom.com

A nursing station can be very helpful as well. You can prepare this before your baby arrives so it will be ready to go when you get home. Get a basket to set next to your bed and fill with snacks, water, a couple of diapers, wipes and a good book!

 

A Mothers Gift: Donor Breast Milk

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There are two beautiful sides to donor breast milk, the mother that donates the milk and the babies that receive it.  There are many reasons that mothers choose to donate their milk and there are many reasons that babies need this liquid gold. Donated breast milk can be vital to babies are that in the NICU, underweight due to low milk supply, babies with low blood sugar before the mother’s milk supply is established and more.

The mamas that are able to provide this gift are able to for different reasons but they all have the same selfless quality and that is extending their milk to another. For some mothers, they have an over supply and rather than trying to lessen it, they pump after feedings and are able to produce freezer-fulls to donate.  Some will continue to pump and donate after their child is finished breastfeeding. Then there are the stories of loss, mothers that pump their milk during their grieving process. Some find this as a connection to their child that passed. In all of these unique scenarios, the end result is a priceless gift.

Health Foundations Birth Center is a full lactation center, which means we accept donor milk at our location for the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. We also have breast milk available for purchase.

If you would like to give the gift of breast milk, here are the steps to take:

  • Call the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio at 614-566-0630. They will do an over-the-phone screening first. After the screening they will ship you a kit that includes the basic lab supplies, your donor ID and some containers for your milk. You can use your own containers as well.
  • Once you receive your kit, call Health Foundations and make a quick lab appointment. When your labs have been drawn, we will ship them to Ohio for you. The reason for this is to confirm that it would be safe for you donate milk. They check for certain diseases such as HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis.
  • After the full screening process, you can bring in your containers of milk to Health Foundations. The containers must be labeled with your Donor ID. We will ship them for you to the Ohio Milk Bank.

The following are some resources for families looking for donor milk:

  • You can purchase donor milk from Health Foundations Birth Center. We ask that you call ahead to ensure that we have the milk in stock. You do not need a prescription or doctor's order. The cost is $13.53 for three ounces. The milk is frozen. Our staff ensures that you understand how to thaw and handle the donor milk.
  • You can also purchase donor milk directly from the Mothers Milk Bank of Ohio 614-566-0630. If you are purchasing direct you will need a prescription from your pediatrician.
  • There are local organizations that help coordinate mom-to-mom milk sharing which can be useful for long-term donor milk supplementation.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, our lactation consultants and postpartum nurses are here to assist you with any and all questions or lactation concerns you have related to breastfeeding your new baby. 

We also have a group, Mama's Milk Hour, led by Jan Kaste, IBCLC. This group meets every Thursday at 2:30. It is free and open to the public. You have a chance to weigh your baby, nurse and weigh your baby again to get an idea of how much your baby is eating at each feeding. Jan is there for basic questions and advice.

Big River Farms CSA at Health Foundations!

 Written by Lebo Moore

Written by Lebo Moore

Have you ever seen First Taste, the video of babies tasting different foods for the first time? It’s precious. The babies try everything from yogurt to anchovies and their reactions, displaying the vast emotional range of food, reflect an honest beauty.

I stumbled upon that video at the Terra Madre conference, where I learned the importance of introducing food and eating at an early age. Not only does this establish a diverse palette which is  linked to healthy eating behavior as an adult, but the acculturation of welcoming a child at a dinner table, even if they are still in infancy, teaches children how to eat and care about food. It places food at the center of human development.

I care a lot about food. I work with farmers so I’m a little biased, but also, I love to eat. After years of working on farms, I’ve witnessed how farming shapes our environment. Irrigation is the biggest use of water on the planet. The way we farm, and use that water, really matters. I am not a farmer, its way too much work, but I do know that as a lover of food there are many ways I can support the kind of farming that builds resilient and healthy communities. One way is by becoming a member of Big River Farms Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.

Big River Farms is a program of The MN Food Association, and is located in Marine on St. Croix. We run a training program for beginning farmers providing education in production, post-harvest handling, business planning and marketing. Our mission is to build a sustainable food system based on social, economic and environmental justice through education, training and partnership. Farmers enrolled in the program represent over ten cultures around the world, most have immigrated to this country in the last thirty years and they all take pride in working the land to provide food for their families. We focus on providing resources for immigrants and farmers of color as they face significant barriers in land access and starting a farm business.

Through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members receive weekly deliveries of Certified Organic produce grown by farmers enrolled in the program in addition to a Fruit Share. This summer we are honored to partner with Health Foundations as a new drop site for our CSA. Each week from June-October, we will deliver produce to Health Foundations Birth Center along with recipes, farm stories, farmer biographies and invitations to on-farm, family friendly events.

We believe that our commitment to farmers and to building small-scale local food systems pairs well with the commitment Health Foundations has in providing wellness and educational services for expectant and new moms. We take great care of our land and farmers to ensure that healthy food is accessible to even the newest of eaters. Everyone at Big River loves to eat and we want to share our food with you so that your family can explore the beauty of eating together. We’d love to welcome you as a member of Big River Farms for the 2017 growing season.

Sign-up for your 2017 CSA: http://www.mnfoodassociation.org/2016-share-information

Use these coupon codes at check-out for a special Health Foundations Discount!

fullhealth to receive $30 off a Full-Acre Share

halfhealth to receive $15 off a Half-Acre Share

Dr. Amy's Guide to Food Introduction

 photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

One of Dr. Amy’s passions is food introduction. It is a fundamental building block for a baby’s development, their immune system and has long-term health benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding (no formula or solid foods). Breast milk contains antibodies that support immune function as well as optimal nutrient ratios that change as the child grows. Until approximately 6 months of age, a baby’s digestive tract is not able to adequately digest most foods. Early introduction of foods may result in food allergies or sensitivities. Around six to nine months, breastfed and formula-fed infants will begin to develop their gastrointestinal track in a way that makes them ready to start some solid foods.

Food introduction is one of the most important times in your child’s health; it becomes the building blocks and foundation of health for the rest of your child’s life. The gastrointestinal tract is an extension of the immune system. Introducing foods in a way that will not cause allergic reactions will help build a stronger and more solid foundation than if your child is always fighting off immune reactions. So many early health problems in children are related to food introduction. It is pertinent that you observe your child for signs of a reaction, such as red marks around their mouth, red cheeks, eczema, diaper rash, constipation or diarrhea, etc. (see below more complete list). If these early warning signs are not headed, more serious reactions may result as the immune system becomes more and more compromised.

Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Foods

•      Is at least 6 months old

•      Able to sit unsupported

•      Can push away food

•      Can turn head from side to side

•      Shows interest in what you are eating

Since breast milk is all your baby needs in terms of nutrients, there needn't be any rush to start your baby on solids. Let your baby lead. If she is always grabbing for your food, then allow her to explore it. But if she isn’t interested, don’t force her to try it. Most babies will become interested in food between six to nine months. If your child hasn’t started trying solids by nine months, start offering it to him and see how he responds.

This transition in life can be a source of stress for many parents. Take your time and be patient with your child. Know that she is getting all the nutrients she needs from your breast milk or formula.

Up until the first year, the benefit to babies of trying solids is being exposed to new textures and learning hand mouth coordination; prior to a year most babies gastrointestinal tracts are not mature enough to be absorbing many nutrients from solids, so if your child isn’t eating a lot of solids, it is not compromising his nutrient intake as long as he is still drinking breast milk or formula.

Introducing Foods

New foods should be introduced one at a time. Wait a few days after introducing each new food to see if your baby reacts to the food. If your baby has any of the following symptoms below, remove the food from baby’s diet for 2-3 months, then try again.

If your child has a life- threatening reaction to a food such as difficulty breathing, call 911.

Your baby will show you he has had enough to eat. Stop feeding him when he spits food out, closes his mouth, or turns his head away.  Let him control how much he eats.

Symptoms that may indicate a reaction to a food include:

•      Rash around the mouth or anus

•      Hyperactivity or lethargy

•      “Allergic shiners” (dark circles under eyes)

•      Skin reactions/rashes

•      Infections/cold/flu

•      Diarrhea or mucus in stool

•      Constipation

•      Runny/stuffy nose or sneezing

•      Redness of face/cheeks

•      Ear infection

•      Other unusual symptom for your child

Use the following schedule as a general guide for introducing foods to healthy, full-term babies. You can hang it on the fridge and put a date next to each new food introduction so that it is easier to remember what your child is eating and for reference if your child develops a reaction. If your child has chronic illness, special needs, or has signs of allergies or sensitivities such as asthma, chronic respiratory infections, or chronic ear infections, a modified schedule may be necessary.

Even though it is a common practice in our culture to give babies powered rice cereal, this is not an evidenced based practice and is not recommended by nutritionists. Start with vegetables and fruits. When it is time to introduce grains, use whole grains whenever possible, instead of processed grains.

Finally, enjoy this new time in your baby’s life as he explores new textures and tastes. Be playful with your child and let meal times be a fun game or a time to be social and sing songs about foods. Use it as a time to learn colors or numbers, instead of always focusing on getting your child to eat. If they don’t like something, introduce it again in a few months. Try to make it easier on yourself by modeling good nutrition to your child and giving them some of your meal, instead of always having to make something completely different for them. Enjoying our meals improves digestion and overall quality of life, so do what you need to for yourself to de-stress mealtime and enjoy.

Join us on March 26th at 10:00am on the MyTalk, 107.1 Mom Show to learn more and visit https://www.health-foundations.com/mom-show/ after the show to download a specific food introduction schedule.

 

Breastfeeding? Going Back to Work? Here is What You Need to Know

If you’re like most working moms, you might be feeling anxious about returning to work after the birth of your little one. Adding pumping and bottles into the mix can seem downright overwhelming. You might be wondering how you will fit pumping sessions into your schedule or maybe you are concerned about maintaining your breast milk supply. Although it may be a challenge to adjust to your new routine, you can be successful and find balance with a little pre-planning. The following are some basic tips to get you started.

Supplies: There are some very handy supplies available to pumping moms. Try and stock up on these things ahead of time to relieve some stress when going back work.

  • Electric Breast Pump: Most insurance plans cover breast pumps. Call your insurance company and find out where to get yours. This can be done before you have your baby.
  • Easy Expression Bustier Hands-Free Pumping Bra by Medela: This bra is very convenient whether you are pumping at home or at work. It allows you to easily pump both breasts at the same time while giving you time to read a book, browse the internet or take a little "me" time while you pump.
  • Extra Breast Pump Supplies: Supplies can get lost or broken which is inconvenient when you need to pump, keep a few extras on hand:
    • Replacement Membranes
    • Connectors
    • Breast Shields
  • Breast Milk Storage Bags: You will want to keep a box of these on hand in your breast pump bag.

Maintaining Your Milk Supply: Are you concerned about your milk supply decreasing when you head back to work?  The following are ways to increase and keep your supply strong.

  • Eat good protein rich meals and snacks.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Try a supplement such as Motherlove More Milk Plus.  Take 2 capsules, three times a day.
  • On working days, make time to pump approximately every three hours.
  • During evenings, nights and weekends breastfeed your baby on demand.
  • Eliminate other things that could decrease your milk supply, such as:
    • Peppermint or Sage Tea
    • Decongestants
    • Parsley

Storing and Thawing: It is important that you know how to safely store and thaw your breast milk and that the person taking care of your baby knows too.

  • When pumping at work keep your bags of milk in the storage section of your breast pump bag with an ice-pack. If you do not have that kind of pump, bring a small cooler with you to store your milk.
  • Once home, place milk in the fridge. It is okay to keep in the fridge for 72 hours. If the milk hasn’t been used by then, put it in the freezer. Breast milk is safe to store in the freezer for 6 months.
  • Remember to always label each bag with the date, time and quantity.
  • When thawing or warming up the milk, never microwave it. This destroys the nutrients. Put the bag or bottle of milk into a bowl of very warm water.

If you would like to learn more about pumping and returning to work, come to our class PumpTalk 101 with Jan Kaste, IBCLC. This class is taught every first Thursday of the month at 3:30pm. It is $10. To sign up, contact our office 651-895-2520. Health Foundations Birth Center also offers lactation visits during the week and many other services to help with your breastfeeding needs.

The supplies mentioned above can be found on our on-line store, as well as our PumpTalk 101 Kit. This kit contains the pumping essentials at a great price! Get yours here.

Breastfeeding: How Do I Know My Baby is Getting Enough?

Breastfeeding a newborn is an incredible boding experience between a mother and her baby. One of the common worries for a mom is whether or not her baby is getting enough to eat. Unlike bottle feeding, the actual amount is unknown. This can feel concerning. Especially is the baby is fussy or not sleeping. Occasionally, due to milk supply or a poor latch, the baby may not be getting as much as they need. Thankfully there are things you can do to help if that is the case!

 Comforting Signs That Your Baby is Getting Plenty to Eat:

Wet / Dirty Diapers: Your baby should have on average 6 wet diapers and 4 stools per day. The urine should be light in color and mild smelling. By about day 5, your baby’s stool should have transitioned from meconium to yellow and loose.

Alert / Satisfied Baby: When your baby is hungry he will be active and alert, giving you cues to demand feeding. Afterwards, your baby should appear satisfied and probably sleepy.

Breasts Feeling Empty: Once your milk is in and your baby nurses, your breasts should feel empty at the end of the feeding. They may feel harder and full at the beginning and soft at the end.

Your Baby is Gaining Weight: Although there typically is slight weight loss in your baby before your milk fully comes in, around day 5-6 your baby’s weight should slowly start creeping up on the scales. Every baby is different but the goal is to have your baby at least back to birth weight by two weeks of age.

If your baby shows any of the above signs that he is not getting enough to eat, it is important to see a pediatrician and a lactation consultant.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, our lactation consultants and postpartum nurses are here to assist you with any and all questions you have related to breastfeeding your new baby. 

We also have a group, Mama's Milk Hour, led by Jan Kaste, IBCLC. This group meets every Thursday at 2:30. It is free and open to the public. You have a chance to weigh your baby, nurse and weigh your baby again to get an idea of how much your baby is eating at each feeding. Jan is there for basic questions and advice.

 

Introducing Your Breastfed Baby to the Bottle

Baby Feeding on Bottle

Whether you will be returning to work after your maternity leave or would like to get your partner more involved in feeding your new babe, introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby can be a helpful, and sometimes tricky, endeavor. Many women like to have the option to have pumped milk available that a family member or caregiver can give the baby should they need a break, some extra sleep or happen to be away for more than a couple hours. Here are 5 helpful tips to introducing your breastfed baby to the bottle so that it’s a smooth and gentle transition for you both.

5 Tips to Introduce Your Breastfed Baby to the Bottle

  1. Timing is everything: Your midwife or lactation consultant will likely tell you that introducing any sort of bottle or artificial soother must be well-timed. Too early, and you run the risk of disrupting your newly established breastfeeding routine and too late, your babe may reject the bottle all together. The ideal time to introduce a bottle is between 4-6 weeks. That way, you will have already found your groove with breastfeeding and your baby will likely not experience any nipple confusion. 
  2. Choose a slow flow nipple: When picking out a bottle and nipple for your baby, choose one that most closely mimics the breast and allows for a slow flow of milk. Sucking from a bottle requires a different latch and tongue movement than suckling from the breast. A slow flow nipple will most closely replicate the experience of breastfeeding and allow baby to take his time eating. 
  3. Have your partner give the bottle: Getting a bottle from mom who usually breastfeeds can be confusing and frustrating for a little one. If possible, have your partner be the bottle aficionado. Even better yet, take the time that your partner is learning to bottle feed your baby and do something for yourself. Take a shower, take a nap, go for a walk or run an errand. Your baby is more likely to have a successful bottle feeding experience if they can’t smell mom and her milk nearby. 
  4. Take baby steps: Rather than having your partner or family member offer the bottle when your baby is hungry, try introducing it after they have breastfed. This way, they will not be frustrated as easily with the process and can explore the feel of the bottle without the pressure of needing to satiate their appetite. You don’t need to put a lot of breastmilk in the bottle, even starting with a half an ounce should suffice. If the milk is not freshly pumped, place the bottle in warm water to heat it prior to feeding. Baby may be more likely to accept a warm bottle versus milk that is directly from the refrigerator. 
  5. Encourage paced feeding: One of the challenges with bottle feeding is that we decide how much baby should drink rather than baby deciding. To most closely simulate the experience of breastfeeding, never force the nipple into baby’s mouth and simply allow him to decide how much he wishes to drink. Give baby breaks for burping and rest and switch sides from which you feed him as he would when breastfeeding. It’s also important to make sure your partner or the caregiver is able to recognize baby’s hungers cues so that he or she can feed baby when he’s hungry versus on a set schedule. 

Introducing bottle feeding does not have to be a stressful process if approached slowly, gently and with plenty of time for practice. If you have questions about the process of introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby or are pregnant and considering a natural birth in a homelike setting, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you throughout your journey of motherhood.

Helpful Tips for Gentle Night Weaning

Night Weaning Baby

If you’re a new mom, you’ve likely seen the acronym ‘STTN’ in all the mommy blogs, articles and Facebook groups alike. STTN or ‘sleeping through the night’ might seem like an unimaginable feat that could never possibly be accomplished by your baby. One of the biggest barriers to sleeping through the night can be frequent nighttime nursing. Night nursing is a perfectly normal and healthy practice for babies. However, if night nursing is interfering with your ability to get sufficient rest or function in your daily life, you may be considering night weaning. Here are some tips for gently night weaning your baby or toddler.

  1. Don’t night wean until your baby is ready: Although there are various schools of thought about when babies are ready to give up eating at night, it’s best not to try night weaning before six months of age. Young babies are not intended to sleep through the night and need the nutrition as their bodies undergo rapid growth and development. Talk to your pediatrician to see if they feel your baby might be ready for night weaning and as always, trust your motherly instincts first and foremost.
  2. Increase baby’s intake during the day: Often it can be a cyclical effect when babies don’t eat very much during the day and then love to snack all night long. Try increasing the frequency of nursing sessions or number of bottles and solid meals offered to ensure baby is getting adequately filled up during the day. If your baby is older and on the move, this may mean taking time out of their busy play schedule to add an extra feeding.
  3. Introduce a lovey: Quite often, if your baby is nursing frequently at night it may be for comfort and not because they are actually hungry. Begin the process of conditioning other comfort items such as a small stuffed animal or muslin blanket. Try sleeping with the lovey yourself for a while to get your scent on it and hold it in between you and baby whenever you nurse or bottle feed.
  4. Give more snuggles during the day: If your baby is nursing at night for comfort, increasing daytime touch may help reduce the need for those midnight snuggle sessions. Try wearing your baby in a carrier or sling during the day and giving lots of extra attention and cuddles.
  5. Break the eat-to-sleep association: Although feeding to sleep is a healthy and natural practice, many babies can ONLY fall asleep if they are nursing. Breaking the eat-to-sleep association by finding other ways to soothe baby to sleep can help with the night weaning process. Try rocking, patting, shushing, singing, snuggling and other forms of comfort to help baby help baby drift off to slumber.
  6. Get your partner involved: Getting your partner involved with the nighttime routine and with night wakings can help with the process of night weaning. Although your baby may protest this change at first, eventually your partner will develop their own routine and soothing techniques to help baby get back to sleep without nursing. 
  7. Feed your baby before you go to bed: As long as you’re still up, try sneaking in a dream feed before you hit the hay. A dream feed is when you feed baby late at night while they are still sleeping with the intention of filling them up. Adding a dream feed, particularly for younger babies, is a great way to get a few hours in before the next waking when you go to bed. 
  8. Shorten night time nursing sessions: Rather than cutting out night nursing cold turkey which can be distressing to your baby and cause engorgement issues, try gradually shortening your nursing sessions a little bit at a time. Cut back each session by one or two minutes over the course of a week and begin to break baby’s latch when his sucking slows but before he falls asleep. Then try using other forms of comfort (see #5) if he’s struggling to fall back to sleep.
  9. Create new sleep associations: If your baby is accustomed to nursing to sleep, they may have developed the belief that they NEED to eat in order to fall asleep. Creating new sleep associations can help teach babies new cues that it’s time for bed. Try incorporating some relaxing music, soothing scents like lavender or a nice massage at bedtime as part of the new routine. Be sure to use these new associations every night so that your baby learns when he hears the music or smells the lavender, it’s time to sleep.
  10. Create distance between you and baby at night: If you room share or co-sleep with your baby, adding a little distance between the two of you may help with the process of night weaning. Whether this means staying in the guestroom for a few nights while your partner works on their night soothing skills or simply moving baby’s crib a bit further away from your bed, a little distance between baby and his favorite snack may help with the night weaning process. 
  11. Stay calm if baby protests the new routine: It’s likely that baby will put up a fight over this change to his routine. Try to keep your cool and stay calm to demonstrate to baby that you are there to help him through this transition and you won’t be rattled. 
  12. When in doubt, consult the experts: Here are a few of the most knowledgeable experts on the process of gentle night weaning. They’ve done the research for you and have step by step plans for the process. 
  13. Talk to baby about the change: As silly as it may sounds, try talking to your baby during the day about the changes you intend to make. Your baby, and definitely your toddler, can understand more than you think. There are also a few great books on the subject like Nursies When the Sun Shines that can help your baby understand the concept that eating is for daytime. 

Remember, that night weaning is a process that takes time, patience and a commitment. If something doesn’t feel right or your baby seems negatively impacted by the change during the day, consider waiting a little while longer before cutting out night nursing. Many babies still need to eat once or twice during the night at a year or beyond and there’s nothing wrong with that if it works for your family. For questions about night weaning, pregnancy, natural birth and more, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you beyond the birth of your baby!

Infant Hunger Cues - A Simple Guide to Baby's Hunger

Infant Hunger Cues

Wouldn’t it be nice if newborns came with an instruction manual? One of the more challenging feats as a new parent is learning your baby’s various hunger cues and how to catch them before tummy rumbles turn to tears. Initial signs that your baby is hungry may be subtle and easy to miss if you don’t know what you are looking for. Here’s a simple guide to breaking down the stages of baby’s hunger cues and what to do if baby becomes upset before you notice them.

Early Hunger Cues:

Your newborn is not likely to raise his hand and ask for the breast or bottle when he is feeling hungry. There are, however, some early indicators to look for that may suggest he needs to be fed. Early hunger cues include waking from sleep, stirring, turning of the head, lip smacking, opening and closing the mouth and rooting or seeking the breast. The rooting reflex, for the new parents out there, is a baby’s automatic tendency to turn his head toward the stimulus and make sucking motions with his mouth when the lips or cheeks are touched. This is a natural reflex that helps with the process of breastfeeding. If you see baby displaying any of these cues, offer the breast or a bottle.

Mid Hunger Cues:

If you miss the first set of cues (which can easily happen when you are just learning), the second set of more active cues may be more noticeable. Babies who are beginning to feel frustrated and hungry may display increased physical movement such as fidgeting, stretching, rooting around the chest of whoever is holding them, positioning themselves for nursing, fussing, fast-paced breathing or putting their hand, toy, clothes or just about anything in their mouth. If your baby has reached this stage of hunger, offer a bottle or the breast as soon as possible.

Late Hunger Cues:

Responding to late hunger cues is when it gets a little trickier. Every new parent has missed the early and mid-cues at least once and found themselves having to soothe an inconsolable baby. If your baby has reached this point of frustration and hunger they will begin to cry, move their head frantically from side to side, turn red and display signs that they are agitated and distressed. At this point, you will need to comfort your baby before feeding them in order to have a successful nursing or bottle feeding. 

Try calming your baby by cuddling him, having skin-to-skin contact, wearing him, singing to him, rocking, bouncing or even taking a warm bath together. Once your baby has calmed down, offer the breast or bottle. Although it will likely happen to even the most attentive parent from time to time, you want to avoid reaching this stage of hunger to the best of your ability. Once baby has reached this stage of agitation, he is more likely to have a poor latch, feel overly tired, eat less and wake sooner for the next feeding. Routinely letting your baby reach this stage of hunger and distress can result in feeding problems and poor attachment.

A good rule of thumb in the early days is-- when in doubt, feed baby. For breastfed babies offering the breast frequently and for comfort in addition to hunger will only help increase your milk supply and develop a strong and lasting bond with your baby. For bottle fed babies, feeding with love and attentiveness is also a great way to strengthen your attachment and nurture your bond with baby. If you have questions about hunger cues, nursing your baby or any and all things related to pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center

*Special note for bottle feeders*

With bottle feeding, it is also important to look for signs that your baby has had enough. These signs include turning the head away, refusing to suck and becoming fidgety or frustrated. Just as it is important to be aware of hunger cues, it is also important to respect signs that your baby is full and let him take the lead on how much he eats. This will help prevent overfeeding baby.