Archive for September, 2012

What is Baby-Led breastfeeding?

Have you heard terms like “baby-led breastfeeding,” or “laid back breastfeeding” used to describe certain methods of breastfeeding?  Wondering what they mean?

A new book does a nice job of clarifying these concepts and describing how to use them to make breastfeeding easy and comfortable.

Baby-Led Breastfeeding, by the authors of Baby-Led Weaning (see our podcast with author Gilll Rapley on this method of introducing solid foods), is a new breastfeeding reference book based on the newest understanding of our babies’ oldest behaviors.

Baby-led breastfeeding is about understanding and following a baby’s innate feeding instincts.  It means working with – and not against – these instincts to make breastfeeding easier and more comfortable for you both.

Some feeding instincts the authors describe include:

“[At birth,] drawn by the unique scent produced by the glands around your nipples (which is similar to the smell of your amniotic fluid), your baby will instinctively press her feet and knees into you and push herself toward your breast.  This instinct fades gradually in the first few weeks.”

“When they are near the breast, babies bob their head around and use their hands in a kneading action to orientate themselves and figure out how to best approach the nipple.  This behavior is a crucial part of the feeding because it allows babies to get to the breast and position themselves so that they can attach easily.”

“When he can feel or smell that he is near the nipple, a baby will naturally start to open his mouth and stretch his tongue forward.  This is known as rooting, and it’s part of his preparation for scooping up the breast to feed.”

“[A lying back position] is the position that will make best use of your baby’s feeding instincts when he is new.”

Some early feeding cues: “moving his eyes under his eyelids; moving his head and stretching his neck; making gentle wriggling, squirming, and waving movements, clenching and unclenching his fists; opening his mouth and making rooting movements; making sucking noises or smacking his lips; murmuring, squeaking, whimpering, or giving little cries; sucking his fists/clothes/blanket or your t-shirt/sweater.”

These concepts are the most useful in establishing comfortable and effective attachment to the breast (latch) and breastfeeding positions.  But they’re also very useful in solving breastfeeding problems, such as refusal to breastfeed, weaning from a nipple shield, and transitioning from bottle to breast.

For more information on Biological Nurturing (Laid Back Breastfeeding) and Baby Led Weaning, see our podcasts:

Herbs, nutrition, and other natural remedies for morning sickness

Experiencing morning sickness, or dreading it?  You’re not alone: more than half all pregnant women experience nausea in the first trimester of pregnancy. 

Here’s our guide* to using herbs, nutrition, and other therapies to manage nausea during pregnancy.

What causes morning sickness?

Morning sickness is caused by the rapid change in hormonal levels that occurs during the first weeks of pregnancy.  This change often results in nausea.  There are a some women who never feel any morning sickness at all, and most women begin to feel better at the beginning of the second trimester.  If you have severe and/or long-term nausea, if it’s accompanied by fever or pain, or it it continues well into the second trimester, be sure to consult your health care provider.

What can I do? 

Herbs: The following herbs are recommended if experiencing morning sickness.

  • Ginger: recommended for both morning sickness and sea sickness. Drink ginger tea or “ginger beer,” or take ginger capsules (ginger tea with milk and honey will also help raise blood sugar.) Note: do not use excessive amounts of ginger.
  • Raspberry and mint tea
  • Slippery elm: made into a nutritious gruel, is easily digested. You can also buy slippery elm lozenges to suck on.
  • Peach leaf tea
  • Wild yam root tea or tincture in water
  • Sucking on ice cubes made with any of these teas throughout the day may feel better than drinking cups of tea.

Nutrition: Eat small frequent meals with complex carbohydrates. Avoid high fat and junk foods. Eat a protein rich snack before you go to bed. Low blood sugar in the morning can cause morning sickness, so eat something before you get out of bed. Drink plenty of liquids and remember that it may be easier to drink a nutritious broth for some of your meals. Take B complex vitamins, especially vitamin B6.

Homeopathy: Natural Healing For the Pregnant Woman by Elizabeth Burch, lists many symptoms of nausea along with specific remedies for each. Common remedies for nausea include ipecac, sepia, nux vomica, and arsenicum. Only take these remedies in a homeopathic form, and consult a homeopathic practitioner for a personalized care plan.

Flower Essences: Flower essences work on the emotions. They are made by placing flowers in a clear bowl filled with spring water, and infusing them in sunlight for several hours. The finished water is usually preserved with brandy or some other type of alcohol. Bach flower essences are probably best known because of Edward Bach’s work in discovering their use on healing emotions. Mimulus and Scleranthus are two flower essences used for morning sickness.

Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy involves using a plant’s essential oils. These oils are normally very strong, and should not be taken internally without supervision. Oils can simply be sniffed or used in a spritzer to relieve nausea, stress or headaches.  Drops can be put on a handkerchief to inhale and use as a compress. Add a few drops of your favorite scent to a massage oil. Citrus smells help relax queasiness, so it may also be helpful to smell lemon slices.

Acupressure: Acupressure works by stimulating the energy meridians of the body, thus alleviating stress, increasing circulation, and relieving nausea and headaches. The acupressure points that control nausea are on the wrist crease, in line with the little finger, and in the hollow between the collarbones. Press and rub on these points throughout the day. Acupressure wrist bands are available in most drug stores for dealing with nausea and sea sickness.

Relaxation: Fears or apprehensions you may have of parenthood can cause stress. There are many ways to relieve this and other types of stress, so take the time to find those that work best for you. Quiet time alone, reading, and exercise can help. Fresh air also does wonders to relieve nausea, so get outside and breathe or keep the windows open to encourage air circulation. Daily meditation is very helpful — bring your focus to a place of calm and centeredness, repeating “I am peace.” Lay comfortably on the floor or bed and release any tension you have in your body. Start at your feet and work your way up your body, tensing and releasing all your muscle tension. Be sure to release all that you are holding onto in your belly. There are also relaxation and meditation tapes and digital recordings available for purchase.

Visualization: Is there anything in your life that is making you “sick to your stomach?” Visualize yourself moving through it and letting go. See yourself as the radiantly healthy being that you are, creating a perfect vehicle for the soul that has chosen you to be its mother. You are part of a miracle!

More Information:

*This information is presented for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.  Consult your health care provider for care appropriate to your needs.




Sending your breastfed baby to child care? Check out these resources.

For those of us who have others care for our breastfed children, whether it’s at a child care center or at grandma’s house, it’s important that our care providers understand how to support breastfeeding.

Child care providers need to know many things, from how to handle (and conserve!) breastmilk, to how to make the environment welcoming for nursing moms at pick up time.  Support for breastfeeding in child care centers is important enough that even First Lady Michelle Obama has promoted it!

Fortunately, there are a number of resources online to help inform our care providers.  Here are some worth sharing.

Practical information for parents:

Resources to share with your child care provider:



Herbs and supplements for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders

What are Postpartum Mood and Anxiety disorders?

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the many responsibilities of having a newborn.  Feelings of fatigue, crying, insomnia, anger, feelings of being alone, and the inability to concentrate are all typical of the “Baby Blues.”   They’re usually short-lived, lasting for a few weeks.

But if these or other bad feelings continue, or are more severe at any point after having a baby, you may have a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder, and it’s important to seek help from your health care provider.

Not sure if what you’re experiencing is the  Baby Blues or something more serious?  See Postpartum Support International’s screening tools.  And see our interview with the co-founder of Motherwoman for more on the postpartum emotional spectrum and where to turn for help.

Which herbs and supplements can help?

There are many ways to treat postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, including therapy, support groups, medications (see our podcast on anti-depressants and breastfeeding), rest, acupuncture, nutrition, help with domestic responsibilities, socializing with family and friends, and exercise.  In this post we’ll focus on herbals and supplements to combat these disorders.

Herbs:   Note:  If you are taking an anti-depressant or other prescription medications, be sure to discuss herbal use with your physician to prevent interactions.

  • Vitex helps stimulate progesterone production and balance the hormonal cycle.
  • Motherwort and lemon balm can help with mood swings and emotional balance.
  • Scullcap, oats, and chamomile are tonic herbs for nerves and stress.
  • St. John’s wort (discuss with your physician about interactions with other medications)
  • A Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner may be able to recommend additional herbs.


Aromatherapy: The smell of clary sage, sandalwood, and citrus uplifts the spirits, so use these essences in a massage oil, bath, or sleep pillow. Put drops on a handkerchief to sniff throughout the day. Aromatherapy inhalers and spritzers are available at natural food stores.

Bach Flower Essences:

  • Gorse for discouragement and despondency
  • Mustard for deep gloom for no reason
  • Sweet Chestnut for mental anguish, hopeless despair, sorrow, exhaustion, loneliness

Additional Resources:  Please see Postpartum Support International’s resource page for a list of additional sources of support, and this handout from Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett for a list of non-medication treatments.

This information is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.  Please see your health care provider for medical care suited to your needs.


Lyme disease in breastfeeding and pregancy: A podcast interview with Linda Smith

Adult Deer Tick Image credit - Wikimedia Commons

Lyme Disease is an serious infection which is on the move.  It’s spreading to new areas of the country, posing risks to mothers and babies in pregnancy and infancy, and raising questions about treatment during breastfeeding.

Tanya Lieberman spoke with Linda Smith, IBCLC about Lyme Disease in pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Linda spoke about the risks of untreated Lyme Disease, transmission from mothers to babies, symptoms of babies born infected with Lyme Disease, and whether mothers who are breastfeeding need to wean to be treated for Lyme Disease.

You can listen to the podcast using the player below, with Quicktime, or by downloading it at our free iTunes store!

Note:  This podcast is provided for educational purposes, and is not intended as medical advice.

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