There are many remedies for breast engorgement, ranging from massage, to cold packs, to cabbage.
But did you know that herbs – in the form of a poultice – can also help reduce swelling and inflammation associated with engorgement?
What’s a poultice? It’s an age-old way of treating soreness and inflammation, using moist herbs applied directly to the skin, usually held in place with a cloth.
Herbs that work well in a breast compress are anti-inflammatory and reduce swelling (comfrey, chamomile, calendula, lavender), increase lymph circulation and drainage (cleavers, burdock root, yarrow), and draw out infection (slippery elm, marshmallow root). Mullein leaf relieves pain.
To prepare, pour boiling water over the herbs and steep for 10-15 minutes. When cool enough to touch, apply herbs as a poultice directly to skin. You can also dip a cotton cloth in the warm infusion, wring it out and wrap around the breast and under the armpit. Keep the poultice on until it cools. Reapply throughout the day. If infection is present, a clean poultice or cloth should be used every time.
For a comprehensive discussion of engorgement, including prevention, treatment, and when to seek help, see this page on Kellymom.com.
Image credit: Chamomile, Wikimedia Commons
These are common concerns during breastfeeding, and they’re perennial hot topics at breastfeeding and new mom support groups. Of course, there are many books that cover these issues, too.
But what if you want quick, reliable information from a trusted source in your purse and on your nightstand any time of day or night?
Nancy Mohrbacher, author of many of the best books on breastfeeding money can buy, like Breastfeeding Made Simple, Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, and Breastfeeding Solutions, has produced a new app for iPhone and Android devices that covers all the basics. We spoke with Nancy last year in a podcast interview about night nursing.
Based on her book Breastfeeding Solutions, this app providing straightforward solutions to the 30 most common breastfeeding problems, from birth to weaning. There is a “Solutions” section to help you pinpoint a problem’s cause, and for for answers to common concerns there is a comprehensive “Articles” section. It’s ad free and not sponsored by a formula or other company. Its creator is a board certified lactation consultant and is one of the most knowledgeable individuals on breastfeeding on the planet.
The Breastfeeding Solutions app sells for $6.99 and we think it’s one of the best investments you could make to ensure that you meet your breastfeeding goals. You can find it at the iTunes and Amazon (for Android) and Google Play stores.
Here are ten important ways partners can help make breastfeeding a good experience for the whole family:
Learn about breastfeeding. During pregnancy, attending a breastfeeding class with the mom-to-be helps partners understand what’s involved and how to prepare. Or if a class isn’t available, partners can read a breastfeeding book to get the basics down.
Help to develop a breastfeeding-friendly birth and newborn care plan. There are many decisions to be made regarding both labor and birth and also the newborn care period, and these decisions can have a big impact on breastfeeding. Partners can read up on breastfeeding-friendly birth and newborn care plans, and work with the mom to develop one that sets her up for success.
Help prepare for a lower intervention labor and birth. Research has shown that lower intervention birth makes breastfeeding easier. So a partner can learn ways of helping a mom cope with the discomfort of labor, including learning non-drug means of pain relief such as partner massage, hiring a doula, and choosing a practice and hospital with a record of lower intervention births.
Help her find breastfeeding help. Many nursing moms need help getting breastfeeding going well in the early days and weeks, but it’s hard to seek out help while caring for a new baby and recovering from birth. Partners can take off some of the burden of finding help by identifying sources of support such as lactation consultants, WIC, La Leche League, and Breastfeeding USA, making appointments if necessary, and getting everyone out of the house.
Take over other responsibilities. Breastfeeding and recovering from birth are big jobs, leaving little energy or time for much else. So partners can take over other responsibilities – diapering, cooking, shopping, caring for older children, even returning well wishers’ phone calls.
Help her get comfortable while feeding. Since moms clock many hours sitting or lying down to breastfeed, partners can make them comfortable by arranging pillows, stocking snacks and drinks – even finding the remote control!
Cheer her on. For nursing moms, there’s nothing like hearing “great job!” and encouragement like this is priceless. Pointing out how a baby is growing on her milk helps a mom step back from the daily routine and appreciate the big picture.
Listen. There are a lot of emotions swirling around birth and breastfeeding, and simply stopping to listen to a mom talk about her feelings can be very powerful. If her emotional state has you concerned, help her find help from a health care provider or other postpartum resource.
If planning to introduce bottle, take over those feedings. If your family is planning to have your baby fed by bottle – as part of a return to work, for example – a partner is probably best positioned to introduce a bottle and regularly do bottle feedings.
If feeling left out, do skin-to-skin and wear your baby. Finally, if a partner is feeling left out of the feeding equation and is craving the closeness that breastfeeding provides, regular skin-t0-skin can do wonders! Babywearing can also be a great source of connection.
And one extra: Document! Nursing moms often treasure pictures of the experience, but it’s hard to be both nursing and behind the camera. So take pictures and video to help preserve the memories.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
And then there’s the second night.
On the second night, babies often nurse on and off for hours. Many new parents are caught off guard by this pattern, and some assume that their babies are starving. But it’s likely just an awakening, after a nice day’s rest, to the fact that their world is now very different!
If you’re home on your baby’s second night, it may also be the first time that your baby and you have some peace and quiet, as research has shown that mothers and babies are interrupted by hospital staff, visitors, and phone calls an average of 54 times on the first day, and the average time mothers and babies have alone is 1 minute.
Research has shown that feedings on this second night tend to cluster in the 9 pm to 3 am time frame. This can be unnerving. What do you do? Lactation consultant Jan Barger has some good advice in her piece, “Baby’s Second Night:”
So, what do you do? When he drifts off to sleep at the breast after a good feed, break the suction and slide your nipple gently out of his mouth. Don’t move him except to pillow his head more comfortably on your breast. Don’t try and burp him – just snuggle with him until he falls into a deep sleep where he won’t be disturbed by being moved. Babies go into a light sleep state (REM) first, and then cycle in and out of REM and deep sleep about every ½ hour or so. If he starts to root and act as though he wants to go back to breast, that’s fine…this is his way of settling and comforting.
Another helpful hint…babies need to touch – to feel – and even his touch on your breast will increase your oxytocin levels which will help boost your milk supply! So take the mittens off and loosen his blanket so he can get to his hands. He might scratch himself, but it will heal very rapidly – after all, he had fingernails when he was inside you, and no one put mittens on him then!
So don’t panic, just settle in for that special, second night!
In this month’s podcast interview we speak with naturopathic physician Dr. Laila Tomsovic about preconception cleansing. We ask when to do it, whether cleansing is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, which foods are especially cleansing, and about the role of exercise and stress reduction in a cleanse. You may also be interested in our interview with Dr. Tomsovic on nutrition for fertility.
We’re very happy to share a podcast interview on trauma from childbirth, with Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, health psychologist and trauma expert.
Dr. Kendall-Tackett is health psychologist, and Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics. She is president-elect of the Trauma Division of the American Psychological Association, and the incoming editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychological Trauma. She has authored more than 300 articles and 24 books on maternal depression, trauma, family violence and breastfeeding, including Depression in New Mothers and Breastfeeding Made Simple.
Dr. Kendall-Tackett discussed what trauma looks like, what experiences tend to cause trauma, partners and trauma, strategies for healing from trauma, ideas for preparing for a subsequent birth, and post-traumatic growth. She also discusses the relationship between trauma and breastfeeding, and answers your questions submitted on Facebook.
Tandem nursing is increasingly common practice, but resources for support and information can be hard to find. We thought we’d share some of our favorite resources on tandem nursing.
Adventures in Tandem Nursing. The only book written on the topic, Adventures in Tandem Nursing, by Hilary Flower, covers it all: the history, safety questions, and management of the roller coaster that tandem nursing can be. It was drawn from research as well as the stories of over 200 mothers from around the world.
Podcast on tandem nursing. A podcast interview with Hilary Flower, author of Adventures in Tandem Nursing. Questions addressed include: How safe is nursing during pregnancy? What are some of the things moms weigh when considering tandem nursing? What are some common baby and toddler behaviors during tandem nursing? How do milk supply and composition change during pregnancy?
Barriers to tandem nursing from health care providers. This post outlines some common statements you might hear from health care providers, paired with what the evidence actually says. Read this and you’ll be better informed than your providers!
Tandem nursing twins. Mothering Multiples is the go-to resource book for nursing multiples, including positioning and management of tandem nursing twins. And check out this podcast interview with author Karen Gromada.
Tandem nursing FAQ: This one page sheet of questions and answers, written by Hilary Flower, provides answers to common concerns.
Nursing in pregnancy. This La Leche League page answers the question, “I’m pregnant and still nursing my toddler…must I wean now?”
In our recent podcast interview with Nancy Mohrbacher on night feedings and breastfed babies, she highlighted an important piece of advice:
Even if you don’t plan on co-sleeping with your baby, make your sleep surface safe for co-sleeping.
Why? Because research has shown that about half of all babies end up sleeping in their parents’ beds for part or all of the night, even though many of these same parents don’t intend to do so.
So babies often end up sleeping with their parents in an unplanned way. And if beds aren’t safe for co-sleeping, it means that moms and babies will often either end up sleeping on a couch or chair – unsafe locations – or in a bed which has not been made safe.
Knowing the guidelines for safe co-sleeping, and establishing an appropriate sleep space will create a safer environment in case you do end up co-sleeping – even by accident!
So, here are our favorite links for information on making a bed safe for co-sleeping:
Safe co-sleeping guidelines from Dr. James McKenna. Dr. McKenna is recognized as the world’s leading authority on mother-infant co-sleeping, in relationship to breastfeeding and SIDS. He is author of Sleeping with Your Baby. These guidelines will help you establish a safe sleep environment for your baby.
Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping. This is Dr. McKenna’s book on the topic, which explains safe co-sleeping and the basis for co-sleeping in more detail.
National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and Infant Sleep Information Source (ISIS). NCT is the U.K.’s largest parenting charitable organization, and they have a set of bed-sharing safety guidelines. ISIS concisely explains concepts around infant sleep and safety.
We thought you’d enjoy these breastfeeding promotion videos from the U.S. and around the world!
In case you missed it, check out our compilation of breastfeeding clips from Sesame Street, and the Mr. Rogers clip at the bottom of this post.
This ad from Scotland does a great job of showing the power as well as the normalcy of breastfeeding.
Celebrities ‘whipping it out!’
We dare you to watch this one from the U.K. without tearing up!
Eating in a public bathroom? This Australian ad says no.
This ad from India cleverly seeks to alter the traditional view of colostrum as “dirty milk.”
This ad from Spain explains why breastfeeding is important and shows it in many public settings (translation here)
Love the humor in this Scottish ad.
Did you do it on the kitchen counter? (Canadian)
And here’s a famous clip from Mr. Rogers. Not an ad, but well worth watching! (Fast forward to 2:40)
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