Friday, July 31, 2009

Breastfeeding comes naturally, right? One story of a not-so-perfect start to breastfeeding

The first feeding: Getting to know you
I thought latching came naturally to newborns. I had this vision of my brand new baby, this little creature I had just birthed, nuzzling up to my breast, latching on and feeding for the first time, with ease. Well, that’s not always how it works! First of all, I wound up having a C-section, and thus, a medicated baby, who, after I got out of the recovery room, was still drowsy from all of the medication. This was not part of my plan! I felt that I needed to get her on the breast quickly because I had been in recovery for awhile and thought she must be starving. The first time I put her to the breast she did latch on, but like a ravaged little animal! She was so drowsy, she would stay on the breast only for a minute or two at a time before falling asleep. I felt a little panicked: would she get enough milk? Was there any milk there? Now I know that the first feeding is more of a “getting to know you” experience between breast and baby, and not a complete meal. She may start by simply licking or mouthing your nipple. She is getting to know you.

Colostrum: The first milk
At first, your body makes a very special type of milk, called colostrum. It is yellowish, thick and sticky. It might seem like colostrum is not enough for your baby because it is produced in very small amounts, but your body is making the perfect amount for your baby, a little goes a very long way. Colostrum is packed with important nutrients and easy to digest. Keep in mind, a newborn baby’s tummy is tiny! My daughter fed every hour or two in the first few days.

After a few days, your milk will "come in" and satisfy your baby’s needs as she (and her tummy) grows. The milk will appear thinner and white (or opaque) in color. This transition is normal, and again, your milk is made to meet your growing baby’s needs perfectly.

Getting help in the hospital
In the hospital, I was lucky enough to have knowledgeable nurses to help me when I had breastfeeding questions. I also had a Lactation Consultant (LC) stop in to check on me a few times. This is not always the case. As part of a study of how women feed their babies in the hospital, we found that most women received help with breastfeeding from the hospital nurses. A smaller number received help from a LC. LC’s are healthcare professionals specially trained to help mothers breastfeed successfully. Before you leave the hospital, I encourage you to ask your nurse if you can see a LC. Their help is invaluable, as my experience below shows.

Welcome home!
When I got home from the hospital, I discovered that I no longer had 24-7 nursing care! That’s when the real fun began. When my daughter latched on at home, something changed. I started having pain when she would latch to my breast. The pain escalated and within a few hours, one of my nipples was bleeding. The pain was overwhelming to the point that I didn’t want to put her to the breast at all. Luckily, I had the phone number of an LC that I knew from a past job; I called her right away. She came over that day and helped me position my daughter so that we were both comfortable. With her help and a new breastfeeding pillow, I was off and nursing again, pain free.

Kerri’s Story
Kerri had a similar experience. She describes her first breastfeeding experience as feeling unnatural and scary. She had problems getting her daughter to latch, but when the nurse would come in to help, she would get her to latch on easily. Then the next feeding would come, and she would try to latch her on by herself and it wouldn’t work. She would get frustrated because it seemed so easy for the nurse. She felt like something had to be wrong with her - women had been breastfeeding for hundreds of years, so why couldn’t she do it?

By the second day, her nipples were cracked and bleeding. Breastfeeding was painful! She thought about giving up because it hurt so badly, but the doctors and nurses kept reassuring her that she and the baby were learning to breastfeed, together. She kept trying and was finally successful. Once she found the breastfeeding position that worked best for them both, breastfeeding became much more natural.

Tips to survive your baby’s first week of breastfeeding...successfully

Get real: latching can be hard work
It is a natural process, but it is a learned process! Both you and your baby will need time to practice breastfeeding. Your baby may not latch on comfortably the first time, especially if she is drowsy from medication during your delivery. To learn more about positioning your baby at the breast and latching her on comfortably, talk to your nurse or a lactation consultant while you are still in the hospital!

If it hurts, get help NOW
The pain might not subside without intervention from a lactation professional (LC, nurse, etc.) Do not wait to call because the pain from an uncomfortable latch could just get worse or you may even develop a breast infection.

Most babies get enough to eat if they just breastfeed frequently
As I said before, the milk your body makes is nutritionally perfect. If you feed your newborn frequently (every 1-2 hours), your body will make just the right amount of milk to satisfy her. The frequent feedings won't last forever! If you are really concerned that you are not making enough milk, talk to a lactation consultant as soon as possible.

Babies cry for many reasons, not just because they are hungry!
Your baby might cry at the end of a feeding; that does not mean she is still hungry or not getting enough milk from you. Babies cry for many reasons. They might cry because they are cold, hot, lonely, tired, over stimulated or having a bowel movement. Keep in mind that even a normal birth is a pretty traumatic experience for a baby. She was warm, safe and comfortable in your womb. Now she is in a bright, cold world with lots of loud sounds and strange new sensations in her body. You might cry too!

Know where to get help before your baby is born
In the hospital, don’t be afraid to ask your nurse for breastfeeding help. Their job is to help you learn to take care of your new baby. Lactation consultants (LCs) are employed by many hospitals to help mothers get breastfeeding off to a good start. USE THEM! They have a wealth of knowledge and experience! Ask your nurse to get you a referral to an LC before you leave the hospital, and be sure to take the LC’s contact information home with you in case you have a breastfeeding problem or question once you take your baby home.

Take a breastfeeding class, prenatally
Breastfeeding classes are helpful for learning the basics of breastfeeding. It is also helpful for your spouse or partner to attend so that they can learn ways to support you while you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding classes are usually offered at hospitals or at your doctor’s office. Ask your doctor for more information about finding a class.

Fast forward two years My happy ending: the newborn described throughout this post just turned two years old. She is a happy, healthy toddler that still enjoys breastfeeding. The only difference is now she can ask for it!

Next time: One of our moms shares the challenges she experienced when her pregnancy & delivery didn't go according to plan

Monday, July 27, 2009

Going Back to Work

Every mother dreads the time when she has to go back to work and leave her newborn baby with someone else. No matter when you go back to work, it seems like you are never quite ready to leave your baby in someone else’s care.

When it is time to go back to work after the birth of your baby, there are many things to consider. Where will you pump, what will your schedule be, how are you going to get you and your baby ready every morning and make it to work on time?

When I went back to work at my last job after having my daughter, Elisabeth, I ended up with a horrible schedule: 9:30-6:30. This made evenings very complicated. I had to be very organized. My husband and I would spend Sundays making dinners for the week and freezing them. This made it easy to come home from work and heat up a good, healthy meal. I would also pack my lunch the night before so I had more time in the mornings to nurse and spend time with my baby.

The weeks seemed to fly by and all of a sudden my newborn baby was 3 ½ months old and had to go to “school.” We were just starting to get into a real routine and I was learning all of her cues. I felt like 3 months wasn’t enough time to bond with her before I had to go back to work.
I was working at a preschool at the time and she was able to go into their infant room. Even though I knew the people who would be watching her, I still had questions and concerns. “How would they know when she was hungry?” “Would she get enough attention with so many other babies around?” “Could they care for her the way I would?”

I talked with many new mothers who had these same concerns. Going back to work after 6, 8, 10 weeks or later is hard on any mother. You may experience guilt from leaving your baby with someone else. If it is possible, return to work on a reduced schedule or see if you can telecommute. If you can't cut back on work, ask your partner, family, or friends to help you get organized (like making meals ahead of time) so that you and your baby will have more time together when you are home.

Another tough part of going back to work is dealing with the lack of sleep. For tips on how to deal with sleep deprivation, see Jen G’s blog post (

Remember to take care of yourself. Treat yourself to a massage, a couple of hours with a friend or your significant other, or go for a walk without your baby for a short while. Little things like this can make you feel better about yourself.

Tips for returning to work: About a month before returning to work, talk to your employer to confirm starting dates and schedules and to discuss longer break schedules to pump/breastfeed. You will also need to find a private, sanitary place to pump and store your milk. Also, try scheduling your doctor appointments ahead of time so you can give your employer plenty of notice when you will need time off.

About a week before returning, talk to your employer about what your job duties will be once you return. This way you won’t be surprised on your first day.

Articles that I found helpful:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Preparing for Maternity Leave

The last few months of work before going on maternity leave are a difficult time for mothers. You’re probably dealing with lack of sleep, an uncomfortable body, a kicking baby, and the stress and worries surrounding child birth. You also have to plan your maternity leave, get the nursery ready, and prepare yourself physically and mentally for the big day!

When I first started planning my maternity leave, I was about 6 months pregnant. I remember thinking “why do I need to start this now when I have so long to go?” At my last job, I didn’t have any flexibility with my work schedule. I had a hard time just getting time off for scheduled doctor appointments! If you have a hard time getting time off work, try scheduling your doctor appointments ahead of time so your employer has enough time to prepare.

One of the things I learned is the further along you are in your pregnancy, the more you don’t want to do anything; especially when it comes to dealing with lots of paperwork! Taking care of your maternity leave early is beneficial. If for some reason you had to go on disability early, it is one less thing you will need to worry about.

In the end, I was lucky. I was able to take 14 weeks off when I had my daughter, Elisabeth. I qualified for 8 weeks of state disability (California)* for having a c-section and 6 weeks of baby-bonding (California part of FMLA). Search the internet for more information about maternity leave benefits in your state or country.

I decided to leave work 3 weeks prior to my due date, although I didn’t end up delivering for 5 weeks. I guess that was lucky on my part; it gave me some extra, much needed time off. I was busy going to weekly doctor’s appointments, resting, and getting everything ready for the arrival of our first baby.

I almost forgot, now is a good time to start looking for childcare! I know it seems early, but it could take a long time, and most programs will have a waiting list (that could last for up to 2 years) for infants. Where I live, you probably have to start looking for child care before you get pregnant!

Here is an article about maternity leave benefits that I found to be helpful:

*Talk to your employer regarding any extra policies they may require for maternity leave.

Next time: How to prepare to come back to work after your baby is born.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sometimes Newborns’ “Good” Behavior Can Be Misleading

I was speaking at a conference the other day and a nurse told me that she worries when she calls a mom during the first week after hospital discharge and she hears that the newborn is a “good baby” who sleeps all the time, never cries, and is consistently “content.” She’ll ask about feedings and diapers and more often than not, there are lots of red flags and she’ll ask the mom to bring the baby in to see the doctor.

During pregnancy, most first-time moms don’t learn about what it is like to care for an infant and they expect that newborns should behave like the older babies they see in public or on television shows. Normal chaotic newborn behavior can lead some parents to panic while parents of quiet, sleeping babies believe they have won the genetic jackpot.

Newborns Take a Lot of Work
Newborns are born with tiny stomachs, developing brains, and very limited physical ability. While healthy newborns shouldn’t be “persistent criers” (see: ), they should wake fully, demand and sustain good feedings, and have short periods of alertness during the day and night. Sometimes, when sleepy babies gain strength and stamina, parents are shocked that their “good babies” are suddenly so demanding. Soon enough, babies settle down, lengthen their feeds, and sleep longer, but in the first few weeks, they need frequent feedings, fresh diapers, and lots of rest. When things are going well, newborns keep their parents busy!

Most newborns need to eat 10-12 times per day, almost every 2 hours. If babies are not waking to feed or fall asleep immediately after they start feeding, parents may need to work harder to wake their babies. How do they do that? Remember how “repetition, repetition, repetition” calms babies down? Using a variety of stimulation is the key to waking sleepy babies. For example, parents can try undressing the baby, changing the baby’s diaper, gently changing the baby’s position, and talking or singing to the baby using different sounds and voices. All the variety will wake the baby more fully for better feeds.

When is Good “Too Good?”
“Good” babies who don’t wake to feed, aren’t showing interest in feeding, have a weak suck, or don’t have frequent wet or dirty diapers need to get checked out by the doctor. Any time newborns go more than a few hours without a good feed, parents should check in with their doctor or the advice nurse. Most of these “good” babies will get back on track once things are figured out. Just be ready for that “not so good” but “oh, so healthy” baby to take over for a few weeks.

Did you have a sleepy baby? How did you get your baby to wake up enough to feed?

Next time we’ll share some ideas about how moms can work with their employers both before and after their babies are born.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tips for Coping with Persistent Infant Crying

Persistent criers have a harder time dealing with the world around them. Once they are upset, it can be challenging for them to calm down. You can help keep your baby more comfortable by watching closely for disengagement cues and taking action to calm your baby at the first signs of trouble. You won’t be able to stop all the crying but you can make a big impact. Your baby will settle down and within the next few weeks, the fussiness will fade away. In the meantime, here are some tips from a mom who's been there.

1. Watch for triggers like loud noises, harsh lights, or strong smells and take steps to avoid them until your baby is a bit older. Your baby will use disengagement cues to tell you what the triggers are. Just remember, the cues won’t be specific. For example, your baby might arch away from you because the dog is barking too loud. Taking the baby into a quiet room for a few minutes can help.

2. For some persistent criers, low stimulation (soft lights, quiet) is best; for others, lots of repetitive stimulation (like white noise or going outside) works well. You’ll learn very quickly what level of stimulation keeps your baby happy. Some babies are sensitive to their own movements. Swaddling works well for these babies during the first few weeks.

3. Help your baby find ways of self-soothing, like sucking on her hands or snuggling with a soft cloth.

4. Help your baby adjust to his or her own body rhythms using light in the day and keeping things darker at night. Stick to a loose routine for daily tasks so your baby is exposed to similar amounts of stimulation each day. Watch out for overload from sights and sounds at the end of the day. Many babies have a fussy time between 4 and 6 pm when everyone is coming home, dinner is being prepared, and the TV is turned on. Try making dinner earlier in the day or even better, take a walk with baby while someone else makes dinner!

5. Skin-to-skin contact with your baby can go along way in calming you both. You might want to try some infant massage.

6. Once your baby gets upset, remember: repetition, repetition, repetition. Don’t try 10 things to calm your baby, stick with one thing for several minutes before you try something else.

7. There are a lot of books, DVDs, and websites dedicated to helping you stop your baby’s crying. Most of these methods don’t address the reasons why babies cry. We encourage you to try to understand and respond to your baby’s ups and downs rather than focus all your attention on stopping his or her crying.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Having a fussy baby does not make you a bad parent. Don’t let others make you feel guilty or inadequate. Your baby just needs a little help to get into synch. My baby daughter went from screaming to social and adorable almost overnight, once her nervous system caught up with her. She’s since graduated from college with honors and has as much energy and passion as she did in those early weeks.

Having a crying baby while you are recovering from childbirth is horribly stressful. It is important to recruit trusted family and friends to bring you food, do your laundry, or babysit for a little while. Taking time for yourself can help you feel less overwhelmed. You may not want to ask other people to take care of your baby but others won’t feel the same way as you do about your baby’s crying; they know they only have to hear it for a short time.

Millions of families go through the challenge of persistent crying. You won’t have to look far to find an experienced mom, dad, or grandparent who knows exactly how you feel. Let us know how you are coping with your fussy baby.

Next Time: Sometimes Newborns' "Good" Behavior can be Misleading

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What’s the Difference Between Crying and Colic?

Last week, I promised that I would talk about “colic” in more detail. I'm the team "expert" on this topic since I've had the most experience with dealing with a fussy baby. I can still remember the long nights pacing like a zombie up and down the narrow hallway in our apartment holding my screaming baby girl. For nearly 4 months, she did little but eat, sleep, and cry. If I only knew then…

What is “Colic?”
Surprisingly, “colic” doesn’t have a single definition. Instead, colic is used as a “catch-all” term for babies who cry a lot every day. While some doctors call babies “colicky” only if they cry for more than 3 hours a day, 3 days per week for at least 3 weeks, others don’t follow these guidelines. These days, experts call excessive infant crying “persistent” or “unexplained” crying rather than colic.

How long does “persistent crying” last?
For most babies, crying peaks in the first 6 to 8 weeks. Typical newborns cry a little more than 2 hours per day, fussing frequently in relatively short spurts. Babies with "persistent crying" cry more than 2 to 3 hours per day, for longer periods, and they don’t respond to their parents’ efforts to soothe them. The good news is that nearly all babies (even the persistent criers) will cry a lot less by the time they are 3 or 4 months of age. Of course to parents dealing with these challenging babies, 12 weeks of persistent crying can drag on like 12 years.

What are the causes of “persistent crying?”
Many parents of persistent criers are convinced that there must be something physically wrong with their newborns. Concerns that their babies might be sick only add to parents' stress. But 95% of persistent criers are healthy and growing well, many grow very well. It is always a good idea to check with your pediatrician about your baby’s persistent crying, especially if it is a big change in your baby’s behavior or related to any signs of illness. Given that most fussy babies are healthy, here are 4 reasons why persistent criers may cry a lot more than other infants.

1. They are not able to provide readable cues to the adults around them. Without clear signals, it is hard for parents to know what their babies' need. As they get older and better at using readable cues, these babies will cry less and less. For more about cues see our earlier post (

2. They need more time than other babies to learn how to control their moods and to move predictably from one mood to another. We talked about babies moods in an earlier post (see: While most drowsy babies fall asleep, persistent criers may bounce from drowsy to crying to sleeping to crying again. As their nervous systems mature, these babies will start to behave more predictably.

3. They can’t calm themselves when they are upset and they are not responsive to parents' frantic efforts to make them feel better. When these babies start crying, they spiral out of control. Even small distractions and irritations such as changes in routine, loud noises, or bright lights can send persistent criers into hysterical fits. These babies respond well to very little stimulation or to a lot of sustained repetitive stimulation, like white noise.

4. While most people think “colicky” babies have digestive problems, I’m listing stomach problems last because only about 1/3 of babies with persistent crying have indigestion. Babies with food allergies or intolerance have obvious signs. They have lots of gas, loose stools with mucus or specks of blood, and they may not be growing well. If your baby shows any of these signs, your pediatrician can help you determine the cause.

As a parent of a persistent crier, you may be blaming yourself and worrying that all the crying is somehow damaging to your baby. Fortunately, nearly all of these fussy babies are strong and thriving. Eventually, they settle down to become happy, social babies. Given the extraordinary stress that comes with caring for persistent criers, it is important that you reach out for help. You thought childbirth was tough! Dealing with a screaming baby while you're sleep deprived is even tougher. Call on family and friends to help with chores or to watch the baby so you can get a well deserved break. You may not want to ask for help because you worry that your baby's crying will upset others but experienced friends and family will tell you, it is not the same for them. Sometimes it might be necessary for you to put the baby down in a safe place and step away for a little break. Most parents of persistent criers have to do this at some point.

One point worth repeating, if you start to feel angry at your baby, can't control your emotions, or you don't feel interested in what's going on around you, it is time to call your doctor. Stress can do nasty things to people. Very soon, we'll share some well-researched tips for making this challenging time just a bit easier.

Next Time: Tips for Coping with Persistent Infant Crying

Friday, July 10, 2009

Part 2: Tips from the Trenches: Surviving Sleep Deprivation

By Jen G.

The first 6 weeks after your baby is born are really challenging (see Part 1: Thoughts from a Sleep Deprived Mom), but we have discovered a few tried and true ways to help you and your family get some rest…starting now. The following suggestions combine my experiences as a mom, a researcher, and a dietitian.

Sleep when your baby sleeps. I know all of the books and advice gurus have told you this one already. I also know that you are busy and probably the only time you can have a moment to yourself or with your other kid(s) is when the baby is sleeping. Forego that urge to do-do-do, at least for those first 6 weeks. Trust me, naps make a HUGE difference. Every minute of sleep counts.

Let people help you. Sure it’s hard to admit you need help. But all mothers know how hard it is to have a new baby. That’s why they always say to you: “Let me know if you need anything.” Let them help you! They wouldn’t offer if they didn’t want to help. Something as simple as giving them a grocery list to pick up a few things for you or bringing dinner over that first week post partum will make a big difference for you and your new family.

Let Grandma (Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, etc.) hold your baby for an hour. They will love the bonding time, and your aching arms will get a break. Take that time to lie down, take a bath or do something else you like.

Get out and get some air. Sometimes just a trip to the grocery store ALONE can be a refreshing experience. Strolling down the aisles, favorite beverage in hand, soft rock playing in the background, what could be better?

Have your significant other take the baby so you can sleep. Even just a few hours will help. If you breastfeed beforehand, you’ll have some time before baby needs to be fed again…so SLEEP!

Let Grandma (or any trusted family member or friend) watch the baby so that you can take a nap. Every once in awhile, invite them over with the sole purpose of watching baby so you can take a good 1-2 hour nap. This will give you a chance to recharge after a week or so of frequent night waking with your little one.

Keep healthy snacks and drinks at hand while breastfeeding. Since you are already sitting down, breastfeeding is a great time to eat a snack. Keep healthy snacks that can be eaten with one hand nearby (I don’t need to explain why just one hand to those who have nursed before!) Eating small, frequent (healthy) meals or snacks will increase your energy, making you feel better.

Don’t look at the clock. Avoid looking at the clock when you are sleeping or napping. Not knowing exactly how long you’ve slept (or not slept) can help you feel more rested. I took this suggestion myself when my daughter was an infant and going through a particularly challenging bout of frequent night waking. Normally I would look at the clock and exclaim: “What?! She’s up again? I just went back to sleep 30 minutes ago!!” If I didn’t look at the clock, I had no idea how long she (and I) had or hadn’t slept. Sure, I was just tricking my sleep deprived mind, but it really helped change my attitude!

Knowledge is power. Just knowing that it is normal for you to be tired during this time, and that it won’t last forever, will make the sleep deprivation easier to deal with. It will go by fast, and soon your little one will be sleeping longer stretches and falling asleep more easily. Before you know it, your baby will be 2 years old (like my sweet girl) throwing herself on the floor of the supermarket, screaming because you won’t buy her a candy bar. It’s all a matter of perspective!

Note: Lack of sleep can really affect your mood. A little bit of the “baby blues” is normal in the post partum period, but sometimes there is a fine line between the baby blues and post partum depression (PPD). Contact your doctor if symptoms of depression last longer than 2 weeks. For a list of symptoms of PPD, please go to:

A final thought: get some sleep.
Looking back on the exhaustion during my daughter’s 1st year of life, I can’t stress enough that the only real solution for lack of sleep is…sleep! A little caffeine may get you through in the short-term, going to the gym or taking a walk will boost your energy, but true exhaustion from lack of sleep is only remedied by sleep, and every minute counts. Trouble napping? Sitting quietly or lying down in a restful (quiet) place can help you feel more rested, even if you can’t fall asleep.

Do you have any other tips to offer sleep deprived new moms? Please share them with us.
If you have any questions about infant sleep, just ask; we are here to help you!

Next time: What's the Difference Between Crying and Colic?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thoughts from a Sleep Deprived Mom: Part 1

By: Jen G
“The first 6 weeks after the baby is born are the hardest!” “Sleep now while you can!” “All of your trouble sleeping at night now is getting you ready to wake up with your new baby!” I heard all of these words of advice and more when I was pregnant with my daughter, and they were generally accompanied by a hearty “Ha-ha-ha.” I would respond with an uncomfortable and somewhat irritated: “Ha-ha, thanks” having no clue what I was in for.

What I knew then.
Before my daughter was born I worked as a dietitian for the WIC program (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants & Children). You’d think I would know infants, right? Wrong! Sure, I could teach parents about breastfeeding and feeding their toddlers or preschoolers, but when my own little one was born, she didn’t follow any of the rules I had learned! I had even taught classes about Baby Behavior to new parents, but figuring out my own baby’s behavior and sleep “schedule” was like trying to decipher a complicated puzzle.

When my daughter was born 2 years ago, I had learned a little bit about what normal infant sleep looks like and knew that waking was healthy. I knew that her sleep patterns would be a bit unorganized her first few weeks of life, but that knowledge alone did not prepare me to cope with the exhaustion those sleepless nights would bring. I did have one salvation- I knew that if I could just survive those first 6 weeks of my daughter’s life, it wouldn’t be long before she would begin sleeping for longer periods of time, and we would all be able to get some rest.

What I know now.
The first 6 weeks of your baby’s life are hard; there is no way around that! But knowing more about newborn behavior and learning a few coping strategies can make your life a whole lot easier. One thing that makes the first 6 weeks hard is that as new parents, we have visions of this perfect, quiet baby smiling up at us or sleeping soundly in her crib. This “perfect baby” rarely exists…at least not for a few more months! Newborns don’t follow any of the “rules.” Their sleep and behavior can be erratic (as will yours, thanks to sleep deprivation and hormones!) Initially newborns wake every 1-2 hours and when they do sleep, most of it is active (dreaming) sleep (see Baby Behavior Basics Part 1), and they are easily wakened. That’s right: it is NORMAL for your newborn to wake every 1-2 hours. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s not fair, but that’s just how newborns are wired. Research shows newborns need to wake up to be healthy. They wake if they are too hot or too cold, hungry, lonely, etc. They need to wake easily so that they can let us know they need our help; how else would we figure that out? Fortunately, all of this waking doesn’t last very long (in the scheme of your life as a parent).

This too shall pass.
Whenever I would get really tired and frustrated I would think to myself: “If I can just make it through these first 6 weeks, things will get better.” And I did make it through, and things did get better…slowly. My daughter finally figured out the difference between day and night (day is for playing, night is for sleeping). She slept for longer stretches and woke up less at night by the time she was about 6-8 weeks old. By about 2 months, she also developed a more predictable nap “schedule;” these “breaks” gave me a chance to get a few things done (like take a shower!)

Get some rest.
After living through those rough first 6-8 weeks, I’ve learned a few ways to cope with the lack of sleep. Hindsight is 20-20, right! Well, at least someone can benefit from what I learned during that sleepless time, though now it is all a bit fuzzy. I’ve also learned quite a bit over the last 2 years working here at the Human Lactation Center and with moms as part of the Baby Behavior Study. As difficult as your baby’s first 6 weeks are, I have discovered a few tried and true ways to help you and your family get some rest…starting now. I'll share these important tips with you next time. Stay tuned...

Do you have a story about sleep deprivation to share? What has helped you deal with lack of sleep while caring for a newborn?

Next Time: Tips from the Trenches: Surviving Sleep Deprivation

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Little About Ourselves...

Now that we have introduced you to the Basics of Baby Behavior, we would like to tell you a little about ourselves and our work. In later posts, we'll be using our personal experiences, combined with our professional knowledge, to help you understand more about your baby's behavior. Each of us understands what it is like to wake up to feed an infant in the middle of the night and how hard it is to hear a baby cry. We all know what it is like to go back to work too soon and while we have many experiences in common, we all have unique stories to share. I've written a brief introduction for each member of our team.

Jennifer Banuelos, MAS (that's me!)
I attended the University of California, Davis, earning a Bachelor's degree in Clinical Nutrition in 2005 and a Master's degree in Maternal and Child Nutrition in 2008. I started working at the Human Lactation Center in 2005, right after graduation. Now that I think about it, 2005 was a pretty big year for me - I graduated from college, got a fantastic job, and i got married! 2008 was a big year too - in addition to graduating again, my daughter was born! Olivia was born in the spring of 2008, 15 weeks earlier than expected. She weighed less than 2lbs and was only 13 inches long. Despite her scary start, she is now a healthy, happy, energetic toddler!

Jennifer Goldbronn, RD
Jennifer Goldbronn (known around here as Jen G) attended California State University, Sacramento, earning a Bachelor's degree in Dietetics (Nutrition). After college, she completed her Dietetic Internship (the required training to become a Registered Dietitian) at Napa State Hospital and she will be returning to school this Fall to earn a Master's degree in Maternal and Child Nutrition. She joined the UC Davis Human Lactation Center in the Fall of 2007 after the birth of her daughter, Lily. Jen G loves her work and her family, and like many of you out there (and all of us here), she's still trying to figure out how to balance the two! She feels lucky that her roles at home and at work go hand in hand - working in the field of infant nutrition and behavior (sleep, crying, cues, etc) has proven very useful to her as a mother and her real life experience as a mom has proven invaluable at work!

Kerri Moore

Kerri Moore has been on the administrative team of the Human Lactation Center since Fall of 2007. She studied Child Development at Santa Rosa Junior College and worked as a preschool teacher for 10 years. Kerri is the proud mother of Elisabeth, an adorable 3-year-old self-described princess. (Have you noticed that we all have girls? Maybe it is something in the water around here?) Unlike Jen G and me, Elisabeth was born before Kerri started working in the field of infant nutrition and behavior. Kerri's perspective as a mother and preschool teacher has been very helpful in our office.

Jane Heinig, PhD, IBCLC
Professionally, Jane is the Executive Director of the Human Lactation Center, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Human Lactation, and Graduate Adviser for the Master of Advanced Study in Maternal and Child Nutrition. She has published widely in the scientific literature and is a member of several academic societies. Personally, Jane is a mother of 2 children, a daughter and a son. To be completely honest, they aren't really children anymore, they are both in their 20's, but she still considers them her babies! I guess that just shows that parenting doesn't stop once your kids turn 18, it just takes on a different form.

I like to think of Jane as the "mother of all mothers" - the person everyone admires and goes to for advice. Not only does she provide guidance and support to her family and employees, she has several adult 'adopted children' she has acquired over the years. With a true motherly nature, combined with open- mindedness and a vast knowledge of everything from nutrition to marketing, Jane makes a strong impression wherever she goes.

Now that we've covered the basics and you know more about us, we plan to share some of our real life experiences as mothers who also happen to be experts in infant behavior. We hope that you will join us by telling us more about your babies and by asking any questions you may have. We're here to help.

Next time: Jen G will tell you more about caring for a baby who doesn't want to sleep at night!