Breastfeeding Frequently Asked Questions- Guest Blogger Brandi Crockett

In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, we would like to welcome Brandi Crockett, IBCLC to answer some common questions regarding breastfeeding, lactation, and the role of an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Read what she has to say below!

August Is National Breastfeeding Month!

You may be wondering why on earth there would be such a thing as National Breastfeeding Month. This month highlights the many benefits of breastfeeding. Sometimes people feel as if birth professionals, shove breastfeeding down their throats. (We really don’t mean for it be a forceful thing.) There are still many individuals that don’t know about the benefits of breastfeeding.

What’s an IBCLC?

That is where I, as well as National Breastfeeding Month, comes in. I am an IBCLC. That stands for Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I hold the highest position within the lactation world. No, I am not a nurse and I do not work in a hospital. I work in private practice, and I love being able to see moms in their homes and giving them 100% of my attention and giving them the care that they deserve.

There are quite a few individuals that don’t even know that my profession even exists! This saddens me because I wish that all new moms received a home visit from an IBCLC. I think that we would see more successful breastfeeding and empowered moms because they would be given the knowledge they need in order to make the best decisions regarding breastfeeding.

But I digress.

Frequently Asked Questions

The whole point of this is to help empower you by answering some of the questions that I get most often as an IBCLC.

Why would a new mom call an IBCLC? Or when is a good time to call? Can’t a nurse do that?

I get this question all the time. Any time a mom feels that breastfeeding is not going well is when she should call an IBCLC, and please call as soon as you get that feeling. Please do not wait till your supply has tanked and baby isn’t latching.

There are times when I have had a mom connect with me prenatally, either by phone or consult, and we have a plan of action once baby arrives. Not every mom needs to do that, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Why can’t a nurse or your pediatrician or OB/GYN help you with breastfeeding?

The basic answer is that because it’s not their specialty! Your nurse is there to help you with delivering your baby and your OB/GYN help with your pregnancy and also with the delivery of your baby. A postpartum nurse generally has a few tricks up her sleeve to help with breastfeeding, but again, she’s only there to help you recover from having your baby. So do me a favor, and call an IBCLC.

What About Bottles and Pacifiers?

Neither the bottle nor the pacifier in innately bad, it’s all about how you use them and which ones, and sometimes when you introduce them.

I always recommend a Dr. Brown’s bottle, usually with a premie nipple, but sometimes a size 1 (0-3m), but depends on the age of baby.A Dr. Brown’s bottle is a great shape that encourages babies to breastfeed well, and sometimes better. A baby has to curl their tongue around the nipple and hold it in their mouth in similar way that they would a nipple to breastfeed. I will often use this bottle to help strengthen a babies suck if they have had some oral struggles such as a tongue tie.

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As for a pacifier, I would recommend a Soothie by Avent. The shape is similar to a Dr. Brown’s and in turn can help with suck training and strengthening. So how do we use a pacifier the right way? A nickname for a pacifier is a plug, and that is because parents will often give the baby a pacifier in order to get them to stop, or “plug” them up. Now the better way to use a pacifier is basically as last resort. Go thru the checklist; is baby hungry? Do they need to be changed? Burped? Cold? Hot? Anything pinching? If you’ve done everything then offer the pacifier. Sometimes babies will have a high suck need that a pacifier can help with- especially if mom doesn’t want to be the pacifier.

If all is going well with breastfeeding then a good time to introduce a bottle and a pacifier is by about 3 weeks of age. You can, by all means, introduce them earlier, but we generally try to wait until breastfeeding is more established before introducing anything extra. Now, I have certainly advised parents to introduce them earlier due to certain circumstances, but it’s always a case by case basis.

There are tons of different types of bottles out there, as well as lots of different types of pacifiers. The only time that I would say use whatever you’d like, is if breastfeeding is going extremely well. A lot of the pacifiers and bottles out there teach the baby to smash the nipple between their tongue and the roof of their mouth, which can then translate into smashing mom’s nipple while breastfeeding. That hurts! And is not doable long term. But again, it’s definitely a case by case basis.

How Long Should a Mom Breastfeed?little-girl-107421_1920

Now this is a loaded question! It really depends on the family dynamic. Some dryads (or triads) practice extended nursing (nursing beyond 2 years of age). And this works for them because breastfeeding is a relationship. It’s ever changing- and breastmilk is ever changing. Mom’s body knows exactly what that baby needs at that moment for how old that baby or toddler is.

baby-17327_1920Breastfeeding beyond a year may not work for everyone and that’s okay! Any breastmilk is better than no breastmilk. Again, breastfeeding is a relationship and it needs to work for all parties involved. Maybe the baby is ready to wean or mom needs/wants to wean, there are plenty of ways to go about this gently that works for everyone in order to make sure that everyone’s needs are met. Cold turkey weaning is hard on everyone, so I would not recommend it if you don’t have to. An IBCLC can help you figure out a way to wean your baby or even discuss your options for continuing to breastfeed past a year. An IBCLC is there to help with all aspects of breastfeeding.

Overall, breastfeeding is awesome! And I am so proud to be an IBCLC. I am glad that there is a National Breastfeeding Month so that we can bring this fantastic topic to the forefront. Lastly, when in doubt, remain calm and call an IBCLC!

Mountain Mama Lactation LogoBrandi Crockett, IBCLC lives in Granite Falls, WA with her husband of 14 years and 6 crazy, fully breastfed kids (including a set of twins). She loves her job and also enjoys running ragged playing soccer mom and scout mom as well as running 10k’s with her hubby.

A Parent’s Guide to Backpack Safety

Summer is coming to a close and it is time to purchase new school supplies and especially, Backpacks. Instead of choosing the coolest new superhero or princess backpack, I encourage you to ensure that your child’s backpack fits appropriately.

A backpack that is too large or heavy, or even worn improperly, can be detrimental to your child’s posture and spinal health. Textbooks and school supplies are heavy and it is important to choose a properly sized backpack that will make sure that kids are staying safe this school year.

Size

Many children’s backpacks are more focused on bright colors and appealing to kids cartoons than they are on function. They are often oversized and impractical. When choosing a backpack, it is important to fit the bag to the size of the child.

Below, the top left image, demonstrates a backpack that is likely a little large for the child, though if the straps were shortened it may fit more appropriately. The right image demonstrates a bag that is slightly too tall and a little too wide. The boy in the bottom image has a bag that fits correctly.

A properly fitting backpack should reach from shoulder blade to shoulder blade and from the shoulders to just below the waist. Check out this article with a convenient drawing demonstrating proper landmarks for sizing.

A backpack that is too large will place stress in the wrong part of the spine and can be filled far beyond capacity.

Weight

Kids are little! A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10-15% of their body weight. The forces through the spine from carrying a heavy backpack can be compressive and cause the child to stand with shoulders hunched forward, head forward, and a curved spine.

Packing the weight into the bag correctly is also important. Heavier items like textbooks should be placed closer to the body, while lighter/smaller items can be further forward. Weight can also be managed by minimizing how much actually goes into the backpack. Which books need to be brought home for homework? What can stay in a locker and what needs to be carried home or between classes?

Proper weight distribution comes from a number of factors in a backpack. The pack should be light when empty. Multiple compartments will aid in packing. Wide straps keep the pack from digging into the shoulders. A waist strap can help to stabilize the load.

Overall

A backpack can be fun and functional. If your child is small in stature, consider picking a backpack that is appropriately sized in a plain color and decorating it with patches or fun paints. Minimizing wear and tear on your child from their backpack can help keep them in great shape.

Do you have questions about backpack sizing? Talk to your local chiropractor to have them check your child’s fit!

Peace in Times of Turmoil

This past week has left me feeling overwhelmed by the media and the level of violence that is becoming all too common. As a result, I have turned off the news. I have minimized my time on social media. I have worked to open my heart and spend time with people who help me remember that there is light in the world- and that this light can start with me.

With the fear and turmoil everywhere we look… This week I wanted to share some thoughts on finding peace within ourselves and being the light and the change that can move our world in a positive way.

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5 Steps Toward Peace in Troubled Times

  1. Spend time each day in gratitude. It may seem over simple, but when we switch our focus to gratitude, there is a shift in consciousness that is very soothing. Try this simple exercise: Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably. Breathe into the quiet and the space for awhile. When you feel centered in yourself, pick up a journal and write the word Gratitude as a title. Below this, write a minimum of 3 things which you are grateful for. Some days, it can be hard to find 3 things. They don’t have to be complex or in depth. For example: I am grateful that my cat spent some time in my lap this morning. Something simple like this is still a shift toward peace.
  2. Pay it Forward. When you are stressed and the world seems like it is spinning out of control, it can be difficult to remember how much you truly have. You also never know whose world/day you can change by doing something simple like paying for their coffee, helping them carry groceries, or simply smiling. Helping others without expecting anything in return is an amazing gift.
  3. Unplug from Media for the Weekend. It sounds simple, but stopping the onslaught from the latest News Cycle, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat…. the list goes on… Can help you to reset and focus on local change. Better yet, go into nature. Spend some time in the woods or the water and reconnect with yourself. When you do choose to turn the phone back on and take a glimpse at the latest headlines, you will be a bit more prepared.
  4. Help Someone Locally. Find a way to give back to your community. To paraphrase a performer I saw this weekend, Broon,  we have to invest in the community that we want to surround ourselves with. When your voice may feel lost, politically, vote with your dollar. Support the local farmers that produce food to nourish your body. Shop small for your family gifts. Volunteer in community arts or read to children. Whatever you love- Get involved. One voice can make a difference. Know That Your Voice For Peace Counts. Sometimes we feel so small. Sometimes we get lost in the shuffle. But when you can stand tall, smile, and help your neighbor- you are changing the world. Effect change at the local level and it will echo out.
  5. Meditate. Spend time with your mind at rest. Recognize that you do not need to have all the answers. Focus on your breath and peace is surely right behind. There are so many tools for meditation at your fingertips. Find one that works for you and start a regular practice.

Love comes from within each of us.

Don’t let your light be dimmed or go out.

Stand tall in your peace.

Air Quality and Exercise

With this summer’s forest fires in full swing, Seattle has been covered in a haze of smoke for the past week. Air quality has been poor and traffic is congested. Athletes are attempting to continue to stay in shape while battling the smokey haze.

Below, I will discuss some ideas to help stay safe while continuing to exercise. However, IF YOU HAVE ANY LUNG OR CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONS, please speak with your Primary Care Physician before exercising to ensure that you are not putting yourself in danger.

Assess Air Quality Prior to Exercise

Check out AirNow.Gov to learn about the current recommendations regarding air quality. For example, today’s rating in Seattle is “Unsafe for Sensitive Groups”. This means that those with any lung or cardiovascular issues should remain inside as should children and older adults who are more sensitive to particulate in the air.

Make sure that you understand what your own personal status is:

Do you have asthma or another respiratory condition?

Are you sensitive to smoke?

Have you been short of breath or have your sinuses been draining?

If you answered “yes ” to any of these, please consult your PCP prior to engaging in exercise.

By looking at the map, you may want to choose to drive to an area that has a better air rating before engaging in outdoor exercise.

Exercise Intelligently

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Once you have determined that you are “OK” to exercise and have found an adequate location, listen to your body.

  • Take frequent breaks
  • Exercise at a lower intensity to take a load off your respiratory system
  • Consider using a sinus rinse to help keep your nasal passages clear
  • If you feel prematurely out of breath or as though you are working harder than normal… Make it a Gym Day and exercise in a controlled environment. (You may also consider being evaluated by your PCP)

Hopefully the winds will pick up off the Pacific and the smoke will clear- but until then stay safe and keep your personal health in mind when spending time outside. Taking a day off training is better than compromising your health.

***The information contained in the blog above is not intended as healthcare advice and is provided for general information purposes***

 

No Pain, No Gain- An Outdated Fitness Concept

No Pain, No Gain

I remember being in high school sports and repeatedly hearing people laugh and say, “No pain, no gain” as we pushed ourselves to make gains in the weight room or in the pool. We worked out to exhaustion, more focused on completing the workout or the set in the weight room than on form or perfection. Coaches said things like, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” We got strong, sure. We gained speed. We thought we were so cool as we showed off our bruises and iced down our shoulders.

The reality, though, is that we were injuring ourselves. We were building poorly coordinated neural pathways. We were altering our biomechanics and causing overuse injuries.

 

Now that I am years out of that scenario, I often work with athletes, like myself, who are driven to excel and want to improve in their sport. One of the biggest discussions we have is surrounding this concept of “No pain. No gain.”

A workout should build you up, not break you down.

It is important to work out in a way that pushes your capacity, but does not allow for the break down of your mechanics. For example, when I assign rehab exercises in my practice, we always discuss:

  • The goals of the exercise
  • What you should feel when you perform the exercise
  • What are the “fails” of the exercise (ie: what things let you know that you have completed as many exercises as your body can handle)

It all comes down to the neural edge. This is the limit to which the brain can control the exercise and where we can actively create new pathways. Here is where we can safely make gains in our training.

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Beyond rehab, think of it like this… If you are on a run and you have decided that you will run 6 miles today. However, at 4 miles you notice that your left foot is hurting in the arch with some knee pain as well. Do you decide to continue running? -OR-  Do you listen to your body and stop your run at 4 miles? Should you continue to run, you are risking causing damage in your body that may keep you from running later in the week or season. It is important to evaluate (or to be evaluated by a professional) why the pain is present? Are your supporting or stabilizing muscles doing their jobs? Are you wearing appropriate shoes for your feet and the surface you are running on? Do you have proper nutrition?

Running through pain or working out through pain can be extremely detrimental to training, overall. It can result in overuse injuries and in neural patterning that lends itself to future injuries. Instead, it is imperative to train intelligently. Work smart. Get evaluated to be sure that you are making safe gains and discuss your training with a coach and functional movement specialist.

Let’s forget No Pain, No Gain

Let’s shift our focus in training. Let’s teach our athletes, young and old, to listen to their bodies and find their edge.  Let’s lead by example and learn to work out smart- and hard.

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***This blog is intended to provide educational content and is not for diagnostic purposes nor to provide health care advice. Please speak with your health care professional prior to changing your workout routine.***