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Keeping Up Your Milk Supply During the Holiday Season

Since Winter Break has descended onto our homes, Ashley and I are taking the next few weeks off from blogging to spend some quality time with our families.  However, that doesn't mean that you'll be left without our breastfeeding support until the new year!  We have over 300 articles on the San Diego Breastfeeding Center blog, which means there is no reason for you to google 'sore nipples' at 3:30am.  Just check out our extensive article list and you will be well on your way!


Here are some of our favorite tips for keeping up your milk supply during the holidays:

  1. Holiday recipes often include herbs that can affect supply.  Don't eat too much sage or mint - these are herbs used to temper down or dry up a mom's milk supply.  One mint cookie won't do it, but be aware of the amounts you are consuming.
  2. Continue to breastfeed or pump at regular intervals.  It's very easy to skip feedings and/or pumping sessions with all of the holiday festivities, which can lead to plugged ducts and mastitis.  Yuck! Try to stick to your regular breastfeeding/pumping schedule to prevent your breasts from getting overly full and uncomfortable.
  3. Traveling during the holidays, expecially with a baby or toddler, can really wear your body down.  To keep up your milk supply, stay hydrated, bring tons of nourishing snacks for the trip, and do you best to get good sleep.  Plus, follow your child's lead and squeeze in a nap or two throughout the trip.  Your immune system will definitely thank you for it!
  4. Find your comfort level with breastfeeding around family members.  Enlist your partner as your cheerleader and advocate so that you can feel comfortable breastfeeding your baby in all holiday situations. If you feel timid around certain family members and friends, invest in a breastfeeding cover, like this one from Bebe Au Lait, so you don't have to leave the room everytime your baby is hungry.  It's also a good idea to practice at home in front of a mirror, you'll see how very little of your breast is actually exposed and this may help you to feel more comfortable.
  5. If you start feeling under the weather, stick with herbs and over-the-counter medications that don't dry up your mucus membranes, as they may dry up your milk supply as well.  Herbs that support your immune system, that are safe to take while breastfeeding, are echinacea and vitamin C.  If you feel like you are coming down with a cold, you can take homeopathic oscillococcinum and yin chiao to build your immune system and speed up your recovery.  For over the counter medications recommendations, listen to our Boob Group podcast with Dr. Frank Nice, Breastfeeding and Medication.  You can also contact your local lactation consultant and ask her to look up a particular medication to see if it is safe to take while breastfeeding.


Lastly, here are some of our most popular breastfeeding articles to help you through the holiday season:

Advice for the Newly Breastfeeding Mama's Partner 

Help A Mama Out; Ways Partners Can Bond with Baby Besides the Bottle

Help A Mama Out: Overcoming Nursing in Public Anxiety

Common Concerns While Breastfeeding: Sore Nipple Therapy for the Breastfeeding Mom

Common Concerns While Breastfeeding: Yikes!  Why are my Nipples Burning?

Common Concerns - Do I Have Mastitis?


We wish you a beautiful, peaceful holiday season and look forward to sharing more judgment-free breastfeeding resources with you in the new year!


Robin and Ashley 


Robin, Jason, Ben, and RyanAshley, Tim, Jane, and Evelyn


Breastfeeding My Type 1 Diabetic Daugher

Almost 2 years ago, a dear friend of mine found out that her 19 month old daughter had type 1 diabetes and was fighting for her life.  Here's Theresa's triumphant story of how she was able to preserve her breastfeeding relationship while healing her daughter.  


About a month ago a friend alerted me to a Facebook post that brought a wave of memories flooding over me from a day that changed my life forever as a parent.  A day that I will never forget, even though I wish I could.  It was literally the worst day of my life, but one that I will always be grateful for because it was the day my daughter’s life was saved.  


The Facebook post was from a worried mom whose child was hospitalized after being diagnosed with type 1, “juvenile,” diabetes that very day.  The mama was breastfeeding and was terrified not only for her child's life, but that she would lose the best way she knew to feed and comfort her baby.  A little over a year and a half ago I was in her shoes.  At 19 months old, we were told that our daughter had type 1 diabetes, was in diabetic shock, and needed to be rushed to the emergency room.  She came very close to losing her life and was in critical care for a week at a children’s hospital. 

In the ER 

While she was at her sickest (almost admitted to the ICU), she was not allowed to nurse.  For as comforting as breastfeeding can be, not being able to do it during a time of crisis was torture.  My daughter was barely conscious, was in pain and terrified while she was awake, and I could not even hold her because she wanted to nurse.  I hope no other mama has to experience the excruciating helplessness you feel in a situation like that.  Our children's hospital has no lactation consultants and, by the time they could find a pump for me, we had already skipped about 7 or 8 feedings.  I was scared to death and in physical pain myself.

Only water, no breast milk for those first 2 days 

When we were finally given the okay for her to eat, I had to fight tooth and nail to be able to breastfeed her.  The doctors finally consented to her having breast milk, but because she was not a tiny baby, the doctors did not think it was important.  They told me that she absolutely had to drink from a cup or bottle.  (I had a manual pump at home and did not respond well to it at all.  I could not imagine how difficult it would be to have to exclusively pump.)  I begged them to let me nurse her.  It was my milk after all, whether it came from a pump and was poured directly into a cup or came straight from my breast.  No mother should ever have to beg to be able to feed their baby.  It took hearing our daughter scream and sob hysterically for the doctor to finally take pity on us and let me breast feed her.  As I held my tiny girl in my arms, it was the first time I began to feel like there was a possibility that she would be okay. Still, we were encouraged to not let her nurse after that.


Eventually, we were able to meet with the hospital's diabetes dietician who helped me calculate the average amount of milk I produced per feeding.  We looked at the amount of milk I was able to express with a pump then, by using the general amount of carbohydrates contained in breast milk, we were able to determine a rough estimate for carbohydrates per feeding.  Together we came up with a plan to space out her feedings as much as possible to keep her blood glucose stable (after each meal and to go to sleep).  The dietician was a lifesaver and a champion for us!  She spoke with our doctor on our behalf and convinced him that including breastfeeding as part of our daughter's nutrition was in her best interest.  The doctor has since become supportive.


Continuing breastfeeding brought my daughter so much comfort in the months of learning to live with daily multiple injections and painful finger prick blood tests.  It was something normal and peaceful for both of us during a stressful time of adjustment.  It supported her overall health.  It was a perfect source of nutrition for her combined with solids and was amazing for bringing her blood glucose back up to a safe level if she began to drop low at night (we do use a fast acting sugar, like juice, instead if she is below a safe threshold).  I am so thankful that we were able to continue our nursing relationship until she was 32 months old.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a life-threatening, autoimmune disease in which a person’s body attacks their pancreas, causing it to stop producing insulin, a hormone needed to properly process carbohydrates in the food we eat.  People with type 1 diabetes check their blood glucose levels every few hours and must inject insulin several times every day or continuously infuse with insulin through a pump.  There is no known cause of type 1 diabetes and, at this time, no cure.  It will never go into remission and cannot be reversed.  As a mom, you can't help but wonder if you caused it somehow but, it just isn't possible that you did.  It is not connected to poor diet or lack of exercise.  Our daughter never has had a drop of formula, never had sugar other than that naturally occurring in fruit, never drank juice prior to needing it to treat hypoglycemia, and eats primarily homegrown, organic solid food.

Glucose testing at least 10 times a day 

Not many people think that a baby or toddler can develop type 1 diabetes, however it is definitely possible.  Not all doctors think of it either and it is commonly misdiagnosed as the flu, with deadly results.  It is very important to know the possible warning signs.  I would recommend all moms be aware of any major changes in nursing.  A sudden onset of increased nursing (past the length of time a growth spurt or teething would account for) along with much more frequent wet diapers can be a signal of diabetes.  Diaper rash (especially without a history of it) and yeast infections can be symptoms of high blood glucose.  Also, consider vitamin D supplements if a blood test returns low for vitamin D levels and investigate further if the test results are extremely low.  The researchers think there may be a link between low vitamin D and diabetes, however they don't know if it is a cause of diabetes or a symptom of it.  Our daughter had increased nursing and wet diapers, weight loss and developed labored breathing. Thankfully our pediatrician picked up on the problem and took action immediately.


Warning signs of type 1 diabetes can include:

 • Extreme thirst

 • Frequent urination

 • Drowsiness, lethargy

 • Sudden vision changes

 • Increased appetite

 • Sudden weight loss

 • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath

 • Nausea or vomiting

 • Heavy, labored breathing

 • Stupor, unconsciousness

 • Sugar in urine


Most importantly, if you feel that something is wrong, go with your gut and keep asking until you find answers!  A quick finger prick test to check the blood glucose level can rule out diabetes.  For this test, a small drop of blood from the tip of the finger is sampled.  Results are often immediate.  A simple urine test can also check for abnormalities.  Undiagnosed and untreated T1D can become deadly very quickly.

3 months worth of things we need to keep our daughter alive 

If you have a little one diagnosed with diabetes, ask to speak to the nutritionist about continuing to incorporate breastfeeding into their nutritional plan.  By pumping once and measuring the amount expressed or by weighing the baby before and after feeding they can help you determine the general amount of milk and therefore carbohydrates they receive at the breast with each feed.  (Because it is an estimated number and not exact, they can often account for the difference in the allotted carbohydrate plan.)


Also, there are amazing support resources available for small children with T1D!  Facebook groups like “Diapers & Diabetes” and organizations like JDRF offer support for families, education, a place for children to feel encouraged and like any other child, and help navigate the uncertain and ever-changing waters that are type 1 diabetes.  Additionally, JDRF funds research and is constantly striving to improve life for type 1 diabetics.  Most importantly, they are fighting for a cure for type 1 diabetes.


*** Please note that these are just our experiences.  I'm not giving medical advice and don't claim to be an expert on diabetes--I'm just a breastfeeding mom doing everything she can to keep her daughter healthy!  Seeing her grow and thrive, and watching her play momma and nurse her baby dolls, I think I might be doing an okay job.

Big sister 

If you want to learn more about type 1 diabetes, is a wonderful resource.  For a glimpse into our life with it or to help fund a cure, please visit:

or watch our story at:




Breastfeeding in the Operating Room

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing stories of triumphant breastfeeding mamas and their biggest supporters who helped them reach their personal breastfeeding goals.  If you would like to share your breastfeeding story and thank your biggest breastfeeding cheerleaders, check out the details in our recent blog article.


This story is from Dawn.

I have to thank my hospital TEAM for my breastfeeding success! 

When I gave birth to my son 5+ years ago, it wasn’t what any first time mom would like to experience. I was having problems with maintaining my blood pressure and when my little boys’ heart rate dropped too low, I was rushed into an emergency c-section. It was an extremely frightening process that didn’t even enter my mind as a possibility. The months that followed were hard. We struggled at finding a proper latch and feeding became such a difficult task, I dreaded it.

It never occurred to me that our difficulties at latching could have been because of the birth experience .

In early 2012 we received good news, we were expecting! I did my best to set everything up for a different birthing experience. I searched out a CDC accredited Baby Friendly Hospital in my area, researched VBAC’s and educated myself on the benefits of skin-to-skin.  It wasn’t until closer to my due date that I was informed I couldn’t have a VBAC.  No hospital would even consider me as a potential VBAC candidate because of my small heart issue as well as my age.  After fighting and pleading, I had to acknowledge that I had no other option, but another C-section.

I may have lost that battle, but I was going to do everything in my power to have skin-to-skin with my little girl. I was aware of the evidence-based research on the benefits of skin-to-skin and its success rate with c-section births. I talked to my pediatrician about this and he agreed.  (I since found out that it is the pediatrician who is in charge in the OR!)  I wrote my birth plan with the intentions of doing skin-to-skin immediately after the c-section unless there was a medical reason not to. 

Alas, I wasn’t able to make it all the way to my scheduled c-section date. This time I was low on amino fluids and baby’s lack of movement put me into the hospital at 36 weeks. With concern, my OB and the pediatrician, agreed, that under supervision, they would monitor me and try to get us to the 37th week and do the c-section. 

Now, prior to this, we made sure to talk with all the right people about our wishes for skin-to-skin.  Everyone was on board: our OB, the hospital’s labor and delivery nurses, and staff.  In fact, the hospital staff has been championing the change in procedures to allow skin-to-skin in the OR without success. 

The day of my C-section, my regular pediatrician was out of town and his standing replacement wasn’t comfortable at all.  I had to conveince the standing pediatrician that this was in my and my baby's best interest.  The hospital's Head Labor & Delivery nurse helped us get to a compromise!  She is my angel!  She proposed that if everything looked good my little girl would be immediately placed on my chest, without ANY other intrusion.... meaning the vernix would be wiped off her while she was on my chest and she would be weighted and measured later. 

When the hour came for us to have the c-section more drama around skin-to-skin unfolded, this time all the way up to the director of the Family Birth Center.  The director of the Family Birth Center was completely opposed to it and tried talking my OB out of it.  We were lucky we had enough support and commitment from the labor and delivery nurses and my OB to move forward. We finally got our wish!

I have to admit, because she was coming 3 weeks early, I wasn’t sure we would even get the option of skin-to-skin, but our little girl emerged perfectly!  She was screaming and quickly confirmed in perfect health! 

When she was placed on my chest and covered with a warming blanket, I was in awe.  This little 6 pound bundle was just perfect.  After a little while, she actually scooted and rooted for my breasts and eventually latched and nursed!   I just didn’t think I would get that experience since she was early.  The remembrance still makes me cry.  It was such an amazing experience.  I was so happy I had the team in my corner and the hospital went forward with my wishes.  

When I was first told I would have to have another cesarean, I felt completely out of control and very disappointed.   Creating a birth plan around my c-section allowed me to take a bit of control back and talking with all parties that come with a c-section allowed me the skin-to-skin connection that was deeply important to me.  

It has been over a year since Beth was born.  We are still nursing strong and have a connection that I attribute to the wonderful team that helped me get skin-to-skin in the OR! 

Side note:  I have since heard that they have allowed other moms the same experience!  The hospital team not only helped me, but also have persevered in getting policy “changed” at the hospital!  


Dawn Alva

Rumina Nursingwear


Who was YOUR biggest breastfeeding supporter?


The Boob Group Podcast: November Round-up 

As many of you know, I am the host of The Boob Group, a free weekly audio podcast and online resource for breastfeeding moms and those who plan to breastfeed their babies.  Each 30 minute episode features world-renowned experts and local breastfeeding mom ‘panelist’ who discuss a variety of topics every week.

Here are the episodes we recorded in November!  


Breastfeeding, Sex, and Libido

Ask any newly postpartum mother what her libido looks like in those first few months after birthing a baby and she will most likely give you a confused look and just laugh. Libido?  What libido?  Unfortunately, most mothers’ partners are wondering when this sex drive will return, which can cause a bit of a frustration for both involved.  Find out how to bring romance and intimacy back into your postpartum relationship.


Breastfeeding, Bedsharing, and Sleep Training

Breastfeeding, bedsharing, and sleep training are some of the hottest topics out there today in the parenting world.  We might be crazy, but we’ve decided to tackle them all in this episode. Tune in to hear more about current research on bedsharing safety and sleep training.


Breastfeeding Twins: Weaning

When breastfeeding twins, each child often has his/her own style and needs.  This is not different when it comes to the weaning process as well.  Do twins typically wean at the same time and what is the process of weaning two children? Does this differ if the twins are infants or toddlers?


Baby-Led Weaning: Introducing Solid Foods to Your Baby

Your baby is quickly approaching six months, which is the time many parents introduce solid foods. But, what if you could skip the puree stage and go straight to whole foods? It’s known as baby-led weaning and it’s gaining in popularity. So, how does it work? What types of foods work best? And what about foods considered a choking hazard?


Top 10 Reasons to Breastfeed

By now, you’ve probably heard that breast is best. But why? Why is breast milk considered the perfect food for your little one? What are the health benefits short term and long term? And how can it improve the bond your partner has with the baby? 




UppaBaby Mesa Infant Care Seat

Plus, don’t miss our MONTH of FREE GIVEAWAY!  In December we will be giving away carseat, strollers, maternity/breastfeeding clothing, baby safety products, and other fun breastfeeding accessories!  Check out our website,, to listen to our episodes and enter the awesome giveaways!


My Village of Breastfeeding Support

 Over the next few weeks we will be sharing stories of triumphant breastfeeding mamas and their biggest supporters who helped them reach their personal breastfeeding goals.  If you would like to share your breastfeeding story and thank your biggest breastfeeding cheerleaders, check out the details in our recent blog article.


Here is Stephanie's story.


It has truly taken a village to help me be successful in nursing both of my babies!  I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but, after the birth of my first son, my passion and commitment to it were a surprise to even me.  I was also caught extremely off-guard by the difficulties both of my boys encountered as we began our breastfeeding journeys together.  Tongue ties, lip ties, low weight gain, low supply, poor latch, pain/cracking/bleeding, overactive letdown, and more were all hurdles we had to cross.  There is absolutely NO way I could have made it to 13 months formula-free with my first son and still going strong and formula-free at 6 months with my second without these amazing people:

My husband!  My passion and commitment to breastfeed my babies surprised him also, but he never questioned it and stood by me no matter what decisions I made!  He became just as committed and passionate about it, knowing it was the best thing we could do for our boys.  He came to appointments, helped get the baby latched on time after time, stood up for me when others questioned why I didn’t just quit, and let me cry when it all just became too much!  He has truly been my rock through all of this, and I can sense his gratitude for the sacrifices I have made to give our boys this amazing gift!



My Lactation Consultants! Four different lactation consultants have come alongside my babies and me in our journey together.  Every single one of them encouraged me that I could do it when the hurdles seemed insurmountable.  They provided a listening, sympathetic ear when I just needed to vent or cry or talk it out.  They provided help, advice, referrals, and life-changing solutions that kept us going!

My tribe of other breastfeeding Mamas! Friends I have known since childhood, friends I’ve made in recent years, and people I met through the breastfeeding process made it all possible - others who had or were experiencing some of the same challenges, some who didn’t have trouble but believed just as passionately in the benefits of breastfeeding, some who visited, some who called, and one who even created an on-line community to connect us all!  There were many people in my life who didn’t understand why I didn’t give up when they saw the emotional and physical toll it was taking on me, but these other Mamas got it!  They knew why I couldn’t quit, why no challenge was too big!  

My virtual breastfeeding community!  Although I will never meet most of these women in person, the support, advice, commiseration, and encouragement they have provided have truly been critical!  To be able to jump online in the middle of the night when it just seemed like I couldn’t do it and have others on there to tell me that, yes, I could do it got me through many rough moments!  They have calmed nerves, answered questions, given virtual hugs, and just been an amazing support system!

My babies! Even from the very start and even in the face of all of our challenges, my babies have always loved nursing!  They didn’t quit so there was no way I could!



Who were your biggest breastfeeding supporters?

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