Today we are thrilled to be interviewing Linda Hanna, one of the top lactation consultants in Southern California, in honor of National Breastfeeding Week. Her extensive experience includes working as a nurse at the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she developed their Lactation Education program. In 2010, she launched My Nursing Coach, the nation's first mobile breastfeeding center, and she is viewed as one of the most sought-after lactation consultants in Southern California. She has kindly offered to share her top remedies for common issues, her favorite resources for breastfeeding success, and more!
(1) What are your top 6 tips for breastfeeding success?
One: Proper positioning is the key to breastfeeding success! There are a number of different positions that put the baby in the perfect place for a good latch. Every mommy should try experimenting with several of them. Strive to achieve comfort and enjoyment while nursing and you’ll be more likely to continue for longer.
Two: Mommy’s diet and liquids are important! Mommies need to drink plenty of liquids to replace the liquid removed by producing milk. Mommy’s diet needs to be complete, including protein, fats, vegetables, fiber and starch. Some herbal supplements are available to help support milk supply.
Three: Create a special place for nursing with a rocker/glider and a stool. It should be a quiet place that is away from the hustle and bustle of the busy house. Soothing music or sounds is a nice addition as is aromatherapy such as a lavender candle or sachet.
Four: Contrary to many of the written guides, allowing baby’s hands to be free is a way to enhance the breastfeeding experience. Recent observational studies show that baby instinctively knows what to do with his or her hands. Often baby will “knead” the breast which serves to help the milk flow and stimulate production.
Five: Avoid becoming over-tired. Keep some pumped milk in the refrigerator and have one of your support people feed baby if you feel exhausted so you can get some well-deserved sleep.
Six: Never be hesitant, reluctant, embarrassed or afraid to ask for help from a certified lactation consultant at any time during your breastfeeding journey. These are highly educated professionals who understand your pain/frustration and will not pass judgment but work to help you achieve your goals in breastfeeding.
(2) What are your favorite products or natural remedies to help with breastfeeding problems such as the following?
(a) Sore nipples: We often suggest moms use Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter or Motherlove Nipple cream between feedings and after pumping to soothe sore nipples. To treat and prevent infections from cracked and bleeding nipples, Bacitracin or Polysporin can be applied between feeding and pumping (just be sure to wipe it off before feeding baby). Also, allowing the nipples to be exposed to the air so that they can dry is a good idea, since keeping nipples warm and moist can lead to a nasty yeast infection. If you have been given a nipple shield, ask your lactation consultant to guide you to breastfeed without it. Nipple shields can decrease the amount of sensation and feeling received by the nipples when the baby is nursing and this may cause a decrease in the production of milk, or worse, allow damage to occur undetected. Soothing gel pads or soft cotton pads that can be tucked into a nursing bra between feeding and pumping can also provide temporary relief.
(b) Plugged ducts: Hand expression is one of the most effective ways to respond to plugged ducts. It can be painful to manipulate the breast this way; however, a clogged duct must be cleared as soon as possible to avoid a more serious breast infection. An infection, known as mastitis, is indicated by symptoms including: reddened, hard, hot and tender to the touch breasts with flu-like fever and chills and body aches. Should this occur, the physician must be notified ASAP to prescribe antibiotics.
(c) Milk supply issues: There are many varieties of natural herbal supplements that can be used to promote milk production. Also, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids, since a mommy needs to replace the fluid that leaves her body every time she nurses and/or pumps. Plus there are a number of foods that help maintain a robust milk supply and even increase milk production.
(d) Sore neck/shoulders: This is where a partner can provide some relief with a light massage. Applications of either warmth or ice can provide temporary relief, too. If pain persists, a physician or chiropractor should be consulted to rule out a more serious problem such as nerve issues and/or muscle strain. It’s okay to take OTC pain meds such as acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen.
(e) Any other problems you often encounter?
Giving up too soon or too easily is a common outcome that is due to a weak or non-existent support system surrounding mom. Too often opinions and criticism from well-meaning relatives, family, and friends lead to feeling of failure and then quitting. Also, many a mom has been sabotaged by a night nanny who provides a bottle of formula to the baby so mom can get a full night’s sleep. Moms must be willing to inform the nanny that they want to breastfeed even in the difficult times such as midnight and pre-dawn feedings.
(3) What is your favorite nursing gear?
My Nursing Coach sells only My Brest Friend nursing pillow. That in itself is an endorsement and the highest compliment we can pay this product. The same applies to MotherLove Herbals that are used to promote the production of milk. We sell and rent the Medela line of breastpumps because of their proven track record of efficacy, safety, dependability, and value. Recently a number of new companies have entered the market with all kinds of pumps. While they may look pretty, they are still unproven and have yet to demonstrate the safety, efficacy, and reliability of the Medela pumps.
(4) What do you consider the best online or offline resources for breastfeeding?
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
Mother Nature’s Baby
The Nursing Mothers Herbal
Natural Baby and Childcare
A word of warning about websites: there are many, many sites available that provide content created for the new mom, and moms must remember that not all internet content has been carefully vetted for accuracy and validity. Too many are platforms used to voice opinions or beliefs that have not been formed as the result of clinical studies or evidence-based research!