What To Do When The Witching Hour Hits

The witching hour is a phrase used for an inconsolable baby typically between the hours of 6pm and 10pm, despite every effort to calm them.  It was originally a phrase used in the middle of the night when paranormal activity was most expected. For any mom that has experienced their baby during “witching hour”, this original idea isn’t far-fetched!  This can be a very trying time of day for mom, baby, and family when everyone is returning home from their busy days and everyone could use some relaxation time.

Tips for Dealing with ‘Witching Hour’

    1. Decrease baby’s stimulation.   By the end of the day, baby might just need a rain check from all the excitement. Put them in a nearby dim or quiet room and try to play soothing music or white noise.
    2. Feed on demand or cluster feed. Milk supply is lowest in the evenings.  The best way to make sure your breasts are keeping up with baby’s demand is to try to feed them whenever they are giving you hunger cues.   This will help boost your supply for the evening times in the future, keeping them well fed and happy.
    3. Put them to bed earlier.  Your baby may simply need to go to bed as early as 6 pm to prevent getting overtired.  Keeping them awake to get them to sleep through the night can backfire since it leaves them fussy and unable to calm themselves down for the night.
  • Let them nap more during the day.  Again, trying to keep babies awake to sleep better later does not typically work.  Putting them down for more frequent naps during the day may help combat end of the day overstimulation.  Since witching hour most commonly starts at 6 weeks, remember that most babies this age still need up to 16 hours of sleep per day!  
  1. Ask for help.  If you are feeling stressed, either directly from a fussy baby or from outside stressors (work, family life, etc.), make sure you’re asking for help.  Chances are if you’re feeling stressed your baby is picking up on that and making (or maybe even causing) the situation worse. This might mean getting help around the house so you can focus on baby more at the end of day or getting some personal time away from baby.  Do what will help you manage your own stress and recharge!
  2. Try soothing techniques. Find what works for your baby such as a warm bath, magic hold, a warm bath,  skin to skin snuggles, pacifier, singing, walking, rocking, vibrations and white noise.
  3. Talk to a specialist about your milk supply.  On average, breastfed babies need about 25 ounces of milk per day.  This can be hard to judge if you’re exclusively breastfeeding but totally feasible if you are pumping by tracking their intake.  If you’re concerned your baby is truly frustrated due to low milk supply, try boosting it. Start with these basic tips here.

If you are concerned there is something more going on talk to your pediatrician to rule out other potential issues like reflux or allergies. It can be hard to imagine while in the thick of it, but remember this is just a phase.  Try not to wish away those first few months because of witching hour and enjoy all the little moments. Before you know it, baby will be grown and you’ll be an empty nester. For more baby and mom support check out Spectra Baby USA’s blog here.  

Top 10 Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions

By: Melissa Portunato, IBCLC

You had envisioned yourself latching your beautiful new baby to your breast and it would instantly be magical. Pure bliss! Or so you thought. But, breastfeeding didn’t come as naturally as you thought it would and it feels far from magical. Instead, you feel frustrated, disappointed, and like giving up.r. The truth is, for most of us, breastfeeding is not what we thought it would be like at all. Just like with anything worthwhile in life, breastfeeding takes hard work and commitment. But once you can get past those pesky common challenges of the first few weeks, you can really start to enjoy your breastfeeding journey and begin to truly bond with your baby.

We came up with the 10 most common breastfeeding problems and answers to get you through those tough times.

#1 Painful latch

Every time you know feeding time is coming around, your toes curl and you start to get major anxiety because it hurts to breastfeed! Most likely, it’s because your nipple is rubbing on the roof of your baby’s mouth causing discomfort. So how can you work on perfecting the latch to get rid of this dreadful feeling? Start the feeding with your nipple on baby’s nose, wait for baby to open wide, and then bring baby quickly (chin first) towards you. This can help aim your nipple deeper into baby’s mouth. When done correctly, you should instantly feel a difference. Phew!

#2 Sleepy baby at breast

You changed baby’s diaper, tickled their toes, got them all undressed and still can’t seem to wake baby from dreamland. A newborn baby should be nursing a minimum of 8 to 12 times per day. If baby is still not at their birth weight, they most definitely need to be woken up to feed throughout the night. For the first 6 weeks, try not to swaddle baby or offer a pacifier. This can interfere with nursing cues and cause baby to feel full and cozy and not want to nurse. Hand express for a few minutes before offering the breast. Sometimes, just a few drops of breastmilk on a sleepy baby’s lips will get them to want to nurse. Use breast compressions while you nurse too! This can help keep baby awake with a steady flow of milk.

You can also try turning down the lights and keeping baby skin to skin. So, even down to a diaper with a light blanket on top of baby can help. This helps stimulate your milk makes hormones and the smell of your skin/breast can often help with feedings.

If your chubster is already back up at their birth weight, talk to your pediatrician. It’s most likely OK to hit the snooze button on that alarm. Finally rest!

#3 This kid won’t stop nursing!

You feel your baby is practically attached to you morning, noon, and night. You can’t catch a break and you’re tapped out! Cluster feeding is when baby bunches nursing sessions close together about every 45-60 minutes. This feeding pattern is normal for young babies and coincides with growth development, but cluster feeding is exhausting! But we promise, there is hope! These marathon feedings will increase your milk supply and are typically followed by long sleeping stretches for baby. Sit back, relax, and scroll through your favorite newsfeed, sleep is on the horizon.

#4 Baby refusing the breast

If your baby was nursing and suddenly is refusing the breast, you could be experiencing a nursing strike. Nursing strikes will typically last from just a few short days to over a week. They can be caused by a variety of different factors like an illness, teething, major changes in routine, or long periods of separation from your baby.

Take it back to the basics! Dim the lights and do skin to skin with baby on your bare chest with only a diaper. Offer the breast frequently but, don’t ever force baby! It should be a gentle “wooing” back. You can even have baby gently wake up next to your bare breast. Often, babies will be more willing to nurse when just waking up versus really hungry.

Limit bottles as much as possible and offer the breast first.  but, don’t wait until baby is too hungry. Try to have someone else give the bottle besides mommy.

#5 Sore nipples

Your nipple is elastic and as it begins to stretch you can experience soreness. Soreness in the first few weeks is normal but should subside after about two weeks. Continued soreness, pain, cracking, and bleeding is not normal. It’s best to work closely with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to ensure baby is latched on properly. The best way to treat sore nipples is with your very own breast milk! Yep, pretty incredible, huh? Studies show the antibacterial properties in breastmilk makes it the perfect substance to heal nipples and keep them healthy. Hand express breast milk on your nipples after every feeding and allow to air dry. Your nipples will be feeling better in no time!

Make sure you are changing your breast pads frequently, this will help prevent any infection and allow your nipples to heal faster.

#6 Engorgement

It’s been a few days and your milk has officially made its grand entrance. HELLO! Engorgement can make it difficult for baby to latch. To help, you can apply a warm cloth and softly massage your breasts a few minutes prior to nursing. It’s very important during this time to nurse frequently! Offer the breast often and ensure you do some helpful breast massage while nursing. If after nursing or pumping you still feel engorged, fill up a large basin with warm water and lean over it to let gravity naturally drain any excess milk from your breasts. Do this while softly massaging and hand expressing. After you’re done, you can ice or use a cold compress for 10 min to help bring down any swelling.

If you have redness on your breasts, they feel hot to the touch, you have a fever, or chills call your health practitioner, it could be a sign of an infection.

#7 Clogged ducts

Outch! Clogged ducts can be extremely painful but completely treatable. How did you even get them in the first place? A clogged duct can be caused by a variety of different reasons from prolonged time without milk removal, shallow latch, restrictive clothing or even stress. The fastest way to treat clogged ducts is by frequently nursing or pumping. Try nursing in the “dangling feed” position. Practice massaging your breasts while nursing or pumping, no matter what position you use each time. You want to start massaging above where you feel the clog and gently towards the nipple. You can use a warm compress before you nurse or pump to help with milk removal.

Alternate heat and cold on the area affected. If you find you have a milk blister, avoid trying to squeeze because it can make things worse. The milk blister or bleb will naturally draw out as the clog subsides.

The most important thing to remember with clogged ducts is that they are progressively getting better, not worse. Most clogged ducts subside within 48 hours. If pain continues, or other symptoms appear, give your doctor a call.

#8 Tongue Ties

You’ve spent countless hours looking under your baby’s tongue and upper lip comparing it to pictures you found on the internet to assess the issues. A tongue tie is when the connective tissue under your baby’s tongue is too tight, too thick, or both. A tongue tie is commonly accompanied by a lip tie – the upper lip tissue that connects to the gum can be tight or too thick too. Both tongue and lip ties can restrict mobility in oral function causing issues with breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, ties often go undiagnosed. If you hear loud clicking when baby is nursing, baby is not gaining weight, has reflux or you continue to experience nipple soreness it’s important to have baby evaluated by a specialist such as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or a Pediatric Dentist.

In the meantime, pump if it is too painful to put baby to the breast. And be sure to be treating your nipples! See tip #5

#9 Thrush

Stabbing nipple pain, itchiness, and shiny or flaky skin on the nipple or areola can all be signs of thrush. Thrush is a common fungal infection caused by the overgrowth of yeast or “candida.” Candida can be found in its natural environment pretty much all over the human body but when it starts to multiply it can cause an infection. Thrush can be a side effect of antibiotics too!  Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and suspect you have thrush. Both you and baby will need to be treated. Ask about starting probiotics for you and baby! This can help replenish the healthy bacteria in the gut for a quicker recovery and most importantly prevent thrush from recurring.

#10 Mastitis

Last but not least, you think you might have the most dreaded condition in the whole breastfeeding universe; Mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue. Symptoms of mastitis include redness of the breast, hard and hot on the affected area, and feeling like you’re catching a nasty flu bug. If symptoms persist or get worse after a few days, it’s likely your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection.

There are many causes of mastitis including lack of breastmilk removal, worsening clogged ducts, change in breastfeeding patterns, and even a tight bra! It’s important to continue to breastfeed during this time and keep your milk flowing. Make sure you REST and get plenty of fluids as this often can occur due to a suppressed immune system. You need to take care of yourself so you are able to take care of your little one!

Tips for relief are the same as when treating a clogged duct. See tip #7.

If you are experiencing any one of these common breastfeeding issues and still can’t seem to find relief, trust your mommy instincts and seek professional help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Never quit on your worst day! Always remember why you wanted to breastfeed in the first place. You’re not alone in your struggles and you’re doing the very best you can. Surrounding yourself with breastfeeding support will make a world of a difference. Join our online community on Facebook and connect yourself with other moms who will meet you exactly where you are on your breastfeeding journey.


10 Breastfeeding Friendly Foods

By Melissa Portunato, MPH IBCLC

Alright, let’s be real. As a new mom, the only thing that gets you excited for dinner is pizza with a side of ice cream. And besides, with all the nursing and pumping you have been doing, who has time for self care anyway?? Though it’s totally fine to indulge every once in a while, maintaining a balanced diet will give you energy, keep you satisfied longer, and can help your breast milk flow easier. Try working the following 10 items into your diet rather than going for a full blow diet change off the bat.

Making milk for a tiny human is no joke so we created this list for you to take it along the next time you make a grocery run! Let’s go!

High quality protein

Scrambled, sunny side up, or a’la flambe! Pasture-raised eggs are a high quality source of protein and aren’t very expensive which makes them an easy go-to meal. Eggs have a long list of health benefits but the top of the list includes improving eye health, aiding in weight loss, and preventing disease.

A lack of iron can suck the energy out of you, consuming iron packed grass-fed beef can help increase your iron and Vitamin B-12 levels. Both are helpful in sustaining your energy and will aid in keeping up with your busy schedule.

Wild caught salmon

Salmon is a powerhouse loaded with DHA which is exactly what newborns need for healthy, neurological growth. All breast milk contains DHA, but pretty cool evidence tells us, moms, who intake DHA regularly have higher levels! Ah-ma-zing!

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, Legumes are loaded with iron and protein too! Especially the dark ones!

Leafy greens

Leafy greens are nutrient dense, low in calories and carbs, and packed with vitamins and minerals like Calcium, Vitamin K, Folic Acid, and Iron. Spinach is a heavy hitter when it comes to leafy greens! It can be cooked with pretty much any meal, raw in salads, and blended in smoothies. It can be pureed and added to sauces too!

Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit can be added to yogurt, oatmeal and is a simple, nutritious snack!

Blueberries are one of the most nutritious fruits in the world providing Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Antioxidants. Eating 2 servings a day of fresh fruit like berries can help amp up weight loss, decrease inflammation, and promote digestion which is beneficial to breastfeeding moms recovering from childbirth.

Nuts and seeds

Flaxseed is one of the world’s first superfoods. Its benefits include improving skin and hair, balancing hormones, and even helps to bust sugar cravings. Adding flaxseed to your diet is a quick and easy way to consume fiber and essential fatty acids. Flaxseed will ensure your body performs at optimal health to make your breastmilk and give you more energy to care for your newborn baby. Make sure you are grounding your flaxseed for best results. Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled on toast, yogurts, blended in smoothies, and even sprinkled on salads.

Packed with protein, calcium, magnesium, and iron, raw almond butter makes for a simple snack for busy breastfeeding moms. Spread almond butter on bananas, apples, or eat it straight from the jar! I mean why not, right? Read labels, sugar can be sneaky! Raw almond butter is best.

Healthy fats

Avocadoes make a great food for breastfeeding moms because of the variety of minerals, especially the high levels of Vitamin K. This vitamin can help with blood clotting and help postpartum moms recover faster from labor and delivery. The healthy fat found in avocados helps to keep you fuller longer. Load up avocados in salads, add to smoothies, or pour olive oil over it and eat it straight from the skin!

Complex carbs

Complex carbohydrates include many plant-based foods that are nutrient dense and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals needed for overall health and to support breastfeeding. Complex carbs like sweet potatoes are excellent in providing energy for busy moms on the go and they can help fulfill those carb cravings! Complex carbs from starchy veggies can help satisfy a sweet tooth without adding sugar or inflammatory grains.

Rather than spending your precious time preparing complicated meals, make it easy by preparing smoothies, soups and crockpot meals! Planning ahead will definitely make it easier to eat healthy. Overall, you will be burning 300-500 extra calories by breastfeeding. You want these extra calories to be full of nutrition to boost your energy. Though there is no particular breastfeeding diet, it’s important to eat balanced to maintain a healthy body for yourself and to care for your baby. Avoid empty calories and choose real fresh foods instead. Keep taking your prenatals or choose a non – gmo multivitamin.

And don’t forget to hydrate! An easy tip to remember – drink ½ your weight in ounces every day to stay hydrated! Carrying around a refillable water will help get those ounces in. Add some fresh lemon, berries, or cucumber for a hint of flavor.

Has breastfeeding made you feel hungry? Any cravings? Share with us! We would love to hear more!









Breastfeeding changing color? What does that mean?

by Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC

You finally got the hang of breastfeeding. You perfected baby’s latch, you’ve mastered the football hold while texting, and baby has a ton of poop diapers so you know your milk supply is right on track. But since you’ve started pumping, you’ve noticed variations in the color of your breastmilk. Your breastmilk went from yellow in color after delivery then to white when you came home and your milk came in. Now you started to pump and noticed the color of your milk seems off. Is this normal or have you started to produce milk for a tiny Martian? Before you totally freak out, we’re here to tell you color changes in breastmilk is a normal occurrence. Don’t pump and dump just yet mamas. Get the true story, bust the myths and breastfeed on.

Here are a few important facts to know about breast milk color variations and to assure you that your milk is perfectly safe for your baby.

Understanding the stages of breastmilk

During the first few weeks after delivery, your breastmilk will change rapidly in amount and in color. In the first few days, your body will produce colostrum, also called “golden milk” because of its deep yellow or even orange color. Colostrum is highly concentrated and nutritious. You will only make a few teaspoons of colostrum at first because that’s all that baby really needs to fill up their tiny belly. After about a week your milk will start transitioning and start to come in. During this time, moms will sometimes experience engorgement as their bodies begin to produce mature milk. Transitional milk will get less yellow and more white in color. You will notice your milk is not as thick as before and you have much more now. You might even be able to hear baby chugging while nursing. Gulp! The last stage of breast milk is when your milk supply has been established and is now in sync with baby’s demand. You are now producing “mature milk.” At this stage, you may notice when you first turn on the pump or maybe even drip a little before nursing, that your milk is clear and thinner which is called foremilk. And behind the foremilk, your breast milk is creamier which is your hindmilk (higher in fat). Both foremilk and hindmilk are essential to baby’s development. Research tells us that if baby is breastfeeding well and nursing sessions are not getting cut short, there is no reason for concern. Overall baby will receive a balance of both foremilk and hindmilk throughout the day and get exactly what is needed for an appropriate growth trajectory.

Colors and variations of breastmilk

Most color changes are caused by diet but things like herbs, nutritional supplements or medicine can also alter the color of your breastmilk. Taking a close look at what you’ve been eating can often pinpoint where the color change is coming from. A green or bluish tint can come from eating foods that contain dyes or overloading on dark leafy greens. Baby is literally tasting the rainbow when drinking breast milk. Research says breastfed babies are less picky eaters as toddlers because they try different foods through mommy’s milk. Keep with the healthy eating. You are opening baby’s palate to healthy nutritious foods and they will be more likely to eat them as they get older.

Brown or pink colored milk or even blood tinges in breastmilk can be coming from a variety of different reasons like cracked nipples, damaged capillaries in the breast, or even hormonal changes. The evidence shows, if you and baby are healthy, occasional breast milk streaked with red or pinkish in color, is perfectly safe to be given to baby. It is important to note small amounts of blood ingested by baby are likely not to be of concern, but larger amounts can cause baby to have an upset stomach and have blood appear in their stool. If you have an infection such as Hep B or C, or baby is immune compromised breastfeeding may need to be interrupted. Reach out to your doctor to discuss the best plan of action.

Rusty pipe syndrome is a temporary condition that can happen during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. This condition typically only lasts a few days and is caused by colostrum mixing with transitional milk. Don’t panic if you notice your milk looks like dirty or “rusty” water. It shouldn’t bother baby or affect breastfeeding whatsoever. If it doesn’t clear up in the first few days of breastfeeding or if it starts to happen later along your breastfeeding journey something else may be going on and it’s important to talk to your doctor.

Stored breastmilk and changes in color

Pumping and storing milk can alter the color of breastmilk. When storing breastmilk in the fridge you will notice it will separate into those 2 layers of foremilk and hindmilk. Fat rises to the top, so that’s why you will see the separation. The foremilk on the bottom might even appear bluish or grayish and this is normal! No need for concern and safe to be given to baby. Give the bottle a gentle swirl and it will combine again. Breastmilk will also change color in the freezer and can appear more yellow. This is also completely normal and your milk has not gone bad. Check out the CDC guidelines for proper milk storage to maintain the safety and quality of expressed breastmilk.

When to scream and call the doctor

Pain is not subsiding and you are seeing some pretty large amounts of blood in your breastmilk when you pump or in baby’s mouth after nursing. Call the doctor! Along with blood, you have hard lumps, fever, body chills and aches that are progressing. Call the doctor! Mastitis or “inflammation of the milk ducts” can be either infectious or non-infectious. Most of the time it’s non-infectious and can be treated with simply rest, frequent nursing or pumping, and lots of fluids. But when it’s infectious, you may see large amounts of pus, blood, or other wacky substances leaky from your nipples. Call the doctor!

Although changes in the color of your breastmilk is usually not serious, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare practitioner if you are concerned. Keep in mind there can be contraindications with some medicines, herbs, or supplements while lactating and they can also alter the color of your breastmilk. Download the free LactMed app! Review the evidence behind medications and breastfeeding with your doctor and make the best decision for you and your baby. It’s unlikely breastfeeding will need to be interrupted and in that rare occasion that it might be, it will almost always only be for a minimal amount of time. Trust your body. Trust your breastmilk. And nurse on mams!  

Working and Pumping: The Struggle is Real

What To Know When Returning To Work

Well, it’s sadly that time, when you are headed back to work after maternity leave.  Hopefully, your employer offers that necessary benefit. The baby honeymoon is over and now you have some big decisions to make regarding child care and feeding.  If you’ve been breastfeeding up to this point, there is a good chance you’ll want to continue providing baby with your milk. After all, it is recommended to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months if possible to get the continued benefits such as less frequent illness.  Before your actual return, try to be as prepared as possible. Make sure you know your workplace rights, have all the gear you need and have at least a general plan for how you will feasibly pump enough to keep up your supply for baby. Here are the basics to get you started:

Protection under federal and state laws

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law with provisions related to nursing mothers and pumping at work. The guidelines include employees that are not exempt under section 7 of the law.  This includes most hourly paid employees. The law specifically calls for providing a nursing mother unpaid (unless all employees are paid for their breaks) reasonable breaks with a private room for nursing that isn’t a bathroom.  If your employer is smaller than 50 employees, they may be exempt from this law if it causes them “undue hardship.”  For full details check out these great resources here and here.  If you aren’t covered under the ACA, make sure to check your state laws.  Twenty-eight of fifty states have some kind of provision related to breastfeeding.

Planning and educating yourself

First, figure out what laws you are specifically covered by depending on your employment from the resources above.  If you aren’t sure, talk to your boss, human resources, or a workplace lawyer so you can start making a game plan.

Next, equipping yourself with all the essentials for successful workplace pumping is key.  To maintain a good milk supply it is important to have access to the best possible pump. For time management and optimal pumping, look into getting a double, electric breast pump that is hospital strength.  Under the ACA, it is also required that your health insurance provide you with a pump (either a rental or single user depending on the model). There are several pump options available and companies that will do all the footwork for you to get you the pump you need with little hassle.  Spectra Baby USA is one of these companies with the added bonus of great customer service and lactations consultants on hand as needed.  Check out their page for a comparison chart of different pumps to find the best option for you and you can also check their insurance lookup tool that locates a DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company that will work with your insurance policy to get you a breast pump covered by your plan.

Lastly, consider any accessories to purchase to make your life easier as a pumping mom.  This includes items like a pumping bra, sterilizing tools, nipple cream, adequate collection bottles, freezer bags, and insulated tote to be able to get your milk safely to and from work.  Having the right gear will keep you organized and efficient!

When and how to pump: finding a schedule.

In general, you want to pump in a way that would mimic your baby’s current feeding schedule.  This generally means that a mom will have to pump every 3-4 hours. For a full-time employee that should be 2-3 times depending on lunch breaks and commute time.  How you want to schedule these into your day is completely dependent on what works in your day. Regardless, make sure that you try to actually schedule these times into your calendar to remind yourself and your co-workers.  It’s easy to forget or skip a pumping session if you don’t make it a priority and this can negatively impact your supply. If you are short on time one day, don’t stress and just try to get in as many short sessions as you can to keep the supply signal going to your breasts.

The last big consideration is your milk supply as your switch from breastfeeding to the use of a pump.  Your baby is much better at extracting milk from your breast than a machine, so if you have trouble initially with the amount you are pumping don’t be discouraged.  Keep these basic tips in mind: keep hydrated, eat healthily and frequently, stimulate an adequate let down with massage, heat or thinking of your baby (even look at a picture!), stay relaxed and comfortable and make sure you have the right size breast shield.

With the right preparation, you will manage the transition into a work-family balance well.  You rock mama! Keep up the good work providing liquid gold for your child while crushing those career goals.  

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