Archive for the ‘Crying’ Category

Guest Post–When Nursing Makes you Sick

October 8, 2011

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When a woman thinks of birth and breastfeeding she expects it to be the happiest time of her life. Occasionally, to a mother’s dismay, she finds that breastfeeding brings on new challenges, feelings and experiences. She may experience feelings of pain with breastfeeding, or an unexplainable twist in her gut when her milk lets down. Unable to justify or validate what she is feeling leaves her at a loss and feeling confused. These feelings may be the result of a condition known as D-MER. D-MER stands for Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex and it is treatable.

D-MER is caused by a drop in dopamine activity when oxytocin rises which creates a feeling of dysphoria in the mother ( It is a physiological disorder, not a mental disorder. To understand D-MER better I have interviewed Renee Beebe, IBCLC. Renee Beebe is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who works with mothers who may be exhibiting symptoms of D-MER.

A mother asked Renee the following questions:

Q. “Dear Renee, when I nurse my baby I feel nauseated and a dull ache. What is causing this pain and what can I do about it?”

A. Renee’s answer is “
First of all let me assure you that you are not causing this situation.  It can be very disturbing to a mother to feel sick, sad or otherwise uncomfortable when breastfeeding or pumping.  After all, breastfeeding is supposed to be pleasant, right?  Various hormones increase and drop dramatically during the process of breastfeeding–particularly during the milk ejection reflex (commonly known as the let down).  Most mothers feel wonderful when the milk ejection reflex or MER occurs.  A few mothers, however, feel awful.  The good news is, the nausea or sad feelings usually dissipate after the MER is finished and it usually dissipates over time during the course of breastfeeding.  Some mothers may need to be on medication temporarily until the condition improves.  Others may find relief with breathing exercises or other coping methods”.  Please see for more information and support. You are not alone!

Q: How can I reach Renee Beebe, M. Ed., IBCLC for help if I think I may have D-MER?

A. “Mothers may call or email if they’d like support.  Most mothers call because it ensures I can answer them sooner.  I would encourage women to call before they have the baby to make a connection.  After the baby is born, if things aren’t going absolutely smoothly, call as soon as possible.  I can usually see mothers within 24 hours.  Often the same day.  I take calls 7 days/week till 9 pm.” Renee can be reached at 206-356-7252 or you can go to her website  This entire blog is now located at my new website!

Q. What is an IBCLC?

A. The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) is the certifying body for lactation consultants.  It is the only certification available.  The exam is given once a year all over the world on the same day.  A lactation consultant should have the letters IBCLC after her name.  That is the only way you can ensure that she has achieved this minimum competency required by IBLCE.  The terms “breastfeeding specialist,” “lactation educator,” or “lactation specialist” really don’t mean much.  Usually those people have taken some valuable coursework, but don’t have the clinical hours required to actually sit for and pass the certifying exam.

Q. How did you become a lactation consultant?

A. After the birth of my first baby, I became involved with La Leche League for support.  where I was living at the time, breastfeeding was not the norm and La Leche League provided me with mommy wisdom and role models.  Soon I was helping other mothers and became a La Leche League Leader myself.   It was clear I had found my calling!  6 years later I had accumulated enough “helping” hours (2500!) to become certified as a lactation consultant.  I first took and passed the certifying exam in 1997.  I’ve been working as a lactation consultant ever since.

If you are experiencing negative feelings, pain, or nausea when you nurse your baby please know that you are not alone. Conditions such as D-MER are not caused by the mother. They are physiological in nature and beyond your control. Treatment is available for mothers with D-MER. Please visit for more information.

Written by Trina Baggett, Certified Birth Doula and Childbirth Educator.


Crying Babies

March 15, 2011

You may wonder why a lactation consultant–someone who considers herself somewhat of an expert in the art and science of breastfeeding–is writing an article about crying babies.  I have been moved to address this topic because every day parents ask me about hunger cues, sleep and crying.  Specifically, new parents want to know, what does that cry mean?

Crying is your baby’s way of letting you know that something is not right.  She may be hungry or thirsty, lonely, cold, afraid, uncomfortable or maybe she doesn’t even know.  She just knows she needs something–now!  Parents are sometimes told to ignore their baby’s cries–particularly as a way to “train” the baby to sleep longer or go longer between feedings.

There are probably dozens of books written about babies and sleep–many of them promising that your baby will “sleep through the night” if you follow the rules outlined by the authors.  Thankfully, there is a different point of view!  The following quotes are from pediatricians who have written about babies and sleep. The name of the book follows each quote:

“A crying baby’s needs are so simple, and they are so simply supplied.  A baby cries to communicate to you his need for the touch, warmth, comfort, security and love that only you can provide.  Why would anyone deny such a simple, human request?…When a baby fails to call out for his parents when he is in distress at night, it cannot be because he has ‘learned’ a useful behavior.  It is more likely that he has just given up on his parents.”  Dr. Paul Fleiss, Sweet Dreams.

“Putting your baby through cry-it-out sleep training isn’t the worst thing you can do to him, but it’s far from the best.  We know of no studies on short-term effects or even …long-term effects of crying it out in humans.  But studies of parent-infant separation involving ‘crying’ in nonhumuan primates show that the hormonal stress response of babies in these situations can be ‘equivalent to or greater than that induced by physical trauma.'”  Dr. Jay Gordon, Good Nights.

“Letting the baby cry undermines a mother’s confidence and intuition…not responding to a baby’s cries goes against most mothers’ intuitive responses. If a mother consistently goes against what she feels, she begins to desensitize herself to the signal value of her baby’s cries. …  A mother who restrains herself from responding to her baby gradually and unknowingly becomes insensitive….Once you allow outside advice to overtake your own intuitive mothering you and your child are at risk of drifting apart.”  Dr. William Sears,  Nighttime Parenting.

Finally, my favorite quote from Dr. Lee Salk, author and child psychologist wrote,  “There’s no harm in a child crying: the harm is done only if his cries aren’t answered … If you ignore a baby’s signal for help, you don’t teach him independence… What you teach him is that no other human being will take care of his needs.”  (Lee Salk)

My Baby Has Reflux!

June 28, 2010

“My pediatrician says my baby has reflux! She says there are medications to help. I really don’t want my baby to take medicine. He’s so little. But I also don’t want him to suffer and spit up so much. What should I do? Can you help me?”

Although the diagnosis of reflux seems ominous, keep in mind that all babies have reflux to some degree. The sphincter muscle that separates the stomach and the esophagus is loose and lets fluids go back and forth. That’s why it’s common for babies to spit up after a meal. If your baby seems uncomfortable, however, he may need some help.

I see many babies diagnosed with reflux in my practice. I have found that some simple changes in feeding posture or management can decrease symptoms substantially. Most of my clients do not need to medicate their babies.

If your baby is squirmy, uncomfortable and excessively “spitty” during or after feeds, he may simply be eating too much or too quickly. Do you have an over-abundant milk supply? Does your baby struggle to “keep up” when breastfeeding? Is he gaining weight rapidly?

  • Give your baby frequent burping breaks.
  • Offer baby just one breast per feeding.
  • Position your baby at an incline so that his trunk is higher than his hips and his spine is straight. Try the Pollywog Nursing Positioner at
  • Try breastfeeding lying down on your side with baby beside you.

If your baby has green, frothy stools in addition to discomfort, he may be struggling with a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. This is usually corrected easily by offering just one breast per feeding. Be sure to check with your pediatrician or lactation consultant to ensure your baby is is gaining weight properly before making any changes to your feeding routine.

For assistance with breastfeeding management, contact Renee Beebe at

See also, Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?

For more information on infant reflux, including helpful products, please see

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