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  • Thursday, July 26, 2012 9:21 PM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)
    What did you not know?

  • Saturday, September 11, 2010 7:31 PM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)
    Making sure your care provider is on the same page as you is vital to your birth experience.  This is one mother's story of how she missed the signs that she wouldn't get the birth she had envisioned.  
  • Saturday, August 07, 2010 10:15 AM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)

    By Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC.

    There is a movement afoot in childbirth education and perinatal health urging mothers to avoid nighttime breastfeeding to decrease their risk for postpartum depression. We know that if mothers follow this advice, it will have a negative impact on breastfeeding. But let’s put that issue aside for the moment and consider whether avoiding nighttime breastfeeding will preserve women’s mental health by allowing them to get more sleep. In short, is this good advice?

    At first glance, it may seem to be. Since breast milk is lower in fat and protein than formula, we might assume that breastfeeding mothers sleep less than their formula-feeding counterparts. And when a mother’s mental health is at stake, avoiding nighttime breastfeeding might be worth the risk. However, recent research has revealed the opposite: that breastfeeding mothers actually get more sleep—particularly when the baby was in proximity to the mother. And that has major implications for their mental health. So if you want one more good reason for mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies, here it is.

    Breastfeeding Mothers Get More Sleep

    In a study of 33 mothers at 4 weeks postpartum, Quillin and Glenn (2004) found that mothers who were breastfeeding slept more than mothers who were bottle-feeding. Data were collected via questionnaire that recorded 5 days of mother and newborn sleep. When comparing whether bedsharing made a difference in total sleep, they found that bedsharing, breastfeeding mothers got the most sleep and breastfeeding mothers who were not bedsharing got the least amount of sleep. Mothers who were bottle-feeding got the same amount of sleep whether their babies were with them or in another room.

    Sleep patterns of 72 couples were compared from pregnancy to the first month postpartum via sleep diaries and wrist actigraphy (Gay et al., 2004). Most of the mothers were at least partially breastfeeding (94%) and 80% were exclusively breastfeeding. Most of the babies slept in their parents’ room and 51% regularly slept in their parents’ beds. Sleep and fatigue outcomes were not associated with type of birth, parent-infant bedsharing, or baby’s age. Mothers who were exclusively breastfeeding had a greater number of nighttime wakings (30 vs. 24) compared with mothers who are not breastfeeding exclusively. The exclusively breastfeeding mothers slept approximately 20 minutes longer than mothers not exclusively breastfeeding.

    In a study of mothers and fathers at three months postpartum, data were collected via wrist actigraphy and using sleep diaries (Doan et al., 2007). The study compared sleep of exclusively breastfed infants vs. those supplemented with formula. In this sample, 67% were fed exclusively with breast milk, 23% were fed a combination of breast milk and formula, and 10% were exclusively formula fed. Mothers who exclusively breastfed slept an average of 40 minutes longer than mothers who supplemented. Parents of infants who were breastfed during the night slept an average of 40 to 45 minutes more than parents of infants given formula. Parents of formula-fed infants had more sleep disturbances. They concluded that parents who are supplementing with formula under the assumption that they are going to get more sleep should be encouraged to breastfeed so they will get an extra 30-45 minutes of sleep per night.

    Not only do breastfeeding mothers get more sleep, but the sleep they get is of better quality. This study compared 12 exclusively breastfeeding women, 12 age-matched control women, and 7 women who were exclusively bottlefeeding (Blyton et al., 2002). They found that total sleep time and REM sleep time were similar in the three groups of women. The marked difference between the groups was in the amount of slow-wave sleep (SWS). The breastfeeding mothers got an average of 182 minutes of SWS. Women in the control group had an average of 86 minutes. And the exclusively bottle-feeding women had an average of 63 minutes. Among the breastfeeding women, there was a compensatory reduction in light, non-REM sleep. Slow-wave sleep is an important marker of sleep quality, and those with a lower percentage of slow-wave sleep report more daytime fatigue.

    The most recent study was published in the journal Sleep, a major sleep-medicine journal not necessarily known for their support of breastfeeding. This was a study of 2,830 women at 7 weeks postpartum (Dorheim et al., 2009). They found that disrupted sleep was a major risk factor for postpartum depression. But here is where it really gets interesting. When considering what disrupted sleep, they found that the following factors were related to disturbed sleep: depression, previous sleep problems, being a first-time mother, a younger or male infant, and not exclusively breastfeeding. In other words, mothers who were not exclusively breastfeeding had more disrupted sleep and a higher risk of depression.


    The results of these previous studies are remarkably consistent. Breastfeeding mothers are less tired and get more sleep than their formula- or mixed-feeding counterparts. And this lowers their risk for depression. Doan and colleagues noted the following.

    Using supplementation as a coping strategy for minimizing sleep loss can actually be detrimental because of its impact on prolactin hormone production and secretion. Maintenance of breastfeeding as well as deep restorative sleep stages may be greatly compromised for new mothers who cope with infant feedings by supplementing in an effort to get more sleep time. (p. 201)

    In sum, advising women to avoid nighttime breastfeeding to lessen their risk of depression is not medically sound. In fact, if women follow this advice, it may actually increase their risk of depression.


    Blyton, D. M., Sullivan, C. E., & Edwards, N. (2002). Lactation is associated with an increase in slow-wave sleep in women. Journal of Sleep Research, 11(4), 297-303.

    Doan, T., Gardiner, A., Gay, C. L., & Lee, K. A. (2007). Breastfeeding increases sleep duration of new parents. Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, 21(3), 200-206.

    Dorheim, S. K., Bondevik, G. T., Eberhard-Gran, M., & Bjorvatn, B. (2009). Sleep and depression in postpartum women: A population-based study. Sleep, 32(7), 847-855.

    Gay, C. L., Lee, K. A., & Lee, S.-Y. (2004). Sleep patterns and fatigue in new mothers and fathers. Biological Nursing Research, 5(4), 311-318.

    Quillin, S. I. M., & Glenn, L. L. (2004). Interaction between feeding method and co-sleeping on maternal-newborn sleep. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, 33(5), 580-588.

  • Saturday, April 03, 2010 1:24 AM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)
    By Serena Weingrod, Blossom Volunteer & facilitator of their monthly free Babywearing meeting.

    As if you don't already have enough stuff to worry about as a new parent, there has been a recall of several slings and warnings about carrying your newborn in a sling.  When my daughter was a newborn, being able to carry her in a sling was crucial.  There were days when she did not want to be put down, but I really needed to go to the bathroom or do the laundry.  I also really believe that being able to wear my baby helped her feel more secure in those early days out in the big wide world.  

    While there are some slings and positions that do pose a hazard to your baby, there are a many options available for safe, comfortable babywearing.  The recent warnings are in regard to a specific style of sling, called a "bag sling", basically a baby duffel bag.  These slings include the Infantino SlingriderMunchkin Jelly Bean Cargo Sling , Eddie Bauer Infant Sling , Balboa Baby Adjustable Sling and the Boppy Carry in Comfort (examples are shown about half way down this  These slings are dangerous because they cause babies to be positioned in such a way that their airway is compromised and they are unable to breath.  This occurs in several ways - the baby is curled up into a c-position, which causes their chin to be too close to their chest and closes off their airway (which is only the size of a drinking straw), the baby rolls to one side and their nose and mouth are pressed against the fabric of the sling and their caregiver's body or the baby is completely covered by the sling fabric, decreasing the amount of oxygen available to the baby.  In addition to the dangers to your baby, bag slings are also quite uncomfortable for the wearer because the baby is held at hip level, instead of at chest level at/near the wearer's center of gravity.

    So, now that you know what to avoid, which baby carriers are safe?  There are many, many options for newborns - ring slingspouches (both fixed and adjustable),stretchy wrapswoven wraps , mei tais and soft structured carriers , which can all be used with older babies as well.  Since ring slings and pouches are the most similar to bag slings, in that the baby can be in a reclined position and they are worn on one shoulder, I will focus on those.  The preferred position for a baby in a ring sling is upright, although a reclined/cradle position can also be used.  In the upright position, the baby's head should be close enough so that you can kiss the top, their face should not be smooshed into your body and their body and back should be well supported by the ring sling.  Stretchy pouches, such as a Kangaroo Korner  adjustable pouch, can also be used to carry your baby upright, but provide less support for your baby's body.  Instructions for the cradle carry in both a pouch and a ring sling can be found here  (warning - it's a pdf, but the best information I've found).  Here are the important items to remember when wearing your newborn baby:
    • you should always be able to see your baby's face and no fabric should cover their face
    • you should be able to fit 2 fingers between their chin and chest (ie. their neck should be straight and not bent or curled in any way)
    • your baby should be well supported so that their head can not roll into your body or the fabric of the sling
    There are numerous additional resources available to help you figure out if your baby is safe in your sling.  The best way to make sure that your carrier is safe and that you are using it correctly is to get in-person assistance.  Blossom Birth has a 2 hourSlings & Things Workshop  on April 18th and June 27th and also holds a more informal monthly Babywearing meeting on the 2nd Monday of every month (next meeting, Monday, April 12 between 2:30 and 4pm).  In addition to the resources already mentioned, here are a few more:

    Here's to many months and years of safe babywearing!

    Neither BABI, Blossom nor Serena were paid to endorse any baby wearing manufacturer for this blog. We have no affiliation with any particular babywearing company or website mentioned above. 
  • Saturday, April 03, 2010 1:19 AM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)
    What a big topic to tackle, and as I sit here I wonder what aspect I should take on. Reasons? Types? Risks? Statistics of…rates…history of….(it’s a huge topic!)
  • Saturday, April 03, 2010 1:11 AM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)

    How the 40 week pregnancy myth came about and why it's totally wrong.

    One of the most vital pieces of information to know when you are expecting is that ACOG itself (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) does not recommend interfering with a normal pregnancy before 42 completed weeks. This is why knowing your true conception date and EDD is very important; if you come under pressure from a care provider to deliver at a certain point, you can be armed with ACOG's official recommendations as well as your own exact due date. This can help you and your baby avoid much unnecessary trauma throughout the labor and delivery. Remember, babies can't read calendars; they come on their own time and almost always without complication when left alone to be born when they are truly ready. 
  • Friday, April 02, 2010 8:01 PM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)
    Doctors disciplined for giving C-section to a woman who wasn't pregnant
  • Friday, April 02, 2010 7:58 PM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)

    ...figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed what too many parents and educators already knew: The incidence of autism is high, making it an
  • Thursday, April 01, 2010 8:05 PM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)
    Pulling back the curtain on the unnecessary cesarean epidemic
  • Thursday, April 01, 2010 8:04 PM | Rowen Holland (Administrator)
    No studies are available on homebirth after cesarean (HBAC). Is it as safe as inhospital VBAC? What elements make it risky? Amy Haas takes on the difficult task of wading applying the available studies on VBAC to the domain of homebirth to give a general idea on its safety.
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Special thanks to Anna Mayer, Christy Scherrer, and Naomi Fiss for photographs used throughout the site. 
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