Happy Friday! Before the weekend hits, here's part two of the current series--all about breastfeeding. If you're not a breastfeeding mom, don't worry! There's plenty of non-breastfeeding advice coming soon. I've had a bottle fed kid and a breastfed kid, so there's plenty to share. If you're not sure about breastfeeding, I encourage you to at least give it a try. You won't regret trying, but you may regret not trying when it's too late. Remember, it's free!
11) If you're a breastfeeding mom, enough emphasis isn't placed on the fact that (especially your first time) you're probably going to need help. During my first pregnancy I thought, "Women have been doing this for thousands of years. It's natural. It'll be easy." I didn't read enough or take a class. I barely even let the lactation consultant talk to me. A nurse helped me once and gave me some terrible advice. Breastfeeding was a total fail the first time around. I wasn't prepared, I didn't have support, and it most certainly did not come naturally. There were a number of contributing factors to why I didn't survive the first time, but I didn't realize why it didn't work until the second time around. The second time around, I read books, blogs, talked to friends, took a class and used the lactation consultant as often as she was available at the hospital. What I learned was that the advice a nurse had given me while nursing my first baby was totally wrong. In fact, it was probably the biggest reason why it just never worked for us. Moral of the story: be prepared and don't be afraid to ask for help. Modesty should never have priority over the health and well-being of your little one. With my first baby, we were done breastfeeding at 6 weeks.
12) Breastfeeding can be relatively easy and painless. The first time around was awful for me. I was sore, terribly engorged and miserable. The second time around, with the help of a lactation consultant, we got the latch right during the second feeding and never looked back. Proper latch is the biggest battle you fight in warding off pain and other problems. Without the lactation consultant, though, our latch was totally wrong--even though I'd read and researched. It's important to make sure you have a good, strong latch from the beginning.
13) Putting baby to breast as soon as possible after birth is a great jump-start to breastfeeding and to your mommy-baby bond. You've probably heard that, but I want to emphasize it. I know you're excited to show off your little one. You want to call the people from the waiting room back to see him or her as soon as possible. I know I did. I barely waited the first time. I let Kate try to latch and she weakly attempted to nurse for a short amount of time. I rushed her off, partially because there was a nurse in the room and I didn't want her to watch and partially so we could usher in our company. I regret it to this day. With Jack, I took my time. He nursed for almost forty minutes and I took the time to enjoy snuggling him all by myself. I'd earned that time to myself with him! I can't help but think that some of our nursing issues with Kate weren't because of those first few moments after birth. Take your time--the visitors can wait!
14) If you're having latch issues and a nurse or lactation consultant (LC) recommends a nipple shield, make sure you don't come to rely on it. It's meant to be a short term tool to help baby learn to nurse--like a trainer. While using one, however, nursing is not as efficient or stimulating as it is without the shield. I've read in multiple places that you need to pump after using a shield every time to maintain proper stimulation and ensure that your milk supply will be well established.
15) During growth spurts, which happen VERY frequently in a newborn, baby may want to cluster feed. You've heard this, I'm sure. What this actually translates to, however, is that baby may literally want to nurse non-stop for hours at a time. It sounds terrible. I didn't realize this the first time around and it was a very frustrating thing. The second time around, I was prepared for it. I was able to have things around to me to keep me entertained during these times and was able to think of it as a time where I could sit and rest. I found it much less frustrating when I knew it was coming.
16) Sometimes it's difficult to keep baby awake for a full feeding. In the day time, noise and light are usually enough to keep this from being too much of an issue. At night, however, this can be a problem. Baby wakes up, barely eats and falls back asleep. Baby wakes up an hour later hungry and the process repeats. You really suffer because baby wakes up just about the time you fall asleep. And, if a baby gets into this habit, it's a feeding pattern that can continue. While you don't want to overstimulate your baby during the night and keep her from sleeping, you do want her to eat and have a full belly. Some recommendations I've heard are things like tickling baby's feet, unswaddling the baby or unbuttoning baby's clothes. I've tried them all. I would also recommend feeding baby as long as she will eat on one breast, changing baby's diaper and then offering the second breast. A diaper change is usually stimulating enough to rouse the baby for a little more food.
17) Sometimes it's difficult to keep yourself awake in the middle of the night for a feeding. Do whatever you need to do to keep the baby safe during this time. If you're sitting up, feeding baby in bed and you fall asleep, baby could easily fall out of the bed. Just something to think about! The night's when I had the most trouble, I made my husband help keep me awake or keep the baby for a few minutes while I got up and used the restroom (and woke up).
18) A breastfeeding pillow isn't necessary, but they are very helpful. Other pillows can be used for the same purpose, however, if you don't want to buy one or aren't sure if you'll use it. Most of the time I just used throw pillows from my couch. I do love the other things you can do with the Boppy pillow, though. It's a great stabilizing and protecting-from-falls pillow when baby is learning to sit-up.
19) It is okay to nurse in public. I don't do it often because Jack is squirmy and it's impossible to be as modest as I want to be, but it can be done. If you're not comfortable nursing in public, that's fine, too. It can be done very discreetly, where few people will actually know what's going on. A well made nursing cover is great for this, because it has a strap to keep it in place and is made so you can still see baby while he nurses. Other people are content to nurse in public and aren't so concerned about the whole world seeing their exposed body parts. I'm not one of those people. If you're looking for a nursing cover, check out this website with lots of super cute hand-sewn baby options like covers, cloth diapers and bibs.
20) If you're planning to breastfeed, but want the freedom to go to dinner with your hubby or be out of the house alone for more than a couple hours, you need to teach baby to use a bottle early on. If you wait too long, baby may very likely refuse the bottle. If you do it too soon, you may have nipple confusion issues. My LC recommended giving baby a bottle of breast milk, once breastfeeding was well-established, between weeks 4 and 6. I started Jack with one every day or so at week 5, and he did just fine. Once he got used to it, it wasn't a big deal and he only used them if I was gone. Having the flexibility is very, very nice. I've had friends with babies that refused bottles and they were never able to leave them alone for any length of time. Starting baby on a bottle is especially important if you're going to be returning to work and still hoping to breastfeed. If you're hoping to pump and have milk to give in a bottle, pumping after the baby's first feed of the day works well. You'll also want to pump around the time baby takes the bottle of breast milk so you don't run the risk of lessening your milk supply.
Look for Part 3 on Tuesday! Hope you have a blessed weekend!