Know your breastfeeding facts, what I learnt from attempting to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding has been one of those obsessive “a mother does” type things for me, along with a desire to “experience” labor and vaginal birth. For me these are the rights of motherhood. I will tell you right now that I have battled and failed at both. But that is OK.
I am not here to “bash” anyone for the choices they make or the lack of choice that is sometimes our fate. I simply want to share my knowledge and experience in the hopes of helping someone out there. Perhaps it is you?
It is difficult to write this post as I know there are so many hurt and raw feelings towards breastfeeding based on our personal experiences.
I will start at the beginning, with my first born. My first arrived in 2009, after a planned home water birth was removed from my birth plan and replaced by a scheduled csec because of a breech baby. After the birth, I had a lazy drugged up baby whom I had no idea what to do with along with nurses who gave up and wanted to give him bottles and various IV’s and pipes in my way. We had a poor latch and my midwife suspected I had inverted nipples (I don’t). But once we were at home things did improve greatly until nursing became sore and baby fussy. To cut a long story short he had bad thrush and I didn’t know about such things and so ended our breastfeeding journey after 8 weeks.
My 2nd arrived 15 months later, I had attempted a VBAC and after 24 hours of labor and 2 hours pushing I had another csec for a baby that was stuck, because instead of facing backwards for the birth like normal, he choose to face forward. He turned out to be superstar and took to the breast right out of the womb. We did wonderfully until a huge growth spurt struck at around 12 weeks, I caved, having a little older child who had formula still didn’t help either. Once the growth spurt was done he had got use to the faster flow of the bottles and began to fuss at the breast. I refused to give up and resorted to the alternative, I became a “pumping mom” by expressing all the milk he needed and feeding via bottle. I did this until he was 8 months old.
My 3rd was born just last year. I was refused a try at a natural delivery because of my previous csec history and baby presentations. She took to the breast well and is still on it 14 months later.
So what is the difference from my first to third born child? Why does one nurse just fine and the others not? It could be the child and it could be the knowledge I gained in between. Either way I feel a strong connection between all the events and my confidence in myself to make it work this time around.
I would like to share a few key pointers and pearls of wisdom about breastfeeding.
Learn how to breastfeed. Sure you can do a lot of reading ahead of the time but the process is both new for you and your baby. Take the time to learn with your little one and get to know each other. Use the serivces of a lactation consultant, they are highly trained and can give advice to your situation as well as show you many positions to nurse in until you find one just right for you and baby.
Know your newborn breastfeeding facts. Colostrum after the birth for 3-5 days before your milk comes in is just fine for your baby who actually has the tiniest stomach. The colostrum will also provide the laxative effect baby needs to remove the black tar stuff, that is the first poo, out of their system. Beware the stuff is sticky! Use a cream protector on the bum to make cleaning easier, there is nothing worse than wiping a newborns skin red in the effort to get this all off!
Take your time when feeding, if you are able, do use the convenience of co-sleeping. Always keep a bottle of water near you when you are nursing as thirst always seems to hit just then. Use lanolin on your nipples after every feed if you need it. Change your nursing pads often to avoid thrush and if possible air dry your nipples. Even sun them 🙂
Your hormones are all over the place after the birth trying to re-adjust themselves and the baby blues can settle in. I have taken rescue remedy throughout all my pregnancy’s and especially in the first 12 weeks after the birth. It helps me get in balance with myself. At one point I was so weepy my husband had to remind me to take it, and I felt much better after. Getting some sun (vit-D) does wonders as well and is good for a yellow tinged baby. (use common sense here and don’t go and get yourselves sun burnt!)
Trust your instincts and watch the signs. Baby has wet nappies /diapers = getting more than enough milk. Green poo is too much foremilk. Cluster feeding before nightly bed time, is normal.
Skin to skin is great for encouraging milk production as well as bonding with baby. After 6 weeks your milk supply starts to stabilize. Most woman do just fine until the 12 week growth spurt comes along. It is advised to just take that week off and spend it in bed with your little one. Sometimes it is easier said than done. I have used the aid of galactagogue in circumstances like this, fenugreek and brewers yeast being the ones that worked for me personally.
Consider using the woman’s herb red raspberry leaf as an everyday herb. This is not just for the final weeks of pregnancy but also the first weeks and beyond. It brings hormonal support and much needed balance as well as nutrients to your milk. Red raspberry leaf is also one of my must have herbs for increasing milk supply.
Blocked ducts are so not my favorite bit to breastfeeding. My go to solution is cabbage leaves, massage and more nursing of baby. Try to keep the breast as empty as one can.
Monthly periods can stay away for months when breastfeeding, and FYI, you can get pregnant when breastfeeding. Once the periods return they can also affect your milk supply to some degree and you might notice a shorter time frame between baby wanting to nurse.
I highly recommend one of the best breastfeeding books available: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
Every breastfeeding mother should have one.
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Some further tips from some awesome breastfeeding mom friends:
I think wearing two tops and pulling one down and lifting one up works better and is more discreet than proper nursing tops!
Don’t be fooled into thinking the amount you can express is the amount you are making. Breastfeeding isn’t meant to hurt, if it does seek help (main problems usually positioning or tongue tie)? Bed sharing is acceptable & not some huge crime, especially if you look into doing it safely. Baby wearing is great for getting around whilst feeding (meaning you aren’t stuck to where there are chairs during feeding especially for the first few weeks & growth spurts)
I know it sounds silly but relax before and during the first feeds as it doesnt come that easy to some and baby can really detect stress. If at first you dont succeed, keep trying and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Drink lots of fluid xxx
Relax, inevitably whatever you are worrying about is completely normal x