Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mama Knows Best #3 - Breastfeeding

Hi!  My name is Melissa and I am a mother of three (two of them I birthed, one came as a bonus with my husband!).  I write a blog over at www.pdxritchie.com and I was super excited when Kira asked me to be a guest blogger!  I just had a baby so timing was perfect!  One very important part of having a baby this time around was breastfeeding, and here is what I have to share about that.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, 13 years ago, I had all the best intentions of breastfeeding.  I had a long labor that ended in a cesarean delivery.  I did not get to hold her until I was done recovering, which to me felt like hours and I actually don’t know how long it really was.  I remember the nurses helping her to latch on when I was in the hospital and nursing her.  But the morning following our arrival home, she wasn’t staying latched on and kept crying and crying.  I was worried she wasn’t getting anything from me and so I gave her a bottle.  I was young and didn’t know what I was doing, and I was afraid she was starving.  After that she refused my nipple and became a formula fed baby.

Last June, my husband and I celebrated the news of becoming pregnant.  I immediately started reading everything I could get my hands on regarding breastfeeding, determined this time to be successful at it.  I was also fortunate to have several girlfriends that have had babies in the last couple years and were a wealth of knowledge on the breastfeeding front.  From my good friend Julie who nursed for 10 weeks, to my friend Sophia who is still nursing her two year old son.  I figured I could not go wrong this time with all the resources at my fingertips.

My beautiful son Enzo was born on Sunday February 20th.  It was very important to me that I hold him immediately after he was born and get that first skin-to-skin contact that I read about.  And to get him latched on as soon as I could.  I really felt that this was the key to being successful at it.  And while that may be part of it, I believe that my success so far has mostly been due to patience.  He is a whopping 16 pounds, 5 ounces and is only three months old!  I am very pleased to say that he is excellent at nursing and growing fast!  

Here is what I learned along the way, and what items helped me the most:

*  Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers (Book) 
This was invaluable information to me.  Not only did it prepare me for the first few days of nursing, explaining that the “cluster feeding” was what I had experienced with my daughter, when I thought she wasn’t getting any milk because she wouldn’t stay latched on and was fussy.  This is a transition time between your colostrum and when your milk comes in, usually happening on the third or fourth day. So on day three when Enzo was super fussy and wanting to nurse constantly for about 6 hours straight, I stayed patient and just listened to his cues.  And then my milk came in and he was a happy camper.  This book also helped to educate me on the importance of breastfeeding and how our society vews this issue.


Lansinoh has a lot of things for the breastfeeding Mom.  I used their nipple crème for the first three weeks, to help with the soreness in the beginning.  And yes, you will experience this, but please trust that it goes away and it’s worth it if you can just keep going.  It’s painful at first, every nursing Mom will attest to that.  But it’s not unbearable, I mean come on, you just gave birth!  You can do anything!  The crème is totally safe for baby’s ingestion so you don’t have to worry about wiping it off before nursing.  This comes in handy because I swear, every time I remembered to put some on, five minutes later Enzo would decide he wanted to nurse again!  

I also used their disposable breast pads for leakage remedies.  One thing about breastfeeding that you can count on, are leaking breasts!  As soon as you feel your milk “drop”, it just starts to flow out.  And every woman is different, for me it was a steady drip.  For the first week I felt like a warrior preparing for battle with all the extra padding I had to put on.  Not only are you wearing grown up diapers (if you had a vaginal delivery), at least that’s what they felt like to me, but you are also having to wear pads in your bra so you don’t leak all over everything!  I remember one Monday a couple weeks in, our cloth diaper service showed up to pick up our first bag of dirty diapers and I had forgotten to put them out.  I answered the door with a baby in my arms and a very wet shirt, still in my jammies at noon.  Welcome to motherhood!  I’m sure the driver had seen it all before, he didn’t even flinch.  But it was embarrassing nonetheless.  I used the disposable pads until a month ago when I bought some reusable ones, they are cloth and you just throw them in the wash.  The good thing about these is that you don’t have to keep buying more.  But they are a little thicker than the disposables, so they do tend to show under your shirt.

Which is a good lead-in to my next item…

* Nursing bras & shirts

I bought a couple nursing tank tops from Target before I had my son, so that I would be prepared in the hospital.  I bought two different kinds.  And I quickly learned that the ease of which you can unclip something with one hand is very important to keep in mind.  
These tank tops are awesome, I own two and wear them several times a week.  They are pretty under a button up cardigan.  And nobody knows that they are nursing tanks, they just look like a nice layering tank anyone would wear.
This one was a good idea, looks pretty but totally annoying with the clasp system it has.  I could not get the darn thing undone with one hand, so I had to set baby down and undo it.  Annoying!  I think I have worn it maybe twice, and that was only because the others weren’t clean.

I was given the advice to not purchase a nursing bra until after the baby is born, because you never know what size you will need.  I, for some reason, did not listen to this advice.  So I ended up buying a bra that is too small in the cup area.  Lesson learned.  But I did buy one that was a sports bra style, with the easy to undo clasps, and I love it!  Highly recommend.  It is a nice layer underneath sweaters or t-shirts.  

It’s a  little frustrating that what top you wear every day has to be one you can pull down at the neck to have easy access, which eliminates anything that doesn’t have stretch and/or a button/zip front.  And if you look at tops that are specific for breastfeeding, they are cleverly done so you can have access but most are ridiculously expensive.  I recommend a couple button up cardigans, that you can wear over the nursing tanks.  And a few deep V-neck t-shirts that you can layer over the bra or tanks.  When I return to work in a few weeks I can start wearing all my clothes that I can’t right now, because for pumping purposes it doesn’t really matter.  

*  To cover or not to cover, that is the question

This is a hot topic in our society, and now that I am nursing Mom it really irritates me that it should even be an issue.  Some people think that breastfeeding in public is not okay and should be done in private only. But when you sit down to lunch with the girls (ask Kira, this has happened each time I've met her for lunch with Enzo) and just as your food arrives, baby decides he is hungry - what are you going to do?  Duck into the bathroom to nurse?  Or go to your car?  I say forget about what others think and do what feels right to you.  It’s a natural thing, and more accepted now than ever before.  I have no problem with nursing in public, but I do try to still be discreet.  I don’t just flop my breast out for all to see, but I also don’t hide my baby under a blanket.  I tried that at first, but it was really hot under there and it makes it really difficult to help him latch on when he let’s go accidentally.  I ended up scratching Enzo above the eye with my fingernail as I was blindly searching for his mouth.  That’s when I decided to just do what was best for me.  If you do decide to cover, I suggest the covers that have a opening at the neck that allows you to look down and still see baby.  There's boning around the neckline of it, so this is possible.  I have one, it works well.  Also, some nursing bras and tanks have a layer of fabric that covers that top half of your breast, so that you aren’t completely exposed.  There are options, find what you are comfortable with.

******

As I said before, I truly believe that patience is the key to successful breastfeeding.  Every baby is different and so is every woman.  You might try every trick in the book and still not be able to nurse.  Or you might just be one of the lucky ones and it comes easy for you.  Either way, your baby will still be beautiful and healthy!  And that’s what is most important!  My daughter didn’t have any extra illnesses or issues because she was formula-fed.  

Thank you Kira, for allowing me to share as a guest blogger.  Good luck!  I can’t wait to meet your sweet baby girl!
xoxo
 
**Thank you, Melissa! That information was so helpful and I'm definitely going to get that book.
Again, if anyone is interested in doing a guest mama blog post just shoot me an e-mail (kiralynnpdx@gmail.com).
-Kira

8 comments:

  1. Great adivce Melissa! It also is SO helpful to go to a great lactation consultant (don't even bother with the one at the hospital)...mine was awesome if you need one down the road Kira! She also told me to put the nipple cream on before you get in the shower so the hot water doesn't dry you out...it hurts 3413436 times more if they are dried out! Also, once you know you are a leaker or not, medela makes these nipple sheild things to catch the drips...I leaked a lot and didn't want it to get all over (it stains badly) plus I didn't want it to go to waste so I would just pour what I got into a bottle for later (usually it was 1-3 oz of liquid gold just being wasted)! Umm yeah...make sure your nursing bras are comfortable...you wear them a lot! Breastfeeding and all that goes with it always sounds so weird before you do it...but you get used to it quickly! Make sure you get help while you are still at the hospital, my nurses weren't exactly the most helpful and B wasn't getting anything because I was so stressed about it so he was stressed. We caught on quickly once we went home and I talked to the lac consult. You could even make an appt ahead of time to have her come to the hospital (she travels!) The biggest thing you need to remember is to RELAX...that helps everything!

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  2. Kira - don't buy the book, you can have mine!

    Becca - thanks! Your little boy is ADORABLE!!

    xo

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  3. I didn't breastfeed Olivia, sure I probably could have, I pumped for the first month of her life. I wouldn't change what I did, but I respect women who do breastfeed.

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  4. I breasted maleah for 14 months, for us it was easiest. I definitely agree with Melissa on the painful at the beginning but it passes. I used the cover with the bonding, I loved it. I wore the nursing tanks as well but just wore whatever shirt over the top and pulled it up cuz the tank top still covered my stomach. Love the post Melissa wish I would have read that book instead of just winging it. I swear maleah didn't sleep until my milk came in, I thought she was starvingjust like you did with your oldest.
    Kara

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  5. Boning not bonding, you can ask me anything I was completely weirded out about it and the thought of it made me cringe before she was born, but ended up loving it, but it is not for everyone and I understand that.
    Kara

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  6. This is such a great post. I'm just starting to wean my little boy (he's a year), and only nurse him at night before bed. I would never regret breastfeeding, it's so good for the baby and just such a personal bonding experience. I'm sad that it's going to be over! I remember being frustrated with it for the first month or so, but I encourage every woman to breastfeed their child! La Leche is SO helpful, too. Just google them!

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  7. What I love the best about these comments is the difference between the Mom's sharing their stories. Unlike Becca's experience, the nurse we had our last day/night there was most helpful! And yes, I have also heard the lactation consultants that you can hire outside of the hospital are a great resource, as well as La Leche. Ask questions, definitely. I'm still asking them as I go. And I totally agree with Amber, it's such a great bond with your baby. Enzo and I share something very special, I love it! When he looks up at me and grins, it's the best!!

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  8. I was so terrified of breast feeding - but I was lucky to have it be really easy for me - maybe I expected it to be so bad, that it made it seem so much easier

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