First moments with my little guy!
Breastfeeding is something that I wanted to do for all of my kids. I wanted to do it because of the obvious health benefits, the bonding between mother and child, shedding baby weight faster, and of course saving money since it is cheaper than buying formula. However, if I told you that breastfeeding has been a breeze for me, I would be lying.
My first child was 10 lbs, had low blood sugar, and ate 3 ounces of formula within minutes of being born. I could never get him to latch on, and he was primarily on formula from then on out (I ended up pumping for 3 months). I was really depressed and upset about it . I had all of these expectations that I was going to breastfeed and when I couldn’t, I took it as a personal failure, and found it hard be around moms who were able to.
My second child did latch on, but incorrectly, so I was in terrible pain all the time. Not to mention, I got bad information from a nurse, so I was only giving my baby the fore milk and not hind milk. So after green slimy poops, baby weight loss, and mastitis, breastfeeding was out of the question in about a week and a half . I did not take it as hard this time, but it was still disappointing.
There is a little guy under there :).
There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel! Now baby #3 has come along, and in advance I armed myself with information. I talked to people, read articles, and consulted with professionals. I was determined to get it right this time, and it worked. I won’t say that it has been easy though.
I still have some discomfort, and there have been times I have wanted to throw in the towel, but I just keep trying different things and it has helped. I invested in some shields, and breast shells. And of course, I have formula on hand if I need a break or feel like my little guy needs some more. I keep reassuring myself that I am doing a great job, and when it gets tough, I give myself a pep talk. Plus, I see that he is thriving, and I instantly feel rewarded.
What have I learned from all of this is? You can only do your best. The most important thing is to have a healthy loved baby that is fed, and in the end it does not matter whether that is with breastfeeding or formula.
I love baby yawns!
Recently, I met with my friend Julie, a Certified Lactation Counselor, and she gave me some advice on things to try, and suggestions that might help the process of breastfeeding work a little better for me. I asked her if she would be willing to share some of this information with my readers, and she agreed to provide me with tips.
6 Breastfeeding Tips from a Certified Lactation Counselor Julie Petrillo:
Get Prepared: Can you imagine driving a car for the first time without ever having seen someone else do it? It would be pretty difficult, and breastfeeding isn’t much different. Sure, it’s natural, but unfortunately our society has created obstacles that moms need to overcome to be successful (this site talks about these “booby traps” http://www.bestforbabes.org/what-are-the-booby-traps). So, before you hold your little one in your arms for the first time, make sure you have done your homework. Read a book, take a class, watch some videos. Ask your friend who breastfeeds her baby if she can show you her favorite nursing position. The more you know before the baby arrives, the better.
Build Your Support System: You’ve heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” It certainly makes it easier, and that goes for breastfeeding too. Figure out who you are going to call with questions and if you need help, BEFORE you are struggling to feed a hungry baby. If your mom and sister didn’t breastfeed their babies, maybe you have a friend, or even a friend of a friend who has. Talk to them before your due date, and ask if you can call them with questions. Even when things are going perfectly fine, it’s always nice to have an experienced mom to talk to and support you. If you really can’t think of anyone you know who can be your cheerleader, find your local La Leche League (visit www.llli.org) and attend a meeting while you are still pregnant. La Leche League leaders are moms who volunteer to support breastfeeding mothers in their communities, and they are great resources. You will most likely make some new mommy friends too!
Watch Your Baby, Not the Clock: In the hospital, your nurses will ask you to keep track of how many minutes your baby nurses on each breast, every time he feeds. While this can be useful information in some cases, it can make moms a little crazy. Our society is obsessed with data. There are even smart phone apps to track baby feeding times. In my opinion, it is much more important to watch your baby and follow his cues, than to log every minute of every feed. Your baby may be hungry every 2 hours and nurse for 20 minutes on each breast, or he may be hungry every hour and nurse for 10 minutes on only one breast. Every baby is different, and the same baby could change his feeding pattern from one day to the next. Sometimes you eat a salad for lunch, and sometimes you eat Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes you eat breakfast and have a snack an hour later, and other times you aren’t hungry again until lunchtime. Babies are growing and changing so quickly, that it makes sense that their appetites would be just a fickle. Feeding your baby on demand will help build your milk supply and give him the nutrition he requires. Your baby’s early hunger cues may be licking his lips, turning his head, putting his hands to his mouth. These early hunger cues can be subtle. Crying, which is most often not subtle, is usually a late sign of hunger, and means the early signs were missed. In order to ensure an adequate milk supply, a good rule of thumb for the first 10 to 14 days is to nurse every 2 to 3 hours with only one 4 to 6 hour stretch in a 24 hour period. If you are being attentive to your baby and not attempting to make his feeding schedule fit into yours, this should come naturally.
Be Prepared for Growth Spurts: There may be days when your baby wants to nurse more often than usual. This could be a sign of a growth spurt, and could last for 2 to 3 days or sometimes a week. Growth spurts most commonly occur around 7-10 days, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 9 months. The one that occurs around 7-10 days can sometimes make even confident breastfeeding moms uneasy. Some moms get nervous and incorrectly assume that since their baby is nursing so much or fussy, it means they aren’t making enough milk. If your baby decides he needs to do some growing, pick your favorite spot on the couch, grab a good book, and enjoy some good cuddle time for the day (or maybe three). Check out http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/growth-spurts/ for some more good info about growth spurts. This site is also a great resource for all things breastfeeding!
Get Help Early: If you are having problems, get help as soon as you can. Breastfeeding should NOT hurt. It may feel slightly uncomfortable at first, but if you are having true pain, then something needs to change. Usually it’s as simple as correcting a bad latch. Use that support system, and don’t wait until your nipples are bleeding to ask someone for help! It is much easier to solve a breastfeeding issue if it is dealt with early. Also, the Affordable Care Act (aka health care reform) requires that all health insurance cover the cost of lactation consultants with no copays. Even if you don’t have insurance, the cost of a lactation consultant would be much cheaper than buying formula for the next 12 months.
Enjoy it! Breastfeeding is one of the most amazing experiences a mother can have. It forces you to sit down, relax, and enjoy your baby, and gives you lots of precious cuddle time. Meanwhile, you know you are giving your baby the best nutrition possible, which only you can provide. So try not to stress about it, and enjoy!
Julie Petrillo, Certified Lactation Counselor
Julie Petrillo is a mommy to Matteo, 4 years, and Arianna, 16 months, and is passionate about helping mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals. Although she works part-time as an actuarial consultant and full-time as a mommy, in her “spare time” she also volunteers as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and as co-chair of the Pasco Hernando Breastfeeding Network. To increase her knowledge, and to better help support mothers, she recently became a Certified Lactation Counselor. She has over three years (and counting) of experience breastfeeding her own babies, and has extensive knowledge about pumping, over-supply issues, and dairy intolerance. Julie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you find this information helpful and can learn from it as well.