Before my first child was born, I decided that I wanted to breastfeed him. It was what everyone said was best, my friends all nursed their babies, and it was, well, natural. It’s what we evolved to do, and I saw no reason to mess with it.
I did end up breastfeeding my son, but I ended up having to do this very “natural” thing in a very artificial way: I breastfed him for over a year by exclusively pumping.
Exclusive pumping means feeding your baby breast milk only by pumping and bottle feeding breast milk. After the first couple of weeks, I didn’t nurse my baby, but he was only fed breast milk. (I was lucky and had a good supply, so I never had to use formula after I started exclusively pumping.)
How did I end up tying myself to a breast pump for two hours a day for over a year?
When I found out I was pregnant (now almost a year ago to the day!) I had already made the decision to breastfeed exclusively. And it was funny how often that question came up, “are you going to breastfeed?” almost as often as “do you know what you’re having?” And I would reply, yes, I hope. Because I knew it was hard and I knew a lot of people that didn’t. The only thing I didn’t know was really how hard it would be at first.
I read a lot before the baby came about how to breastfeed, how to get the best latch. Remember, the books said, the baby is learning to latch and you’re learning to breastfeed but its a lot of instinct – she knows what she needs to do.
I am an overachiever. In my education, in my career, in my milk supply. I’m almost ashamed to say it, when so many mamas have such problems making enough milk or keeping their supply up. But I make milk and I make a lot of it. Even now, when she is starting to wean herself and only sporadically nursing there is plenty in there. My husband is sure that there’s nothing left. Ah but there is, see? And this abundant supply led me to rebel against the two biggest don’ts of lactating women: underwires and plastic nursing pads. dun dun dun…..
I knew, even when I was still pregnant, that I planned on breastfeeding the girls. However, I was not fully prepared for what a challenge it would be. I set several mini-goals for breastfeeding. The last goal I set was to get to the six month mark.
Once we got to six months, I knew we were in it for the long haul.I figured at this point it would be silly (and expensive) to give up on nursing. By this six-month mark my supply was very well established and the girls were, in general, very efficient nursers. We seemed to have gotten past that tricky point where my milk did not seem to be satisfying enough.
Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
"You ARE going to stop breastfeeding her, aren't you?”
Those were the first words uttered by my daughter's pediatrician during her 18 month checkup as soon as he found out I was pregnant.
"Not a fat chance, Mister", I thought, but I simply smiled and nodded in reply. I would rather have him leave me alone than hear a sermon that I would not agree with.
Unfortunately, his reaction is quite typical. Even though studies show more and more women are choosing to breastfeed up to the 6 month recommendation with an average of 49% in the U.S; and even 27% of women are now continuing to breastfeed their infants at 12 months , many women are uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding a toddler and even more so while pregnant. Some might even think breastfeeding while pregnant is dangerous.
The day I had the ultrasound that revealed that my much anticipated fifth baby was also to be my sixth as well, I had two fears immediately flash into my head. The first was fear of a c-section, my second was the fear that I'd not be able to breastfeed two babies at once.
Before I gave birth to my son via C-section I attended one lonely breastfeeding class. It was free and yes, I learned a few things like how big a baby’s tummy is at birth and the difference between colostrum and what milk is like once it “comes in.” I asked questions and watched a little DVD in the dark about what breastfeeding is supposed to look like. But nowhere, anywhere did I learn a thing about all of the possible difficulties I might face once my little one nestled at my breast and began screaming for milk.
Really, how hard can it be? Baby + Boob = Milk. Duh!
So after being birthed up, spruced up, weighed up and sent off for a quick snuggle with Daddy my son was placed on my chest to nurse and he began scooting towards my breast like a champ. My heart immediately burst into a billion little glittery pieces and I felt so…..motherly.
Three days later he wasn’t gaining any weight.
He was approaching the dreaded 10% loss that the hospital staff incessantly reminded us about so that we would what….feed him formula? Well, after a bunch of charts and graphs and jaundice and talking to the staff pediatrician that said, “If it was my kid, I’d feed him formula,” I wailed and pounded on the sheets about not being able to nourish my child with my body like I was supposed to….and I gave in. His first bottle was taken with no problems which just confirmed for me that I had been starving him by trying to get this breastfeeding thing to work when my boobs were apparently broken....
Having a new baby brings a whirlwind of emotions from pure elation to complete exhaustion. Many moms worry about their milk supply and whether or not their babies are getting enough nutrition. If your baby is gaining weight and has wet diapers then don’t jump to the conclusion that you have a milk supply problem!
Diet can impact the quality and quantity of your breast milk and energy, as well as your overall health. With that being said, the human body is very forgiving and breast milk is made to protect and nourish your baby, even if your diet isn't perfect. If you’re looking for some easy ways to give yourself and baby the best diet possible, here are my four important tips for nursing moms...
Getting Breastfeeding Off to a Good Start
The baby is finally here. Whether born vaginally or c-section the first 24 hours is so very important, especially in respect to breastfeeding.
The First Hour
Having the baby at the breast within the first hour after birth is ideal. A newborn nursing as soon as possible will help reduce the likelihood of them needing artificial supplementation.
Another fantastic step to insure great breastfeeding results is to put your baby skin to skin (also known as Kangaroo care). Skin to skin contact helps to regulate breathing, heart rate, blood sugars and temperature. Amazing . Skin to skin is when baby is placed on mom’s skin with no clothing on, just a diaper. Mom removes her shirt and bra and has baby directly on her skin. Perhaps you place a blanket over you both....
This is the second part in a two part series by Postpartum Doula, LeeAnne Hamilton. Part one can be found here.
As an overnight doula I am taking care of a client's 10 day old baby boy. Mom is getting some much need rest and I am on baby duty. I love my job! Here's how our evening has gone so far.
At 11pm I arrived to a frazzled mommy and daddy. I gladly took over, rewrapped his blanket so he was cozy, not swaddled, and headed downstairs to clean the kitchen. We puttered around for an hour, he and I, doing whatever I could manage with one hand while he dozed on and off in my other arm (tomorrow I will bring a wrap)! At midnight we headed for the bedroom where he had a bottle while listening to the white noise machine play heavy rainfall with the lights lowered as much as possible. I swaddled him, gave a few more cuddles while letting the feeding settle, and placed him in his crib. I stayed in the room with him, and so he watched me move around the room for a bit and then fell right asleep, without a peep. It is now 3am, and I expect he will wake for his next feeding shortly. And please don't worry, I have read the studies, and he is not overheated resulting in a deeper sleep. He has only a light blanket to keep him cozy. I do this with him every night, and already he goes to sleep on his own, sometimes a little pat on the bum is needed, sometimes a quick cuddle, but most of the time when I time it right, he is quiet, content and happy to simply fall asleep.
Other helpful tips for getting a head start on good sleep habits?
Babies function on a 24 hour clock for about the first 6 weeks; there is not much you can do about it. But you can help them to begin to learn the difference between day and night. At night keep things dark and quiet, with the exception of your white noise. Do feedings where baby sleeps, don’t get up and turn on the lights and sit in front of a loud television....