This weeks requested blog topic- Breastfeeding.
I realize this isn’t a topic that will intrigue most of my recent followers, but it’s important for me to discuss it as it’s something I actively support.
I am guilty of being the biggest supporter of the nursing mother and also guilty of being the least likely to give up in the cause for those I have helped. My mother was firm in creating a sense of knowing your own body and listening to it. Formula wasn’t really an option for thought… nursing your babies is what God intended for women to do. We don’t have to like it, but it is how our bodies are made.
…Well unless you’re like some of my friends whose boobs never “worked” or received the message. They carry this weight of guilt around like they did something wrong. As someone who knew from early on that my body was going to struggle having babies, I can relate to feeling like you failed at something. If you are a victim of broken boobies this is for you— Stop beating the crap out of yourself and those of you reading this just to use it as an internal guilt trip. STOP NOW> your boobs never getting the message is not your fault and this blog is not for your self abuse! Don’t read it to question what you did or make yourself cry either! I am speaking to some wonderful mothers I know who read these things and feel bad bout them… still wonderful mothers regardless of malfunctioning boobies.
My precious son Alden getting Momma loving.
My history of experience- I only saw a lactation consultant in the hospital and never went to any La Leche League meetings. I nursed both children and worked full-time. I nursed both of my children- my son Alden nursed until about 9 months when my supply went down and the fattest baby on the planet was not satisfied by what I gave him any longer. At 10 months he decided his teeth were a weapon and laughed at me from the breast while I was crying my eyes out. My daughter Maggie nursed until 17 months. She never had a drop of formula and I had learned so much along the way that I was able to take my experience and blossom. I have counseled many women- strangers- friends and clients along the way. If you are nursing in public and I happen to pass by I may stop to talk to you or smile and nod…
So I’m going to try to give you my advice- this is obviously not professional advice, but it’s stuff that worked for me.
Being In the Right State of Mind
A friend of mine posted this picture on facebook this week- from a 1910 Southern Tenant Farmers Union outside meeting.
Now I love old black and white photos, but I really love this one. This is the ease we should feel. When I was nursing my babies. I would have covered myself with a wrap and I would have felt like all the people around me were uncomfortable. I would have been tense with fear that my child would flash me to the crowd. I love this photo because it captures the spirit of the culture. This my friends is the way it should be. So my first piece of advice is to say this don’t ever let anyone make you nurse or pump in a bathroom stall or any other filthy location. Yes- I did both and never again would I ever allow someone to do that to me. In the state of Virginia it is not indecent by law to nurse in public don’t let anyone tell you that. Also under Obama care legislation you are allotted time at work and a location to pump in private- no bathrooms or nursing stations are allowed. When I had my son in 2006 this was not the case and yes I did have coworkers walk into a locked room unannounced while I was pumping… it does happen. Remember to be like this woman. You don’t have to be fierce in your natural state. Anyone who is offended has lost sight of nature and has been watching too many angels from Victoria Secret or Miley Cyrus videos…. and don’t see breasts as their natural form any longer. That’s their problem. Not yours.
1- Be natural and calmly fierce.
2- Know your federal and state rights.
3- Surround yourself with supportive folks. If people make you leave the room or make you uncomfortable… don’t visit them for a while. They may miss out on your wee little babe, but they would be missing out with you in another room anyway.
4- Nurse where you are the most comfortable otherwise. I bought a mini-van when I had my son so that I could pump in the car with privacy. Yeah all it takes is two middle aged men to walk in on you pumping to change your perspective on yourself.
Alden my squirrel cheeked Hokie.
Having the Right Support
When I had my son I was twenty-six and other than my sisters and my sister -in -law I didn’t really know any other moms nearby. Luckily, the ones I did know had nursed their babies! My mom, step-mom, and John’s mom all nursed their babies and were big advocates for the cause. They were all wonderful women to have around. In my own personal life, at social functions, work life and just any other time I wasn’t with my family it was pretty empty in the support realm. The other problem is that only one of my family members had ever pumped. I remember my very dear friend Chris, a woman, came to see me in the hospital in her normal mother support grabbed my breast to get my son to latch on correctly… awkward in the moment but she was spot on… love her. I instead did a lot of reading. I’m not knocking down the La Leche League- but I didn’t have time for that. Not in the job I did and trying to pump. It was way too much going on regardless of that. So I read… a lot.
This is my favorite site- kellymom
As far as other moms- don’t be afraid to ask. I love when a new mom skirts around their question like I’ve never heard it before!
One of my favorite stories is one told by my sister. She had befriended some African immigrant women. She was in a room of women all nursing openly and speaking in their native tongue. One of the women quite engorged shot milk clear across the room hitting another woman and the room filled with laughter. The cultural and language barrier was dropped in their most natural abilities and to laugh like that takes no language at all. Don’t feel alone and find support from all ages, stages, and cultures.. advice as old as time may be the best advice you receive.
For me the worst advice I ever received was from the lactation consultants. When I was in the hospital both times they had advised the football hold since I am so well endowed- Oh how I blistered. My toes curled in pain every time my son latched on. With my daughter I was fine until the consultant came in- then I blistered and cried. My mom looked at me so distraught in the hospital bed. She said to me, “This is your body. You know what feels right. Yes, she’s an educated person, but that doesn’t make her advice the right thing to do. Did it hurt before she came in?” Me- No. Mom continued, “Well then pretend like that idiot never walked in here. Pretend she never said anything. Do you remember how you were holding her and how she was latched? ” Me- Yes. Mom- “Well then by all means… take a deep breath and forget it all and bring the baby back to the breast the way you were doing it before.” I took a deep breath and did what my mother said… 17 months later I cried when I weaned my precious little one having never to look back after the first day. ~ Thanks Mom.
Me just out of the recovery room- LOOKIN ROUGH- notice my daughter, Maggie, in a deep sleep.
It may be natural… that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Given our cultural times I think we have fewer and fewer people that have ever nursed in front of us. The amount of support we have is oddly limited and we don’t see it as natural. For my children, I ask that people not really cover in front of them. I want them to remember it and see how to do it. I want them to be able to embrace it as natural.
Just like those of you who struggled with fertility you heard- Well how hard could it be? Yeah- those same idiots say those things about moms who struggle with nursing. Ignorance is annoying, but teach them a lesson and help them learn.
You will hear that it’s not supposed to hurt if the baby is latched correctly. This may be true but I left the hospital with blisters both times and once they are blistered even if they are latched right it flipping hurts. Yes- dear God it hurt. I can’t remember who it was my mom or my sisters someone said to me- get through the first three weeks and then it will be okay. I found this to be very very true.
My husband went to breastfeeding class with me and although he found the class disappointing (not sure what he was hoping for— more show and less tell…) I’m glad he went with me though. His understanding was super important.
If you are falling apart- call someone who makes you comfortable to help you walk through it. I’ve helped so many women along the way and it’s important to me for other people to have the support.
Read up about latching techniques and common problems.
I love posts like this one. There is also a breastfeeding support page on facebook called “If breastfeeding offends you put a blanket over your head.” – They have some pretty funny posts.
Get the Right Equipment- If I were pregnant this would be my shopping list.
Target is awesome for supplies.
Milk storage bags– These bags held up great in the freezer- fridge etc. For freezing lay bags on the side. They thaw easier that way.
Nursing Pads– I prefer this brand because the other ones pooched out at the nipple and that’s just weird. These made the breast look more smooth also this brand pulls away from the nipple better. Some cheaper ones are like pulling a fuzzy shedding cotton ball off you leaving cotton residue all over you chest. It’s gross- go with these.
Lanolin– Yeah this is like heaven for those first three weeks when you think it might be more helpful to remove your nipples.
Madela Pump– Madela is expensive but it’s the tried and true pump. Make sure you get a car charger… you’ll want it. ‘Get some extra storage bottles while you’re at it.
Nursing Bras– Now I’m very well endowed. I’m a woman of many blessings… ::sigh:: If you’re a bigger chested gal- bravado is the way to go!!!
Nursing Apron– I like the ones at Target- but you can find some pretty unique ones on etsy too.
Maggie- I mean who in the world doesn’t want to give her the healthiest options.
Successful Nursing- Making it a breeze
Rule number one- This should have been at the top. Have that baby and get it to the breast. Once the baby is born it’s alert for some time and then CRASH they are passed out. Sort of like that call right before bed that makes you stay awake way longer and you can’t fall back to sleep from all the excitement in your brain, but getting up in the morning is super hard. The same thing happens to babies… If you get the baby right to the breast it has an easier time latching on and knowing what it’s supposed to do. If you wait then it throws the baby off… trust me. I had my baby at 8pm and midnight they finally brought him to me. He was sound asleep and he had so much trouble latching. He also lost a ton of weight from it. My daughter was at the breast in the recovery room… I couldn’t even sit up but she was latched on. I love that memory… truly love it and things were so much easier with her.
Rule number two- Never pump or nurse without water near by… I would drink 90-150oz of water a day.- that’s not a stretch either that’s exact.
Rule number three- If your baby is spitting up it’s probably something you’re eating, but cut out the common foods first… if that doesn’t work talk to the pediatrician. Look it up on kellymom… I’m lactose intolerant but had one yogurt a day because sometimes a girl needs yogurt.. My daughter projectile vomited all over the place. I cut out that one yogurt and she stopped throwing up. My friends’ son had so many reactions I think she lived off of gluten free triscuit style crackers or well … pretty much cardboard for months. I realized if I had a glass of wine my kids both of them got super gassy and had funky stools for days…
Rule number four- Have that drink, but for the love of the Lord do not dump that milk! Your milk is only as intoxicating as you are intoxicated so if you have one or two beers I would not even pump… but lets say you were celebrating a big event and got wee bit too tipsy I would wait until I sobered up and then pump some. There is no sense in pumping and dumping for cases like my kids and wine because the food you ingest stays in the system for a long time…. so if you notice something like this… you have to just cut it out of your diet- sorry folks.
Rule number five- pump and nurse in different directions. I know this sounds weird, but I know I had clogged milk ducts and the beginning of mastitis, but I never once had to have it checked. I put warm compresses on those puppies and massaged until I felt those knots out of there. I self compressed… pumped with the pumps to the side and woke the baby in the middle of the night and nursed them laying in opposite directions. I would do whatever it took to get that knot out.
Rule number six- supply and demand baby. You can try fenugreek, oatmeal, dark beer etc, but I say take good vitamins- drink tons of water- get rest- relax and get that baby to the breast. When my milk was low during the work week I would put my baby to the breast all weekend long. They were probably overfed but the result was my body needed that skin to skin contact just as much as babies need it and by Monday my supply was back up. When you introduce solids pump in replacement for it. My supply dropped off quickly when they started solids and my milk supply decreased too quickly, but if I pumped more when they increased solids everything worked out fine.
Rule number seven- don’t over do it. If you are exhausting yourself… loathing life.. or pumping so much your nipples hurt—- chill out or push through depends on how hard you want it. Quitting was not an option for me… so I pushed through. If your milk after the colostrum stage looks orange or yellow after you pumped it… you are trying too hard. That is actually blood in the milk- wont harm the baby so dear Lord don’t throw it out, but do slow down a bit and don’t push yourself so hard.
A Shirt I needed— Weapons of Mass Lactation 🙂
* If you are like most people I spoke to prior to writing this blog they say to me- I really should have listened to that rule about pumping three weeks out, but I didn’t. So If you have 6 weeks off start pumping at 3 weeks. Now again I’m not a professional lactation consultant, but what I am is a successful pumper. I made more milk supply than most people. I took care of my baby and I was overproducing.
* Three weeks before I went back to work- I would feed the baby the last feeding of the night. Then pumped after I put the baby down. No more than 20 minutes. This pumping session drove up the demand without bothering our daytime routine. I froze everything I had at this session even if it was just two ounces for the following three weeks to six weeks since I had c-sections I had more time off work.
* Week two I started pumping in the morning and at night. I would feed the baby the bottle from the am. The baby should start having a bottle once a day three weeks out just so that it’s used to it.
*Week three you should pump in the am- and whenever you anticipate that you will be pumping when you will be returning to work. You can feed your baby these bottles or have them nurse from one side etc. Switch it up.
* The goal here is to up your demand and get your body into a schedule of when to expect that demand. You are smarter than your body, but your body gets into a routine. I used to pump at 5 am and on the weekends I would wake at 6 am and have to pump even on the weekends because the milk was in on schedule but I wasn’t up yet and it was uncomfortable.
* For work pack a lunch/snack for when you pump nothing is worse than feeling starved and dehydrated and trying to feed an invisible baby.
* Create a safe place and relax. I pumped in the van I made curtains that clipped up on the back and ran the pump. Ate my lunch and made phone calls. Listened to music and just felt at peace with the world. Pumping in the office- was never- ever- relaxing. Not after my interruption by fellow employees.
Good luck and I hope this helped! Enjoy your babies!