Archive for November, 2009

Breastfeeding Tips and Must Haves

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

This is a follow up post to this one about breastfeeding.  These are some tips and suggestions that were helpful to me when I was starting out.  I hope they can help someone else out as well.

  • Lansinoh cream – This stuff is like a miracle drug!  If you are breastfeeding you need it glued to your side 24/7 for the first couple months.  It not only helps relieve the pain, but provides some cushioning so there is less friction.
  • Breast pads – I use Johnson and Johnson, but there are several brands out there.  I thought about using washable ones (cloth), but never got around to purchasing.  Breast pads can help decrease the chances of embarrassing situations because your milk has leaked.  In the beginning, my milk “let down” often and without breast pads I would have been soaked.
  • Good support – A partner that will stand by you (or a friend if not partner is available) both night and day.  Ben was a great support.  He would help keep me awake at night when I was so tired.  He would help Mikayla latch on in the beginning and pull out her lower lip when we were having that issue.  He also was great at positioning pillows, Boppy, etc to support Mikayla.
  • Cushions – I have gotten to wear I just use pillows to support my arms and Mikayla while feeding, but in the beginning I used a Boppy or a My Brest Friend.
  • Water – Lots of it!  Ben jokes, but every time I begin feeding Mikayla I ask him for a glass of water.  It is almost immediately that I feel dehydrated when I begin nursing.  Drink lots of water, this will also help with milk supply.
  • Nursing tank/bra – For the first few weeks I would strictly wear my nursing tank.  When you are nursing around the clock it is important that you have easy access and something that is comfortable and supportive.
  • Entertainment – Some people would say this can be detrimental to the nursing bond, but I need some sort of entertainment when nursing Mikayla (especially in the middle of the night) and I don’t feel like our bond has been threatened.  I have used anything from DVD’s on the computer (I went through the entire Friends series between pregnancy and the first few months of nursing), books/magazines, conversations with Ben or close friends/family, or the Internet (i.e. email, shopping, etc).
  • Nursing wrap – Not a must have (I actually don’t even use mine that much anymore), but nice if you are going to be out and about.  Breastfeeding freaks some people out and so sometimes it is just easier to cover yourself up than explain why you have your breast out in public.  As Mikayla gets older, it is harder to use the wrap (she just doesn’t want to stay hidden)!  I have gotten to the point now that I will just nurse her without a wrap and fight off the stares some people throw in my direction.  It is more important to give Mikayla  a good feeding than it is to please everyone around me.
  • Sleep – In the beginning this seems impossible, but if you become too sleep deprived you will lose your milk supply.  It might seem cliche, but it is important to sleep when the baby sleeps.  This means you need to lay down as soon as they fall asleep, because if not they will be up before you even think about it.
  • A good breats pump – Especially if you are planning on going back to work.  I have a Medela one and it is great!  I also bought some extra “air horns” as Ben refers to them so I wasn’t washing non-stop.
  • Breast pump wipes – These are great for at schol if I am going to have to pump twice.  It is not convenient to wash the pump parts at school, so I use the wipes to sanitize between pumping sessions.
  • Positioning – There are several different positions and holds you can use when nursing.  In the beginning I gave them all a shot, but in the end decided that the traditional cradle hold worked best for us.  Occasionally I have gotten clogged milked ducts (painful by the way), and when this happens we have to switch to the football hold when nursing, but this is the only time.  Here is a great video of some different positions to use.  The position where you are laying on the bed nursing is not included in the video, but is one that I hardly use.  I am afraid I will fall asleep and crush my baby.  Some people I know swear by this position and use it daily.  My advice is to give them all a shot and then figure out what works best for you.
  • Time – Don’t try and rush a nursing session.  This will stress out you and baby, plus your milk may not let down if you are stressed.  At first feedings take between 30 minutes to an hour.  Now I can nurse Mikayla in 10-15 minutes.  The longer you nurse, the quicker it becomes.  I am not sure why, but that is what I have experienced.

Most importantly though is to relax and try to enjoy yourself.  It is hard at first when you are in so much pain and so exhausted, but it does get easier.  Before each feeding I make sure I am comfortable, have some supportive cushions (i.e. pillows, Boppie), entertainment (i.e. computer, book, someone to talk to) and a hungry, but not starving child!  Nursing has been one of the best decisions I ever made, and even though we have had some struggles I wouldn’t change it for anything.  The bond I share with Mikayla is like no other bond in the world.

Any of you other experienced moms have more tips/advice/must haves to add to the list?

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Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Disclaimer:  This post is going to include some personal information about breastfeeding my daughter.  If for some reason that causes you some issues, please don’t read any further.  Thanks!

When I first found out I was pregnant I immediately knew that I wanted to try and breastfeed, for multiple reasons.  Here are a few:

  1. Money.  I am cheap.  It costs me nothing to breastfeed (except for the expenses of the pump, but we will cover that later) and formula is expensive.
  2. Convenience.  If Mikayla gets hungry I can feed her on the spot.  I don’t have to worry about making a bottle, I just offer her a breast.
  3. Health.  Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do to help build antibodies in your child.  Not to mention it would help me as a mother lose the “baby fat” faster because I would be burning more calories (selfish, but true).

Now you know my reasons, let’s begin with the journey of breastfeeding my daughter.  The journey began within the first half hour of Mikayla’s life, her first latch.  I was on cloud nine, I had a healthy daughter who was eager to eat.  That eagerness continued for the first 24 hours.  She was eating regularly (according to the nurses, a little more than some newborns) and it appeared things were going smoothly.  And then it happened, the pain started.  Some women might tell you that it all comes naturally and is a beautiful thing.  They are lying!!  Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, but it is also a learning process for both mom and baby.

While in the hospital Mikayla started to bring up her lower lip when latching on, which caused some tenderness on my breasts.  This only got worse the more she would latch on.  I was very sore by the time we left the hospital.  By the time we got home and struggled with it for a few days I was ready to quit.  I was laying on the bed in tears because my breasts hurt so bad.  To all you ladies out there, don’t be fooled, it hurts like crazy those first few weeks.  I don’t think people want to talk about the pain, but I wish they had (I like to be prepared and don’t feel like I was for this aspect of mommy hood).  If you can get past week two it gets better, and by week six it’s bearable!  I digress though, back to the tears in bed.  Ben was so supportive and was willing to do anything he could to help, but let’s be honest Mikayla wasn’t sucking on his breast every two hours for an hour at a time.  No rest for the weary.  If I was going to do this breastfeeding thing I had to persevere.  I decided to use a lifeline and phone a friend.  I called our friend Michelle and asked her to come over for a little Breastfeeding 101. She gave me some pointers, visuals, and encouragement and was on her way.  If she had not come to my house that night I may have given up.  Thanks Michelle for your help!

Travel down the road a few weeks to my six month check up with the OBGYN.  I was placed back on birth control and all seemed well in the breastfeeding world.  I was pumping once or twice a day to start building up a supply and Mikayla was growing at a consistent rate.  However, after this visit, my milk started gradually decreasing and we couldn’t figure out why.  We thought maybe it had something to do with pumping were uncertain.  Mikayla was leaving feedings not 100% satisfied, the ounces I was pumping were decreasing and I began to get concerned.  At her four month check up she had dropped to the 10 percentile in weight.  RED FLAG!  The doctor wasn’t overly concerned, he recommended a few things and off we were.  Oh and he wanted to increase the amount we were feeding her from 4 oz a feeding to 6 or 7.  This was not good news for a mom who was barely pumping a total of three ounces per session.

His suggestions included a few things.  One – supplement with formula.  Nothing against all those mom’s that use formula because it is a great thing, but I had my heart set on exclusively breastfeeding.  (I realize that some mom’s just can’t nurse and I totally get that, but this far in we had no troubles so I wanted to press on until I couldn’t do it any longer).  To me this would be a last resort.  Two – increase my pumping sessions (just what I wanted to hear 😉 ).  Three – take some fenugreek tablets a couple of times a day.  We opted to begin with the latter option.  After a week or two we were not noticing any significant change in my milk production and our freezer supply was getting dimmer and dimmer.  Mikayla was eating a significant amount more than I was producing.  Next came meltdown number two.  I remember sitting on the couch one night trying to nurse Mikayla and there just wasn’t any milk there.  I lost it.  After all, I am her mom and I should be able to provide for her, but I just couldn’t.  Ben got a bottle and while I fed it to her I was crying and contemplating what to do.  If you know me at all, you know I have a little stubborn streak in me and once again giving up was not an option.

After another call to our pediatrician, a change in my birth control (turns out my OBGYN put me on the wrong type and this was causing a decrease in my milk production), more frequent pumping sessions, an increase of fenugreek tablets, and the occasional supplemental feeding with formula we were on our way.  At Mikayla’s six month check up we were back on the weight check and I was producing just enough milk to feed her daily  We are six months in and we are trucking along.  I manage to nurse her at every feeding I am with her and pump at least five times a day to produce the milk needed for two bottles a day, but it is worth it in the end.  Oh and I have a constant odor of maple syrup that follows me everywhere due to the Fenugreek tablets I am taking!  We have overcome a couple of obstacles along the way and I am sure there will be more to come, but we are happily breastfeeding.

With all this being said, all you mom’s out there struggling with breastfeeding:  Don’t give up!

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