Sunday, August 19, 2007

Breastfeeding: Lessons Learned

I know it's hard to believe, but it's having the terrible F word in the house that finally got Sammy and me feeling better about breastfeeding. It's not because we tried it (I mean formula) and realized how bad it is. It's because now I don't panic about what will happen if Sammy will still be hungry and I won't have milk to give her. This means that I am more relaxed and the milk is coming in much better. And since I am more relaxed she is more relaxed and latches on better. I thought my Mom was exaggerating when she told me the kids can sense if you are stressed out, even tiny ones. I guess she wasn't. Ever since I had Sammy, I realized one important thing: always listen to your Mother (unless she is worrying too much :)

Well, since we'd like to have more kids some day, I thought I'll write down some of the lessons I've learned from this breastfeeding experience. In a few years I might forget the important details and it would be nice if the second time it went a little better.

  1. Ask your Ob/gyn for an APNO prescription BEFORE giving birth. This way you can heal the damage as soon it occurs.
  2. Do not attempt to breastfeed as soon as you give birth. You'll be way too tired after labor to pay attention and will likely cause your nipples way more damage than its worth. Just cuddle your baby and relax.
  3. Ask the hospital staff to keep the baby in the nursery overnight and feed him/her formula. You need all the sleep you can get; besides, you don't have milk yet anyway, and there'll be plenty of opportunity to give the baby colostrum during the day.
  4. Print out latch instructions from before heading to the hospital to give birth.
  5. Don't mess around with multiple positions until it's going well for a few weeks. Learn the cross-cradle and stick to it until you have it completely mastered.
  6. Buy "My Breast Friend" (a breastfeeding pillow) and bring it with you to the hospital. Don't attempt to feed without it until it's going well for a few weeks.
  7. If the baby stops sucking, apply pressure to your breast with your free hand until baby restarts sucking and hold there until she stops again. Then apply pressure in another place.
  8. In the beginning pump after at least some feedings to build up a good milk supply.
  9. If you get plugged ducts, apply heat before pumping and feeding.
  10. If using Medela Pump In Style, buy the large size nipple shields (the ones that come with the pump are medium).


Pyatachok said...

Thank you my Sweet Heart.
You are a VERY SMART MOMMY :)!
I am VERY PROUD of you handling every problem that comes alone.
Good Luck with the future ones :).


Heather Bucell said...

Hi Helen!!
I had a little boy, Andrew Charles.
He has a blog too:
He was born 7/12- 5 days after Sammy!
We haven't joined a mother's group yet but pretty soon we will- reading about the Isis group, that sounds so cool, you all went to Blue Ribbon, NICE!
I have to agree about the "My Breast Friend" -truly, I don't know what I would have done without it! We just got a Medela over the weekend- our health didn't cover it but I found a brand new one on Craigslist for cheap.
I have a dear friend coming to visit today, going to check out beyond salmon for a fish recipe to make!
Thank you, Helen!

Anonymous said...

Dear Helen,
I think the most important message here was to relax. As the mother of an 8-year-old, I have to tell you that the decisions we make about how we raise our children from day one - breast or bottle, e.g. - are constant and never-ending, and are disagreed with and challenged by everyone. FIERCELY. Are you going to work or SAH? If work, nanny or daycare? Will your child use a pacifier - always, sometimes, never? Will your child watch television - always, sometimes, never? Basketball or soccer? Etc, etc, etc. I think we're all insecure about doing this motherhood thing that we've never done before, and there will unfortunately be no shortage of people out there ready to criticize how we're doing, so the only answer is to do what you think is right and stick to it. And don't make comments about other people's child-rearing, no matter how much or what they say about you :-).
Good luck. You're doing great. Make sure you sleep.
Pam in DC

Helen said...

Hi Pam in DC,

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and support and for not telling me to hang in there with breastfeeding at all costs ;) I've heard enough of it. Last weekend was another bad one -- I got mastitis :( I have finally completely recovered, but oh, what an awful experience!

One day, when Sammy will be an 8 year old, I'll be able to look back at all this and laugh. I am sure we'll be dealing with much bigger problems then.

Good luck with all your parenting decisions. I am sure they'll be good!


Anonymous said...

Dear Helen,

I have enjoyed sharing in your journey. I ache for the difficulties and yet smile knowing you'll make it through.

Hugs to the whole family.

Melisa in Michigan

Shayne said...

breastfeeding will be a lot easier the second time around. At least it was for me. you will already know how to just relax and how to hold yourself for a good latch on.