• hamillwhitney

BREASTFEEDING: A TALE OF TWO TITTIES (PART III: Tips for Your Nips)

MY TWO CENTS, WISDOM, ADVICE, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT:

I don't want to sound pretentious, or like I know it all, because I DON'T.

My breastfeeding journey has been drastically easy in comparison to some of you other milkshake makers out there. And I can't even pretend to know what any of you have gone through on yours.


But I still want to share some of the things I wish I'd known when I started dipping from Nature's Founts:

โ˜ž When we went in for our first appointment after our second daughter was born, our pediatrician gave us some great advice I wished we'd had with our first: To help baby get out of the habit of falling asleep while nursing and to prevent yourself from becoming a human pacifier, especially in those early weeks, AND, to give yourself a head start on sleep training: IF BABY FALLS ASLEEP ON YOU (OR ANYONE), PUT THEM DOWN! This helps prevent the habit of always having to be held in order to be soothed to sleep. Obviously this is a "try your best" situation because babies are cuddly little creatures and a tummy full of warm milk is like a tranquilizer dart to your baby's face...so. It's going to happen. But once baby falls asleep, get in the practice of setting their adorable butts down and staring at them from their bed instead. This is a tough one (and advice that I myself often ignore) because it's a known fact that babies are 1000x more adorable when they are asleep and basically holding a sweet, sleeping chublet in your arms is ๐Ÿ˜ต (to die for).


โ˜ž Breast milk is all about supply and demand. If you want to try and increase your milk supply I recommend power pumping. (It's the only thing I can recommend because its what worked for me and I haven't tried any magical cookies or tea so I can't say if they work or not.) Power pumping is basically where you pump several times in an hour (for about 10 minutes each pumping session) to increase demand. This tells your body it needs to make more milk. You do this a couple times a day for a few days and you should see an increase in your supply. Adversely, if you let yourself go longer between nursing or pumping sessions to the point where they are getting engorged, your body will respond to this by making less milk, so keep that in mind when baby starts sleeping longer at night (if you are worried about your supply you may want to add in pumping session in the night). After a few weeks your body should have a good sense for how much milk you need to keep up with your baby's needs and it will level off to a steady and consistent amount. Even when baby starts sleeping through the night, your body knows productive vs dormant hours and should be producing amounts of milk accordingly. Another thing to keep in mind is that pumping, while a great tool for helping with your milk supply, does not give your body the same stimulation that nursing your baby directly will in regards to supply. This is also why skin to skin nursing is beneficial for supply and letdown.

FYI - it's normal to see your supply fluctuate at certain times, especially with your monthly cycle.


โ˜ž Milk is watery in the first couple of minutes or so that it is coming out; the fatty, good stuff comes out later into the feed so make sure your baby is nursing long enough to get that good stuff or pump off/express the watery stuff beforehand.


โ˜ž Cluster feeding is common, especially with newborns. If your baby won't stop crying and isn't following normal eating patterns (wanting to nurse every 1-2 hours instead of every 3-4), then chances are they are cluster feeding. The good news is, you won't be (or shouldn't be) tied down to your couch, bare-boobed with nipples that look like they stayed in the pool too long, forever. Cluster feeding is usually indicative of a growth spurt and shouldn't last for more than a couple of days. If you want to know more about it, this article is very helpful.


โ˜ž If you are having a hard time with nursing, a couple of key things to watch for is 1) a good latch. Nursing should not be painful, especially after the first few days. If you are in pain for more than a couple of seconds into the feeding, chances are the latch is no good. 2) If your nipples are flat or inverted, using a shield or pumping beforehand to draw them out can help. A shield is also helpful for sore nipples that need a break to heal.


โ˜ž Nursing can be so convenient. Sometimes a little too convenient. After a couple of weeks, even if you are exclusively doing breast milk, it can be helpful to have someone else, such as your spouse, feed baby with a bottle so that 1)they can get used to taking a bottle, which is helpful for babysitting, daycare, and/or traveling. And 2) It's important that the baby is comfortable letting someone other than mom feed them (for the same reasons just listed.) Not to mention giving your spouse an opportunity to get in on some of that sweet, feeding-time bonding and let's face it, you and your Jumblies could use a break once in a while. (Use it as an excuse to catch up on some zzz's!)


โ˜ž Nursing can be MESSY. Especially if you are blessed with a hefty supply and even more so if you have a baby that has reflux (what baby doesn't? I mean, really?) The first couple of weeks, outings aside, I have to nurse with a towel over my lap, tucked under my chesticles, with baby wearing a bib, and a burp cloth on hand ready to catch anything that the other precautions don't take care of. I don't actually have any great advice for this, I'm just giving you a heads up.


โ˜ž MILK PADS ARE A GODSEND. Other people don't love them, but I do. I wear them everyday until my boobs can figure how to not leak every time I start nursing and have a let-down. (Let down is a reflex that happens (usually) when you start nursing or doing something else that stimulates milk flow. (Some say even hearing a crying baby can trigger it, but I've personally never experienced it.) It feels like you're maybe having a heart-attack but just in your milk blasters. It's a really tight feeling, followed by a release (milk literally starts dripping or spraying out).


โ˜ž Washing the pump bottles can be a real titty-twister on an already exhausted mama. If you are pumping multiple times a day, instead of using up all your milk bags (which are $$$ btw) and having to wash the bottle every time you pump, just pop them in the fridge until your next pump session. This will keep the milk from spoiling and you from dying a little bit inside every time you have to disassemble and wash them throughout the day. At the end of the day, empty the bottles and wash them out thoroughly for the next day. This was a literal lifesaver for me because washing those bottles quickly became the pap smear of daily chores - tedious, thoroughly unenjoyable, and something you put off as long as you possibly can.


โ˜ž Nursing covers. Breast feeding in public. This is a somewhat controversial topic. The good news is, as of last couple of years (how did it take so long?!), it's legal in all 50 U.S. States. (I mean how has it taken this long?) But whether or not you choose to do it, not do it, do it with a cover, or in a mother's room, is all a personal choice. I'll tell you right now, your feelings about it change when you start nursing. It becomes primal and suddenly you are a lot less apologetic and shy about having your breasts out in public. Because let me tell ya, when you have a limited amount of craps to give and you have to choose between caring about what a stupid stranger thinks or caring about feeding your hungry offspring, guess which crap your instincts are going to tell you to give? The last thing you are thinking about is how your feeding your hungry baby, wherever you happen to be, is affecting everyone else.

Personally I do feed my babies in public, typically with a nursing cover. I say it's what I'm most comfortable with, but, in reality, using a cover is a convenience and courtesy to literally everyone BUT you and your baby. It makes latching more difficult, you worry about flashing everyone while you try to switch sides, it can be messy, not to mention really hot. (I also recommend saving yourself from the mistake of using a dark-colored nursing cover. It's waaay too hot, especially in summer months.) Personally, I love these 5-in-1 covers but there are literally a million different kinds all over the internet. We use ours constantly. Except as a scarf... (does anyone?).


โ˜ž Like I said before, nursing burns a lot of energy. So you will probably feel like you are hungrier than you were your entire pregnancy (at least I do). It's a good idea to keep some good snacks around at all times just in case. My blood sugar never had dips until I stared breastfeeding.


โ˜ž Weaning. All I'll can really say about this is that it is all about distraction and a prayer. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

What worked best for my babies was to start taking away daytime feedings day by day until they were down to only nursing first thing in the morning and before bed. After that we would transition out the morning feeding and so on until baby was fully weaned. Keep in mind this process can take a couple to a few weeks and I personally don't recommend quitting them cold turkey - give your milk-aholic a little time to sober up before you get them off the sauce. When weaning my girls, they would want to climb up on me and start tugging at my shirt, sometimes I could tell they were hungry and would feed them something else (duh.) Occasionally though, you might find that baby is seeking more for bonding time and attention than actual food and so just distracting them with some intentional play and your undivided attention will get them to stop reaching for "the good stuff".


Neither of my girls would really go from breastmilk to regular whole milk. They just weren't into it, even when we tried a cocktail of breastmilk and regular milk mixed. We found feeding them whole milk yogurt instead is what worked best for us, but every baby is different. (Just make sure you talk with your child's pediatrician to make sure they are getting the right nutrition and fats they need at this age.)


โ˜ž Last, I just want to say that the best thing you can do for yourself on your breast feeding journey is to give yourself a support system. Your spouse or partner can especially be a good person to lean on for support. LET THEM HELP. Let them pick up the slack in other areas while you focus on this. The laundry and dishes can wait. What you are doing is important. Just having someone like your mom or a sister or friend thats been through it and can offer advice or say "Oh yeah! I've been there too" is invaluable. I'll never forget breaking down towards the second week of breastfeeding my first baby. I was trying so hard to hold out and be strong but our daughter was at a low birth weight and dropping, she had jaundice that we had to monitor a couple times a week with doctor visits, I was recovering from my c-section, had no idea what I was doing as a mother or nursing-virgin, I had a a lot of pain and soreness on my left breast (which I later found out was a clogged duct) and had no idea what to do about it, I was feeding every 2 hours, and I couldn't take it anymore. I finally broke. I'll never forget my mom sensing something was wrong and asking me until I finally burst into tears and vomited my problems, worries, and fears all over her. She just looked at me and told me "It's just hard. What you are doing is so hard. But if you can make it through this week, you'll be just fine" (or something to that effect...) I was so lucky. Between my husband, my mom, sister, sisters and mother-in-law, I had so much help, advice, and support and I honestly don't think I would have made it through those early days and stuck with it. So whether you turn to family, a doctor, a lactation specialist, mom-group, or even online forum, find someone you can confide in. Someone who can validate the hard things you're doing and going through and see you through the other side of it. It's honestly the best thing you can do for yourself and for your baby in regards to breastfeeding and everything else.


To wrap up here (finally), I just want to say:


There is no high horse for anyone to sit on when it comes to breastfeeding.

And all the advice in the world doesn't change that fact that it's just hard.

Each mother's experience is unique and challenging in it's own way and will vary from woman to woman and even from child to subsequent child.

Some women appear to put the MILK in "The Land of Milk and Honey".ย 

Others fight for every last drop of that liquid gold.

Either way you are a Milk Goddess and your body is doing some super cool sh...tuff.

So I won't pretend to know what I'm talking about.

I've stuck with it and am ever so glad I have. But I want to point out that it's not because I am a super cool lactation pro who persevered through all adversity and therefore is better than everyone else at this.

It certainly hasn't made me a better mom.

I was able to do it because I had help. And because my biology is on my side for this particular thing. It's because it was [relatively] easy for me once I got past those first couple of weeks (hell). And because I had two small babies who were fabulous eaters and were more than a little eager to catch up in the chunk department. Basically I was just blessed when it comes to breastfeeding (knock on wood) and I canโ€™t take credit for any of it.

But I feel like we as moms can sometimes put too much emphasis on doing this for our babies. Breastfeeding is not everything.

I'll say it again.

BREASTFEEDING IS NOT EVERYTHING.

I was breastfed for 6 months. Formula fed for the other 6.


I think I turned out okay (?)

Don't stress. Stress is bad for the boobs.


If it's a horrific experience that causes you pain, anxiety, panic, stress or other negative emotions or feelings on a regular basis, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate why you're doing this and whether or not it's worth it. Chances are, if it's really that bad, it's just not.

[AND๐Ÿ‘THAT'S๐Ÿ‘OKAY๐Ÿ‘]

Now go out there and be udderly-amazing.

๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ„๐Ÿ„

(sorry, couldn't help myself)


โ˜ž If you missed Parts I and II check them out here and here! โ˜œ



K.LOVE.YOU.BYE

โ™ก - WHITNEY

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