Monday, March 24, 2014

Breastfeeding words of wisdom

With breastfeeding little Holly, it has gone pretty effortlessly compared to what it was with Grant. I've had a love hate relationship with it, but I must say the second time around I have grown to enjoy it. Even though its my second time around breastfeeding, I would by no means call myself a professional at it. I have found even the second time around there is so much to learn about it. It's not so cut and dry as most people think. With almost two years of breastfeeding under my belt (16 months with Grant, four months so far with Holly) I thought I would offer some of my wisdom to mothers who are currently breastfeeding or considering breastfeeding.

Let me say I am by no means a professional, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I found these things helpful for myself.

It still amazes me to this day to watch my babies grow and see that my breastmilk contribute to that. The human body is amazing on what it can do!

1) Don't beat yourself up if you have to supplement.
 Recent studies have came out to show that women who supplement with formula are more likely to stick to breastfeeding than those who don't. I will say with Grant I had to supplement with him because he had jaundice and he was not gaining weight with breastfeeding. I think his latch wasn't strong enough. The nurses basically bullied me into giving him formula, and I was absolutely heartbroken. But then I realized (through many months) that supplementing isn't the end all be all. And it really can help in certain situations. I nursed Grant as long as I could than supplemented with formula and eventually got back to birth weight and his latch became stronger that he didn't need supplementation anymore. But then when I went back to work, I wasn't pumping enough, I had to supplement again. And by then it wasn't a big deal to me. So if you are planning on breastfeeding, don't feel like its the end if you have to give them formula. And if you decide breastfeeding is not for you than that is perfectly fine! I've learned that formula is not the bad guy. I think sometimes breastfeeding mothers view mothers who give their babies formula as terrible because they didn't try or whatever. But bottom line, as long as your baby is getting the nourishment he or she needs who cares! I wish we as a society could break this stigma with formula and breastfeeding.

2) The amount that you pump is not a good indication of your supply.
Baby is always going to get more milk out of you than what a pump can get. Those pumps are pretty powerful but still not as good as a baby's suckle. I have encountered many moms who panic because they don't pump very much, and think that their baby is not getting enough. But really they are! That is the other thing to, Breastfed babies don't intake as much as milk as formula fed babies, so you may think you are not pumping enough, but really its just enough for the baby!

 3) Don't be afraid to consult with a lactation consultant, even if you think everything is going well.
I didn't get the luxury with Grant to talk to a lactation consultant and it would have been helpful for me. I didn't even know I had one available. But usually their is a lactation consultant at the hospital that you deliver at, and they are free to consult with. I had a lactation consultant work with me after I had Holly and I didn't even think I needed her guidance. She so happened to come in the hospital room to see how I was doing. I found out that Holly's latch wasn't completely over my nipple and she was just "kissing" me. I felt like I was nursing her non stop, and that was why! She wasn't getting enough. I'm glad the LC decided to stop by, I didn't even know what to ask her or that I was having problems. I thought that was a normal thing since the same thing happened with Grant. So don't be afraid to ask for help. That is what a LC is there for! 

4) Breastfed babies wake up more in the middle of the night.
It's normal for breastfeed babies to wake up more, their bellies digest breast-milk faster than formula. But I will stay if you have a baby in general that doesn't like sleep it's not going to make a difference if you give him or her formula or breast-milk. With Grant, he woke up so many times during the night. I thought if I gave him formula he would sleep through the night. No such luck. I thought starting him on cereal would help too. No such luck on that either! So every baby is different. But be prepared to nurse a lot in the middle of the night. It's not out of the ordinary.

5) Its normal for breastfed babies not to have frequent bowel movements.
I remember freaking out when Grant didn't poop for over five days. But then I found out it's actually pretty normal. (After they are about two months old or so) Before he ate solids, he would poop once a week. It's weird because this time with Holly, who is also breastfed, poops daily. Even twice a day! But I think her dairy allergy is coming into play as to why she has more frequent bowel movements. 

6) Just because you are exclusively breastfeeding doesn't necessarily mean you won't have a period.
A lot of women think that because they are breastfeeding they won't have a period the entire time that they are breastfeeding. But not the case! Usually if you exclusively breastfeed and do not use pacifiers, you will most likely not have a period for awhile. But really it varies with every woman. I've heard of women who exclusively breastfeed and have a period two months postpartum. For myself who exclusively breastfed Grant and pumped at work, I had my period at five months postpartum. I get jealous of those who don't have it for over a year!

7) Your supply may decrease when your period comes around each month.
 It also decreases when you ovulated. I think that is why I had an easier time figuring out when I ovulated when we were trying for Holly because I could tell in the middle of the month when my supply took a dip. And it took a dip when it was that time of month. The increase of hormones effect supply.

8) Feed on demand
 Pediatricians may tell you to feed on a schedule. I always get annoyed when my pediatrician asks me how often my baby is feeding because I feed my babies on demand, and it varies. I can't really say there is a set number of times she eats and for how long. I feed her when she wants and for long as she wants. So it's hard for me to say how often. That also helps with supply when you feed on demand. :)

9) You may be worried that baby is not getting enough from breastfeeding but as long as they are having wet and poopy diapers they are!
 This is something many new moms who are breastfeeding worry about. I know that I did. I was so scared Grant wasn't getting enough. That is why feeding on demand helps! With breastfeeding babies can control how much they intake, and feeding on demand is important to know when they want more, verses going on a schedule. You can't overfed a breastfed baby unless you are bottle-feeding them with breast-milk. So as long as baby is having the appropriate number of wet and poopy diapers the first few weeks of life and is gaining weight, you have nothing to worry about. (And its normal to lose some weight the first week. ) Keeping a feeding log the first few weeks helps as well. This way you can keep track of how long the feedings are and if baby is getting the appropriate number of wet diapers.

10) Let the baby nurse as long as he or she wants. Don't put a time limit to it. 
 This one can be frustrating at times, especially for new moms who are breastfeeding. I will say I've had over hour long sessions before. Not so much with Holly but I did with Grant when he was learning how to get a stronger latch. It really helped him get better with nursing. A set nursing session time doesn't guarantee that your baby is getting enough milk. Baby express milk from the breast at different paces, especially when they are younger and there suck isn't as strong. The older they get the more efficient. But regardless you don't want to yank them off at a certain time. Just let baby nurse as long as he or she wants. And remember feeding a baby for over an hour doesn't mean you are overfeeding them! They will let you know when they are done.

11) Build a stockpile before you are going back to work.
 If you are planning on going back to work, pump as much as you can to build that stockpile. I would pump in between nursing sessions. Or if baby feeds on one side and not the other, then I pump on that side. When you go back to work, and it starts to get stressful, you will start dropping in supply. And I can't tell you how many times I have missed pumping sessions because it gets crazy. So the more you can pump before returning to work, the better!

12) Breastfeeding will hurt at first but gets easier.
 Breastfeeding will hurt at first because it is new, and it hurts getting used to being engorged. It usually hurts for the first few weeks. If it hurts longer than that you may want to see a LC, because there maybe another issue which is causing pain, like tongue tie, or poor latch.

13) When pumping, be consistent, stick to a schedule.
This is really hard for me, especially with my job. But it is very important to pump around the same time every time, and to remain consistent. Trust me if you don't your supply to hurt as a result. Plus you may risk getting a clog duct or mastitis.

14) Know your legal rights as a nursing mother.
Employers must provide a place other than a restroom to pump in the workplace and give reasonable breaks to pump. Breastfeeding in public is legal in most states. So do your research on the laws, and don't feel like you are not allowed to nurse in public. It's your right. Here is a listing of the breastfeeding laws by state: Breastfeeding Laws by State

15) Breastfeeding doesn't mean you'll instantly shed pounds.
For some women who breastfeed they lose quite a bit from breastfeeding. I was unfortunately not one of the lucky ones! Part of it is when breastfeeding, you are SO hungry, all the time. So its easy to over eat or eat unhealthy, which can be part of not losing weight. So women don't lose the pounds until they are down breastfeeding. I'm hoping I am the latter. I never lost the last 15 pounds when I had Grant. I was still breastfeeding when I was pregnant with Holly, so I never got to test that theory out. And now I am 4 months postpartum and now 25 pounds total to from pre-pregnancy weight (10 from Holly and 15 from Grant) I wish I would shed off the pounds!

16) Not every baby is the same when it comes to breastfeeding. 
 I thought after having Grant, that I was a breastfeeding professional. Breastfeeding did come easier with my second baby, but it wasn't easy just because it was my second time around. It still took a while to get nursing down with Holly. Every baby is different.

17) Just because you are breastfeeding doesn't mean you can't have the occasional alcoholic beverage. If you are sober enough to drink to are sober enough to breastfeed. 
I have had a lot of people freak out when they see that I am drinking one beer, since they know that I am nursing. But guess what? It's ok to drink while nursing. Maybe don't do both at the same time. Studies show an occasional drink is not harmful to a nursing baby. The rule of thumb is usually it is ok to have 1 to 2 beers, or 8oz of wine, or 2oz of liquor.Wait until about 2 to 3 hours before nursing the baby. If you feel safe enough to drive at that point you are safe to nurse. Pumping and dumping doesn't really prove anything or get rid out the alcohol content in your milk. It's basically in your blood and it takes time for it to go down. Really its only necessary to pump, to relieve engorgement and avoid clog ducts. And when you do pump make sure you dump. If you are going to drink more than the recommended amount and are unsure when it is safe to nurse use these handy dandy Milkscreen alcohol test strips . You can dip them in your expressed milk to its safe to nurse. I just bought a bunch of these on Amazon for my 30th Birthday celebration this Saturday! Woo Hoo.

Look at my little cute chunky monkey. Nursing for 4 months so far with this little cutie pie!

And don't take my word for it. Here are some great resources that I go to all the time:

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