The End Of A Breastfeeding Era

KAY-0084

A little over three weeks ago Mazen and I had our final nursing session. It was simultaneously a huge deal and a piece of cake.

About a month prior, I had dropped down from 4 feedings a day to 1 over the course of a few weeks. Our only nursing session was first thing in the morning and only one one side. I found this to be the best of both worlds: I could have date nights and total freedom during the day yet we got to have our first thing in the morning snuggle time and continue breastfeeding. The thought of jumping straight out of bed and rushing into breakfast seemed jarring, so I was happy to bring him back into bed with me and have more time to wake up. Mazen was always kind of indifferent about nursing. If I offered it to him he got excited, but he didn’t seem to notice when I dropped feedings.

KAY-0200

One morning he slept until 7am. I got up at 6:30 and began making us both oatmeal for breakfast. By the time he woke up, I had his breakfast all laid out on his tray – milk cup included. My coffee cup had just been poured and I didn’t really feel like getting back in bed, so I decided it would be a good day to test the waters of weaning. As I suspected, he seemed excited for the food on his tray and didn’t bat an eye when I brought him straight from his crib to the kitchen.

The next day I tried it again. This time he did the sign for milk, which made me question everything, but when I said “No milk today – let’s have breakfast!” he seemed to be OK with that. Three more days of going straight to breakfast and I knew he was ready to wean.

But I wasn’t.

KAY-0071

I wanted to have one more nursing session. To soak in the emotions. To spend extra time snuggling. To explain to him the milk was going bye bye. And to forever imprint the memory in my heart.

KAY-0077

So on November 18, after 5 days of not nursing, when Mazen woke up I carried him into my bed. I thought about the first time he latched on in the hospital right after birth. The terrible pain I experienced the first month. The sweet 3am nights with just the two of us. The boppy, the millions of disposable nursing pads, the silly shirts with flaps I bought. And all the times we escaped visitors and crowds to have some quiet moments together. Going on 15 months, I thought about what a big boy he has become.

KAY-0075

I snapped a photo of us from above. I shed a tear. And when he was finished I told him “All done milk. Bye-bye milk.”

KAY-0228

It’s been over three weeks and there have been a few times he has done the sign for milk or pulled on my shirt and I’ve reminded him that the milk is gone. To say this process has been bittersweet is a huge understatement. Yet as hard as it was to say goodbye to nursing, I knew this was right for us. Now on the other side, I’ve been really happy with the decision and timing. And I’m so thankful we had such a positive experience.

KAY-0244

Other breastfeeding posts:

The Road To Weaning

Breastfeeding: Angry Bird In A Swamp

Hours Of Milk

Breastfeeding: Large & In Charge

The Road To Weaning

Baby KERF has slowed down since I have less time to blog these days. I also don’t have as much to say as I did in Mazen’s early months. But one topic I have been itching to write about for weeks is weaning. I am now only nursing once per day, we are getting very close to our final feeding. Luckily it has all gone very well. I wanted to share our experiences going from four feedings a day to one.

 IMG_5308mazen5days0134

When I started breastfeeding I had no idea how long I would nurse. My goal was a year. I could see myself going to two if it worked out. But as we approached 12 months, I knew I didn’t want to continue breastfeeding long term. I won’t go as far as to say Mazen wasn’t interested anymore, but like most older babies, he seemed to be outgrowing it. He would only nurse on my right side for a few seconds, so we were down to just the left. And he didn’t ask to nurse – I was always the one to offer.

Maze-9914

As for the reasons I was ready to move on…I’ve never found the pump to be particularly efficient, so going out in the evenings has either been a hassle (pumping) or too short to be worth it (we leave after bedtime nursing or come home before). I also wanted to travel again. I have had several awesome invitations I’ve had to turn down because they weren’t baby friendly. It was fine at the time because I’m not quite ready to leave Mazen overnight yet (for my own tearfulness!) but I am hoping in the months to come I can slip away on a few trips. I dedicated my body to Mazen this first year (two if you count pregnancy!), so I don’t feel guilty about wanting a bit of freedom back.

Maze-8654

For an entire YEAR of my life I wore breast pads 24/7. While leaking wasn’t a big issue, let down was. Whenever Mazen nursed on one side the other side would let down too. So as long as I have nursed, I’ve needed a protective layer in my bra. Moreover, I have spent the past year in nursing bras (day and night). It’s a small reason to want to stop nursing, but I would really like my old bras back!

Maze-5894

Once we were on the other side of a year and our doctor gave us the all clear at our 12 month checkup, the thought of weaning was more and more appealing. I could tell Mazen was relying less and less on milk for nutrition and comfort and nursing was more routine than anything else.

However, as much as I want to wean, emotionally I want to breastfeed for years. When I think about our final feeding I want to burst into tears. I am sure there is some cocktail of hormones that is creating this response. More than turning one, more than his first words or first steps, weaning means we are leaving the chapter of babyhood behind and moving on to bigger boy things. This is a good thing, obviously, but there is absolutely a part of my heart that breaks thinking about the fact that I will no longer be able to physically provide for him.

Maze-9435

I had secretly hoped Mazen would give up nursing completely on his own. That he would one day push away and be done with it (as my mom said I did with her). But even though I am the one directing this process, I can sense he is on board with it too. If he had shown signs of really not being ready, I probably would continue on a little longer. But he seems indifferent about nursing. He likes it, but he doesn’t need it. He reminds me it’s part of our routine, but he has accepted the change well.

I have offered organic cow’s milk to Mazen, but he doesn’t really love it just yet. He spit it out at first, but now he sips some and lets the rest dribble down his chin. I can tell he is more accepting of it now than he was even a week ago though, and I’ve heard from several other moms that their kids didn’t really take to cow’s milk until they had totally weaned breast milk. We shall see.

Maze-4892

At 12 months we were still at 2 naps a day, and I was nursing him before each nap (around 10 and 3) and at bedtime and wakeup in the morning. My doctor advised me to drop one of the four feeding times each week, so the whole process would take a month. I’ve gone slower than that, but there is no rush. My left side has always produced more than my right, so I stopped offering the right side when he started to nurse on it for just a few seconds. It was kind of weird to only be nursing from one side, but since he didn’t seem to be getting much from the right, it made sense to stop offering. I think as of now the right side is barely producing anymore!

Maze-110625

I decided to drop the 10am feeding first since it was closer in time to the 7am wake up one. The first time I skipped it I gave him a little snack (to rule out hunger) and then we did our nap routine as normal. I put him in his crib and he didn’t seem to notice. That was that!

A week later I did the same with the 3pm nap. This time he did the sign for milk once, but it was more of a “hey mama you forgot!” than an “I NEED MILK” sign. Again I just put him in the crib sleepy and all went fine. I was very surprised at how well it went, and this gave me the confidence in my choice that he was ready too. Once the daytime feedings were gone, my days are SO much more flexible if I need to be out for longer periods of time. It has made hiring babysitters much easier.

One thing to mention is that this process is sort of scary physically. You never know when you’ll end up engorged, uncomfortable or with a rock inside. I’ve been lucky not to experience any mastitis, but there have been a few times that I had to offer him some milk at an odd time just to relieve what felt like a clogged area. I think dropping feedings really gradually has helped with this. After a week I no longer felt full at the old feeding time, and I waited another week or so to drop the next one.

Foodblog-180021

I decided to drop the bedtime feeding just shy of 13 months. One night we did the same as with naps – all of our bedtime things minus the nursing at the end. I also made sure he had had water and a snack before bedtime so his tummy would feel full. The first night he was so tired he didn’t seem to notice at all. The second night he did the sign for milk but we distracted him with a book and then put him in his crib. Again, he didn’t seem to miss it.

Maze-155238 

I’m sure the morning feeding will be the hardest to give up. Right now we have the best of both worlds: one feeding a day gives both of us the most independence while still holding on to our ritual. But sometime in the future – I’m not sure when – I plan to take him from his crib into the kitchen for breakfast instead of back to bed with me. The day before the final feeding I hope to really savor those last moments…I am tearing up just thinking about this right now! {If you want a real tear jerker, read Emily’s post about her last feeding with Cullen!}

For over a year of my life, for hours and hours, day and night, I have gotten to hold Mazen close and make him happy. When I think about breastfeeding, I don’t think about nutrition or antibodies. I think about the happiness I sensed in him every time he nursed. I am so thankful we got to share this experience together.

Maze-0131

Other breastfeeding posts:

Breastfeeding: Angry Bird In A Swamp

Hours Of Milk

Breastfeeding: Large & In Charge

Reading List Erased

I was going through my Kindle app the other day (long time, no see!) and saw that I still had lots of books on baby sleep and breastfeeding. And then I realized I would never read them. How amazing that we are on the other side – success! So I deleted them with joy.

imageimageimageimageimage

Several people have asked me for a recommended reading list, yet I always pause without much to say. The books I read were OK but they didn’t really help much. Other than the Happiest Baby On the Block’s soothing techniques, I didn’t find any of the books I read very helpful.

As I’m sure most first time moms do, I spent many hours researching breastfeeding and sleep in those early days. I was desperate to take away just one good bit of advice that would change things for the better. Now that I’m on the other side – meaning we have a baby who sleeps through the night, naps well and nurses like a champ – I can say that none of the books provided any answers that led to our success. The books, as I’m sure they are designed to do to increase sales, make you think there’s a formula to success. Few, if any, of the techniques I read about actually worked. (I didn’t read Ferber’s book, but I did use his sleep training method at the advice of friends). My success came from real advice from friends and TIME.

The lactation consultants told me Mazen’s latch was perfect. Yet I still experienced pretty bad pain for 6 weeks or so. The only thing that I think helped was time – for his mouth to get bigger, for him to learn how to latch himself, and for my body to desensitize.

The sleep experts told me to put him down awake, read cues, etc. yet Mazen never slept well despite doing everything they recommended. What eventually did get him to sleep was teaching him that it was OK to wake up and go back to sleep at an appropriate age for both of us.

But when you’re doing something for the first time, nothing makes you feel more helpless and out of control then when someone else says “Just give it time.” You are desperate for a plan – anything – to make even the slightest improvements. So I’m not here to tell any other first time moms not to read the books or try your darnest to get your baby to fall asleep ‘drowsy but awake.’ Reading will make you feel better.

But I will say – you’d probably have more fun reading novels or watching TV or SLEEPING during your spare time and you’ll probably figure it out yourself with just as much success in time.*

*Please remind me of this when we approach the terrible two tantrums, potty training and more!

Breastfeeding: Large & In Charge

Before I became a mom, I used to hear women say: “Breastfeeding is hard!”

I never really understood what they meant. I knew that nipple soreness is a common problem in the beginning, and I knew that some women have trouble with supply and others are away during the day and have to pump a lot, which sounds not only difficult but a lot to manage. But otherwise, I really know yet what was so hard about feeding your baby from your breast. Not to say that I thought it would be totally easy, I just didn’t know what to expect.

IMG_5626

Now that I’ve had 4+ months of breastfeeding every 3 hours or less, I understand a bit more of the picture. (That’s over 1,000 nursing sessions, by the way!)

I do want to say also that we have been lucky and seem to have no problems with breastfeeding, so I realize how much harder it can be if you put complications on top of a normal nursing schedule. Keep in mind too that this post is based on my personal experiences only!

On a normal day in the privacy of home, breastfeeding is a complete joy and there is nothing hard about it. I did experience a LOT of nipple soreness. I took me a month to really say “this doesn’t hurt” and probably twice that time to be able to not even feel much other than gentle tugging. I wasn’t expecting it to hurt as much or as long as it did, and that was…hard! But I was dedicated and grit my teeth through the worst parts and luckily, as many other moms promised, we came out on the other side ok.

It was hard at first to get Mazen’s latch right. Everyone told me his latch was perfect, but it just didn’t look as much like a wide open “drinking” motion as the You Tube videos I watched. I realized with time that the older he gets, the more he is the model drinker. Now his latch is perfect, and he gulps milk just like a textbook baby. It just took us 4 months to get there :mrgreen: I think he just had to wait until his mouth got bigger to be able to use it effectively. So in the beginning there was a lot of worry about latch. Luckily his weight gain was stellar so I never worried if he was getting enough, but there are lots of moms who have that added stress. There are always questions floating through the back of my mind: “Am I feeding him too often? Too infrequent? Is his staying on long enough? Too long?” You’d think these answers would be clear, but sometimes they are not.

I STILL don’t really like any of the sitting positions, and I find that side lying is the most comfortable for me and the best way for Mazen to latch. I’m sure it’s an error on my part, but in the sitting positions, I just feel like he’s a bit twisted on and they still hurt a bit, but with side lying, he’s nose-to-nipple perfect and can easily latch himself on. I love lying down, and it’s a great opportunity to rest. He now knows when we lie down to roll onto his side and open his mouth like a baby bird.

Probably the biggest current challenge of breastfeeding for me is nursing in public. I know I could just bare all, but I’m quite shy (I don’t even nurse in front of my family) and so I struggle with covers and balancing Mazen on my lap in strange places. Plus spraying milk all over and getting too hot and where did that burp cloth go and can someone pass me my water bottle!? I try to time it so we were back home for nursing sessions, but of course that’s not always possible. I sort of dread breastfeeding in public because it’s 100 times harder than it is at home.

Pumping is also hard. I heard once that it takes two pumping sessions to make one bottle of milk for a feeding (because pumping is not as efficient at removing the milk as a baby is). I rarely pump now because I got so tired of cleaning parts and bottles. Hats off to you moms who pump daily at work – as much as a breastfeeding supporter as I am, I’m not sure how long I could do that. One thing I did discover recently: my electric pump parts were not clean and we had been on a car trip and ohmygoshIhavetopumpNOW happened. Luckily I have a hand pump too (this one) so I used that instead. I was shocked to discover how much more effective it was!!!!!!!!!!! Now back when Mazen was a newborn, I tried the hand pump and didn’t have much luck, but now things seem to have changed in the way I let down and I suppose milk production too because what would have taken me 30 minutes to get with the electric pump came out with the hand pump in 10 minutes. I was thrilled to be able to get a whole bottle in that short amount of time, and ever since I’ve been using the hand pump over the electric. I’m glad I have both because they have both served great use over the course of 4 months, but the hand pump is 10 times easier because there is less to clean and carry around. So I my advice to you casual pumpers: you might give the old hand pump another go around and see what happens. PS. Massaging my breast is much easier with the hand pump and I get a lot of extra milk with compressions.

Maze-2204

Lastly, the breasts are large and in charge!! I’ve never been scared of my body like I am sometimes when it’s been a long time since I’ve nursed (like in the middle of the night if he sleeps unexpectedly long). The engorgement is scary!! They are really hard as rocks, and all I can think about is “Where is my baby because I need to release this milk now!” You kind of wonder what would happen if you didn’t have a baby or a pump nearby…. So even if your baby takes a bottle well and you have a confident babysitter, you still have to think about your breasts on date nights or days away from home. The milk has to come out…or else.

Before I had Maze, if you asked me what I was most excited about as a mother my answer was breastfeeding. It was something I couldn’t wait to experience. It definitely hasn’t been everything I expected, but the good parts are even better. My favorite time is first thing in the morning when he wakes up babbling in his crib and I bring him into bed snuggled under the covers for breakfast.

Hours Of Milk

Remember the Baby Connect app? It was SO helpful for the first few weeks when my brain was mush and we were nursing, napping and changing diapers nonstop.

Baby Connect

I quickly stopped tracking diapers (there were plenty!) and slowly stopped tracking his sleep.

There are two things I still keep track of: nursing and nighttime sleep.

Nighttime sleep because it’s helpful for me to keep the timer going and know exactly how long I’ve been asleep when I wake up again (30 minutes and 4 hours sometimes feel the same!)

And nursing because I find this data to be important for M’s health – to note trends. But also so I can better predict my schedule and feeding times throughout the day. He continues to nurse for 20+ minutes at each feeding, although I think we may be turning a corner just this week to more like 15 minutes. I’m not sure if we’re on the road to 5 minute feedings, but for the most part it’s OK because we enjoy the time together.

The app has some pretty cool charts, and when I was playing with it recently I saw how cool it is to see his trends over the past 3 months all in a row:

Total Hours Spent Nursing

Look at that clear drop!

Screenshot_2012-12-03-17-41-58 (332x590)

Nursing Session Count

Definitely a big drop after a month!

Screenshot_2012-12-03-17-42-06 (332x590)

Average Session Time

This has stayed pretty consistent…hmmm. But from the first graph we can tell that while he’s nursing roughly the same amount of time, his feedings are spacing out because the overall time is less.

Screenshot_2012-12-03-17-42-19 (332x590)

Interval Between Nursing

Which brings us to interval – clearly he is going longer between feedings!

Screenshot_2012-12-03-17-42-26 (332x590)

And finally – tiny 1-month old Maze! I miss that little snuggler!

Screenshot_2012-10-17-05-23-00

Breastfeeding: Angry Bird In A Swamp

My mom used to say that in the early days of raising us girls she slept in a swamp. Before having Mazen, I didn’t quite get what could be so….damp….about nursing. Now I get it!! Smile

mazen5days0281

My perception of breastfeeding before actually doing it was like an on/off switch – if your baby suckled, milk came out. However, it is much messier than that! I leak on one side while he’s feeding on another (I learned this this hard way and soaked a shirt when we had company over!) Sometimes when I get out of a hot shower I’m already leaking. I leaked through washable breast pads and can only use the disposable ones right now. Mazen sometimes spits up all over me. We sweat together when we’re skin-to-skin when it’s hot. Sometimes his diaper leaks on me. It’s a SWAMP!

Going back to his birth, I was lucky that he latched on right away. He nursed for about 45 minutes right after birth. It didn’t hurt and sort of felt like you’d expect it would if a baby was gently sucking on your nipple. He also didn’t go through that 24-hours-of-sleepiness that most newborns do – he wanted to eat every 2 hours from the start! The nurses and lactation consultants said his latch looked great. A LC told me what a swallow sounded like – a little sigh almost – and I’m glad because it assured me he was actually getting colostrum.

IMG_5280

I’d say it was maybe the middle of day 2 when it started to hurt. My nipples just started to get sore. His suck was stronger, and he was tugging his way through the feedings. My doctor recommended these Soothies cooling pads, and I started wearing them all the time. They really did soothe.

On day two at lunchtime, my parents brought me my first placenta pills from home (I had my placenta encapsulated and it was ready just about 24 hours after the birth – more on that in another post). By that evening, my boobs were hard as rocks, and my real milk had come in! I’m not sure if the placenta was entirely to thank for the quick arrival, but I think the timing was pretty fast for a first time mom otherwise.

IMG_5309

The rest of week 1, my nipples hurt pretty badly. They started to get scabs and one time (I’m very lucky it was only one time!) one of them bled enough that Maze spit up some of the blood. It was quite horrifying, and thankfully didn’t happen again.

Part of the reason it hurt is that his lower jaw would just not open quite wide enough. LC’s and nurses had me tugging it down on it to encourage him to open wider, but it just felt like he was chomping with his lower gums rather than making the complete duck lips. Imagine if you had a cut on your arm and someone was pushing on it with a screwdriver. over and over and over. That’s kind of how it felt! I tried using lanolin, but I found it incredibly sticky and it hurt to rub on. I found the Mother Love Nipple Cream (which I had ordered in advance upon recommendation) to be SO much better. But it didn’t seem to be helping me all that much with the soreness. Now that I’m less sore, though, I can tell this cream does help reduce surface pain a bit. Love that it’s all natural and it rubs on so well too.

IMG_6277-2

One night when it hurt particularly badly and I was tired and not looking forward to another 8 hours of feeding and rocking, I broke down in tears. I totally understood why women give up on breastfeeding. Matt offered to watch Maze for more of the night so I could get better sleep and gave me an encouraging pep talk. It helped a lot.

That evening, my friend had told me that her midwife told her that the Soothies pads were better for short term use and that when used 24/7, they prevented healing. (I still use them on occasion – chilled – after a rough feeding, but don’t wear them full time.) Apparently open air (and sunlight!) was the best thing to “put on.” So that night, I slept topless.

And I believe that night was a turning point.

During the next few days, Maze seemed to open his mouth wider. Rather than chomping like a fish when I offered, he started holding his mouth open like a baby bird. We were making progress. Now I understand why breastfeeding is something that both mom and baby have to learn together.

IMG_20120910_122620-2

I decided also to put more effort into getting his latches right. I went to KellyMom.com and watched videos on You Tube. I observed what “drinking” looks like in comparison to “nibbling.” He was doing a fair amount of nibbling at the end of his feedings. His latch looked good though and he was clearly “drinking.” I worked on pointing my nipple up to the roof of his mouth, which also helped to get it in a better position. And I learned how to unlatch him without pain (pry the finger in and open the jaw before attempting to pull out!) Before I was afraid to unlatch him because that hurt almost as much as the bad latch itself!

Lastly, I went to see a volunteer from Le Leche League to give us some tips. She helped me with positions and said his latch was great – of COURSE he latched perfectly for her! It was still a helpful visit though, and I was glad for the reassurance. He put on his birth weight very quickly and making plenty of dirty diapers, so although I was being sent through the wringer, I knew he was happy.

Week 2 still hurt a lot, but we were getting better. We had a day or two of really good feeds followed by a bad day. By the beginning of week 3 [now], things are 90% good. Still a little pain with the latching on, but not the toe-curling, grunting, cursing kind from earlier.

Pillows

I brought the Boppy to the hospital, but once we were home I realized how much more supportive My Brest Friend is. It’s our nursing pillow of choice upstairs, and I use the Boppy when I’m down on the couch (sitting cross-legged it’s easier to use because I can bring it up higher). I’m glad I have both so I don’t have to lug a pillow up and downstairs all the time. I actually think nursing him without any pillow is kind of nice too, but it’s way too tiring on the arms to do that more than a little. I used to make fun of the little pocket on the Brest Friend pillow – it’s so little and seemed pointless! But then I realized it’s actually great for storing an extra breast pad, nipple cream and a burp cloth at all times. If only it had a built in water fountain too! We also do side lying position at night, which hurts more than the other positions, but we’re learning! My whole upper back actually was REALLY sore during the first week – despite the pillows, it was hard not to hunch. I was also picking him up a lot, which contributed to the tired muscles.

IMG_6278-2

Necessities

When it’s time to nurse, there are 3 things that I must have nearby:

1) My water bottle. A MUST! So thirsty. Thanks many times to Matt for rushing it to me filled with ice water.

2) My phone or tablet to use the Baby Connect app (so helpful for tracking these early weeks).

3) A burp cloth.

Do not try to breastfeed without a burp cloth! It will inevitably be the time when he spits up while he’s drinking – double the milk everywhere! We received a lot of burp cloths at our baby showers, and I use them all all the time!

IMG_6279

Clothing

I also didn’t realize how much breastfeeding would affect my wardrobe! At home, it’s not a big deal to pull up my shirt or just wear a bra (because if I went topless there would be lots of leaking!), but when we go out in public, I really have to think about the logistics of feeding him somewhat blindly under a cover (I feel most comfortable under a cover at this point in time.) This bra by Bravado is my favorite – so comfortable and surprisingly supportive for a seamless bra. I also bought a handful of nursing shirts from Motherhood Maternity and this Bravado tank that I LOVE but it has been too hot to layer too much with it. I have never been able to go braless in a tank top (even one with a built in bra) – until this one. One major drawback to breastfeeding: wearing a dress (that is not a nursing-specific or wrap dress) is pretty much impossible.

Covers

I have been using this cover in public and when my family was here, which I received from Bebe Au Lait to review on the blog.

IMG_5352

I have good things to say – the peek-a-boo neckline is super helpful (latching under a swaddle blanket is not nearly as easy to do) and the fabric is more than plentiful to cover 3/4 of my body and let his legs get some air. Just like the My Brest Friend, I laughed at the little pocket on the front when I first saw it, but I have since come to realize how handy it is for holding a breast pad while nursing!! Brilliant addition : ) My only complaint about the cover is it gets very hot under there. In the warmer months, this is a pretty big problem, however, once winter is here, it will be a huge plus! I’m not sure how to get around that in the summer – perhaps a more breathable fabric for warm months? But overall, very glad I have this because there’s nothing as convenient if you’re a little modest like me. It has allowed me to nurse at the mall, in restaurants, and whenever someone is visiting without showing anything.

Still need to learn: how to nurse in a sling/carrier!

Maze + Me

And now the important part: Maze is so cute when he nurses. He makes the funniest faces and raises his eyebrows at me. He looks up at me like a little whale with one eyeball. And after he’s done, he pops off and rests his head on me, using me like a little pillow, as if to say “Ahhhhhh this is the life.” After that he does these cute little stretches where he puts his arms above his head and flexes his biceps and squishes up his face. The silliest thing he does is what Matt and I call “Angry Bird” – he’s like a little woodpecker popping on and off and darting his little head around. It’s quite hilarious!! We have no idea why he does it. These are my favorite moments together.

IMG_5791

I’m still looking forward to the day when he latches on without any pain, and hopefully that day isn’t too far off.

mazen5days0277

Until he gets teeth, that is!!

34 Weeks: Breastfeeding Class

Last week Matt and I attended a breastfeeding class put on by our hospital.

2012-07-17 20.04.39

Breastfeeding is probably the part of motherhood I am the most excited about. I think because it’s the epitome of bonding between mother and baby. And I say this a lot, but I’m ready to put my breasts to use!* Heck, I even loved “nursing” the doll. Just holding a doll makes my hormones surge, and I nearly cried a few times during the class. *I realize I don’t know yet if nursing will work out for us, but I am being optimistic and am completely determined!

The class was very helpful and led by an enthusiastic lactation consultant. We had an intro, watched a movie on the basics (including lots of examples of real women nursing) and then ended with tons of Q+A.

The following are tips our consultant shared with us. Many of them were fascinating and new to me. I’m not trying to say the above are golden rules – they’re just tips from our particular consultant.

If you’re in a household with sick people, mom will create an antibody for the sickness in her breast milk within SIX HOURS of exposure – even if she is yet to come down with the sickness herself. This is an evolutionary protection for the baby. (Amazing!)

Pacifiers and bottles aren’t recommended in the first month while the baby adjusts to the breast, but dad’s finger makes an excellent soother that actually helps the baby learn proper nursing technique even better (because it is long and hard…lol)

Changing positions from feed to feed is recommended so different areas of the breast empty since different positions often put emphasis on different areas

When a baby latches correctly, reward him with “GOOD BABY!” and a happy voice. If he latches incorrectly, respond with a firm “No” and remove him from the breast. Our consultant said she swears babies learn faster this way.

A glass of wine or beer is totally fine – and even recommended to help mom relax in those witching hours before dinner. Definitely do not booze it up though (not that one would want to with a tiny baby to care for..)

The macrophages in breast milk cured terrible eye infections in patients with HIV within 3 days

Babies like to mimic their parents’ faces, so to encourage the yawn shape you want for a good latch, make eye contact with your baby and open your mouth wide.

A bad latch nursing session can leave you sore for 3 days. Work hard to get the latch right and don’t settle for a poor one if you can help it – you might regret it if it makes all subsequent feeds more painful.

Give breastfeeding 4 weeks before you introduce pumping and do it first thing in the AM after baby’s first feeding when you’re likely to have more milk left. A hand pump should be fine if you’re staying home.

Twisting your nipple to make it harder right before a feed can help the baby find it easier

Putting milk on your nipples and letting them air dry is one of the best ways to heal them if you do experience cracking/bleeding

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is her favorite book to recommend for more info

Don’t assume if your baby just ate “he can’t be hungry again.” Trust his cues. Sometimes a 5 minute top-off feed is all he needs to then zonk out for 3 hours.

Don’t have too many rules! Listen to your gut, trust yourself and your baby rather than what the books or advice from strangers says.

I’ve heard so many mixed things about nursing – I’d love to hear some of your best nursing advice!

PREVIOUS 34 week posts

Snapshots

Previous WEEKS

4 weeks

5 weeks

6 weeks

7 weeks

8 weeks

9 weeks

10 weeks

11 weeks

12 weeks

13 weeks

14 weeks

15 weeks

16 weeks

17 weeks

18 weeks

19 weeks

20 weeks

21 weeks

22 weeks

23 weeks

24 weeks

25 weeks

26 weeks

27 weeks

28 weeks

29 weeks

30 weeks

31 weeks

32 weeks

33 weeks