From Birth to 5 months: Tips I have to share!
It can be really challenging, but so worth it to stick with it. When I was researching during my pregnancy and learned how good breastfeeding was for my baby, I was determined to do everything I could to make it happen. Giving up was not an option in my book. For most people that I have talked to, as well as for me, it is painful in the beginning. There little mouths are so small it is hard for them to get latched on well. Get help ASAP. If you are in a hospital help is there. For at home births have a number to a lactation consultant on hand, and use them often. The money you pay is well worth it and you will save all that by being able to feed them from your breast instead of buying formula. Know that you can endure and it will get better. Another option if it is too painful in the beginning is to pump instead of using formula though it is recommended that you not give a bottle until 6 weeks or so in order that they learn how to latch on. I know that not evewryone can stay home as long as I did to work this hard at it. I also believe where there is a will there is a way! We just do our best and forget the rest. Whatever you offer your baby, offer it with love and they will get the most special nourishment ever!
Benefits of Breastfeeding:
There are so many that you can read about from many sources. What I want to share here is just a personal note. It is such an amazing bonding experience for me with Bodhi. It is a time for us to connect heart to heart. He feels his mommas love and I fall deeper in love with him everytime. I use this time to meditate on sending him peace and love. I watch his sweet little face and place it in my mind to see when I am away from him. I feel the softness of his hands and remember them when I am at work missing him for the day. It took about 3 months before it was no longer painful for me with the Reynauds (more on this later) so I was very persistent. And now not only is it pain free, but even pleasant indeed! I am so grateful that I did not give up though I was in tears more than once wondering if I could endure. When you breast feed both you and the baby release the love hormones that help you relax and bond so deeply with each other. I definitely feel this, and I don’t feel quite the same when I pump or bottle feed him though I have had to do a combination of all of these to keep up with him. There is so much more goodness they recieve from human mothers milk than from a cow or soy. Such as increased intelligence, immunity, strength, reduced chances of disease, diabetes etc. It goes on and on. We are lucky today to have this information available to us. Many of our parents were told that formula was superior. We know now that a made up formula is not better than what we naturally have to offer? It doesn’t get better than what you have to give your baby. So when it gets challenging, get help, and know that it will get better. You can do it!
Tongue tied babies:
Mommas boob are not used to the parana chomp. For me it was so painful I knew I could not last like that and called the lactation consultant to come to my house before he was 24hr old. She confirmed that he was tongue tied as my midwives had noticed as well and suggested we have it lasered by a dentist in Kaysville, Dr. Swan. So on day two of his life we did. It was hard to do though he was a champ and calmed down directly after and fell asleep in my arms. We still had a hard road ahead of us involving using a nipple shield for several weeks and then a lot of work to get off of that. Then I got Reynauds in the nipples, which is painful and lasted for a few months. And finally a drop in my milk supply, which required lots of pumping after every feed for a month to get it back up to keeping up with his needs. I wish I had started pumping sooner to stimulate production. If you have a tongue tied baby consider doing just that before your milk drops. Even after he had it fixed, it took time for him to learn how to use the tongue. We worked very diligently with his latch and had the consultant over several more times. I often cringed when he latch on at the pain. It did subside after a minute though the whole process did not get pleasant until about 3 months for me.
Signs to look for in tongue tied babies:
Even after his had is tongue and upper lip lasered, we were not in the clear as I was hoping. It did get better, but still not bearable for me. He would take his tongue to the roof of his mouth instead of sticking it out. So I used the nipple shield. This made it doable. I did not realize at the time that because he had a shallow latch that my boobs were not getting stimulated enough. It was takeing him 2 hours to feed. Then we would have an hour off and back on for 2 hours. I did not really want to pump because I figured my body would do what it needed to do to keep up and I also did not have much time. I was worried if I pumped then he would not have enough milk for the next feeding. So we just fed no stop. I learned to feed him while hiking in a sling so that I could get off my sore bottom (from sitting too much). That gave me some freedom. He did not gain much weight the first month and by six weeks I could not satiate him anymore and I had to supplement. This is why I wish I had pumped sooner. Not only that but the first 6 weeks are when you are establishing your supply. It is best to pump directly after a feeding to stimulate your breast to produce more. So then feeling defeated I began pumping. We had no problem giving him the bottle and he took to it straight away. I did give a little formula and then started asking my friends who had too much milk to donate to little Bodhi. It was very hard for me to ask them and I felt awkward, though they were happy to give it. The ones who had too much had freezers overflowing and were happy to off load some for a good cause. Some friends gave when they only had a little extra, and I pumped like crazy to catch up. I also took all the herbs, tincture, and teas that help increase milk. I ate oats with nutritional yeast. I had barley tea and mothers milk tea, and some homeopathic stuff too. The pumping was the most important one I feel.
1. How long to pump?
It works best if you pump longer than you think. When I appear to run out, I will continue to pump awhile. If it is painful turn down the power. There is usually a second let down that occurs and more comes out. This seems to really signal the body to keep it into gear and make it happen.
2. Use your hand to squeeze it out. When I massage and squeeze the breast a lot more milk comes out. I also do this when feeding Bodhi.
Pumping in the car:
Take your hand pump or electric pump for the car. If I am not driving I take advantage of the time to pump in the car. If I am driving I like to use and inverter and hook up my electric pump. I use a cover and set it all up, turn it on, and drive away. When I have a 20-45 minute drive each way it is very helpful to get the morning and afternoon pump in the car. I have a small cooler bag that I put 2 frozen water bottles in and that works great for keeping the milk cold.
Pumping in the backcountry:
As a backcountry ski guide I wondered if I could go all day without pumping. For me with producing just enough milk, I could not go 7 hours without my supply dropping off. Others who have lots of milk may get engorged going that long as well. So I tried pumping in the backcountry. Not bad. I took my hand pump and cover and on our lunch break I pumped. My clients were very supportive. A mountain momma has to do what a mountain momma has to do.
It worked like a charm for me. It sounds odd to consume your placenta, but it is a good idea? All other mammels do. It is full of essential hormones and nutrients to help a new mom survive. I was wondering how I was coping so well with the sleep deprivation in the beginning and thought perphaps the placenta pills were helping. Sure enough I did not feel to tired until the pills ran out after a few months, and then I crashed. They were keeping me a float in the beginning helping to prevent post pardum and allowing me to stay feeling well with very little sleep. Instead of the hormones dropping off suddenly after childbirth, you can slowly ease off the transition. For $180 my midwives took it to a women who dried it and prepared pills for me. They were back to me by day 2 when they came back to check on me and Bodhi. They had prepared me shakes for day 1 and 2.
I read a lot of books and information on the web with different philosophies on how to feed, sleep, and cope with a baby. I have to say in the process what I learned was the importance of listening to my baby and my instincts. The only conflict was worrying that I was doing it different than the books said. Once I surrendered to being present in the moment and trusting myself then we were all more relaxed. Things seemed to fall into place. One quote from my pregnancy I remember goes something like this, ” Spend less time reading books, and enjoy singing songs and dancing with your baby under the moonlit sky.