Supporting T – My Post

Over the last few days I have posted some guest posts that covered some great advice and stories of women’s experiences with breastfeeding. I would like to again thank everyone for their help with my Breastfeeding Project. 

Image

I didn’t breastfeed my children. This was done by choice. I don’t regret this choice. I feel like I made the right choice for me and my family. And I support each and every mom out there who is feeding their baby. Regardless of how they are doing it. All that matters is we are feeding our babies. 

To T, I want you to know that even though I will defend my choice to formula feed and spout of the reasons why breastfeeding wasn’t best for me, I do support you and your choice. I respect you for making your choice and doing everything you can to achieve your goals. You are going to be an amazing Mom and Baby L is amazingly lucky to have you. I am honored to be considered a friend to you and to consider you one of my friends. I wish you the best of luck in your journey, and I hope to support you and see you be successful! But I also want you to know, if you can’t do it, I support you in that to. Baby L is going to be happy and healthy. 

To everyone else, I want you to know that I support you to. You are feeding your baby when he is telling you he is hungry. To me, that’s success right there! 

Love, Hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

Supporting T – Jessica’s Guest Post

Todays post is from Jessica from Breathing Oxygen. Jessica Fox-Wilson is an educator, poet, writer, and mother to a joyful toddler. Her guest post today is easily one of my favorites which is why I have saved it for the final guest post. Jessica’s post for me discusses the difficulties a breastfeeding mom faces, and some helpful and not so helpful suggestions on how to support a new breastfeeding mom. Thank you Jessica! I hope everyone enjoys this post!

Love, Hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

 

How to Support a New Breastfeeding Mother

 When I was pregnant, I assumed breastfeeding was going to be a snap. I did my research. I read a few good books, but I figured that learning to breastfeed would come naturally. I was clueless.

 I never anticipated the difficulties in establishing breastfeeding. I should mention that I also anticipated a relatively easy transition to motherhood as a whole, which was not the case for me. I was generally clueless about motherhood, but also specifically clueless about breastfeeding.

 This is not to say that breastfeeding (or motherhood) is awful. It isn’t – I love breastfeeding and have continued to breastfeed my now 22-month daughter. And I’m pretty sure I’ll remain her parent for the foreseeable future. I just now know that as mothers, we need to be real about the work that it takes to learn how to breastfeed and parent.

 In that light, I’ve described below 5 challenges that new mothers may experience while establishing breastfeeding and strategies that friends and family can undertake to support her. In my own experience, I’ve found that some of the ways people want to help can (unintentionally) backfire, so I’ve offered suggestions on what I’ve found to be most helpful.

 

  1. Learning how to breastfeed is surprisingly hard to do.

 

  • NOT AS HELPFUL: Telling the mom, “Don’t worry, it will all work out in the end, just hang in there! “

  • HELPFUL: Sharing your own feeding struggles, regardless of the type of feeding you do.

 Your body is sore. You have postpartum hormones racing through your body. And you haven’t slept in two days. Now, try to take a baby who has no head control and teach him to latch to your boob. Right now, while he’s crying.

 It took me about three weeks to learn how to breastfeed. Three weeks where I felt like a failure. Most people just told me some variation of hang in there/you’ll do great/don’t worry. In my postpartum brain, my baby’s entire survival hinged on me learning how to breastfeed and I was failing. One of my turning points came when I posted a status on Facebook, early one morning. It just said, “I’m learning.” One of my friends from college, who I hadn’t really kept in touch with well, wrote me a long private message about her own struggles learning how to feed both of her kids. I needed someone to acknowledge that this stuff doesn’t always come naturally. I felt much less alone after her kind message.

 

  1. Establishing breastfeeding takes a lot of time alone.

 

  • NOT AS HELPFUL: Visiting the new family and wanting to hold, play with, or entertain the baby for long periods of time.

  • HELPFUL: Visiting the new family and cleaning the house or cooking for the new parents.

 When I was on maternity leave, I spent most of my waking hours breastfeeding. Breastfeeding on the couch. On a chair. In bed. Standing up. I watched five seasons of Cake Boss on Netflix while breastfeeding – and that wasn’t the only show that I watched. The key to successfully establishing a milk supply is to breastfeed on demand. It’s lonely, but also necessary.

 Of course, friends and family want to visit with, hold and play with the new baby. But, every visit interrupts the breastfeeding on demand process. As a new mother, you want to entertain and hear what a great job you did building a baby from scratch, but as a new breastfeeding mother, you have to breastfeed often. And you may not be ready to hand over that baby or breastfeed in front of friends, just yet.

 Instead of offering to hold the baby (unless the mom needs a shower – get her to the shower), offer to cook some food, do the laundry, clean the kitchen, vacuum, or set up the nursery. If she is anything like me, she’ll be too polite to ask for it, but she’ll be eternally grateful.

 

  1. Early breastfeeding is exhausting and causes severe hunger.

 

  • NOT AS HELPFUL: Reminding the mom of all the weight she will magically lose, because she is breastfeeding.

  • HELPFUL: Bring the mom a postpartum and breastfeeding survival kit that includes lots and lots of protein-packed food…and chocolate.

 After pregnancy, I thought I understood hunger. But early breastfeeding is a whole other story. When you’re breastfeeding on demand, through growth spurts and cluster feeding, you become a ravenous beast. In the early days, my husband would make pans of Rice Krispy treats slathered in chocolate frosting (because he’s awesome) and I would eat half the pan in a day. I’d eat bowls and bowls of Frosted Shredded Wheat. I would eat literally anything and everything that I could. Needless to say, the weight didn’t melt off as promised.

 One of my good friends, who had a baby six weeks before me, sent me a postpartum care package, filled with protein packed treats. She included nut butters, postpartum cookies with lots of protein and fiber (for those other fun postpartum challenges), dried fruits, and teas to increase milk supply. It was the best, because it was relatively healthy, and it was plentiful. Now, whenever a close friend has a new baby, I pack my own postpartum survival kit for her.

 

  1. Early breastfeeding is painful.

 

  • NOT AS HELPFUL: Telling the mom, “Breastfeeding, when done right, shouldn’t hurt.”

  • HELPFUL: Bring the mom tools for relieving the pain of cracked nipples, engorged boobs, and blebs.

 When researching breastfeed, every book, website, and experienced friend will tell you, breastfeeding doesn’t hurt. And my favorite – if you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt. These people are well intentioned. There is a lot of fear that it will hurt. But, when a new mom hears that it shouldn’t hurt if she is doing it right, then experiences the typical amount of pain associated with new breastfeeding, she begins to doubt herself.

 Let me tell you the truth: it hurts at first and most of the issues that cause pain are easy to solve.

First, your nipples have to get accustomed to constant use. They can be raw, and if you’re not careful, they can crack. Coconut oil applied topically, after every feeding, can solve the cracking. Next, when your milk comes in, your boobs are suddenly sore and rock hard. The solution is to breastfeed often and to apply cold packs after feeding. Eventually, as your supply regulates, engorgement should stop. Lastly, I found that during my first 6 weeks of breastfeeding, I developed several blebs on each nipple. They are very small, but incredibly painful milk blisters. Unfortunately, you have to nurse through them. You can use Epsom salt soaks on your breasts, which softens them. What worked most for me was taking lecithin supplements, which thin out the milk a little. These pills also work for milk duct clogs, which can develop at any time during breastfeeding. Consider adding lecithin, coconut oil, and Epsom salts to that breastfeeding survival kit.

 

  1. Leaving the baby (and leaving the house) is hard at first for a breastfeeding mom.

 

  • NOT AS HELPFUL: Providing opportunities for the mom to leave the house alone.

  • HELPFUL: Providing safe opportunities for the mom to leave the house with the child.

  • HELPFUL: Visiting the mom in the house with exciting treats/gifts.

While staying at home all day and all night with a baby is lonely, it’s even harder to leave the house with a breastfeeding newborn. Since you must remain in close proximity to breastfeed on demand, it can be challenging to time your escape. When I was a brand new mother, my mom took me for a pedicure – which involved lots of planning and a quick return home. My dad sent me a gift card for a massage at a salon, which was fabulous, but meant I was away from home for almost two hours. I had to wait until my baby was four months old, before I could use it. These were generous, very well intentioned treats that stressed me out.

 It’s important for any new mom, but especially breastfeeding moms, to learn how to leave the house with the kid. If you want to drag the new mom out of the house, encourage her to bring the baby and provide her with private opportunities to breastfeed. Not every new mom is comfortable with feeding in public, even the public of another friend’s home, so make sure that there are clean, quite, non-bathroom stall places that the mom can breastfeed in frequently. Alternatively, stop by the mom’s house with things to do. Bring a board game, a DVD (or 10), new books, magazines – anything that can help entertain her for long periods of time.

Of course, all of the above is based on my experience. What helped you most during the early months of breastfeeding?

Supporting T – Eszter’s Guest post

Today’s guest post comes from Eszter over atkukolina. Eszter is mom to a 7 month old little boy. She has lived in 5 different countries and she is currently living in a 5 star hotel that her husband manages on an island in Thailand. Her post covers how great she thinks breastfeeding is, and shows what a positive experience she has had with it. Enjoy 🙂 

Love, hugs and more to come  later!

Lynn

 

I Love Breastfeeding So Much
There are things in my life I am proud of.
 
Like getting married (I did not have a boyfriend for a long time).
Like getting pregnant ( we had IUI 10 times).
And breastfeeding!

I heard and read that breastfeeding has its challenges but in my opinion its important to remember one thing:
You can make it work if you do not give up. 

I needed lots of help in the hospital with the positions but I had a mouth I asked for help as many time as I needed it.

At home we had the crib next to our bed. We switched to co-sleeping only later on. If I could turn back time I would start co-sleeping immediately. It makes nursing much easier.

Plugged milk ducts happened to me three times at least. Massage, warm and wet towels help a lot. And patience. It always got better in a few days. It did make breastfeeding less nice but there are things you do not stop doing just because obstacles turn up.

I had a fever when my baby was one month old. I was pretty sick and my husband went to the pharmacy as it was necessary. It was the only time I took medicine and only the type that was alright with breastfeeding. Being sick makes everything a pain in the … But guess who did not become ill even after my husband became sick from the virus that was going around?! Breastfeeding is the best shield for your child.

Our son had to fly on an airplane 7 times. Breastfeeding does its wonders at times like these as well.

I have a happy, healthy 7 months old son. He is being exclusively breastfed. Without doubt, breastfeeding is one of my best decisions I have made. I love it!

Supporting T – Vilma’s Guest Post

Today’s guest post comes from Vilma over at Free but Fun. Vilma is a mother of two toddlers who lives in Helsinki, Finland. The following post is one she sent me as it flowed from her. English isn’t her first language, and while there are some grammatical errors, I didn’t want to edit/correct her post (even though she gave me permission to do so) as I think the way she wrote it shows how she feels about breastfeeding and I didn’t want to take away from that. Thank you Vilma for your contribution. I hope everyone enjoys the read! 

Love, hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

 

The most important that I have learned is, in my opinion, that all babies are different and all mothers are different, don’t stress about it! Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you have to work to get it working, sometimes it just all goes easily and smoothly, and sometimes it does not work even though you wish it would. One way or another, it is not crucial for being a good mother.

 I breastfed my daughter for 6 months without giving any solids because it was so easy. We were travelling a lot too, so having the food with us in the right temperature and not having to wash bottles was easy. She was also super easy in the way that a long feeding with her was 20 min. Also, she was happy to take the bottle if I had expressed some milk and at about 7 months she also took formula. At 6 months we started giving her some solids, and at 9 months I suddenly realised I had forgotten to offer any boobs, and she had not asked for it for a couple of days. I was already pregnant with baby number 2 so I was happy to have my boobs for myself for a while. 

 

 After 3 months of just breastfeeding my son, I was completely fed up with breastfeeding. One feeding with him would take at least 1hr, from 10 weeks on he ate 6-7 hours a day of which 2-3 hours *without a break* before going to bed. With that amount of food he did, luckily, sleep through the night though. But I was knackered every evening. I guess it didn’t help that this time around I didn’t really have the time to sit that long with him, I also had the 1 yo little big sister. Gone were the days were you could sit comfortably on the sofa supported by pillows when watching a movie while breastfeeding. I fed him on the floor while playing with legos with the older one, I sat on the bathroom floor when sister was on the potty… It is amazing how many things you learn to do while somebody is sucking your boobs! We tried to get him to take the bottle but he wouldn’t so I kept breastfeeding him almost until he was 9 months too (Obviously he started to gradually eat solids before that). I stopped the breastfeeding completely mainly because he then, after having slept through the nights, started to wake up every 45 minutes wanting boobs. My husband decided that it was time this boy learned to fall asleep without boobs, and when hubby started to put him he learned quickly. Even the first night he only protested for like 30 minutes! As I was away from the bedroom for almost a week, he lost interest in suckling me even at daytime. 

 

 So two kids, and two very different ways of breastfeeding. The similarities have been through, that they both to start off with had a good grip and new how to eat, we also immediately found good positions for the breastfeeding. I also always had rather too much than too little milk. 

 

 The problem with mixing breast feeding and bottle feeding was for me that I had so much excess milk that I could not jump over a feeding. If I did that, I had to express it or otherwise I was covered in milk in only a few minutes (also when somebody else baby cried, my boobs started to flow…). Once I missed the first part of my sons evening feeding (he was already eating then) and expressed the excess milk, which was about 4 dl…

 

 If one wants to start breastfeeding, it is good to remember how the “system” works: the more the baby sucks, the more milk you get. When the baby is born, it will be crying and sucking on your boobs for the first few nights almost nonstop, and it is important to let the baby do this so that the milk will rise. When the milk rises, it can be very uncomfortable before the amount of milk settles. If your breasts are too full, it may also be difficult for the baby to drink, so you may have to “empty” a little first yourself (e.g. by striking softly but firmly with your warm hand towards the nipple for a little while). Also, if there is a problem, it may be that the baby has a bad grip which can be helped with e.g. different breastfeeding positions (here in Finland they only teach you to breastfeed lying on the bed at the hospitals but let gravity help you if needed, and breastfeed sitting up) or equipment. At least here there are breastfeeding support people you can call up, if it doesn’t work so well or you have your doubts. Also, there will be certain periods when your baby wants to drink more (e.g. at about 10 weeks) for a few days. It does this to accumulate the amount of milk in your breasts. 

 

 For me breastfeeding was never a really sentimental thing. I did it because to me it was natural, easy with my daughter, and it was something my kids needed. Obviously it was great to hold my babies close too but to me holding them in my lap was just as satisfying. I have friends who describe that breastfeeding bond as something so amazing one can’t put words on it. I think the experience is individual for everyone, and it is a good one as long as Mum is not too tired or too stressed.

 

 Hopefully it all works out well for your friend!

 

 Vilma/ Freebutfun

 

 PS. One more practical tip: As I am one of those Mums who breastfed everywhere (hmm, there might be some cultural differences here? How does it work over there, can one breastfeed e.g. in a cafe?) I invested in proper breastfeeding tops. They look nice and they enabled me to breastfeed discreetly. Also, I often had a scarf, which made it a bit more discreet, and later on it was good for covering the baby so it couldn’t see too much and could better focus on the eating. Not so nice when feeding at a dinner table and baby suddenly lets go to see what is going on and your milk squirts out in somebodies coffee… 😀 

 

Supporting T – Sophie’s Guest Post

Today’s  guest post comes from Sophie over at Mommy Training  Wheels. It tells about the lessons Sophie learned while on her breastfeeding journey with her son. 

Sophie is a twenty something first time mom to Charles (aka: Little Dude). She lives in Quebec, Canada with her partner and son. She is getting ready to go back to work after a 40 week maternity leave. She has always enjoyed reading and writing and says that blogging seemed like a natural step after the birth of her  son. She uses her blog as both an outlet for her and a journal she uses to record every moment she can capture of her son’s life. I strongly encourage everyone to go check out her blog. Thanks again for your contribution to this project Sophie! Enjoy! 

Love, Hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

 

Ah the idyllic scene that comes to mind when one thinks about breastfeeding: A mother, sitting in a cozy chair holding her baby seemingly effortlessly in the cradle position. Her body is completely relaxed as her baby is latched on and calmly sucking away at the breast. Except, it doesn’t always work that way. In fact, in my experience, it seldom actually works that way.

 When I learned I was pregnant, I immediately knew that I wanted to try to breastfeed. Not only because breast was best, but also because it seemed less of a hassle. I mean, breastfeeding is natural, right? That is what they say after all. And when something is natural, it’s easy right, right? Turns out, I was wrong.

 Let me share a few of the pearls of knowledge that I learned through my nursing experience.

 

1. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it definitely is not easy.

When I put my son to my breast for the first time, I struggled. Actually, “struggle” is an understatement. A nurse had to help me. She showed me how to use my son’s rooting reflex to get him to open his mouth wide enough to get a good enough latch. She showed me how to compress my breast with one hand as I brought my son’s mouth towards it so that my son could get a deep latch. She showed me to look at his lips to make sure that they were clearly visible around my breast. I fumbled quite a bit. It was awkward at first, very awkward, to be honest. But I managed, and boy did he latch!

 

2. Breastfeeding can be painful.

I was lucky, my son latched well and quickly. The first few days were more difficult though and with a bad latch usually comes pain. I ended up with bleeding nipples on my second day. They healed quickly (with the help of some lanolin) and, after getting the hang of things, I never had that problem again. Of course, a few months later, my son’s teeth came in and new challenges arose, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed (or healed). I also had to deal with a clogged duct on two occasions but was able to massage it away and was lucky enough for it to not turn into mastitis.

 

3. Your milk may not come in right away, but when it does…oh boy!

My milk came in on the fourth day. By that time, my son was starting to show signs of dehydration. All I did was nurse, nurse and nurse some more to stimulate my breasts so that they would go past the colostrum phase and bring the milk that my baby needed. In the world of breastfeeding, demand precedes supply. The more your baby nurses (or the more you pump) the more milk you create. All that to say that milk coming in = engorgement = ouchie = desperate need of nursing pads!

 

4. You will be hungry and thirsty.

I was never a big drinker, but breastfeeding makes one thirsty, especially in the first months when you’re nursing almost constantly. It seemed like I couldn’t get enough water or snacks to help me through the day.

 

5. What you eat will have an effect on your baby.

You may have to remove some things from your diet. Having alcohol and nursing tends to make your baby sleep less. Some moms do drink before (less than 1h) or even while they nurse, but my little man was always a bad sleeper so if I wanted to drink I made sure to have a bottle of expressed milk for him. Caffeine, not surprisingly, causes even less sleep in a baby. My son also had some pretty gnarly eczema from the get-go. We treated it with prescription cortisone creams and hydrating lotions, but it kept coming back. I learned, when he started solids at 6 months of age, that he was allergic to dairy. When I removed dairy from my own diet, his eczema disappeared within 2-3 weeks. Some moms have to remove even more foods and go on what is known as an allergy elimination diet.

 

6. Breastfeeding is hard at first, sometimes painful and mostly indescribably awesome!

The worst day to decide it’s time to stop is on a bad day. They happen. I’ve had a few myself. There were days where I felt like just popping my son off my breast and popping a bottle n his mouth and being done with nursing. These were days where I was running on too little sleep or when my son had been nursing for hours on end or when I was healing from a bite or when I was just a hormonal mess. However, if I had decided to wean on those days, I would have regretted it. I’m 9 months in now and plan to breastfeed until my son is 1. Then, I will see.

 

9 months! For someone who was planning on going 6 months it is awesome. But I couldn’t have done it if it weren’t for a few key factors:

 

  1. Loads of help: I was always VERY appreciative when my partner, or mother, or friend would bring me a glass of water and/or a snack while I was nursing because I would almost always, inevitably forget to do so myself.

  2. Nursing gear: My partner brought home a Boppy pillow when my son was about 2 weeks old and had it not been for the stitches and the baby attached to my breast, I could have jumped up in his arms from gratitude. I also really appreciated my lanolin and nursing pads in the first few days. I invested in a couple of very comfy nursing bras and tops for when I was out of the house. They made breastfeeding in public much easier and discrete enough for little ol’ shy me.

  3. Support, support, support: Sometimes, I just needed to rant and was happy to have a listening ear. Other times, I was feeling discouraged and needed to be reminded that I was doing a great job, that it was OK to decide to stop breastfeeding, but to wait until I was calm and rested (or as rested as a mother can be) before making up my mind.

  4. Honesty: Breastfeeding has worked out great for me so far and that’s why the people around me encouraged me to keep going when I was feeling down. However, if I had faced major issues and was burning myself out or headed towards depression, the people around me would have been honest and told me that though “breast is best” it isn’t best at all costs.

Looking for a guest post

I am looking for a breastfeeding Momma to help me out. I know there are a lot of you out there, so I am hoping one of you fine ladies wants to help me! (Or multiple of you and I can do a compilation of guest posts!)

As we all know, I am a formula feeding Momma. I didn’t even attempt breastfeeding. Now one of my closest and dearest friends is about to become a Momma. And she is planning on breastfeeding. I want to support her as best I can, but let’s face it, I have no sweet clue what the best way to support her in this journey are. 

This is where you come in. If you are interested in writing a post, or helping me compile a post of tidbits of advice, please please please email me at lynncollins10@gmail.com

Thanks in advance Mommas!

Love, hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

Boy oh Boy… The Adventure of parenting!

A pregnant friend recently found out she is expecting and asked me what it was like to go through pregnancy and the first couple years of parenthood. I told her it’s hard to explain and gave her a generic answer about how wonderful it is to have kids, and how much I love being a mom, and of course, she would love it too. Then I gave it some thought and realized I can come up with a much better answer then that. So here goes!

Going through pregnancy: Going through pregnancy is amazing… at times. When you focus only on the baby growing inside you, hearing their little heartbeat for the first time, feeling that first little flutter, seeing them on the ultrasound screen. It’s amazing. Absolutely breathtaking. I was just as awed the first time I experienced any of those things as I was every time after that. It amazed me that my body was able to create such a perfect little being. But then there is the other side of all that amazingness. There are aches, pains, morning (ALL DAY) sickness, getting a cold and not being able to take anything for it… you get the point. There are two sides of it. And my answer as to whether I enjoy being pregnant tends to change depending how I feel that day. Then of course as you get to the end of your pregnancy, there is the countdown to a day that your baby may or may not be born on. I don’t know why we even get due dates. We just just get an approximation of when the baby will be here, that’s all a due date is anyways. But that’s not the point here. At the end of your pregnancy, you feel like a waddling whale, you can’t bend over to tie your shoes and you can’t sleep. Then the most amazing thing happens… you go into labor. 

Labor is only amazing for the first few minutes when you realize that the baby is actually going to make an appearance, then you realize that you are in this for the long haul and all of a sudden it just hurts. Like nothing you have ever felt before. But we’ll fast forward through all that stuff and go straight to the point you can actually hold your newborn!

The first time you hold your newborn (once you have gotten past the pain and exhaustion) is amazing. Absolutely amazing. To think that this little creature grew inside of you for nine long, long months and now is looking up to you like you have all the answers… You do have them right? I didn’t. I guess my kids handbooks got lost on the way out. Or the nurses kept them. I didn’t get them that’s all I know. And so begins parenting. 

What’s it like being a parent? Hmm… let me see. It’s exhausting. And stressful. And you will quickly learn there are no right answers. Just a lot (and I mean a lot) of theories. Like a lot of them. And most of them won’t work for you, your spouse, or (most of the time) your child. You might as well just accept right off the hop that you are going to have to make it all up as you go along. But it’s also the most amazing thing I have ever done. It’s overwhelming and scary to be sure. To think that this little being is going to be shaped by me… I doubt myself all the time. I wonder all the time if I am making the right choices for my kids. Especially when they are picking on one another, not sharing, not sleeping through the night like all my friends kids are. I wonder what I am doing wrong. But then I hear people tell me how well behaved they think my toddler is when he can walk through a store holding onto the stroller and listening to me. I hear my 2 year old helping his little brother learn to walk, and reassuring him when he falls down that it was a ‘good try Nick’ and my heart melts. I realize that somewhere along the line, I am teaching my kids to care about one another. Somewhere in all the chaos of a house with two toddlers I am doing something right. 

My point? Going through parenting and raising kids is an adventure. Nothing is going to prepare you for it. There aren’t enough books in the world (and you definitely don’t have time to read them all anyways) to cover every single aspect to parenting there is. The best way to sum it up is Adventure. Buckle up and get ready, because my dear friend, nothing is going to be the same again. Ever. 

Love, hugs and more to come later

Lynn