Breast-feed, Breast-feed, Breast-feed!!!
No. it’s not easy. No, it doesn’t happen in a snap. But it is well worth it and priceless if you can manage to figure it out. First and foremost get a lactation consultant! I repeat – get a lactation consultant!! Most hospitals offer this service as part of your labor and delivery regimen. Also, there oftentimes are classes that you can sign up for before you deliver that give very good, basic information about infant care, breastfeeding, and what to expect during the delivery with a tour of the hospital. If you are using a midwife or plan to deliver at home, ask your midwife if she offers similar instructional courses for expecting moms. I was blessed with an awesome lactation consultant after I had my first child. I nursed my 9 pound baby for a full year. I had my second 9 pound child about a year after I stopped nursing my first one. So I thought ‘This should be easy! It’s the second go around. No big deal right?!’ Wrong! Yes, it had just been a year since I last nursed but it had just been a year since I last nursed a one year old that had the hang of it! I was starting all over with another completely new and immature 9 pound baby. He had no idea what he was doing. And at times felt like I didn’t either. But I didn’t give up. I asked for the very same lactation consultant that I had after I delivered my first child by name. She whipped me and my baby into shape quickly. I must admit that I’ve noticed personally and professionally that on about day two or three there is a ‘click’ when things seem to get a little bit easier- term used loosely. Then again at about two weeks out from delivery there’s another ‘click’ and things tend to go much smoother. Try, try, try to press through the first 2 to 3 weeks as hopefully it will get better and better. Now, I will admit it was downright painful in the beginning. Irrespective of whether my child latched on properly or not there is a toe curling sensation as your milk first starts to be evacuated from your breast. AND the same hormones that your body secretes during breast feeding also cause uterine contractions -OUCH! BUT the added bonus is getting your waistline line back faster! The reason is two fold, your uterus contracts and you burn more calories when you breast feed – WIN, WIN! Fortunately for me that discomfort only lasted a few weeks and just for the first few moments of the nursing sessions and it was greatly outweighed by the joy of finally succeeding. However, I do realize that for some women it never goes away. I hope that’s not your story. If it seems to be the case, try pumping your milk to see if that is less uncomfortable for you. At least your child is getting the nutrients from your milk. There are lots of great options these days – even “hands free” pumps. Often times I made and ate my breakfast while I pumped in the morning- multitasking at its best. You produce the most milk in the mornings so the best time to pump is after your first nursing session in the morning you can sometimes pump several ounces after your baby’s first feeding. The added bonus is there’s a bottle for a late night feeding ready to go so you can get a break. My husband was more of a night person so I would go to bed after the 9pm feeding, then he would give a bottle about 11pm or midnight while I rested. I would nurse about 3am and again at 6 or 7am. That way each of us got about 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep on a good night. See if you can work out an alternating schedule at night like that during the first months where your baby needs to eat every 2-3 hours. It can make a big difference.
If you’ve done all that you can and just cannot seem to produce enough milk -you’ve tried all the teas and have been drinking all the water and hydration possible and you just still don’t feel as though you are making enough milk, there are other options. You can supplement here and there with formula. The added bonus is it gives daddy (and siblings) a chance to bond with and feed the new baby and a specific way to help/participate. There are also breast milk banks. Proceed at your own risk. Consider asking the hospital where you delivered your child if they have any referrals to a breast milk bank. Ask about the testing and processing procedures of the milk and make an educated decision. If that is not an option, a wetnurse may be an option as well. Again, proceed at your own risk! At the very least consider adding some high quality colostrum to your child’s formula. Yes, I said colostrum. You can purchase high quality, grass fed, pasture raised, bovine (cow) colostrum powder with all of its immune modulating properties and benefits for you and your child.
If you absolutely cannot breast-feed at all for whatever reason be it medical, or personal, no guilt trips here. As I said in the beginning it is not easy! Either way know you are doing your best. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently. I’m here to tell you as no one else may have – it is not easy. You are not a failure. You are no less of a mother. If you must choose a formula, please try to choose an organic version with as many organic, naturally derived, non GMO (genetically modified organisms -more on that another day) ingredients as possible. If you can’t read the ingredients, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. That goes for you and your baby. Also be mindful of soy based formulas. About 90% of all soy in this country is genetically modified (there it is again). In addition, and perhaps even more importantly, soy is a hormone modulator and mimics estrogen. I’d be cautious about giving THAT much soy (estrogen) all day everyday to a new baby.
If you notice your baby having difficulty tolerating the formula or breast milk consider a few things. If you are breast feeding, what have YOU been eating? I can’t tell you number of times that things have been going well and all of sudden a new baby develops violent diarrhea and/or vomiting because mommy answered a craving for chili cheese fries -true story. If your baby develops bloody stools, it could be a milk protein allergy. Remove all dairy from your diet if you’re breastfeeding and consult your Pediatrician immediately. If there is a history on either side of the family of food allergies, eczema, or nasal allergies, and you notice difficulty tolerating the formula (constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, colic, fussiness) you may want to consider a hypoallergenic formula. Discuss this option with your Pediatrician. Again, adding bovine colostrum may help this condition as well. Remember all of those awesome immune modulating properties I mentioned? You may also want to consider giving your baby probiotics as this may help colonize their intestines with good quality bacteria to help them process and digest their food better. Probiotics in the gut also produce some of the vitamins that our bodies need – especially new babies. If your baby was born via C-section, then they didn’t pass the the birth canal where we first pick up the bacteria that colonizes our gut naturally. Another reason to consider giving probiotics to your baby from the start. Probiotics have also been shown to reduce symptoms of allergic/immune conditions like asthma, eczema, and even psoriasis. Probiotics come in powdered form and can be added directly to your baby’s bottle. If you are nursing and wish to give your baby probiotics, simply apply the probiotic powder with a clean fingertip to your nipple and when your baby latches on they will easily consume the probiotics as they nurse.
An aside-There are very cute and fashionable breast-feeding covers that you can use when out and about if you choose. I personally preferred them. It made a unique, quiet, calm environment for comforting and soothing my baby Bunny to receive nourishment and continue to bond with me without the distractions of the over stimulating world around us. There was a nice little ‘window’ through which I could peek down and we can look into each others eyes as my babies nursed. It maintained my modesty. It set the stage for pseudo-quiet time with my baby. And people in the room were none the wiser. They just thought my baby was taking a nap most of the time. Nobody was offended. Nobody was hungry. Everybody was happy!!!
Happy healthy living!
Until next time!
Two Minute Tidbits:
- Breast feeding isn’t easy.
- Breast feeding shrinks your uterus and burns calories
- Bovine Colostrum and Probiotics are a great way to bridge the gap.
- 90% of soy is genetically modified and soy is a hormone modulator that mimics estrogen
- Breast pumps and breast feeding covers are great options.
The case in favour of probiotics before, after, and during pregnancy:insights from the first 1,500 days
Food Allergies: Our Evolving Understanding of Its Pathogenesis, Prevention, and Treatment
Gut Microbiota and Allergic Disease in Children