Recently I had two different moms who I attempted to help with adjusting to breastfeeding with a new baby. Both moms had had difficult labors and births, but both avoided cesareans. But both babies ended up spending a week in the NICU on antibiotics. Meconium aspiration was the culprit for both. They do not allow a baby to be roomed in with its mom if the baby has an IV. So separation, although not continuous, is a problem. It becomes increasingly problematic when trying to recover and also develop a milk supply and learn to breastfeed since the baby is also being given bottles along the way.

The first mom returned home and her baby was discharged after the week. The baby was nursing some and also being given formula. The mom was only nursing some of the time- some of the time she was pumping and some of the time the baby was being bottle fed. She was concerned about her supply- and rightly she should have been. It is important that a baby nurse from the mom at a minimum of 8 times a day and ideally more like 10 to 12 times a day. The baby had been on a 3-hour feeding schedule in the NICU.

I encouraged this mom to take a babymoon. Crawl in the bed shirtless with only a diapered baby- and nurse around the clock- doing nothing but being waited on by helpful friends and family- fed but doing nothing else but having skin to skin time with the baby and nursing as frequently as possible for 24 hours.

I encouraged this mom to do just that- and give me a call in 24 hours with the number of wet diapers, the number of poops and number of times she nursed.

24 hours later she texted me, “Hey! we didn’t do it today. I had too many people over today.” I replied, “prioritize.” I did not hear from her again. But I saw on social media pictures of the family giving the baby a bottle.

Hey, that works- the baby is being fed, right? Well, sure- but ideally the mom had wanted to breastfeed. I think visitors were fun, but they sabotaged her ability to get a good supply going. And not having a good supply, having nipple confusion with bottles and the mom being a hostess instead of resting is not the way to help her make breastfeeding work. The mom could not find her voice to tell her family what she really needed.

The second mom worked hard to be with her baby in the hospital and was also able to bring her baby home after a week in the NICU. She had great family support in every way except with breastfeeding. Neither of her moms had breastfed so when the first problem with latch began, rather than helping to pay for a lactation support person, they undermined her breastfeeding.

How? By stating how they had dried up their milk quickly with ice packs- only took a few days. By saying how formula and bottle feeding had worked fine for them. By holding the fussy baby and giving him a pacifier when he was showing signs to nurse, but they were attempting to “help” the new mom by doing so.

I wish the family would see that the best way to help is to find supportive solutions that are in alignment with what the ideals of the mom are instead. The second mom reached out to me. I was able to provide postpartum help. The mom realized quickly some things to improve the baby’s latch and also was reaffirmed on what a great job she was doing. And how normal her baby was acting. And she was given time to share emotions and feelings with acceptance.

So, what does a new mom need? REST: Rest. Encouragement. Support. Time. If you want to come and help, then help do the things that need to be done- meals, cleaning, errands, holding the baby while she showers- but otherwise- keep the baby with the mom! Encouragement means giving her courage to move toward her ideals. That means getting her help if you are not an expert in the area she is struggling. Gift her a postpartum doula, a lactation consult, a ride to a breastfeeding support meeting. Encourage her to call an expert rather than undermine her ideas. Support her emotionally by allowing her space to share her feelings without judgment and without dismissing her feelings as invalid.  Feed her- make sure she has her physical needs met as well. And remind her it takes a time to adjust to a new situation- to heal from the birth, to learn her baby’s cues and to figure out what works.

If you do not agree with what she is doing, keep your opinions to yourself unless you are concerned for her well being and her baby’s. Then reach out to an expert for advice and input.

A few ideas I have been sharing for many years when you are recovering from having had a baby… and folks want to come by:

Everyone wants to help. But often you are not able to share what you really need. I suggest having a small box or basket in your foyer. In the box are cards of chores that need to be done that can easily be done by a visiting friend or relative. The card may have things like: sweep the kitchen, unload dishwasher, put on a load of clothes, walk the dog, vacumn the living room, dust the family room, fold clothes, get a few items at the grocery store, etc. These are chores that can be adjusted and prioritized in the basket. So when someone arrives and asks what needs to be done, you can gently direct them to the honey do list in the basket.

Story Cards Basket

Remember when folks come by to visit, 15 minutes is the limit. After 15 minutes you become a hostess instead of a mom in recovery mode.

Put two coolers on the front porch. One is red and one is blue. The blue one has ice within it. If someone is bringing food, they can place it in the cooler- hot or cold. You can check the coolers between naps and nursings. Folks can drop off food without disturbing the nesting family.

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Remember when folks come by- if you are in your gown and robe, they do not stay long for a visit. Also wearing your bed clothes will remind you, you are in nesting and recovery mode- and will keep you from trying to do too much. You can sit on the back deck in your gown just fine if the weather is good and you need some sunshine. The minute you start getting dressed you will find yourself doing too much.

When you do have something to go to, remember one thing per day- if you are going to the doctor, set your appointment for just after lunch- this gives you time to sleep in if the night was broken up. Don’t decide to head to Target that same day. One thing per day is a way to keep you from overdoing it.

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Remember if feels good to help someone. When someone asks to help, let them- you will be helping them to feel good!

1146163_230842413730250_1593366093_o[1]Anne Cumings, LCSW – Maternal and Infant Mental Health Services

When I tell people I am trained in infant mental health, I usually get a wisecrack about newborns sitting on a couch and talking about their feelings. In reality, infant mental health is about working with babies and caregivers together to ensure a healthy transition, for both, to this wild and crazy adventure of life. It encompasses:

• Pregnancy and postpartum mood issues
• Health concerns in mom that impact her emotional availability
• Issues of eating, sleeping and crying (in infants and moms!)
• Regulatory troubles (i.e. fussy babies)
• Goodness of fit between babies and caregivers (Are you a quiet, reserved mom with an active, hyper-verbal, outgoing tot?)
• Relationship concerns that arise due to developmental issues
• Anything else that may impact the relationship between caregiver and baby!

And infant mental health includes pregnancy through age 5, so toddlers count too! If you are a new parent who is struggling, either with your own emotional wellbeing or coping with a challenging baby or toddler, I can help!

I know it’s a cliché, but no woman can truly understand what becoming a mom will feel like until she experiences it. Even so, we all build up dreams of what those first few days, weeks, and months will be like. When the reality of new motherhood is harder than you imagined reaching out for support can help. I offer individual therapy in my Marietta office, postpartum home visits and a free postpartum support group in East Cobb.

You can connect with me through my website at annecumingslcsw.com

“Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t shoot their husbands.”  Elle Woods

Well said Elle, well said.  You forgot one thing, throw in a newborn, a post-partum body that is as foreign as can be, no sleep and for the most part no clue what you’re doing and a so called “happy” person may just want to shoot their husband. As a fitness professional, I have never met a mom who doesn’t come in and say “I want my pre-baby body back.”  As a new mom, I said the same thing so I started right back at it.  Needless to say, exercising with a post-partum body can be a very humbling experience.  Mentally you are ready to go but physically you have to take it slow and work back up.  Exercise was my go to, my stress release, now it wasn’t fun, it was miserable and deflating.

I have to admit that for me, having Emma was the easy part.  Once I got her home there was a lot of sitting around.  We had the typical new born schedule, wake up, feed, sleep, wake up, feed, sleep, over and over again.  I started to feel like a prisoner in my own home.  I think many people underestimate how lonely it is to be a stay-at-home-mom.  I was on an emotional roller coaster, one minute happy as can be and then wanting to hide under the sheets and then just like that I was ready to snap.  When the time came I was somewhat actually ready to go back to work, until I realized I barely spent any time with Emma or my husband.  Nothing got done around the house, no one got any sleep, I felt like I was barely even getting meals together for us.

Going back to work didn’t make me feel better, I felt like a full time trainer and a part time mom and I hated that feeling.  It made me feel so low that I wasn’t there taking care of Emma every day, or at least having some time to play with her during the day. Sure some may look at me and say ‘Hey, welcome to motherhood.’ And yes I agree but for me at the time it was soul crushing.  We went on like this for months until one day I actually wondered if there might be something more going on.  I never thought about post-partum depression, they check for that at 6 weeks, I was almost 6 months!  But I researched and found out it can be up to the entire first year! Thanks for the heads up doc!

I found myself a good therapist to meet with but I also found FIT4MOM.  This group of moms was my true lifesaver.  I was able to get out of the house, interact with other moms, get a good workout, and have play time for Emma.  I honestly can’t tell you what my favorite part about my FIT4MOM group has been, whether it is the workouts, which are challenging yet attainable, or the weekly activities that let me experience things with Emma I would never think of myself.  Emma is now a year old and she has been to an indoor playground, a petting zoo, music class, and made countless little pieces of artwork thanks to FIT4MOM.

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They say “It takes a Village” and well, someone knew what they were talking about.  Sometimes you don’t need a village to watch your baby but a village to hang out with, talk with and know you’re not crazy, bounce ideas off of, to laugh with, to cry with and to help raise your children and you to be the best person you can be.  That’s what I have with my FIT4MOM Village.  My Village helps keep my endorphin levels elevated so that I don’t shoot my husband. 😉

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Stephanie Miller is the owner of FIT4MOM Peachtree Corners as well as a Certfied Stroller Strides Instructor and a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Her daughter Emma just turned one-year-old and loves getting out in the stroller and going for walks. For more information about Stroller Strides and FIT4MOM please visit peachtreecorners.fit4mom.com.

Recently a student told me that they felt really prepared for their labor and birth and also for breastfeeding but failed to know what impact having a baby was going to be postpartum. We offer a few classes, but often we do not get enough in the classes for them to “make.” Usually we require at least four couples to make a class. But we still schedule them- the Happiest Family is one such class.  But we offer a few others as well. Often when money is being allocated for classes, the idea of needing guidance after the baby comes is low on the list.

new family pic

What he really would benefit from now as a new family was what we offer in the Soothing Session that we began offering this year. It is a great way to have someone come to your home and assist you with a plethora of new family concerns. The doula will assist you with breastfeeding as well as basic baby help that so many new families struggle with making sure they are doing it right.

And speaking of doing it right. This past week I met with a couple who wanted to come by to just have me check on their breastfeeding technique. She had difficulties with her first baby and had come to see me after weeks of working at trying to nurse her daughter. She was found to have a tongue tie that had not been realized at the hospital. The mom had gone on to breast milk feed since the bottles had worked against having her daughter take back to the breasts. So this time she just wanted me to lay eyes on her technique for confidence. I tweaked a few things but she was doing great with this second child.

Today I received a phone call from a mom with a 15 day old who had issues gaining weight and jaundice in the early days. She did not know that some of the weight loss was normal since she had had IV fluids for more than 2 hours- the study is listed here.  And the after effects of the epidural she had received had probably caused the baby to not be a great nurser in the early days, thus meconium had lingered and therefore the jaundice had been more of an issue. And although she did not state it, the use of Pitocin has been linked with more jaundice as well. So now she had come through these issues but she just needed a boost of confidence on how often she needed to be nursing and how to know if he was getting enough.

I happily gave her phone time to discuss these things. I get grief from other birth professionals for not charging a consult fee. But whether it is my old La Leche League Leader experience of always offering free phone consults or my feeling that you get what you give, I am always willing to talk to someone about their concerns for free. I in fact was cooking dinner and shared with her while doing so- so it had not caused me to stop what I was doing. When we were completing the call,  she asked me if I made home visits to just lay eyes on how she was doing with the breastfeeding.

We do offer in home breastfeeding consults, but for that the charge is a two hour minimum and is only $10 less than a 3 hour Soothing Session. I shared with her about the soothing session and she immediately said, “Yes, that sounds fabulous.” I do think that a Soothing Session is exactly what most new families would benefit from.  Even if you have family helping, having someone who is not invested personally and has evidence based information along with years of experience offering a little bit of guidance is a great reassurance.  You get a lot of bang for your buck. And we are finding that it is often a wonderful gift from family members who can not come to help but want to help in other ways.

I attended the 2014 CAPPA conference this year and got to hear one of my favorite speakers. I have heard him speak several time over my birth career and I never tire of hearing him speak. I love his humor, hit wit and his wisdom! So, I thought I would just give you some of his quips from the two sessions I attended this year.

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  • You can tell a baby is sucking and getting milk by watching for his suck, suck, pause and swallow action. It should be a long pause.
  • Breast compressions should occur during sucking.
  • He hates nursing shields. He said he feels they should be banned altogether. Whatever is being attempted to be fixed, there is a better way!
  • When nursing push the baby’s bum in tight.
  • Never should it be routine to just nurse the baby on one side at a time.
  • Moms have more milk in the morning than later in the day. What works in the morning may not work in the evening.
  • The amount of milk a mother produces is genetically determined- but if we leave her alone, she produces beautifully.
  • The breast crawl is super important and we need to stop helping moms latch a baby on and let the dyad figure it out without interference.
  • Problems with breastfeeding are cummulative… one thing leads to the next problem.
  • Take the multiple blankets off of the baby!
  • A baby who is too warm will be too sleepy.
  • If a mom gets rock hard engorgement, the baby is not feeding well!
  • Breastfeeding is not for only “perfect” babies.
  • When a baby is nursing from a nipple shield it is not nursing at all!
  • The nipple shield decreases milk supply because a baby is not latched on when using a nipple shield, it doesn’t stimulate milk ejection properly, but, at the same time depends on milk ejection reflexes.
  • There is no such thing as a flat nipple- it can pull out with some effort.
  • Reflux is normal, GERD is not normal. Docs are treating a normal reflux as if it is GERD.
  • Mirena IUDs, Depo and mini birth control pills can reduce milk supplies… not in all women but it is a strong possibility that women should be told about.
  • Babies don’t suck out milk- mothers transfers the milk and the baby stimulates the let down reflex.
  • We need to stop speculating on a mom’s milk supply based on what is produced from pumping.
  • The breastfed baby is the norm so we need to stop referring to formula fed babies as the norm!
  • Scales are inaccurate- you can weigh a baby on one scale and the next one shows a huge difference- quit looking at the scale- look at the baby!
  • We live in a bottle feeding culture and we assume that if the mother’s nipples don’t look like a bottle nipple, the nipples are flat.
  • Because so many women get so much IV fluid during labor, birth and even after, some women get swollen nipples and areolas that look flat.
  • A baby who feeds well will let the mother know when he’s ready to feed again.
  • The mechanization of breastfeeding will cause more and more mothers to abandon breastfeeding.
  • Babies learn to breastfeed by breastfeeding.
  • Mothers learn to breastfeed by breastfeeding.
  • The baby won’t refuse the breast.
  • There is more to breastfeeding then breastmilk.
  • Weighings mean nothing since nobody knows what the baby is really supposed to be getting from the breast.
  • We complicate breastfeeding.
  • Everyone feels like they have to fit in a box. Babies and moms are all different!
  • Throw the charts away!
  • Many physicians seem to believe that only babies on the 50th percentile or higher are normal.
  • Measuring without understand is meaningless and leads only to trouble and inappropriate interventions or lack of interventions when necessary.

I teach breastfeeding classes. I feel like just like childbirth classes where  we have to “unteach” all the junk moms and dads have come to believe or fear, it is the same in the breastfeeding class. We have complicated it so much. Give the mom her baby- -skin to skin at birth. Leave them alone to figure out how to nurse in the first hours after birth. Keep them together. Expose moms to the model of good breastfeeding by attending LLL meetings and being around women who are not all covered up! Keep the mom and baby together in the first month- without interventions and separation. Her job is to nurse the baby when the baby is awake. Don’t look at the clock. Is the baby transferring milk with those sucks and deep paused swallows? Count how often the baby nurses- not how frequently or how long. Eight to twelve nursings a day- real feeds is what is needed. Babies will do that usually on their own if interventions have not occurred to separate them. Take care of the mom so she can nurse her baby. It really is that easy for most moms and babies!

 

 

 

 

This in no way is the overview of her presentation- this is only my notes from the session at CAPPA 2014 that impacted me. Amy Spangler was the speaker. Here is her website with an article on safe sleeping.

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Amy said that often stats are misleading. For instance there was a study of Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths that showed 4000 deaths- but only half were really SIDS since 1/2 of the deaths actually had an explanation. The SIDS stats took a dive when the Back to Sleep Campaign was encouraged in 1992 and then again a small hike in 2002 when breastfeeding increased- it was not the breastfeeding that caused it- but they thought perhaps more cosleeping happened due to that and unsafe bed sharing occurred. And in 2007 the campaign for Back to Sleep slipped and the increase occurred that year. The key here is to follow safe bed sharing if you plan to co sleep while breastfeeding. Amy said if you are not breastfeeding she feels the rule should be never to bed share with an infant since there was safety in the fact that the baby was breastfed.

The AAP SIDS recommendations included these suggestions:

  • back to sleep
  • baby sleep nearby but on a separate surface
  • if a baby liked the pacifier- use it at night- (although there was little study on this) but don’t stress over it if the baby does not-
  • do not offer the pacifier until breastfeeding is well established
  • breastfeed
  • never bed share if anyone smokes
  • never share a recliner or sofa
  • never allow a toddler in the same bed as the baby
  • immunize on schedule
  • no bedsharing
  • no crib bumpers along with no blankets or toys

Who actually bed shares? 11% of all folks bedshare. 38% of afro americans, and 20% of hispanic families do. All of these numbers have increased- so if you are going to do it- do it safely!

The question was is the whole idea of overlying a myth or reality? Dr Spock was the instigator of not doing it and Dr McKenna is the one who shouts the benefits of doing it.

Are there benefits to bedsharing? Yes there seems to be more breastfeeding going on and more sleep being had. In fact the studies showed that the moms who sent their newborns to the nursery did not get more sleep at all!

Are there risks to bedsharing? Yes if you do not follow some very basic rules:

  • no water beds
  • no couches
  • no toddlers in the bed
  • no soft surfaces
  • no toys or pillows
  • no blankets
  • no wedges or contraptions that the baby can be trapped between the corners of
  • no drug or alcohol use by bed sharers

Amy shared that the first 28 days is considered the neonate period and should remain with the mom. But moms are not getting the support they need in those first 28 days. She stressed how important it is to not separate the mom during that first month!

She shared what the birth professional’s responsibilities are in teaching this. She suggests never waking a sleeping baby- but play close attention to making sure the baby is getting in 8 to 12 good feeds per day.  She reminded us that the baby’s head growth in the first year is 3 inches. The child will not have another 3 inch growth until they reach the age of 16! So feeding the baby often is a great way to help that baby in that growth!

She reminded us that Dr James McKenna posed two questions- Wiley Abstract

  1. how many babies die because they are placed in an adult bed?
  2. how many babies die because they sleep alone in a crib?

The article was cited in a nursing journal article that stated:

“Cosleeping was found to be positively associated with breastfeeding duration (McKenna, Ball, & Gettler, 2007; Taylor, Donovan, & Leavitt,2008). Mothers who co sleep with their infants were shown to breastfeed their infants twice as often as those who did not cosleep (McKenna et al., 2007). Closeness of the maternal-child dyad should be protected and nurses play a critical role in preventing unnecessary separation. Nurses can support skin-to-skin contact for both preterm and term infants. Mothers who are separated from their child due to illness, employment, or other situations need help in maintaining lactation while separated from their child and the support of those caring for their infants in their absence.”

Amy reminded us that one size does not fit all and we needed to trust that the family could make the best decision for them.

My thoughts: I wonder how much of the recommendations that are made are generalized statements like throwing the baby out with the bath water because the powers of be do not trust that parents will follow safe bed sharing. For someone to be on even a Benadryl for allergies that can cause them to sleep too deeply is drug enough to suggest that their baby not be in their bed. For someone to have a toddler who crawls in bed next to mama over the top of the baby is dangerous. Have the toddler practice sleeping next to dad in the last months of a pregnancy to help them understand this. There are a ton of safe bed sharing recommendations- I in fact have shared an article on this.

So, I am a big fan of having the baby sleep where it gets the most sleep for the most people. But I do feel you can have a baby share your bed safely. So be smart! Just like baby wearing and car seat safety- let’s get  on board with following safe sleeping. And I do trust you will make the best decisions for your family.

 

 

Did you know if you wanted to try cloth diapers but had no idea where to start- there is an organization that wants to help you?

Cloth for Everybum (C4EB) is a national non-profit organization with sites operating in Georgia, Texas, and Michigan. C4EB began on the Military base and is designed to help families take the biggest/hardest step in cloth diapering… beginning to cloth diaper.

Which types of cloth diapers are best for our baby? How do they work? How do we wash them? And poop… where does the poop go?

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C4EB provides each family with a kit that includes a variety of cloth diapers to try for 6 months, cloth wipes and some samples of cloth diaper friendly baby goods. What makes C4EB so amazing is that with the kit comes a mentor. For the 6 months that the family has the kit of diapers, they also have access to a local mama that has extensive cloth diaper experience, is trained on how to use the cloth diapers provided, as well as troubleshoot with the family to solve any problems that arise. Sometimes laundry routines can cause problems with cloth diapers and C4EB mentors know exactly what to do in these cases.

Many families that receive a kit from C4EB love the diapers they receive so much that they buy the kit from C4EB at the end of the 6 month lending period. Some buy certain diapers and return the rest. Then others will return the whole kit, as they have used the six month lending period to build their own stash of cloth diapers. From the time that the family leaves the distribution class, with their baby in a cloth diaper, their mentor will be available to answer questions and provide support.

Who can receive a kit from Cloth for Everybum?

Anyone with a child in diapers that owns less than five cloth diapers and lives within two hours of the site location is encouraged to apply for the program. Kits are disbursed on a first come, first served basis. Eligibility is NOT based on income, age or number of children, etc.

Where do we get our diapers?

We rely on donations of all kinds. Diapers, services and monetary donations keep our “doors” open. We accept all diaper donations (new or used) and if it is something that, for any reason cannot be used in a kit, we will sell the item and use the money towards buying new diapers. Most diapers in our kits are new and if a used diaper passes our rigorous standards then it is sanitized before being redistributed.

We periodically hold fundraisers to benefit local sites as well as national fundraisers to benefit all of the C4EB sites. All of our managers and mentors work for C4EB on a 100% volunteer basis. So that means that 100% of all support goes directly toward cloth diaper kit materials and events to educate the community.

Cloth for EveryBum- Atlanta

Cloth for Everybum- Atlanta is based in Gwinnett County and began distributing kits in June 2014. We also provide Cloth 101 and Cloth 102 classes to the community absolutely free of charge. Cloth 101 is a class that explains the benefits of cloth diapering, different types of diapers, and care instructions. This is a great class for families that are just beginning to cloth diaper or are interested in learning about the world of cloth diapering. Cloth 102 delves deeper into the care of cloth diapers and troubleshoots any issues that the participants are having. C4EB Atlanta is always looking for volunteers, mentors and diaper donations. Please, reach out to Site Managers Cindy Dana and Marianna Slaughter with any questions regarding the Atlanta site. Here is their email address. Learn about events and happenings of the Atlanta site through facebook .

For general questions and support you can visit our website or connect on facebook ,

Click here to apply to receive a C4EB kit.

Labor of Love also offers a wonderful workshop on cloth diapering that is taught by Renee Wymer. Click here to read more about it.

10 things every new mom needs to know

I asked some moms what they wish they had known before they had a baby. Here are some of the things I heard:

  • It’s ok to not have all the answers.
  • Listen to your body and his/hers.
  • Rest when you need to and don’t be afraid to ask for a minute to yourself.
  • You are in the middle of a huge life change and you may not feel like yourself for a little while.
  • The new normal takes a while to settle in.
  • Do not over do it. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “no” or “YES please” when someone asks to hold your new bundle.

I asked them what was the hardest thing- and one thing was chimed in over and over- Sleep Deprivation and here are the others:

  • That just when you think you have it all figured it…it all changes!
  • Sleep deprivation is hard!
  • It is hard balancing what you want to be capable of in your head and what is realistic. Figuring out why the baby is crying… she just ate, she has a clean diaper, I’m holding her… oh! She wanted to be skin to skin with her Dad!
  •  Not being able to pick up and go! I was always a run around type of girl & now it takes TONS of planning to leave the house.
  • Without a doubt, it was feeling like a prisoner in my home because of my fear of nursing in public. 9 years and 4 kids later, it’s not at all an issue now. But it’s been quite a mental/emotional journey!
  • Losing my sense of self.
  • My kids are 13,10 & 3 months. This is definitely a huge change for not only me but my other 2 kids as well. So for me I have to say so far it’s been a mental/emotional journey in our home as well….in a good way of course!
  • Not enough time alone and with the hubby
  • For me it was the lack of connection with other moms… I had a pretty high need kid and was desperate to create some kind of rhythm in the midst of learning curve chaos (stress of new mommyhood=felt like I’d crammed 4 years of college into 4 months)
  • Sleep deprivation!!

What do you wish you had known? What do you want to share? Share it here for others to learn from. Mother to mother is a great way to share what worked and what did not!

 

 

Oh let me count a few of the ways….

Only allowing the baby to nurse for a limited time. If the baby has a good latch, it does not hurt the baby to nurse for longer times.

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Watching the clock instead of the baby and her signals that she is hungry, You eat snacks and sip drinks besides eating meals- so does your baby. Scheduling early on will interfere with milk production. Nurse more and you will have more milk. Nursing more in the first days when colostrum is present helps the baby get rid of the early meconium stools and have less jaundice issues as well.

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Being given a bag full of formula from the hospital, undermining your confidence. These gifts are not gifts at all! Hospitals and pediatrician offices who offer this are not baby friendly places. Avoid them!

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Swaddling the baby and keeping them in the box at the hospital- they need to be skin to skin on the mom as much as possible and not sleeping so soundly that they do not nurse regularly.

swaddled up baby in box

Don’t send your baby to the nursery. Out of sight means the nurses may offer bottles to your baby unknowingly. The studies show moms actually sleep more with the baby in the room- it is a mammal thing- they worry when the baby is away from them.

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Nurses giving lousy advice, like your baby is starving, you do not have enough to satisfy such a big baby, some women just can’t breastfeed! Ask for a lactation consultant.

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Dad’s wanting to be helpful and give the baby a bottle. That is fine once breastfeeding is well established and if you are going to be pumping when he is doing it so your supply and demand is not thrown off. Get him to help in other ways- rocking the baby, changing diapers, putting on a load of laundry!

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Grandmothers and others who mean well but give you awful advice. They should be coming to support you by helping you with all the things not related to the baby. Put the baby back in the mom’s arms please and go fix her a nice dinner!

grandmother with baby

Too many visitors while you are in the hospital trying to learn how to nurse your baby. Every time someone comes in you have to cover up and stop nursing your baby.

visitors at hospital

Too many visitors once you get home. Ten minutes is a visit- more than that you have worn out your welcome unless you are vacuuming, folding laundry or cooking! Leave a meal and say hello- don’t even sit down to visit. Let the mom rest please.

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Undiagnosed tongue ties. The pediatrician who says let’s wait to see if it causes speech development is the wrong pediatrician for breastfeeding support.

tongue tie

A poor latch leading to sore nipples. If in doubt read this article on LATCH.

 sore breasts

Not realizing ahead of time you could have done something about a flat or inverted nipple. Ask your midwife to look at your nipples and evaluate them before you give birth. Read about this here. Avoid the nipple shields that seem to be handed out like candy- they too can cause huge issues.

types of nipples

Attend a breastfeeding support class prior to having your baby. A couples’ class is best to get your partner on board. If you can not attend prior to having the baby, attend soon after having the baby. Attend La Leche League meetings to get that mother to mother help as well.

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Dont’ be shamed into isolating yourself to a bathroom to feed your baby. The more normalized you can begin to see breastfeeding, the easier it is to get out and about.

breastfeeding in bathroom

Avoid unnecessary inductions. Baby’s who are not quite ready to be born have more difficulty nursing and end up with more NICU stays separating moms and babies.

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Avoid interventions that could lead to a cesarean birth. It is harder to recover from a surgical birth, takes longer to have your milk come in and a longer stay at the hospital creates more issues with getting good advice.

 cesarean

Avoid IV fluids during your labor. Fluids cause edema which flattens out your nipples and can cause a baby to have difficulty latching on properly. Having IV fluids for two hours or more can inflate your baby’s weight. Weight loss should be determined based on what the baby’s weight was at 24 hours instead. Read the study here.

iv fluids

Nurse the baby before the baby is weighed. A small baby or a big baby can lead to blood sugar stabs that should not be done without having the baby have an opportunity to nurse first. And the baby’s stomach is the size of a marble- regardless of his size. Colostrum is all the baby needs.

baby on scale

The hearing test must be done while the baby is not crying. So if the baby is hungry and wants to nurse, they will offer a bottle instead. Always send your partner with the baby when the baby leaves the room. And tell them you do not give them consent to give your baby a bottle.

newborn-hearing-screen

Circumcision is painful- during the procedure and afterwards. They offer sugared pacifiers for comfort. But the real problem is afterwards the baby retreats due to the pain and does not nurse well for up to 12 hours sometimes. Consider leaving your son intact- 60% of the US is doing so now. And the higher the education and higher the income, the less likely the boys will be circumcised. Do you research. And if you decide it must be done, consider waiting until the baby is a week or so old and breastfeeding and bonding is more established

.circumcision

When you register at the big box baby stores, your name is sold to the formula companies. All of  a sudden you will get gifts to sabotage your nursing relationship. Beware of FREE gifts.

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If you are returning to work, don’t be in a rush to begin offering bottles. Bottle nipples can often cause confusion to a new baby. There is a proper way to feed a bottle to a breastfed baby- note this.

formula-baby-bottles

And offering a pacifer can also cause nipple confusion early on. Think about it- the baby has a desire to suck Sucking on a fake nipple does not help your breast supply and causes the baby to get a lot of air- causing stomach pain. The baby needs to be at the breasts- helping your supply and protecting your latch.

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Crying babies have more gas. You are missing the signs of early nursing desires- sucking on their hands- smacking their mouth. Try to catch the baby early on.  Baby’s cries are alarms not to be ignored for their best development.

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Putting the baby in the bed or next to the bed with you allows for easier night time needs being met and more sleep. Night time nursing is needed until the baby reaches 15 pounds or three months expect to nurse frequently. Babies begin to start sleeping for a 5 hour stretch often at this point.

Co-sleeping

 

Sleep scheduling can be to the detriment of your milk supply. Be careful. Meeting your baby’s needs, especially during that fourth trimester- the first three months after birth, are essential to the well being of your baby. Read about newborn sleep and soothing techniques on the blog and by our favorite authors listed in the store site for book recommendations.

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Remember breastfeeding is not a medical advice issue usually, so your pediatrician may not be a good resource. In fact the Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me here!  Listen to your own intuitive heart, it is a good guide.

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So in summary,here are a few of the things you want to do to insure breastfeeding success are:

  • Take a breastfeeding couple’s class prior to birth. And if you can not do so, consider attending afterwards or meeting with a lactation educator or consultant for some guidance. 
  • Get the latch right early on- and if it hurts that means the latch is not correct.
  • Attend La Leche League meetings prior to the birth and get to see new mom’s nursing their nurslings. Talk to other moms about what worked well for them.
  • Buy a good breastfeeding book or two. We have suggestions on our site.
  • Have a gentle, non interventive birth if possible- set yourself up to win in this way by taking good classes and assembling a great support team. An alert baby and non medicated mom has less problems with breastfeeding from the start.
  • Leave the hospital as soon as possible- the studies indicate the longer you stay the more sabotage occurs.
  • Have your support team in place when you get home- hire a postpartum doula to help. Get in touch with a breastfeeding consultant to help if you are having issues as soon as possible to figure out what the problem is and resolve it quickly.
  • Nurse often and with a good latch- for the length that meets your baby’s needs.
  • Don’t look at the clock- look at your baby. And realize sleeping for longer stretches come in time. Rest when the baby is resting so you are not sleep deprived.
  • Interview your pediatrician about their level of support to expect but get your support mostly from other breastfeeding moms and knowledgeable professionals.
  • Avoid advice that is unwanted and ill advised. 
  • Resist using formula, bottles and pacifiers until breastfeeding is going smoothly.
  • Do your research and stay away from elective procedures that can interfere with mom and baby being bonded from the start.
  • Wear your baby and have the baby skin to skin often.
  • Involve your partner in other ways that are fun ways to meet the baby’s needs besides feeding.