A Quick Note to New Moms or Soon-To-Be Moms

My best friend Lauren posted this great note to her facebook about breastfeeding.  A lot of new moms try and have a hard time and then feel bad about themselves or like failures.  Know that this is common, you are not alone, and there is help for you out there.

Here's her post:

As a new mom there are lots of things people dont tell us, one of those is that to breastfeed it takes alot of effort and patience on both ends.   It is not something that just happens naturally. Each of you have you will have different experiences, so hopefully mine will help you.  Learning to feed Cullen was not easy.  He had to be born early due to complications with the pregnancy and therefore spent a few days in the NICU.  When he first popped out I tried to feed him , which you can absolutely request happen before weighing, bathing, shots etc.  He didnt take, which is absolutely ok.  Infact I didnt think he would, we were both drugged out of our minds from magnesium (it was given to me to prevent seizures during labor, birth and for 12 hours after) and the nurses and doctors warned me that he would feel pretty much the same way that I did.  FYI this decision was not mine, it was the doctors, preventative measures and such. So first try, fail, however I say give it a shot.  Having your child placed on your chest bare skin to skin after birth helps your baby and makes you feel great in ways one cant describe.  SO my next shot at breastfeeding didnt occur for a few days after.  I had to pump bc he was being fed through a tube.  Pumping is so important I cannot stress how important it is when your baby is unable to be breastfed. For the first few days until my milk actually came in I felt like the biggest failure, nothing felt worse than feeling like I was unable to feed my child.  However I was reassured by many of the nurses and lactation consultants that I was doing a great job.  Colostrum is what they refer to as liquid gold.  Thankfully a babys tummy and digestive system take a few days to adjust before being able to feed on your milk and luckily that liquid gold is packed with enough nutrients that your baby will be ok those first few feedings.  However again if you cant feed your baby PUMP.  Pump every 3 hours. The drs told me I had to do it that often.  I wont lie, it hurt  and made me feel like dairy cow.  Seriously I wanted to moo.  Thankfully there are many products that can be used to ease the pain of nursing/pumping and are completely safe for baby.  I opted for the stick instead of the cream in a tub.  It even works great for a quick fix when I dont have my chapstick.  As the nurse told us in our class, just put it on the dark part no need to bathe your boob in it, just the parts the baby will put its mouth on.  VERY IMPORTANT, always make sure the baby is on the nipple and never your skin, they say this is very painful, I have yet to find this out.  So back to the nursing.  I wasnt able to nurse until my son was no longer in need of a CPAP for his oxygen. So the first try was very stressful.  I was afraid to touch him bc of tubes, wires and other things hooked up to him.  However I didnt want him to go back to a feeding tube.  At this point he didnt want to work for his meal so for the first few days we would try to see if he would latch, and suck. After a few minutes of trying we supplemented with a bottle that had an nipple designed for breastfeeding and full of my pumped milk.  I wouldnt say unsuccessful trying bc each attempt helped to reach the end goal.  The nurses would wake me every 3 to 4 hours to feed him. They say never let your baby go more than 4 hours between feedings. Some of the tricks the nurses would use to help him latch were sweeties (a sugar water) or my breastmilk sucked into a syringe and squirted into his mouth or on my nipple to help him latch.  Once he had a latch going (which sometimes we joked was like a piranha bite) we would trick him a little with the breast milk in the syringe and squirt it on the nipple to help encourage him to feed.  At one point we even had a tube taped to me that was hooked to a big syringe that we would push milk through to help get him going.  One nurse even showed me how to finger feed and would finger feed him for me so I could get sleep. Ben was even able to feed him my pumped milk in those bottles with the special nipples (ladies this helps Dad bond with the baby and allows you to get much needed sleep) This all helped!!! we used pillows to help support, tried different holds etc...  In the end here I was with a baby leaving the NICU who could feed, but was a little lazy at it.  However once we got home I no longer had problems feeding him.  The distractions were gone and it was great.  He then fed like a champ and still does.  He has the budding rolls and soon to be double chin to prove it.
However once my milk came in I learned about engorgement which can be helped with hot showers, warm compresses, frozen peas, a very hungry baby and pumping. 
Also something that they told me, let down, they say it should feel tingly in my boobs, i never felt this until a few days after we got home, and even then it felt like I was being punched in the boob and to this day still does.
Another fun fact is that  in the beginning nursing causes cramps but only bc it helps your uterus contract down to its normal size by releasing the bodies natural form of pitocin at this moment I forget what its called. 
so tips:
nipple balm: it saves lives  trust me on this  some women even use creams to help stimulate the nipple to bring it out for baby to latch ive never tried them but I hear they work too
pillows:  there are lots out there designed for breastfeeding.  I have a boppy, its works well for other things aside from breastfeeding, and normal pillows work fine too.  Get comfortable.
drink plenty of fluids:  dehydration is no fun, also they say sipping a cold drink while nursing helps to take your mind off of the pain which goes away after time and practice.
a hand pump: I say a hand pump bc for me I didnt need a fancy big one. The hospital provided me with one while he was in the NICU and once out I only had to pump minimally.  A pump is nice for those moments when you are engorged.  Trust me on this one it hurts, and for me, being bathed in my own milk was not something I enjoyed, infact it added to the list of things my body did that made me feel gross. The handpump also helped me burn a few extra calories as well.  Its also nice to have around so that say you want to sleep in  a little, you can pump ahead of time with some careful planning and then your partner, spouse, significant other, person who is helping you out can feed the baby for you. Also if your baby requires meds it makes it a little easier to give to them by mixing the meds or vitamins in with the milk.  However you can choose whichever pump suits you best. 
If you pump keep pictures around of your baby, videos etc... this helps to stimulate milk production and let down.  it really helped me out when my milk was coming in and when he was learning to feed. 
Always offer the other breast: I learned from the consultant that just bc he stopped nursing didnt mean he was full, it just meant he was done with that breast.  this also helps you in the long run. 
dont time your feedings, but dont sit there for an hour, you will learn when your kid is using you as a pacifier.  
stimulate your baby: you can do this by gently stroking the ear, the jaw line, rubbing their head a little, tickling their feet.  This helps to keep them awake and feed. Cullen loves to pass out at the boob.  Infact its one of his favorite past times. 
delatching: insert one finger between your babys mouth and your nipple to avoid pain and dont be afraid to delatch your baby if their latch isnt correct
USE USE USE the nursing/lactation consultant if your birthing facility/hospital has one.  they are a big help.  So are the normal baby nurses and anyone who has breastfed before.  Infact there are groups and websites devoted to this stuff. 
last but not least, eat well, dont forget to take your vitamins and take care of yourself.  Dont be afraid to let your partner help and sleep when the baby sleeps. AND ALWAYS ask questions. 

I hope this helps, and im sure Im forgetting something, but these are all things I wish someone had told me.  Breastfeeding takes effort and time.  Dont give up right away, and just remember like everything else it takes practice.

Lauren had a completely different situation than I did.  Neither of my babies were premature, and they were both were by c-section, so I couldn't try to feed immediately.  I had no problems with Sydney.  She was a natural, and by looking at her, you can tell she still is.  I did however have some issues with Ben.  I was so sore that a couple of times while I was still in the hospital, I had them supplement with formula.  I felt like the worst mom in the world and the biggest breastfeeding failure.  I also had some hard times getting Ben to latch on.  I was embarrassed but eventually I talked to the lactation consultant.  She showed me some different holds for feeding and also how to "prime the pump" as Shawn calls it.  Basically you bring the milk to the surface by sort of pinching your nipple and pulling or rolling forward or like you would milk a cow.  This also comes in handy when your husband is causing trouble and you want to spray him.  This may not work for all husbands, but mine is pretty grossed out by it, so it works nicely.

If you are having a hard time, relax and then try again.  If you are stressed about it, your baby will pick up on that and have a hard time eating as well.

Lastly, if you are having problems, ask for help!!!  The lactation consultant was a life saver to me, and that's what they are there for.  My aunt Marci also told me that the La Leche League is a great resource.  There are members you can talk to and books and websites you can reference.


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