Thursday, October 16, 2014

Postpartum: Breastfeeding tips from a Second Time Mom

Breastfeeding Tips from a Second Time Mom
Do you remember my last reality check with breastfeeding? If not here's a little recap... "Stress. Tears. Frustration. Pain. Exhaustion." Read the rest: Reality: Breastfeeding is Hard

It's a little less over a year from that post, and I have a completely different outlook on the whole commitment to breastfeed. The first time around I was too overwhelmed with my own insecurities, my weight loss, my postpartum healing, and a small case of postpartum blues. This year, with this baby, I am a whole different woman! There are a few things that I wish I could go back and tell my first time mom self...

I've broken it down to 5 tips aka 5 things I've already learned the second time around. This could be your experience, or yours could be totally different. Take it or leave it folks... Just trying to help the next person out!  By no means are these "the answers", but maybe, just maybe they can help!!

5 Breastfeeding Tips: from a second time mom

1. Shield NOT necessary: a nipple shield is not something (IMO) you should be trying in the hospital.  When I was at the hospital with my first, the lactation consultant very quickly recommended a nipple shield (instead of encouraging me to keep at it or showing me any other positions). In my desperate, hazy, exhausted mind, we needed this thing. Reality, though, was it inhibited my ability to nurse my son. I couldn't just put him to the breast; I had to "set-up". The process meant sticking the shield in place with lanolin, turning it round and round in the dark to make it face the right way, trying to get baby to latch without pulling the shield off, and switching sides?? Forget about it!  The flimsy piece of silicone protected my nipples a bit, but they still hurt. The still cracked, blistered, and bled because ultimately I didn't need a nipple shield what I needed are the next two things on the list: patience and positioning. 

2. Patience is a Virtue: With Moose (my first), I had this idea that breastfeeding was natural, and therefore, it would be easy. I knew going in there would be struggles, but I couldn't grasp the magnitude of what I was about to embark into. Now with my second, I realize it's not about some natural, magic knowledge it's about figuring out what works for you and baby. 

There's zero reason to become frustrated when the baby is rooting around, but with the first son that little floppy bird mouth was awful. I felt like I was going to hurt him, and I once he latched (even if it was painful and a bad latch) I wouldn't take the time to pull him off and try again. 

Breastfeeding requires mass quantities of patience. It's something you have to find deep within yourself. A calm place to draw upon when you sit down to nurse can be the difference. 

With baby #2, I have kept a scripture journal. It's not something I can work on while nursing, but it has kept my faith and encouraging verses at the top of my heart and head. Struggling to breastfeeding read the book of James... 

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything

Breastfeeding requires that you are patient with yourself, baby, and the world around you. It's not easy, but it doesn't have to be overwhelmingly awful either. Persevere through the first month and reevaluate how it's going. 

3. Position, position, position: this is a game changer. The MOST important part if successful beastfeeding is a good latch which you absolutely cannot have without a good position. All the books, experts, blogs, and so on tell you have to have a good latch, but I find that many of them don't explain how! 

Signs of a bad latch: pain that lasts after the initial 5 seconds of latching, mishapen nipple when the baby pulls off, blistering, cracking, and neck or shoulder pain. There are others I'm certain, but these are the for sures.

My question was always, "how do I get a good latch, when everything I try results in a bad latch?" I just couldn't get it right the first time, but in the hospital with baby #2 I received exactly one visit from a lactation consultant (well under the multiple visits I had with baby #1).  I was already having the same blister struggles on my right side, and she showed me one little bitty thing that has 100% saved my nursing relationship. 

I always focused on supporting baby's head with the hand or arm of the same side I was nursing on. This didn't always mean a closely snuggled baby. The lactation consultant told me I needed to focus more on the baby's shoulders. Shoulders? Why shoulders... Because you want everything to be in line!! Baby's belly should face in at you and never be belly up to the air (in cradle or cross cradle). If the baby is not snuggled in against you, than he/she is pulling away from you - a la pulling your nipple with him/her. 

Using the opposite side hand to support the back of babies head has made a HUGE difference for us. I don't feel like I'm aiming myself at him, but instead I am aiming him to me. I, also, was taught the football hold. I never mastered any different holds the first time, but with the blisters I had the best thing in the world was switching him up until we both figured out a good latch!

If you are struggling with breastfeeding, try a different hold. Don't be afraid to hold the back of the baby's head/neck, and watch the shoulders! 

4. Nursing Pillows: The first time I breastfed I had my trusty boppy pillow. I love my boppy, so don't get me wrong when I say this - The boppy is not the best nursing pillow for the struggling breastfeeder.  The boppy is for a mom and baby who have it down. It provides a little support, but it can also be a pain in the beginning.

I strongly suggest getting a "My Brest Friend" pillow. Yes, it has the worst name on the face of the planet, but it is AMAZING when you need the extra support.  It has a thick foam to support baby. It can help with learning new feeding positions, and it has helped me amazingly for nighttime feeds. When you are a zombie and desperately trying to get a newborn back to sleep, that is one of the hardest times to latch correctly. It's dark (or should be mostly dark... don't confuse the baby about day and night), and you're exhausted. It is those moments that you get lazy or miss something and blister or crack because of a bad latch. Nothing will scare you off nursing more than pain when nursing. This pillow has been a godsend in baby #2 and I's nursing relationship.

5. Nuring Tops: Don't let anyone (yourself included) try to convince you that you should wear anything, but a nursing top for however long you are comfortable with! I LOVE my nursing camis (from Target). They have a built in shelf bra that isn't too tight or too loose. It's not super duper supportive, so I don't advise jogging -haha, but I cannot live without these tops. I have three that are in constant rotation.  I wear them under other clothes, if I have to go in public because when I nurse my belly and back are covered. Momma has to be comfortable nursing in order to stay with it.

When I was pregnant, I made myself a poncho style nursing cover. I feel like this will support my ability to nurse the baby longer term.

My Goals This Time Around
I am hopeful that this baby and I can continue to nurse, so that I don't have to become an exclusive pumper this time. I will do that, if he decides he prefers a bottle because at the point I have to go back to work there is nothing I can do.  However, I would really like to stay with nursing as the primary way of feeding him when I am there with him. 

We hope to make it a full year on breastmilk with this baby... which is 4 months longer than I did the first time. 

I hope to not even pull out the pump in the month of October, and really, I hope that I can make it most of November, too. (Maybe we will do one or two bottles in November, so that I can leave and have a meal or something.) I hope to only pump three times at school, when I go back to teaching. If we can keep it up though the spring, I wouldn't mind switching to exclusively pumping in the summer next year. Once he gets a schedule going, I will also probably add an extra pumping time, so that I can stockpile some milk for him! 

These are our hopes this time around... We will see what actually happens. More than anything, I want a happy, healthy baby and to be happy and healthy myself. Prayers are always accepted for these two things! Breastfeeding isn't always easy, but I love taking care of my son. 

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