Most moms have many demands both physically and emotionally even when they are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Typically they also have a limited amount of time to complete all of their tasks. Breastfeeding adds another piece to this puzzle. Breastfeeding can feel even more overwhelming if a mother has experienced a traumatic birth, has a baby with special needs, is pumping (either part-time or exclusively), is dealing with postpartum depression, or many other possibilities. Most moms will often have to juggle work, school, caring for their children, maintaining relationships, housework, and meals. None of these things have to affect a mother’s ability to exclusively breastfeed her baby. One of the most important points to remember when adjusting to life with a new baby is that there will be challenges and transitions regardless of how you decide to feed your newborn. However, many overwhelmed mothers have thrown up their hands and declared that they are ready to try formula. Well-meaning family members who see a woman that they love struggling with exhaustion often offer to feed baby a bottle or let mama sleep through a feeding in an effort to be supportive. As breastfeeding is the newest addition to the list of things that a busy mama has to do, sometimes it can seem logical that by removing the task of breastfeeding things may get easier. It is always a wonderful idea to provide a break to a new mom. There are many ways to achieve that goal without depriving a baby of breastmilk.

Ways to help with a new baby by supporting a breastfeeding mama include:

~Bringing nutritious ready-made food.
*Fruit & Veggie Plates
*Casseroles that are easy to re-heat

~Light housework
*Fold Laundry
*Vacuum

~Limit visiting time
*If you want to spend time holding baby, ask mom if she needs to catch up on a shower.

~Compliment mom on any messes that you can find. 🙂
*”I’m so glad that you are letting those dishes sit in the sink for awhile, that means you are really taking care of yourself and spending all of your time concentrating on that beautiful new baby!”

~Reevaluate Priorities
*Maybe it is alright for siblings to watch 5 hours of cartoon network per day during the first few weeks of adjusting to a new babe in the house.

~Offer to take older children to the park or a playdate.

~Be an involved, supportive dad
*Tell your partner how much your appreciate everything she is doing for your baby.
*Reassure her that her body instinctively knows just how to best feed your new babe.
*Bring mom food and water during nursing sessions. By caring for a breastfeeding mother and keeping her well-nourished, you are getting to feed your baby.

~Encourage Co-Sleeping
*Both baby & mama get the optimal amount of rest
*Helps establish & maintain milk supply
*Regulates breathing & body temperature in infants as they snuggle close to mom.

~Give the gift of a baby carrier
*There are so many different types, contact our local baby wearing group, Mamaroo for tips on choosing the best option for a breastfeeding mother of a young babe.

What was the most supportive thing that someone did for you after having your baby that contributed to your breastfeeding success? If you have had an experience in which you wish that your family or friends would have been more supportive, what would have been the most helpful thing someone could have said or done for you?

The First Few Weeks

October 25, 2010

As this is the beginning of a new blog, I thought a great place to start would be the beginning phase of milk production. I am passionate about mamas learning how to get breastfeeding off to a good start. I am also passionate in my frustration with the negative messages mothers are hearing about their body’s ability to sustain their babes during the first phase of milk production. It is very uncommon for a mother to experience breast fullness or leak any whitish colored milk for 40-70 hours or 2-3 days. Many hospitals are giving mothers the message that as they have ‘no milk’ during this time. Families are often told that they will need to pump and/or supplement with formula. I am certain that the human race has not typically gone without nourishment during the first 3 days of life since the dawn of time. Historically, mothers were able to feed their babes before hospitals swooped in to save us bearing gifts of funnels and tubes attached to our breasts.

Although mature milk typically arrives around the 2nd or 3rd day after birth, variations of normal do exist. As birth intervention rates go up, so do the rates of breastfeeding interventions. Many moms who experience a cesarean birth often experience the second stage of milk production between 4-6 days postpartum. This does not mean a mother has colostrum for 2-3 days followed by empty breasts for another couple days and then her mature milk comes in. What it does mean is that your body has to work extra hard to interpret all of the different hormonal and chemical messages it has received or failed to receive during a medicated and surgical process. For this reason, it is all the more important to put baby to breast often. Colostrum will be available until the next phase of milk production begins. Whatever a pump can do, a baby can do better! 😉

I am going to explain the basics of milk production because I want mamas to feel assured that this WILL work. Your amazing body that grew such a perfect baby knows just how to continue to nourish her. When or if you start leaking colostrum during pregnancy does not determine breastfeeding success. Some moms leak colostrum when they are 4 months pregnant. Some never leak a drop. It is all well within the ranges of normal. Colostrum will be present and available when you first put your newborn to your breast. The stomach capacity of a newborn on day 1 is 5-7 milliliters. That is about 1/5 of an ounce. By day 3 it is approximately 25 milliliters, that is still not even 1 full ounce. As certain hormonal levels change within your body you will experience the next phase of milk production. During this time moms typically experience breasts feeling full, sometimes leaking, and sometimes engorgement. This phase of breastfeeding is so important! This is when it is up to you and your baby to establish how milk production will work for you. Breastmilk will now be available utilizing a supply and demand method. This means that the more your baby is at the breast, the more milk your body will continue to make. During these days of fullness it can feel like your body overcompensates, I joke that our body needs to be ready in case we have triplets or a 20 pound baby. It can be really surprising to new moms when a week or two later their breasts begin feeling empty. This is a time when some moms begin supplemental feedings. However, when you begin experiencing occasional feelings of emptiness in your breasts (most typically in the evening) it is a wonderful sign. This means that your body is now in the third and final phase of milk production. You have done such an amazing job of paying attention to your infant’s feeding cues and instinctively putting your baby to breast that your body is now totally in sync with your baby’s needs. You are now making the perfect amount of milk for your baby, no more and no less. As the needs of your babe change, your breastmilk will adjust to meet those needs.

I have briefly addressed many topics in this post that I cannot wait to go into more detail on. I plan to discuss these subjects in depth complete with resources in future posts.

Welcome

October 24, 2010

My name is Karinda Woodward. I am a midwifery student, doula and breastfeeding counselor. I have been working as a breastfeeding counselor for approximately 4 years. I am creating this blog to dispel breastfeeding myths, answer breastfeeding questions, and create local support.

I am also writing this blog to tell the truth. I will not pretend that formula is simply another feeding choice and is similar in any way to breastmilk. Formula is not a safe choice for babies and should only be used when the benefit outweighs the risk. Between 9,000-10,000 infants die each year in the United States due to withholding breastmilk.*  I also plan to discuss how birth choices affect breastfeeding. Having an epidural or a cesarean does affect getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Many pregnant mothers report that they are planning a natural birth and these interventions should not be a problem for them. Michael Rosenthal, OB/GYN states, “the first intervention in natural childbirth is the one that a healthy woman does herself when she walks out the front door of her own home in labor. It is from that first intervention that all others follow.” I strongly agree with this statement and for that reason I am an advocate of families giving birth in the safe, secure, relaxing environments of their own homes. The cesarean rate in the United States is currently 32.3%. I do not believe that 1 in 3 women are incapable of vaginal birth. I do, however, believe that at least 1 in 3 doctors are incapable of believing in the ability and strength of a woman’s body.

Other subjects that I hope to address in this blog will be the importance of colostrum, how milk supply works, the necessity of skin to skin breastfeeding, and many other valuable topics. I want this information to be available based on supply & demand, just like your milk! For that reason I welcome comments and questions. I will decide on topics based on feedback that I get from this blog, questions from mothers that I have worked with throughout the week, and personal frustrations concerning things that create barriers for women being able to successfully nurse their children. Read the rest of this entry »