Monday, July 19, 2010

The Joy of Breastfeeding

Yes, it is a commitment. Yes, it can be challenging. Yes, it takes a bit of an effort to learn. Yes, it takes a lot of mommy's time. Yes, there can be soreness and trauma. But, it is OH. SO. WORTH. IT!

I love to feel little fingers tickle my back as his arm dangles under mine while he eats.

I love when he locks eyes with mine as he is suckling and he smiles at me.

I love that he is getting the best nutrients on the planet from his food.

I love the bond I feel with him when I hold him close to feed him.

I love that breast milk helps build his brain with the natural omega-3 fatty acids DHA and ARA.

I love that I don't have to get up and fix a bottle at 2:30am.

I love that it it doesn't cost $1,200 a year like formula does, not to mention the cost of the bottles and all the equipment involved.

I love that it is easy on his delicate digestive system.

I love that it doesn't create extra work for washing, sterilizing, and drying bottles.

I love that it is rich in natural, well absorbing lactose, iron, calcium, and zinc and DOES NOT contain corn syrup like formula.

I love that it is building his tiny immune system and protecting him against germs in the environment.

I love that it lowers my risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

I love that breastfeeding is helping me lose those extra pounds gained during pregnancy.

I love that it is a natural form of birth control.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Mom Style

While I was pregnant, I got a lot questions.

Things like...

Will you use pacifiers?

Are you going to pump?

Will you co-sleep?

What kind of slings are you going to buy?

Will you use cloth diapers?

...and so on.

I was kind of determined not to set myself up for disappointment by deciding ahead of time what I would be doing. In my gut it felt better to say I would just play it by ear. Now that he is here, I take his cues for what his wants and needs are. There is a lot of conversation surrounding this topic. Some people call it attachment parenting vs. scheduling your baby (Babywise), but, for me, it feel right to do what he is asking for and not put a label on it. I don't really want to be put into a category of what kind of parenting style I have.

So, this is what I do....

I feed him when he wants. If that means a half hour after he just ate, than that is what I am doing. I have never had to pump because his eating habits have encouraged an ample milk supply. But, if he goes more than three hours at this point, I start to feel a little engorged and sometimes that to wake him to eat.

He sleeps in our bed with us because to us that feels best. Plus, I can just pull him close to feed him while I can somewhat continue sleeping.

I wear him in a sling or wrap a lot and he sleeps on my chest for his naps throughout the day. I like to have him close. Sometimes I think moms get caught up in getting the baby to sleep so they can get on to the next project or cleaning or whatever, but to me, the early weeks and months are so important for bonding with your baby so he or she can feel safe and secure. I am not worried one bit that he will become spoiled or to used to being close all the time.

He has always fallen asleep at night right after he eats, so I don't stress about staying awake during the day so he will sleep better at night.

I was hoping not to use a pacifier. I had always heard and believed it caused nipple confusion. But, I tried it one night. He likes to have it in as he falls asleep. I take it out when he is soundly sleeping, but it has become a necessity now.

One thing that I have put a lot of emphasis on is my diet as I am breastfeeding. I am staying away from gassy, hard to digest foods such as dairy, beans, tomatoes, chocolate, broccoli, etc. So far, he has only had one bout with gas...I ate a bean fault. However, he doesn't scream and cry with the gas, he seems to get more squirmy, toots, and he finds it hard to fall asleep.

Talking to him is also very important. I treat him like the little human that he is. He deserves to know what is going on when I am changing his clothes or giving him a bath or will feed him right after I go potty myself.

He wears cloth diapers because it is better for the earth, his little bottom, and our wallet. Ya, it is a little more work to clean them and you have to change the baby more frequently, but it is so worth it.

I also believe in the importance of allowing Daddy to be involved too. He changes the baby's diapers and I have left the baby with him on several occasions to run errands. Dads should form a special bond with their babies from the beginning as well.

My baby will be three weeks tomorrow. Besides two visits to see the midwives, I have not ventured outside the house with him. I have had a few visitors, but for the most part I think he is too itty bitty to be out and about and be passed around to people. I have started to get out a little bit more myself, but for the most part, I have been taking it easy and trying to recover from the birth. It has been a big help for my family to be around to help care for me. I know that a lot of women don't have this luxury, but allowing yourself to rest and recover before trying to get back at it is very important.

I am still learning myself and I am not saying that I have it all figured out. But, following the cues of my little guy is important to me and works well him and for my mom style.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Birth Trauma and Breastfeeding Remedies

Wouldn't it be nice if our bodies and babies came with a guidebook specifically for written for each of us?

We could know ahead of time that labor could potentially be 25 hours long. We could plan on how to deal with the back labor and the third degree tears. The cracking, bleeding nipples from breastfeeding would be anticipated and we could seek help before that ever happened. We would know that the hormones that are trying to balance out are going to give us some serious ups and downs and that just looking into the sweet eyes of our baby will make us cry for no reason at all.


That isn't reality.

Thankfully, they write books to refer to once you know you are dealing with these issues.

I have been referring to The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears and Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen A. Kendall-Tackett. In addition, I have been consulting a fabulous lactation consultant in my area.

So, here are some of the things I have been doing to recover from birth and baby.

Repair "Down There"...
For the first two days after the repair of my third degree tear I used herbal ice packs on the inflammation. These were made from soaking sanitary pads (overnight and regular size) in the herbal bath blend and freezing them. I changed them as needed. They melted, so I put this frozen pad onto another large pad they gave me at the hospital when I went in for the stitches after my home birth and then I put on a Depends. It isn't the most glamorous look, but for anyone who has had a tear that needs comfort, you know you don't even care at that point. After day two, I spread Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm onto a pad and it soothed the area. In fact, two and a half weeks later, I am still occasionally using this balm. It is definitely some amazing stuff.

Nipple Trauma and Repair...
For some reason, I have had issues with my left nipple. The right one has been just fine. My baby has a really great latch. If he happens to latch on incorrectly, I take the time to reposition and relatch as much as I need to until it is correct. My left nipple, however, started cracking and bleeding. I "toughed it out" for a few days and it just wasn't getting better. Just so you know, I don't recommend "toughing it out". Consult your lactation consultant right away if you think you may be having a issue with breastfeeding. But, I knew he had a proper latch according to the book and my knowledge of breastfeeding. When reading up on sore nipples and nipple trauma in Breastfeeding Made Simple, I discovered I had all of the following...
  • intense, toe-curling pain
  • pain throughout the feeding or between feedings
  • broken skin, blisters, or color changes
  • a burning sensation during, after or in-between feedings
  • persistent soreness that does not improve after a day or two of trying to correct the problem
My book suggested that if I have any of the previous issues, to contact a lactation consultant immediately. The next morning, I called Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC first thing. Her advice was to ensure the proper latch, use a saline wash after each feeding. I make this from 1/8 teas. sea salt and 1 oz. water in a shot glass and seal it over the nipple and areola to soak for 2-3 minutes. Don't soak for longer than 2-3 minutes or the nipple will get too soft. After the soak, I apply colloidal silver directly to the nipple as well as take 1 teas. orally to prevent further infection. Then, I use either Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter or a Lansinoh Soothies gel pads to ensure that my nipple does not stick to the nursing pad and cause further trauma. She also suggested to use a product by Medela called Soft Shell for Sore Nipples. I haven't tried those yet. In addition, she recommended taking supplements to boost my immune system in order to not fully develop mastitis. So far so good. My nipple is slowly recovering and I can tell a difference with each feeding.

We can't always prepare for all the what-ifs before they happen, but we can consult some great books and wonderful professionals for their advice once we know what kinds of things we are dealing with after birth.