Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Parenting with Less Stress {Breastfeeding}

     Breastfeeding has been a very important part of parenting for me. It was something that I never questioned whether I was going to do or not, it was simply the plan. My Mom breastfed all of us (6 kids) and it seemed like the normal and right thing to do.

   I do remember being surprised after Mara was born that it wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be. I had watched my Mom nurse babies (My two youngest siblings are 9 and 14 years younger than me) and it seemed like you just stuck them up their, they grabbed hold and ate. End of story. Well when Mara was first born she wasn't all that interested in eating at first (I wonder now if some of the staydol had gotten through to her as she was pretty sleepy) and then when she did she often didn't latch on properly. So it took a few days to get things all figured out which I hadn't expected but things went pretty well after that. My lesson from that is to not grow discouraged, it might take a little work but it is worth it!

   I was overall very blessed with my breastfeeding experience with my four babies. I always had plenty of milk (which is normal for most people but I know that isn't the experience of everybody and I am grateful!), pretty healthy babies and I was very blessed to be able to stay home with them. I also never had to avoid any food because it bothered their tummies (though of course I never drank alcohol or smoked- I never have at any time), and I know that hasn't been true for many of my friends so I am quite thank-ful. Here are some of the things that helped in my breastfeeding experience:
  • Start them nursing right away. In the hospital I kept them with me in my room and they only breastfed.
  • Drink a lot of water! I was always amazed at how incredibly thirsty I would get as soon as I sat down to nurse. Of course half of the time I would have forgotten to get a glass of water ahead of time. It can help to have a water bottle filled and sitting by the place you usually sit down to nurse.
  • Find and buy easy to use and comfortable nursing bras. Buy more than you normally need as they tend to get wet with milk every so often and unless you want to smell like sour milk pretty soon you might want to change.
  • Enjoy your time of resting while sitting down and nursing. I always liked to have a book handy and I got a ton of reading done while nursing. My reading time got greatly reduced after the baby was weaned.
  • When you get engorged a hot shower can help to let a little of the milk out and relieve the stress. I don't recommend pumping a lot because then your body will just make more and you will be constantly engorged because the baby just can't keep up.
  • I didn't have that much trouble with leaking except for the first couple of weeks. I liked the cloth pads for when I did need them. I know that some people (I am remembering my Mom and others) leak a lot. If you are that sort of person you might want to take a change of shirt when you go out somewhere or wear a dark printed shirt that isn't so obvious when you have had a milk leak. :-)
  • Eat a healthy diet. You want to make sure that you are sending good stuff through in your milk!
  • Plan plenty of food to eat. I ate a lot while I was nursing! 3 good meals a day plus a few snacks.
  • One thing that I did was keep my baby with me. When I was breastfeeding I went almost no where without them. There was one major exception to this and that was with Aaron I did teach violin lessons one evening a week and I was gone for a few hours. I tried pumping at first but I was never able to get that to work very well and so I ended up having formula available for him that one evening. Other than that even for times like special anniversary outings our baby came along. Those days will be over soon and then you have plenty of time to go places without them.
  • Co-sleeping was very helpful in breastfeeding my kids. I will address this more later in a post all of its own.

  A huge help for me in being able to breastfeed and not feel stressed was being able to nurse the baby where ever I was. I thought I would address this in more detail as I know this in an issue that some have a hard time with or questions about. I would like to first make it clear that I am a very modest person, I don't like to wear low necklines much less any of my cleavage or breast I also don't like to make others feel uncomfortable. That being said I found that being modest is perfectly compatible with feeding your baby where ever you are, in church, at the store or restaurant or on the plane.

    First you have to think about how you are going to dress. When nursing a baby it doesn't work well to wear dresses or jumpers (unless they have been specially designed with a concealed nursing flap and I did make a couple of those) or tops that are really tight. I usually wore pants or skirts with a fairly loose and a little long shirt. Then you can just sit down, pull the baby up and carefully get them situated under the end of the shirt and they can eat. Often I could feed them without showing anything and not use any blanket or anything else to cover. I would however always keep a blanket (it can be very light for summer) handy and I would usually cover them with it when I was out in public. When you feed them in such a manner most people don't even realize that you are nursing. I have had people come up to me and visit with me and want to see the baby (the head being covered) and are completely surprised to find out they were eating. When I was nursing I don't remember even knowing about nursing covers but they are very common now and I found they are quite easy to make. I have made a couple as gifts and I have a tutorial to show you how.

  As babies get older they do start getting more curious and they like to pop their little heads out or grab your shirt and lift it high so I just found that it helped to keep my free hand kind of just holder my shirt down and ready to pull it all the way down if the baby decides to pop his head out. When doing it in public you just have to be a little more aware.

  If you have been afraid to nurse in public I really recommend giving it a chance, maybe start around just women and practice. I found doing it in church to be quite easy especially If I had Ken or one of the older kids sitting on one side to help shield any views from the side. During church nobody is paying attention to you (or they shouldn't be!) and you can quietly listen while feeding your baby. It is so much nicer then having to go sit in a nursery somewhere! I would not have enjoyed nursing so much If I felt I had to go off in another room every time they needed to eat. Learning how to nurse modestly wasn't that hard and was very valuable to me!

 I wrote another post a couple of years ago on the benefits of breastfeeding. You might enjoy it as well.
  
Breastfeeding was certainly something that worked well for me and I greatly recommend it!

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5 comments:

Martha Jane said...

You were blessed to have your babies "get" it right away. It was weeks before I had it figured out with my first child.
For some of us the added benefit of breastfeeding our babies is that it also helps our bodies burn any extra fat we may have gained during pregnancy.

Miriam said...

I have breastfed all four of my children and plan of course on doing so with my fifth. It's a blessing to be able to do so. I want to add for the benefit of maybe some of your readers that although all of my children learned very easily to nurse, I did deal off and on with pain. It was super helpful to have a lactation consultant friend. So new moms should not hesitate to ask someone if they experience some pain... there are ways to make it feel better!

AmandaL said...

One thing I found that helped with leaking was to buy the $ store brand panty liners. I would cut them in half, and stick one half in each side of my bra. The adhesive held them in place. I tried the cloth ones, but never could get them to stay put.

Nola said...

It sounds like I have really similar views on breastfeeding and how to do it...I could have written the same type of ideas! I breastfed my 1st for 2.5 years, and am now breastfeeding my 16 month old. It hasn't been without issues. I've had mastitis 3 times, and had thrush with both babies (baby #1 it was a long time before we got rid of it.) One thing that I wish I knew was how to get rid of thrush. I tried all sorts of things. The best was using grapefruit seed extract on me and the baby, and probiotics for both too.

I love breastfeeding. It also was not really a decision for me. My mom breastfed me almost 2 years and my MIL breastfed her kids too.

Jackie said...

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on breastfeeding. I have breastfed all for of my children to at least 1 1/2 and beyond. There is nothing like providing your baby with the best possible nutrition.

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