Posts Tagged ‘la leche league’

My Pregnancy: Postpartum Week 3

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Week Postpartum 3Breastfeeding, I’ve learned, doesn’t necessarily get easier with each baby. Nursing was a painfully long lesson this time around. It involved learning anew my own expectations of myself as a mother, deeper understanding of why some might stop breastfeeding, and how I can trust my child and myself to figure out our way.

With our boys I struggled with a few weeks of sensitivity and one bout of mastitis each, about 6 weeks into nursing. I don’t want to downplay the challenges. I remember taking a deep breath before those early feedings, sometimes psyching myself up because I knew the initial pain that was soon to come. You’d think after nursing two children, each for a year, I would know enough to nurse number three with no trouble. I didn’t, but I also did.

I didn’t know enough in the sense that I didn’t trust myself. I couldn’t remember nursing a newborn as it was over two years ago. It started with a cracked nipple within the first 48 hours. Over the course of eight very painful and impossible weeks that included mastitis and two bouts of thrush I lost faith in my ability and knowledge. I poured over very helpful websites and sought out help from two lactation consultants. I was doing everything right, so far as we could tell. The consultants checked baby for ties (none) and said the latch looked great. They offered various suggestions and possibilities but all my symptoms were mixed up. What pain came from thrush versus a bad latch versus milk blister versus large breasts not being held in a supportive bra and so on was hard to figure when it all just hurt so much. There were so many things going wrong it seemed. Every feeding, with varying amounts of ease and patience, I negotiated with baby to open big but the pain continued. We became well versed in things I never needed before: antibiotics, anti-fungal medication, gentian violent, probiotics, vinegar, and more.

Turns out I knew myself. At some point, once the thrush and mastitis both settled (along with the flu-like virus I enjoyed at two weeks postpartum), I let other people fade into the background. I looked down at my baby and trusted that we could figure it out. I didn’t throw out all the helpful advice. Quite the opposite, their encouragement, listening ears, and inside tips got me through many feedings. The go-to suggestion of friends and consultants was to get more of my breast in the baby’s mouth. I would re-latch and re-latch through tears and gasps of pain trying to get the ever-elusive deep suckle. When I stopped forcing it and allowed her to take the lead something changed. While waiting on the mouth to be wide open worked for my other children, my daughter went against the grain. As I trusted her to pull my nipple into her mouth I noticed the pain began to subside. She knew what to do. One breast quickly settled into routine while the other took another week of effort before nursing finally became comfortable—at 10 weeks.

That was a long two months. Had my husband not been home for three weeks I certainly would have stopped because of the amount of time I spent nursing, reading about nursing, talking about nursing, stressing about nursing, and trying to ease the pain of nursing.

I also found in me deep expectations. I nursed two; there’s no good reason I can’t do it again I told myself. I wanted so badly to give her what her brothers got (breastmilk for a year or so). I felt guilty at the thought of quitting but I also couldn’t stand the pain—the burning, the shooting-knives into my chest, the pain of rolling over in bed, hugging my son, or simply wearing clothing as my breasts were too tender to stand a mere layer of cotton. I understand why people choose to end breastfeeding because I mulled on it daily for nearly two months.

At week three I was really struggling. It’s rough stuff, mama. I appreciate that some people nurse with ease. I do now, at ten weeks postpartum as I write looking back. I also know that nursing can be really, really hard. Even more frustrating, it can be really, really hard even when the lactation consultants say everything looks good. I can see how women try and then transition to formula for this (or other) reasons. I could have been ok with myself had I transitioned to formula feeding. I dug down and managed to make it to the other side. I’m so happy I did. Something that caused such pain is now comfortable, even healing, as I cozy up to my gal each feeding. We made it. We did it, she and I.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four, and now a newborn gal. She is taking in every moment of every day because, let’s be honest, she’s not getting much sleep.  

Waiting to Introduce Solids

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Waiting to Introduce SolidsI hear from time to time that babies need something “more filling” that only solids can provide. Rather, it’s scientifically documented that babies require numerous feedings in those first six months. Breast milk or formula serves to adequately address babe’s nutritional needs for most of the babe’s first year of life, especially the first six months. Additionally, breast milk offers increased immunity and reductions in a variety of health issues from pneumonia and diarrhea to diabetes and obesity.

I also often hear a baby will sleep better with a solid cereal. Maybe this seemingly worked for some families. It may also be coincidence as some babies begin sleeping for longer stretches in the 3 to 6 month range. Actually, baby’s digestive tract just isn’t ready for more complex food than milk or formula. A baby’s gut is not entirely closed to adequately address the needs of digesting solid foods.

The benefits continue for both mom and baby in the comfort of bonding and suckling. Considering the fourth trimester, a baby is barely into this world at 4 to 6 months. The comfort and ease of feeding milk versus the mess of a young baby attempting solid foods helps make the decision to wait less messy! Some mothers find breastfeeding also helps balance their hormones and effectively lose excess baby-related weight.

If baby is not sleeping as long as you’d like, find a few supportive friends and family to help get you a few nights of rest. When you find yourself getting excited about the next milestone of starting solid foods and all the messy pictures that will excite your memories for years to come, remember you’ve got just these few short months to be your baby’s whole nutritional world, whether by breast or bottle. If you have well-meaning advisors who suggest introducing food, educate them or just politely nod as you see fit and remind yourself that you are your baby’s primary advocate and line of defense!

Complimentary feeding not only can wait until six months, but for a variety of reasons it is strongly encouraged by a variety of well-reputed, scientifically-based, pediatric- and health-focused organizations. Use this time to read about and prepare for those first meals of bananas, avocados, or whatever “first food” you’ll end up writing down in your child’s baby book… at six months!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Nursing Past Six Months

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Nursing Past Six MonthsSix months is a long time in Baby Land. That’s a lot of sleepless nights. Maybe you’ve made it to the magical six-month mark espoused as the suggested benchmark many mamas work toward. Congratulations!

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 6 months of exclusive breast-feeding followed by nursing with the addition of complimentary foods until at least 12 months, continuing “as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”

For some mamas, that 6-month mark is the goal and hurdles of work, time, sleepless nights, sickness, or other challenges are enough to bring nursing to an end. I remember, at times, feeling touched-out or just overall “over” it. An afternoon here, a day or two there, every so often I thought of quitting, but I always told myself I’d reconsider the next day. That got us to over a year for both of our boys. If you’re willing, I think there are a few reasons to stick with it.

At the very least your milk is nutritionally appropriate compared to the formula you’d need to buy until baby completes year one, not to mention, free. More than that, your milk is unique in a way nothing else is, changing over time and full of nutrients catered to addressing your baby’s needs. This does not stop at 6 months, and those next months are filled with sitting, a mouth full of teeth, crawling, walking, first words, and a number of other major developmental milestones.

In addition, research from a variety of credible sources shows a variety of correlations related to continued breastfeeding and overall health. Cognitive, language, and motor development increase with nursing; allergies, respiratory issues, diabetes, and obesity all decrease in prevalence with nursing. These benefits take strongest hold in those first six months but continue rising even after six months. And not just baby benefits—breast and ovarian cancer risk lowers every year you nurse.

And last, while I firmly believe that any mama can comfort, bond with, and enjoy her babe(s) without breastfeeding, nursing provides a unique way to be close with your babe. The skin-to-skin touch of a mother’s love offers a closeness, not to mention a good reason for a tired mama to sit down for a few minutes and rest while baby feeds. Now THAT is reason to keep chugging along while baby chugs away!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

When Adding a Baby Means Losing Friends

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

When adding a baby means losing friendsSome women are lucky enough to be pregnant at the same time as a close friend, sister-in-law, cousin or sibling. But sometimes, you may be the only person you know with kids. Having a baby catapults you into another world, and sometimes not everyone makes the leap with you.

Immediately after you have a baby, most women are in a position they are not used to being in. After being the one who is always there for their friends and family, they are suddenly in need to help—lots of help. You may need someone to come and hold the baby just so you can take a shower. Your house might be a total wreck, which can be hard if you’ve taken a lot of pride in having a neat home. You may find yourself eating out a lot because you can’t manage to get through the grocery store with that tiny baby.  If you worked before baby, you had a whole network of people you saw every day. You had tons of stimulation, things to talk about, and things to do. Now, you may feel like the new baby is your whole world and that he or she is all you talk about. And while that’s as it should be when you’re a new mom, some of your friends, coworkers, and family may not understand.

This transition can affect your immediate family, too. Some dads have time off available to use right after the birth of a new baby, or they may be able to take Paternity leave or FMLA to spend time at home. Many dads don’t have this option. If you are having trouble communicating with your partner or your relationship just doesn’t seem to be adjusting to parenthood, check out marriage counseling. You don’t have to be on the verge of divorce to get counseling—having a baby changes your relationship and how you relate to each other. It’s totally normal to get help in finding your new happy place as a family.

Keep in mind that people have a variety of reasons for laying low after the birth of a new baby. Friends who are having fertility issues may have a very hard time being around a new mom. Often, fertility doctors advise patients to avoid these situations because of the emotional stress it causes them, so give your friends the benefit of the doubt in case this just hasn’t been something they felt comfortable sharing with you.

Other friends—and sometimes family–may resent the fact that you don’t have all that extra emotional energy to support them anymore. You can tell this is the case if they get annoyed or angry that you aren’t available for them, if they don’t seem at all interested in you or the baby, or if they just seem to disappear after it’s obvious that you are busy with your new addition. You should never feel guilty about putting your family or your baby first. It’s important to have me-time and time with your friends, but it’s not always possible right at the beginning. Having a new baby is an intense transition from your old life, and becoming a parent will absolutely change you and how you look at the world.

If your friends are concerned about you, or you feel like you are withdrawing from things you used to enjoy or people you used to enjoy being around, research post-partum depression or take an online assessment, and ask those closest to you if they are concerned about you. Depression closes you off from others and can make you feel very alone even when you are surrounded by people who love and care for you.

Some relationships won’t be able to survive this transition to motherhood, and that’s OK. Part of this transition includes making new friends and reconnecting with old friends who have also become moms and understand what it feels like to be home all day with an infant, or how heartbreaking it is to leave your baby while you work and provide for your family. Motherhood is full of hard choices, and it’s great to know other moms who understand what it’s like to make those choices every day.

Facebook, your local birth center or cloth diaper shop, La Leche League, MOPS, and your local library are all great places to meet other new moms in your area. Many birth centers have mom groups available for moms with newborns who need support and resources, even if you didn’t birth there. The Badass Breastfeeder also has a Facebook group where you can find your local “mama tribe” of moms who are looking for support and friendship.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Best Breastfeeding Books for Moms

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Best Breastfeeding Books for MomsIf you are like me, you constantly want to stay on top of the latest information in mommyland. I breastfed my daughter, Johanna, for 13 months. However, with the upcoming arrival of my son, I have been researching books on nursing like crazy. With my daughter, we had a rough start with nursing, and I want this time to go smoother from the start. Here are a few of the best books on breastfeeding out there, in my opinion.

3. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

This book has several authors and is written with the support of La Leche League International, so you know it is going to have valuable information and be a good read. It is a bestseller and contains stories, advice, photos, and lots of information for moms and moms-to-be.

Interesting Features:

  • Information about nursing post C-section or after a rough delivery with complications
  • Guidance for moms on breast health issues and other topics from daycare to medications that are safe
  • Internet references for moms who want more information and support from La Leche League

2. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers

This book is written by Jack Newman. Dr. Newman has established breastfeeding clinics all over the country, and in this book, he has provided a guide for moms to overcome any fears or worries they have while traveling through their nursing journey. This book focuses on the possibilities of succeeding in breastfeeding more than the difficulties women have with nursing.

Interesting Features:

  • Information on weaning toddlers
  • Breastfeeding help for moms who adopt or have premature babies
  • How to handle a nursing strike or if baby simply refuses the breast
  • Tons of resources for mom

1. The Better Way to Breastfeed: The Latest, Most Effective Ways to Feed and Nurture Your Baby with Comfort and Ease

I recently checked out this book by Robin Elise Weiss at my local library and I was not disappointed. It features information on any topic you can think of within the subject of  nursing. I was overwhelmed with all of the information that I could use with my upcoming arrival of my son.

Interesting Features:

  • Tips and tricks for how to nurse a needy newborn and handle older children
  • Ideas for what to wear while you are breastfeeding to make you feel comfortable in public
  • References and checklists to help you know when you need to ask for help
  • Ways to incorporate breastfeeding into your everyday lifestyle

While there are many, many books on breastfeeding out there, I think these are three of the best. Breastfeeding is an amazing way to nourish your baby and take care of yourself. As moms, we should never quit wanting to learn more and grow as mothers. Get to reading, moms!

Karyn Meyerhoff  is a mom of one and one on the way. She hopes that the first month of breastfeeding her son will be a breeze after reading up on some information she forgot about.