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Breast Feeding

What else do I need?

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Well you likely want one of these! Especially if you will be breastfeeding and plan on leaving the house! This lovely thing is called a hooter hider! No, I am not joking that is really what it is called.  I didn’t have one of these with Abi and as Abi was an active nurser (liked pulling of the burp clothes I had cleverly wedged under my bra strap to provide some privacy) I often found myself more exposed than I might have liked! When I had Tia someone lent me a hooter hider and embarrassment free public nursing ensued! I’ll attach a link below but the website has all kinds of colors and patterns and also hosts another brand of nursing covers.  As long as the nursing cover has the boning across the top it’s useful. It enables you to be able to see the baby, help it latch, know if it’s sleeping and make eye contact all the while maintaining modesty.  I happily nursed Tia on the front row at church with one of these covers with no problems!

http://www.bebeaulait.com/products/hooter-hiders-nursing-covers/avignon

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What about wipe warmers? Do you need one? Ummm.... NO! They are a gimmick and tend to just dry out your perfectly useful wipes and make them useless.  In addition, I bank on the changing of the bum and the coolness of the wipe to wake the baby enough to feed. If you loose that little bit of cold discomfort that wakes the little one up enough to feed, then you have to take more drastic measures which never feels kind.  Having said that, if the baby is due to feed you may have to do tricky things to maintain motivation to stay awake and feed like cold wash cloths on the feet and head and such! I know it sounds horrible but especially for the first few weeks they are not always as motivated to eat as the are to sleep.

What about Pacifiers? Well if you read Babywise they would have you not start to use them or you will need to keep using them.  That means for some babies when they fall out that the baby wakes and screams which makes it much more difficult to establish and good sleeping pattern early.  I usually had one or two around and typically I only used them in emergency situations like when you are driving, still need the baby to wait 10 minutes until you get to where you can nurse and want to help him/her stay calm and comforted rather than cry.  I didn’t use them for naps or the night sleeping sets and I also never had to get up in a groggy stupor (which is me at any time during the night) and try and replace the little thing! Bother of my girls “found their thumbs” early because they didn’t have something else to use. This meant when they did wake and wanted to suck something to go back to sleep I didn’t have to be part of that scenario and often they do it without even fully waking up.  Granted it might be harder to get them off of sucking their thumbs or fingers than removing a soother but from what I’ve heard it can be easy or hard either way.  For Abi the dentist told her at 3.5 years old that she needed to work at stopping sucking her fingers. He suggested she only suck them at night when she went to bed and that at 4 years old would be a good time to fully stop. She took the dentist seriously and at 4 he said he thought it was time to stop completely. At the same time I told Abi that when it had been a whole week of not sucking her fingers then we would start painting her finger nails in pretty colors. Well that did it and she stopped that night. Now perhaps bribery and corruption with nail polish promises isn’t your thing but al that to say it wasn’t difficult but I have a sneaking suspicion that Tia might be slightly tricker to convince! Ok sorry rant over! I like the Avent soothers or pacifiers (same thing) they have a cover that keeps them from getting dirty in your bag.  They are BPA free and sized by month so you can fit it to your wee ones face! 

Well that’s the end of my thoughts for tonight! Our son is kicking so hard that I think he might be launching some sort of escape plan. So I think I will get to bed and give him some extra room to move around. 32 weeks and growing....

Breast Feeding

Let’s talk about breasts shall we? Am I a breastfeeding fan? Yes, I really am. I would say for a number of reasons, that we will look at, that breastfeeding is the best choice for Mom and baby.  What was interesting for me is all the ideas that I had about it before I had Abi. I mean I really had no idea what to expect. From watching movies or seeing mom’s breastfeed that are more practiced I just thought it would be easy. That I would just know what to do and that Abi would. Well I have since discovered that there is a reason that there is an entire profession revolving around learning to breast feed! These wonderful angels of hope are called lactation consultants and there is a reason they exist.  God did absolutely make your body to be able to breast feed, and certainly some mom’s have babies that just take to breast right away and feed wonderfully from the beginning, but other’s of us get to press through a little. 

I had been told that breast feeding, and pumping, can be painful.  That after a few weeks I would feel much better.  The thing is that’s true but uncomfortable and extremely painful are to different things! But I didn’t know that, so when things were hurting (particularly the pump) I just thought that was normal and had no idea I was actually damaging my breasts. It was hurting, like really hurting so I thought I was doing something right!  When Abigail was born premature by nearly 6 weeks she was not able to breast feed to begin with. She was in an oxygen dome for the first several days and then moved to an incubator as her oxygen levels improved.  As a result she was being fed through a tube into her nose for the first 10 days before we could even start trying to breastfeed.  So during that time I was pumping to make sure she got the colostrum and breast milk instead of formula as the nutritional value of breast milk cannot be matched.  So there I am sitting day after day in the NICU watching sweet Abi in an incubator and pumping through the pain every three hours.  The day before we were about the start breast feeding in the NICU a nurse was checking up on me and I mentioned that it was really hurting to pump.  I told her I knew it was supposed to hurt but I wasn’t sure how much. She looked at my breasts and realized I had blistered and damaged my nipples and that we needed to switch pumps and get some ointment.  It was fixed in a day or two (and we began bottle feedings her the pumped milk) and then I was able to start breast feeding sweet Abi. Because she was premie and her suck was weak it took some work to get it down but I was determined. Abi preferred the bottle as the milk was easier to get out so for a few days she fought the breast but then she realized this was her only option and she started doing much better. I breast fed every feed but also pumped off the extra until I was comfortable on the first morning feed each day. Having said that I do produce an enormous amount of milk!

So then with Tia I had problems as well.  Tia was premie too, but only by 3.5 weeks, and this time I knew how to latch but again I didn’t notice that I had managed to damage my nipples with a pump before I got to take her home.  For those of you that are getting worried about pumps I have posted a good one in the blog marked “A few of my favorite things...” and I will tell you in this post how to avoid my mistakes! I have every confidence that with what I know now I will not have these issues again.  So back to Tia ... I went home from NICU and Tia stayed for a few days.  I went in first thing in the morning and stayed into the evening and fed her every three hors but then pumped when I was at home so there was food for her during the night.  It was during those pumping times that I actually managed to tare my nipples (on the underside where I couldn’t see the damage).  So fast forward to two days after we get Tia home and I’m in so much pain while feeding that I almost pass out and I am bawling my eyes out.  When Alyn came in the room and saw that I was crying, white as a sheet, and punching the bed next to me to get through the feed he booked me to see a doctor.  We were going to the children’s clinic anyway that morning and so we mentioned it to that doctor that I was in extreme pain and was needing to see a lactation consultant.  The Dr then said I was likely not latching well and was suffering from postpartum depression.  I explained the tears were from pain, not depression, and I did know how to latch and I didn’t think that was the problem. We went back and forth and he called the consultant to book an appointment for later that day and finished the conversation by trying to prescribe me meds and telling me that once I learned to latch the baby I would be fine. I was so frustrated!!! In the afternoon I had my first appointment with their lactation consultant named Robyn. When we got in the little room Alyn was holding Tia (who was hungry and waiting to feed) and Robyn asked what was happening. I told her and she asked to see my nipples (how many times can I say nipples in one post?). When she looked at me she said we would not be breastfeeding for a few weeks, wrote me a prescription for a special cream, sent me home with their Medela pump, the correct size of breast shield and specific instructions for healing.  Apparently I had managed to rip one nipple half off and the other three quarters of the way around. She feared if I nursed again the worst one would actually come off.

Now my experiences were extreme! I have’t heard of others that have done the kind of damage I did so please don’t worry.  The only reason I am telling you all of that is to say both times I recovered, the girls learned to feed well, and we fed for a year each with no problems and it was really awesome.  If you do have a rough start, or need help to begin with from a lactation consultant, don’t get discouraged that just makes you normal! 

Here are some tips I wish I knew the last 2 times! With pumps I would only recommend the Medela just because of the bad experiences with some other pumps. They do not have a seem in their breast shield (the part that fits against the nipple) and that seem is what tore me.  In addition to using a good pump don’t pump on to high a speed but actually build up to what you can handle.  If it hurts, not just a little uncomfortable but actually hurts then you are using it on too high a speed. Each time you use an electric pump rub a little coconut oil or olive oil on the inside of the breast shield especially where it goes from being wide and flat to tube like. That will stop any damage to your nipple by eliminating friction. If you do those things you should never have an damage! Coconut work is also antibacterial and anti-fungal so it stops potential infection and is totally safe if some gets in the breast milk.

As far as the health benefits of breast feeding there is a known correlation between a decreased risk of breast cancer and breastfeeding moms. In addition I read a report a few years ago about the decreased risk of Cancer in breastfed kids. (i’m still trying to find where I read that so I will post when I do).

Please read this article by Dr Josh Axe on what is in breast milk and it’s nutritional benefits.

http://www.draxe.com/breastmilk-original-fast-food/

In addition to what Dr Josh has written there are other useful things you can do with breast milk!  (breast milk shakes, ice cream... totally kidding of course!) Because breast milk has it’s own antibiotic properties thanks to God’s design it can clear up infection. Abi had an eye infection in the first few weeks of life and my midwife said to “squeeze” breast milk into it and let it sit for a bit. I did this a few times a day for 2 days and the infection was completely gone. It can also be sponged onto scratches or diaper rash to clear things up! Breast milk is amazing stuff and is totally God designed! I loved breast feeding both girls, I loved the bonding and the eye contact while we shared time only we had together.  I’m excited to do it again with the wisdom I now have (and you have now) and am looking forward to bonding with my son!

A Few of my Favorite Things

My Breastfriend - breastfeeding pillow. This feeding pillow rocks. I had something similar to a Boppy with Abi and because it was rounded and also continuously pulled away from my body it constantly needed to be adjusted.  The difference with My Breastfriend is that it not only has back support but it also has a belt that is adjustable and clip to the front of the pillow so it never moves away from your body.  It also has a flat soft surface that the baby lays on that help him or her stay in a perfect feeding position. The cover is also removable and machine washable which is great.

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The Medela Breast Pump. Again with Abi I had a different pump and it wasn’t great. Pumping took an age and the pump actually damaged my nipples (ripped them in fact) quite badly.  The lactation consultant recommended the Medela and I borrowed one from a friend.  It was awesome and you can get it with different “breastshield” sizes as not everyone has the same size nipples! This particular electric breast pump comes in a back back and is quite compact.  It can run on batteries or be plugged in and works like a charm.  Little tip for you: With any breast pump if you put a little coconut oil on the inside on the breastshield or cup that fits against your breast (Especially where it transitions from being wide and flat to a tube) it minimizes the pulling in the nipple tissue and lessons or eliminates the risk of damaging that tissue. Also coconut oil is anti bacterial and anti fungal and will not do any harm should any of the oil make it into the milk.

The Summer Infant Best View handheld color video monitor.  You do not technically need a video monitor I just prefer them.  There is something comforting about being able to check in and see that little sleeping face and know everything is OK. It is also helpful when baby start doing things like rolling over or might have escaped it’s swaddle and is cold to be able to quickly access the needs of the baby without disturbing it. It’s also really helpful as they get older to be able to look in without going in the room and see what they are up to in the crib!!! In addition the handheld unit can redirect the camera on the fly so if you have a mover or a shaker you can follow him/her around the crib. You can also zoom in!

Grobag - These sleep sacks are the best. They come in several different weights (in terms of warmth) and from newborn to 6 years old if you can believe that! Newborn babies love to be swaddled and usually tightly but when they transition out of wanting to be swaddled into wanting a little kicking freedom these bags are great for knowing that your baby will stay warm and comfortable!