When we took our prenatal class we personally found it to be a godsend. They had a lot of information that we already knew but they also had a lot of information we didn’t. For Logan it was a crash course, being an only child he doesn’t have any younger siblings like me that he watched being raised. My siblings are six and seven years younger than myself, so I do remember a lot of them being babies. He does have a lot of cousins but he wasn’t there every day to really understand what babies are like.
During the course they devoted a whole night to breastfeeding; now I don’t want to dissuade anyone from attending a course, we found it very helpful and I got to ask a lot of questions I had for a real person; but I found the breast feeding part was only helpful for positions. While we did learn a lot about how to hold the baby and how to align the mouth to nipple, there was so much more to breast feeding that I was not ready for.
While my Mom did warn me that breast feeding is hard work and my family has a history of difficult feeding I still was not prepared for the pain of feeding, a pain that didn’t actually disappear until she was about three or four months. One thing I recommend to all first time moms or moms who experienced trouble with past children is to get a nipple shield. I purchased one from the local pharmacy for roughly eight dollars; it helped with the Padawan’s latching and allowed both of us to relax. Just a side note; if you have another generation you can ask about this, ask them if they used one and what it looked like! They have changed exponentially in the past 40 odd years! And thank goodness for that! They simply slip over the nipple and are latex free which is a bonus if you’re like me!
I’m still not sure if the pain I felt was my let down stinging or if it was simply my Padawan’s strong suckling, I was lucky and never had any clogged ducts or mastitis which is a very painful problem.
Mastitis can occur in non-lactating woman (and men!) but when it happening to a breast feeding mom it is called puerperal mastitis, and
“Puerperal mastitis is the inflammation of breast in connection with pregnancy, breastfeeding or weaning. Since one of the most prominent symptoms is tension and engorgement of the breast, it is thought to be caused by blocked milk ducts or milk excess. It is relatively common; estimates range depending on methodology between 5-33%. However only about 0.4-0.5% of breastfeeding mothers develop an abscess.”
“Mastitis” from Dorland’s Medical Dictionary.
If you feel you are having problems with latching, supply, pain or any sort of problem I strongly urge you to talk to someone, your health care provider, your Mommy Friends and family, or to whatever support group you have. I was lucky, when I first found out I was pregnant I started a group online called “Old Friends; Now Mommies” and for the past fifteen or so months (at the time this is being written) they have been my saving grace. Any problem I have I make sure to ask the ladies, most of them I know from high school, work, and other areas in real life, and they have invited their own friends to join us. One lady in particular I met through my baby partner (We were two weeks apart and the babies were born a few days apart) and both of these ladies are the very first people I turn to for any information.
In the end I breast fed for six months semi-exclusively with an uphill battle the entire time. From a mother in law I love, but didn’t think the breast was best, to personal problems with everything I am very proud to have made it that far. I had always said if I could make it to the six month mark I would be very happy with that, and I did. Goals for yourself I find help out a lot; and if you can make them you feel wonderful! If you can’t though there is no shame in that, for any reason. My Padawan ate like a horse, and she had incredible sucking power. She also had teeth around two months which was not fun either.
Some of my problems stemmed from my Mother in Law’s old fashioned view of things, she once said to me that I was starving my daughter by only giving her the breast, which was why she was almost 15lbs at three months. While comments like that can really hurt your feelings sometimes they don’t mean to be so insulting or hurtful; they are just trying to help you out, even though; again, it does feel like a knife to the heart when you hear that. For me I had to remind myself of how much she loves the three of us, how she was just trying to be supportive and help us give our daughter the best start possible. After all, Logan never had the breast and he grew up fine; another thing I had to remind myself all during my pregnancy and for some of the first problems we had, was her experience with Logan was very different from ours. Since they adopted him things were very different. She did not have the option to breast feed, just like she did not have the fear of stretch marks like I had so when she laughed them off I had to resist the urge to smack her and remember that. So if anyone is giving you a hard time, try to think of it from their point of view and remember, it is your child and your way is the perfect way for your child or children. It got to the point where sometimes I would fib a little, if she asked us if we gave her a bottle, I would say yes, even though I knew she was asking about the formula she bought for us and not the breast milk I pumped.
For us; the first day home alone drove me to tears, when I was trying to feed our baby it was painful, hard, and both of us seemed to be frustrated with the entire process. I was literally almost ready to call it off, give up completely and feed her formula only. We actually found a very simply, cheap way around it, I sent Logan off at almost 11pm to town, which is a half hour away, to get us a breast pump. Knowing my cousin with her first child bought a manual pump and it killed her hand I told him the only stipulation was we needed an electric pump. If I knew then what I know now, I would have added make sure it was a double pump. I pumped myself dry and gave her the bottle which she took with no problems and it was like spring came after a long winter. She was eating and happy, and I didn’t feel like a failure already. I did ask the ladies on the group what to do; and one suggestion was to use the football hold and have a beer.
When at Logan’s 30th birthday I had a single drink and everyone thought the world was going to end, but it is recommended that you have a beer to help increase your flow. When I spoke to my doctor to double check he said it was fine; and for every drink you have wait two hours to feed the baby and you will be fine. So if I had two drinks I would wait four hours before feeding her or more to be safe. While I do not say that is the best way it is what I did, and I did speak to my doctor about it. Now don’t go thinking I was drinking all the time; once in a very blue moon did I have more than one beer, and if I had that beer it was normally to help my let down.
I realize it is an uphill battle when it comes to breastfeeding, but with what we know now it is best for your baby, if you can, to do so. Not to mention easier on your wallet!! However; if you can’t that is just as good! I’ve said it once and will say it again, it is your baby and what you do for your child is right!
When you first start you will notice painful engorgement for the first few weeks, and it will happen if your baby is sleeping through the night, at night. I tried to use washable breast pads to help my shirts; but they didn’t work. I found the Lansinoh brand breast pads were the best; they have something similar to what you would find in regular pads in them to keep the milk away from you and your clothes. I also recommend the cream they make for cracked, sore nipples. When the Padawan was first born and when we were learning the cream saved me from a lot of (even more) pain.
The more you pump and feed your baby the more milk you will produce, and while at first you might not want to pump because you are engorged and its telling you to make more, it will help out. The more milk you produce, the more you can feed your baby, and the easier your life will be. Also; if you pump and have milk in your fridge or freezer you will be able to leave the baby with Daddy or Grandma for a little bit, even if it is just so you can have a nap upstairs while they are downstairs.
I found it best to pump right before I went to bed; that way when I woke up in the mornings I was not so painfully engorged, but you might notice that you have less milk at the end of the day. I experimented between pumping at night and pumping in the morning and I would not recommend pumping in the morning due to personal experience, every time I pumped in the morning I found my baby woke up and wanted to feed! Always right after I pumped; so she needed formula or pumped milk.
I also noticed; and this was a source of annoyance between my Mom and I until she saw it for herself, that my baby didn’t always want to take both sides; meaning sometimes she would feed off of only one breast, so in the morning I would pump the other side to even them out.
Since this is getting very long, and it is a topic that does need a lot of attention I’m going to split this up into separate posts, so keep an eye open for the next post with more information about breast feeding and after all that we will get into solids!