If you could give a new mom any advice or wisdom about breastfeeding, what would it be.... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 82 Old 02-20-2012, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you could give a new mom some advice about breastfeeding and/or tell them something you wish you would have learned early on, or when you were pregnant, what would it be?

I'm a lactaction educator and I'm creating an online Breastfeeding 101 class for pregnant women. I plan to make it more in depth and more helpful than the hospital or WIC classes and perfect for those that aren't fond of sitting down and spending hours reading books about breastfeeding and just need the important info, would rather attend class on their own schedule, and/or would like to meet a little online community of new breastfeeding moms.

Thanks for helping! :)

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#2 of 82 Old 02-20-2012, 08:46 PM
 
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That the first few weeks are the hardest, but by 6 weeks it's so much easier. Usually by then the initial soreness is gone and your supply has started to even out.

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#3 of 82 Old 02-20-2012, 08:58 PM
 
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I agree.. How hard it is in the beginning is not how it will be the whole time.  Lots of people think it's always going to take a lot of effort. 


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#4 of 82 Old 02-20-2012, 10:13 PM
 
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That if you have a healthy, full-term baby, you do not have to sterilize everything constantly. Obviously keep your pumps and bottles clean if you are using them, but it's not like formula: you don't have to boil everything all the time.

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#5 of 82 Old 02-21-2012, 08:09 AM
 
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I heard lots of fluffy nonsense about breastfeeding, and the nightnurse at the hospital set me straight.

 

1.  That screaming pain that reaches your toes when she first latches on and begins to nurse?  That's normal.  And it will stop.

2.  Try the football hold first, and give it to her like a sandwich.  Your breast, that is;  flatten it like a sandwich, and put it straight into her mouth.  Presto, latch!

3.  Rub your own breast milk into your nipples after feeding.  It's far superior to the cream in terms of preventing and helping to heal cracks and sore, chafed nipples.

4.  If she's fussing for more, and your breast is empty (and the other breast is empty as well, or you're using only one side a feeding) go ahead and put her back to the empty breast for as long as you can.  She won't like it, you might get bit, but a baby nursing on a dry breast is the fastest way I found to increase supply.

 

It's so worth it!  All the early frustration and pain are such a small price when I see my sleek, fat, bright-eyed daughter.


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#6 of 82 Old 02-21-2012, 08:57 AM
 
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Yes to the it comes natural and easy to some people right away, but to a lot of women and their babies, it is a lot of hard work. But that'a a few weeks of hard work. Then you can be lazy momma. No getting up in the middle of the night, freezing, waking fully up to boil a bottle, fill it, the whole time a screaming baby, feed said baby, 20 min later baby is asleep and you should be too, but you are so awake now and yet dead tired. Three hours later rinse and repeat. UGH! Better to roll over, in your warm blanket, half wake up to give a boob, then both of you still sleepy enough to be able to fall back asleep. Also, on the road. Bottle baby, bring cooler, bring forumula, bring bottles, bring warm water, be sure to be back in 4 hours if he/she feeds soon after you leave.... Breastfed baby, bring yourself. Maybe an extra breastpad in your purse. My first was bottle fed. My second was EBF. Second was hard for 3 weeks. Easy for the next 15 months.

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#7 of 82 Old 02-21-2012, 09:12 AM
 
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That the "feed every 2 hours" rule you see in books and are told by nurses in the hospital may actually mean nurse for two hours straight.  Don't expect to be done feeding in a few minutes... that just sets you up for feeling like somethings wrong with either you or your babe.  Breastfed babes spend LOTS of time at the breast in the early days!

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#8 of 82 Old 02-21-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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1. It will get easier, but having support helps. 

 

2. We went through a period of cluster feeding for about a month when I started back to work. DS would want to nurse 45 minutes out of every hour in the evenings from 5 to 8. If I had know this was common, I would not have been alarmed and frustrated. I thought he wasn't getting enough milk. Many of my friends have had similar experiences.

 

3. One of the most common reasons new mamas stop breastfeeding is because they think their LO isn't getting enough milk. The best way to know if your child is getting enough milk is to keep track of his/her wet/dirty diapers and regularly go in for weight checks. My hospital allows free weight checks. At first we did these weekly. You can even weigh before and after a feeding to see how many ounces your baby is taking in. (It's not considered to be 100% accurate, but I did it once with my LC. When I saw the 4 ounce gain on the scale, I realized that he really was getting more than I thought.)

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#9 of 82 Old 02-21-2012, 12:03 PM
 
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There's so much technical advice out there that's written so well, so I'd just refer to read a book like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. But on the non-technical side, I'd recommend the mom to find as many people as she can that have successfully breastfed and rely on them, even if you can only find them online. When your breasts ache, when your MIL is trying to derail your efforts, when you feel like giving up, talk to someone else who's been successful and you will feel much better.


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#10 of 82 Old 02-21-2012, 01:26 PM
 
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Some of the warning signs that there is a problem would have saved me so much heartache. 

 

What "brick dust" is and what it means, and the fact that it is NOT normal.

That babe can have the "proper" number of wet dipes and still not be getting enough. 

That a NB who screams inconsolably all night long (even when immediately off the breast, or even while being offered the breast) is not normal. 

That a NB who doesn't poop at all for a week is not normal.  If you haven't seen poo by 7 days old, there's a problem.

 

 

To prepare:

Find somewhere to weigh the baby the first few weeks if your HCP doesn't do so during pp visits.  Or ask your HCP to do it.  Rent a scale if necessary, but babe should be weighed every 2-3 days for the first 2 weeks, by which point baby should be starting to gain weight.

Find support - whether that means your mom/sister/grandma/best friend who BF.  Whether that means the local LLL group, which welcomes pregnant moms seeking information. 

Have the number of a local IBCLC by the phone.  If you can't find one, a LLL leader will also work.  But plan beforehand who you're going to call if there's a problem. 

 

And one of the things I tell expectant moms (at least the one that seems to make the most impact) - formula feeding is expensive, stressful and time consuming.  At peak I was spending $60/week on formula, and he refused to wean until almost 2 1/2!  Do the math.  I have over $100 invested in bottles/nipples/etc.  We had to try 3 or 4 different brands of formula to find one that was well tolerated (constipation is not normal!!).  The planning and thinking that went into even a trip to the store to make sure that I always had something for him to eat, and an extra just in case something unforeseen happened. 

 

As someone who wanted to BF and couldn't, I resented every penny spent and every extra stressor imposed by bottle/formula feeding.  I was so jealous of my mom friends who could just whip it out when their LO was hungry.  And it could have been avoided had I known the warning signs and had the proper support. 


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#11 of 82 Old 02-21-2012, 05:21 PM
 
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cristeen- what was the issue that caused you to be unable to breastfeed? i didn't know that about the diaper count, it must have been scary to see things *looked* normal, but weren't :(

 

here's my advice, which is the same as everyone else's.

1. it is normal for a baby to eat constantly. no schedule, no waiting 2 hours. this can go on for hours sometimes! growth spurts, illnesses, stress can cause them to feed more often.

2. if it hurts past the first few days of newness, have the latch checked. if it hurts like hell, please get help! i wish i had with my first when i had mastitis, instead of quitting from the pain. my first and fourth had the same latching problem, but i knew by #4 how to fix it. still got mastitis but i knew how to fix that, also.

3. have people to talk to who have breastfed longer than a couple of months, people who did not give up when they had problems. too many new moms take advice from grandma who claimed her sons couldn't get enough milk so she had to wean them at 2 weeks. then the new mom thinks she can't breastfeed her own sons. i knew a mom who wouldn't breastfeed bc she didn't eat well enough.

4. come to MDC if you are out of options and need help!


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#12 of 82 Old 02-21-2012, 07:07 PM
 
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Definitely a call-out to oversupply/overactive letdown. We hear so much about how to tell if you don't have enough supply. I had the opposite experience. Here is roughly how I would address it:

 

There's a lot of information on what to do when you get engorged but it seemed kind of abstract to me even when it happened to me--I didn't recognize it as that. So I would note that it IS possible to have too much supply or be letting down too forcefully with your baby, and if you get engorged when your milk comes in, this might be a sign of it. If baby won't stay latched when you're that engorged it can be because the milk is just flowing too fast. The best way to deal at this early juncture with this combination of issues is to pump, with a GOOD pump, not a dinky little hand pump, until your breast is soft, and then try to nurse baby. We're told that pumping boosts supply, which is true in general, but pumping once to get the engorgement out probably won't make much of a difference; it's pumping on a regular basis that boosts supply.

 

OS/OALD can cause baby to choke and sputter and latch off the breast. Feeding in a position where baby's head is higher than the breast can help. A reclining position is good--doesn't have to be a full recline, even leaning back 10-15° while holding baby in the football hold can do the trick.

 

Other signs of OS/OALD--baby does not want to feed from the second breast (is full after finishing the first one), you can pump more than the average mom (as in, those dinky little 4 oz bottles that come with the pump do. not. cut. it.) Baby has a lot of foamy greenish poops--this means s/he is getting too much foremilk.

 

Block feeding--done to reduce supply. For a few hours (start out with 2-3 hours, increase as necessary), feed baby only on one side. Feed them whenever they ask, but only use that side. Pump the other side a little if it gets uncomfortable, but just pump to comfort.

 

On an unrelated note, leave out all language about such-and-such is the best/most natural breastfeeding position. I got so sick of hearing the amazing benefits of laid-back nursing and side-lying nursing extolled, and how both are SO NATURAL AND AWESOME, since neither worked for us when she was little. The best nursing position is the one that works for the mom and baby! They all have their pros and cons.

 

This would be more coherent, but I'm kinda tired.


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#13 of 82 Old 02-22-2012, 12:11 PM
 
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cristeen- what was the issue that caused you to be unable to breastfeed? i didn't know that about the diaper count, it must have been scary to see things *looked* normal, but weren't :(


He was lip tied.  He went undiagnosed until he was 6 weeks old.  At ~3 weeks we realized he was still losing weight and the MW made the assumption that I just wasn't making enough.  By the time we figured out what the real problem was I was dry and couldn't relactate. 

 

 


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#14 of 82 Old 02-25-2012, 09:51 PM
 
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The best advice I took from these very boards while I was pregnant:

Don't wait to get help.

Just a grad student hopelessly in love with her amazing DH and wee baby Eli (12/06/11).

 

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#15 of 82 Old 02-25-2012, 10:14 PM
 
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When they get teeth and bite, instead of pulling them off, force them onto the breast. 

 

They can only bite if they first slide partly off and are actually no longer latched on.  (You've seen those pictures that show the nipple way back at the back of the babe's mouth/throat?  If your BB is way in there where it belongs it's impossible to clamp teeth down because the mouth is too full.)  If you push the breast INTO their mouth then they will either resume sucking or decide they don't want milk.

 

I wish I'd known that one a lot sooner. 

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#16 of 82 Old 02-26-2012, 01:25 AM
 
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I would say that it can be normal for it it hurt, and hurt pretty bad, in the early days.  Sure, sometimes pain can be a sign of a problem, so it's important to be watchful for other symptoms- but it can also be just a normal part of mom and a baby both being new to the whole thing, trying to figure it out together.  Not to mention tender nipples that aren't used to that kind of treatment.  I think all the literature that basically says "if it hurts, you're doing it wrong" can be incredibly damaging to a woman's confidence.  Yeah, it probably hurts.  And no, you're probably not doing it "wrong."

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When they get teeth and bite, instead of pulling them off, force them onto the breast. 

 

They can only bite if they first slide partly off and are actually no longer latched on.  (You've seen those pictures that show the nipple way back at the back of the babe's mouth/throat?  If your BB is way in there where it belongs it's impossible to clamp teeth down because the mouth is too full.)  If you push the breast INTO their mouth then they will either resume sucking or decide they don't want milk.

 

I wish I'd known that one a lot sooner. 



This is great!  It only took me three kids to figure this out for myself.  Ouchie!

 

 


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#17 of 82 Old 02-26-2012, 02:51 AM
 
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My advices:

 

1) figure out the action plan BEFORE the baby is born.  Ask yourself "what if THIS happens?", "what if THAT happens?" and what you will do.  Read the good books and mark them with post-its for reference.  Put the LC or LLL numbers on your fridge.  Talk OH/DP through what you want him to do, and what you DON'T want him to do (as supportive as many partners are in principle, faced with a crying partner with cracked bleeding nipples and a screaming hungry baby LOTS of them want to drive to the store and buy some fix-it-formula!).  Do it all ahead of time.

 

2) Try to visit with good friends who breastfeed OR visit a group with breastfeeding mamas.  Sit RIGHT BY someone doing it and WATCH them latch several times, watch them nurse.  In cultures where breastfeeding is the norm and rarely fails girls are seeing it done and taking in HOW to do it from when they themselves are still (as small kids) at the breast.  Here it is so hidden a lot of mama's have never seen another woman do it!  Get up close and personal with someone and SEE how it is done.

 

3) Figure out what is normal and what is not, and hold your nerve.  The baby WILL NOT starve to death if there is still weightloss at 2 weeks!  So long as you are WORKING at any issues you guys are having it is ok and the Right thing to do to persevere.  All too often health professionals and family members will try to guilt a mom into formula by saying "but it will be best for the baby".  MAMA is best for the baby, and you will be making hard decisions about your kids health for the rest of your life so begin as you mean to go on.  Obviously ignoring weightloss or other obvious signs that things aren't going as they should isn't good, but there is NOTHING wrong with you having a learning curve to tackle.  We have forgotten, culturally, that there is a learning curve, because with formula there isn't as much of one (because it's normal and visible in our culture and we have dolls we practised with already!).  The learning curve is normal.  Get help as early as you can, and feel proud of your good efforts, not guilty for making them.

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#18 of 82 Old 02-27-2012, 11:09 AM
 
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My advices:

 

1) figure out the action plan BEFORE the baby is born.  Ask yourself "what if THIS happens?", "what if THAT happens?" and what you will do.  Read the good books and mark them with post-its for reference.  Put the LC or LLL numbers on your fridge.  Talk OH/DP through what you want him to do, and what you DON'T want him to do (as supportive as many partners are in principle, faced with a crying partner with cracked bleeding nipples and a screaming hungry baby LOTS of them want to drive to the store and buy some fix-it-formula!).  Do it all ahead of time.

 

2) Try to visit with good friends who breastfeed OR visit a group with breastfeeding mamas.  Sit RIGHT BY someone doing it and WATCH them latch several times, watch them nurse.  In cultures where breastfeeding is the norm and rarely fails girls are seeing it done and taking in HOW to do it from when they themselves are still (as small kids) at the breast.  Here it is so hidden a lot of mama's have never seen another woman do it!  Get up close and personal with someone and SEE how it is done.

 

3) Figure out what is normal and what is not, and hold your nerve.  The baby WILL NOT starve to death if there is still weightloss at 2 weeks!  So long as you are WORKING at any issues you guys are having it is ok and the Right thing to do to persevere.  All too often health professionals and family members will try to guilt a mom into formula by saying "but it will be best for the baby".  MAMA is best for the baby, and you will be making hard decisions about your kids health for the rest of your life so begin as you mean to go on.  Obviously ignoring weightloss or other obvious signs that things aren't going as they should isn't good, but there is NOTHING wrong with you having a learning curve to tackle.  We have forgotten, culturally, that there is a learning curve, because with formula there isn't as much of one (because it's normal and visible in our culture and we have dolls we practised with already!).  The learning curve is normal.  Get help as early as you can, and feel proud of your good efforts, not guilty for making them.


So true! I had no idea at the time, but even though DH was supporting me through the tears and calling LLL for me, in his mind he was ready to fly out of the house at a moment's notice to get some formula. Makes me so happy I decided to turn down all those free samples and not have any "just in case" formula in the house.

 


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#19 of 82 Old 02-27-2012, 07:02 PM
 
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1. Breastfeeding is a wonderful natural thing, but it does not necessarily come naturally. Moms and babies need to learn how to do it effectively. 

 

2. Even if you have to pay out of pocket, a LC is cheaper in the long run than formula.

 

3. If planning a hospital birth, do what you can to choose one with a LC on staff. Ask for a visit even if everything is good at the hospital. Everything is different at home. LCs will pass along info you can use at home. 

 

3. While pregnant, tell those who will be supporting you post-partum (partner, family, etc), about your commitment to breastfeeding and ask them to remind you of that if it becomes "too hard." I begged my DH one night to just go buy some formula, that I couldn't stand it one more minute. He told me "no, this is important to you. I will do everything I can to help you through this." We called a LC and it helped save my bfing relationship with my son. 

 

4. Related...don't stock formula "just in case." You won't need it.


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#20 of 82 Old 02-28-2012, 09:21 AM
 
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My advice:

Be aware of possible complications that may arise, but don't anticipate them. Breastfeeding can be natural and easy. Nurse often and for extended periods of time, especially in the first days and weeks. This will establish a good supply. In the first days at the hospital my LO was nursing more often than not. My nipples were SORE, and since everything I read said breastfeeding should not hurt, I was a little concerned about her latch, but common sense took hold of me, having a tiny suckling machine on my boob for hours on end will cause some tenderness, I used lanolin and within a few weeks no longer had any pain.

 

Scheduling breastfeeding doesn't work well. Baby is going through so much that only feeding every 2 or 3 hours may lead to problems with supply or even FTT. If baby is sick, or hitting a growth spurt (which happens very often in the early days), more feedings will be required. In the first few weeks it may feel like baby is attached to the boob 24/7, it won't stay like that, but it's very important to nurse often during this period to stimulate production of milk.

 

Cluster-feeding is common, often in the evening. My LO sometimes nurses almost continuously in the evening from 5-9, only giving me 15-30 minutes between feedings that can last 30-45 minutes. This seems to increase when my LO isn't feeling well. The upside of this continuous evening nursing is that she can then sleep for a nice chunk of time.

 

I think the most important thing to stress is that a mother's body tries to regulate itself to produce exactly how much milk baby needs based mostly on the suckling from baby. This means that supplementing with formula confuses Mom's body into producing less. So unless absolutely necessary, it's better to offer the breast more often than to supplement, this will tell Mom's body to produce more.

 

Also avoid introducing artificial nipples in the first few weeks, including bottles, pacifiers, and nipple shields. If baby is having difficulty latching, using any of these things can cause more problems.

 

This seems to be most of the relevant advice I've found in my obsessive reading, but I haven't had to deal with any real issues myself.

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#21 of 82 Old 02-28-2012, 11:25 AM
 
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So true! I had no idea at the time, but even though DH was supporting me through the tears and calling LLL for me, in his mind he was ready to fly out of the house at a moment's notice to get some formula. Makes me so happy I decided to turn down all those free samples and not have any "just in case" formula in the house.

 



Yeah, just want to second the advice to not keep formula samples in the house.. formula companies(Nestle' in particular) are not doing this for new moms out of the kindness of their hearts, they know you are vulnerable and will use it when you are desperate.

 

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#22 of 82 Old 02-28-2012, 11:28 AM
 
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One more thing...you have the right to nurse your baby wherever you have the legal right to be.  Don't let anyone try to make you feel ashamed for nursing in public if you choose to.

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#23 of 82 Old 02-28-2012, 11:55 AM
 
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Knowing when I might expect growth spurts (and therefore increased nursing) was a HUGE help!  And, that said, understanding supply and demand--that baby is asking to nurse more frequently in order to tell your body that they are going to need more milk as they grow!  


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#24 of 82 Old 03-01-2012, 08:17 AM
 
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What I wish I had been told:

You may not love it all the time. Especially early on when it hurts so bad you have to psych yourself up not to scream when they latch on. And later, when they get distractible or wary of OAL and pop on and off until you feel like your nipples are going to run away. And when you just need a minute without another human being touching you. And when you get engorged during a night out without baby and you leak all down the front of your shirt at dinner. And if/when you go back to work and you have to pump and worry about pumping often enough, and how much you're getting, and coworkers walking in on you etc etc.

BUT, you're not a bad person if you don't love it all the time. If you don't feel like an angelic Madonna figure with infant tableau every time you nurse, you're still an awesome momma and YOU SHOULD STILL KEEP GOING. We have enough that we feel guilty about as mothers, don't buy into the idea that if you're not loving the baby hormones every second of the day, that you're not doing well. 


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#25 of 82 Old 03-01-2012, 08:25 AM
 
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I really think all of this boils down to two things:  Read and learn as much as possible before-hand, and have the phone number of someone you can call anytime to ask questions of.  That's really what I needed.


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#26 of 82 Old 03-05-2012, 06:41 PM
 
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For a second time around mom: Just because you don't have the huge amount of milk that you had with your first baby does not mean you don't have enough.

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#27 of 82 Old 03-06-2012, 10:51 AM
 
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I think the most important thing is to keep at it.  I see so many moms quit in the first couple of weeks just because it was hard or they were afraid baby wasn't getting enough. 

 

It most likely WILL be hard (and hurt) at first, but do it anyway.   The difficult period doesn't last very long, and the rewards are so worth it.  See a lactation consultant; lots of places offer for free or take insurance.  Come LCs are better than others and breastfeeding changes once your milk comes in, so don't be afraid to go again or see someone different.  Like PP said, it's still cheaper than formula.  If you're worried about supply, find a place where you can weigh baby, either before and after a feed, or regularly for growth.  Wet/dirty diapers are another good indicator.

 

 

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#28 of 82 Old 03-06-2012, 11:55 AM
 
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Babies are born knowing how to breastfeed. Breastfeeding isn't a learned skill. If you don't do anything to mess it up you have an excellent chance of breastfeeding with no significant difficulties.


: Grandmother , 3 Adult Sons

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#29 of 82 Old 03-07-2012, 09:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

Babies are born knowing how to breastfeed. Breastfeeding isn't a learned skill. If you don't do anything to mess it up you have an excellent chance of breastfeeding with no significant difficulties.



Hmmm...this is not true.  My first-born would either latch, and literally do nothing, or scream at the breast.  I had to syringe feed and try to nurse him for at least 2 weeks.  What do you suppose I did wrong?

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#30 of 82 Old 03-07-2012, 09:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cat13 View Post


So true! I had no idea at the time, but even though DH was supporting me through the tears and calling LLL for me, in his mind he was ready to fly out of the house at a moment's notice to get some formula. Makes me so happy I decided to turn down all those free samples and not have any "just in case" formula in the house.

 


Seriously!  My DH was 100% supportive, went to breast feeding classes with me, the whole nine yards but broke down in tears the second day home from the hospital, begging me to give DS formula because he was worried DS was starving to death.  It was a tough day but we got through it - see below.



Quote:
Originally Posted by foreverinbluejeans View Post

Babies are born knowing how to breastfeed. Breastfeeding isn't a learned skill. If you don't do anything to mess it up you have an excellent chance of breastfeeding with no significant difficulties.


Ah, I respectfully disagree with this.  I was so engourged that DS could not latch, my breasts were like bowling balls, he simply couldn't get any tissue at all.  It was my aunt that told me to manually express enough milk out to enable him to latch.  It was that simple yet he couldn't tell me! 

 

Advance planning is invaluable.  I thought I had it all covered but boy was I wrong!  We went to classes, I read all (well, it seemed like all) of the books out there, came from a family that breastfeed their kids, all my friends BF and so on, how hard could it be?

 

If I had it to do over again, I would have had met with a LC privately (beyond the awesome yet over-worked one teaching the class at my hospital) prior to birth and had a plan in place to contact her asap when things started to go downhill for us.  DS latched fine at the hospital, it was when my milk came in that the problems started.

 

Sadly, LLL was of no help to me when I called.  It might be an issue related to the group in my area but when I called looking for help, the response was one of "sorry to hear that, I never had any problems and I don't know of anyone in the group that has, come to a meeting next week...." when we advice (over the phone, I wasn't asking anyone to drive to me) that Saturday afternoon.

 

LIke so many others said, it does get better and once it does, it is so rewarding and wonderful so hang in there.
 

 


Mom to DS, born fall 05 after ,,, wife/best friend to DH We have
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