Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Breastfeeding : Getting past the initial stage

These days many moms want to fully breastfeed their child, but they give up within the first one or two months. For a successful breastfeeding journey, you have to have a STRONG mind and push through AT LEAST for the first 3 MONTHS. If you can sustain for 3 months, the rest of your breastfeeding journey is nothing but sheer pleasure.

There a lot of medical help and online info on breastfeeding, but nothing like first hand info given by people who experience it themselves. I want to share my easy tips and I hope many mommies will gain good info and be determined to pull through this journey.

Anyway, I am a SAHM, so its not fair to say that I am working hard like the breastfeeding FTWMs, but still,  what I want to share are super simple rules to push you through this journey, or at least for the first 3 months, after that, its a natural process, you don't need any help anymore.

Before I begin, let me tell you that THE GOLDEN RULE TO SUCCESSFUL BREASTFEEDING IS TO KEEP FEEDING. I'll remind you again, its only difficult in the first 3 or 4 months. Babies may cry every half hour or every hour but this situation will only last for 3 or 4 months. After that, you need not worry about anything and you will realize that handling a breastfed baby is much much more easier than a bottle fed baby.

 Below are some reasons as to why mothers give up on breastfeeding and also some tips on how to overcome each issue (apart from the golden rule).

Problem 1- Low Milk Production (if u think so)

Drink LOTS of water. If possible, have Milo/Horlicks/milk in between. Soups are also beneficial especially during confinement. But if you are alone at home and no one to help to prepare soup or other beverage, just plain water, loads of it is good enough to produce milk.
Continue to feed frequently. Feed for longer periods. If baby sleeps, wake her up to feed. Make sure baby is fed every 2 hours once. If baby sleeps and you feed less, your milk production automatically decreases.
c) EMPTY breasts after each feed
After each feed, empty your breasts. Even if you get only 1oz, dont worry, this is only to trick your body that it needs to produce more milk You may even pump first before each feed, whichever way suits you better.
Whenever oxytocin is released in the body, it stimulates milk production. You can get oxytocin released by eating your favourite food, eating chocolate, sex, just about anything that makes you happy. Try and see , you will notice the difference.
e)  HERBS (Optional)
Mom's who think they have low supply can take herbs that can increase milk production like fenugreek, fennel seeds, blessed thistle, mothers milk tea etc. I took Fenugreek - non capsule form, so its safe. My mom grinds the fenugreek seeds and keeps them in a tupperware. I take one tea spoon 3 times a day. Of course, its bitter, so I just gulp it down with water. It works for me, so others  can try too.

Problem 2- Unsettled Baby

a) Hunger
Breast milk digests fast, so babies cry more often than formula fed babies. They CERTAINLY, DEFINITELY dont sleep for a good 2 hours in the first few weeks of their life. ITS PERFECTLY NORMAL if your baby cries every 30 minutes of feeding. There is only one solution - keep feeding.
b) Comfort
Sometimes they just want comfort. You can continue to latch, as they just want the comfort of suckling at mommies boobies. :) Latch them often in the beginning stages to produce more milk. There are some mommies who have fed direct for 7 hours without rest - this is NORMAL. This is JUST A PHASE. It will pass, put your heart and mind into it and push your way through.
c) Reaction to Caffein etc
Some babies could react to some food that you take. Keep a diary to jot down if baby cries after taking a certain food and try to minimize the intake. It may solve your problem.
(Of course there are many other reasons for baby crying like needs diaper change etc, but I am only discussing those related to breastfeeding here)

Problem 3- Latching

Some mommies face latching problems. You can read more on latching guidelines off the net. Some simple things to watch to ensure proper latch on.
- Baby opens mouth widely with lips outward
- Baby takes in a lot of the areola and not only the nipples
- Can hear baby gulping down milk (in the beginning maybe after 5 -10 sucks, but as baby grows this becomes more frequent and loud)

TIP: Whatever problems you face, KEEP TRYING. If you still fail, GET PROFESSIONAL HELP.

Problem 4- Engorgement/blocked duct/ mastitis

Engorgement - Here's a simple trick: Pour hot water into a small bottle. Wrap it with a towel (as the water's hot). Roll it over your breasts. Put some pressure on it. Milk will be leaking once you do this.You can then pump or feed baby directly.

Cracked Nipples - Leave few drops of milk to dry on the nipples after each feed (as long as no thrush allergies). Make sure baby latches on properly to reduce pain.

Blocked Duct - check babies latching
                        - breastfeed frequently
                        - massage, warm compress

Mastitis(Inflamation of breast glands) - take good rest
                                                           - feed frequently
                                                           - hot bath , warm compress

Problem 5 - Pumping 

- Normally, we dont produce much milk in the first few days of babies life; some even after a week. Milk kicks in only after 5 - 10 days of delivery. Yet, pumping will not yield much, until 3 months. So, please, please, please dont give up when you see the amount you pump. (Note: Some mommies are able to Exclusively Pump even from day 1. As our bodies are different, not everyone will be able to do this)
- Pumping after every feed will produce more milk. Even if you only get 1oz per session, after 10 sessions a day, you will be able to stock 10oz of milk. This can be kept in the freezer for emergency use. (Breastmilk lasts for 6 hours in room temperature, 6 days in the fridge and 6 months in deep freezer.)
- No pump in the world can compare to baby's sucking. Baby will be able to drain out as much milk he/she needs. So, in the beginning allow your baby to latch directly to produce more milk. You can pump in between to empty your breasts (as advised above).
- Late Night /Early morning pumping yields more milk. Feeding on side and pumping on the other also yields more milk and saves time.
-If you are pumping in between feeds, pump for 20 minutes at each breast. Usually after about 5 or 10 minutes, you MAY think there is no more milk. BUT, DONT STOP. Give another 2-3 minutes as this may trigger  the hormone prolactin and you will see milk flowing again.

Problem 6- Intro of Pacifiers/bottles/water/dummy/formula

Do not introduce pacifiers or bottles too early.
Water / formula
Whenever baby sucks at anything else for comfort, you will lose the time baby is at the breast. This leads to the brain telling your body no need to produce more milk. Same applies to formula or even water (of course, there are other reasons as to why you shouldn't intro water, but now I am only discussing about increasing milk supply). If baby is fed with water, then he gets a feeling of a filled stomach and will not cry for milk, thus creating a false info to the brain to reduce milk production.
Do not top up with formula as this will make baby feed lesser on your breasts and reduces your supply. Just keep feeding. Of course when a baby is crying, it can suck on anything, so if you give formula, he will finish up the whole bottle - this does not mean he is hungry. This will only make his stomach and appetite bigger and cry more the next time he is on your breasts.

Problem 7- Nipple abnormalities

Some have flat or inverted nipples, but this is not a reason to stop breastfeeding or to give up. This is one reason why you need to continue to breastfeed. Just keep doing and you will learn that your baby is adaptive and can feed even if you THINK your nipples are not normal. You may try using nipple shields in the beginning, but let your baby to latch directly too. Trust yourself and your baby, you WILL SUCCEED.

Problem 8- Not getting enough REST / STRESS

Have proper rest. I know it is not easy during the initial stages, but if you have gone through a tough day. Just  ask daddy to care of baby a while. Take a good hot bath, mix a nice hot cup of your favorite beverage, have some soothing music and start feeding again. Keep a positive mind and relax during feeds. Trust me, it makes a difference.

Problem 9- Negative Comments

Be prepared to hear people saying "baby crying, maybe not enough of milk", "baby fever, because mom has fever and feeding 'feverish' milk.", "baby too thin, MUST top up with formula". Just TURN A DEAF EAR to all this nonsense. Some oldies have their own theories because they did not have enough info during their time, so they thought formula is a good supplement to mom's milk. Now we have so much of info, we know we just need to continue breastfeeding. Its the most easiest solution for all breastfeeding difficulties. After initial stages of 3 months, when baby doesn't always cry and you are still breastfeeding, all this negative comments will stop. As they can see with their own eyes that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS NOT ENOUGH MILK and THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MOM's MILK NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Problem 10 - No Info

Last but not least, a lot of moms give up on breastfeeding because of less info.
- Read breastfeeding books / online
- talk to people who have successfully breastfed
- join breastfeeding groups - lots of info are shared here
- PAEDs or medical professionals can help relief you of breastfeeding pains but NOT ALL have complete info on breastfeeding, as they may have only learned it theoretically. First hand info from successful breastfeeding mommies are more reliable to support you. Lactation consultants are also a reliable support.



Taking this opportunity to thank my hubby and my parents who went all out to support me during my confinement in Banting. Actually, thanks is just not enough. 

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