Friday, December 23, 2011

That First Week: Basic Answers to Common Questions

My friends, Joe and  Sam (short for Samantha)  just had their first baby,
 Benjamin.  So, of course, I've been "all over that", ya know, seeing them 
before hand and the morning after he was born, on their way home from the 
hospital and through texting/facebook as well.  
Like most new parents, they had concerns and questions which I am used to.   So I thought I would share our dialogs which contain useful information but 
most importantly reflect the process and progress.  I cannot 
emphasize enough how important on-going support is to the breastfeeding 
family.   And if this is done well and in a timely fashion, the result: less fear and anxiety, lots of milk and a happy, content baby.  
For you veteran - lactivists:   I am sure this dialog will trigger some mammaries, oops!... I mean memories of those very first days. 

Sam: I honestly have an amazing husband....The last two nights have been 
really long and hard for me because I just couldn't figure out what Benjamin wanted...Today joe kept telling me to nap and relax, which I did and it has made a WORLD of difference 
tonight. Thank you wonderful husband/awesome daddy!

Maria's reply: First of all props to Joe!  Second, It's simple - Ben just wants you. Think about it: he was wrapped inside the warmth, security and comfort of your body for 9 months. You're still his home -he's just on the 
outside now. And so your breasts have taken over where the placenta left off nourishing and growing his body - it's basic biology,.....we often forget that we are mammals.

Sam:  Ben spit up once yesterday and twice this morning....not a lot.    Should we burp him? He does get the hiccups.
Maria: Spit up: just means he ate more than he had room for. Maria-ism: " it's a 
laundry problem, not a medical one." the valve at the top of his stomach 
(esophageal) is very loose and floppy -which allows a baby to regulate his 
stomach contents by spitting up excess milk. Quite ingenious really. It helps 
not to force feed - he does not have to nurse on both sides - don't wake him up 
to feed him and don't lay him on his back right after he feeds etc. You will 
notice it happens more when your breasts are extra full...he will adjust your 
supply over the next 6-8 wks
Hiccups are a "space" issue. Their abdominal organs are all squished in a 
very small space right now. When they eat and their stomach is full- it presses 
up against their diaphragm ( which lies above the stomach) causing it to go into 
spasm. As their body gets longer and wider- their organs will drop lower 
allowing more room and thus the hiccups go away - basically they outgrow them. 
You don't need to do anything -remember in utero he drank about a quart of 
amniotic fluid a day and had the hiccups often without any problems.

Sam: my boobs still seem a little hard after Ben eats. Can I pump and save 
it for night time so Joe can do a feeding?
Maria:Yes it's fine to pump if nec-on mild to mod setting w/ good massage during -do one 
breast at a time -for only 15 min - more is not better . As far as 2 nite is 
concerned : your breasts will not allow u to sleep more than 2 maybe 3 hrs. Your 
prolactin levels are highest @ nite to accommodate the freq nite nursing in the 
beginning. So u will have to get up and pump - Joe will be stuck with a fussy 
baby fed or not, who wants his mommy and u will end up nursing anyway. Like I 
have said before: u need to learn how to lay down and nurse - this is the most 
effective tool to make your nites the best they can be /. I am happy to teach u 
how.  Also, if your breasts r very warm u can use some cool compresses in b/w feeds just wet 
two disposable diapers and place them in freezer tuck in bra until they reach body 
temp then refreeze reuse I 'd rather not use bottles just yet if Joe feeds him I'd rather him use the 
syringes - I show him how - you are doing so well ! I just don't want to screw 
anything up.

Sam: I tried to pump and it didnt work so I'll stick to feedings. As far as laying 
down to feed, I can't get myself up bc of my surgery. So eventually I will 
take u up on laying down feeding lessons.
Maria: You just need to roll onto your side and stay there all night -honestly, you can 
do everything from there. I fear if u don't soon -u will crash and burn, sweetie

Sam: I crashed and burned this morning-tears and crying. But then took a two hour 
nap. Much better. I'm going to nap after lunch.
Maria: Normal hormonal stuff -this should pass quickly. Yes, your best time to sleep will 
be 7am-12 noon for the next 3weeks -that's when the babies sleep the most. So no 
waking him up, no phone calls, txt, visitors or appointments -this is your 
sacred time!!! Take advantage of it - u will feel much better if u do. 

Maria: It's annoying that I have an answer for everything, isn't it? Lol
Sam: Actually no....u r amazing. I'm sorry I have so many questions. 
Maria: Never apologize for asking questions ( I love playing stump the lactation 
consultant-lol) but honestly-most people do not know this information -it is my 
business to know it and share it 

Sam: We go to the Peditrican today :-)
Maria: Good -LMK how u do. Waiting on the slings-hopefully coming today

Sam: Sir Benjamin is now 6lbs 13 oz and grew a half of an inch!!!! Doctor said good 
job for ur breastfeeding instructions!!
Maria: Great job, people! That's 7 oz in 2 days! You should be so proud of yourselves 
-I know am!
Sam:  -) yay!!!   Instead of a peanut, he's a chestnut!

The "Corporate" Mindset - Are Women Thinking More Like Men?

Since Breastfeeding is not about control or perfectionism ( nor should it be) it
does not fit the "model" women have now become accustomed to.  Which I believe
is the corporate model set up by men. You know, constant micro-managing,
competition, over-evaluating, where A&B equal C,  more is better,  if it's free -how good could it be? and there is an agenda -always an agenda!   

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in order to effectively compete with men in the business world
-women have had to think like men.  This "corporate thinking" does not bode well
for breastfeeding and mothering in general.  But it works beautifully for the infant marketing industry!

In my practice demographic - mostly high socio-economic, two-income families,  control and
perfectionism runs long and deep.  This, of course, only sets one up for anxiety
and depression.   If one can't control it then it's too stressful and if it's not perfect immediately, it's deemed a waste of time-  Exhausted/ fearful/disillusioned/ disappointed and desperate -one reaches for anything that brings them back to their "comfort zone" of control.  In this case: bottle-feeding and/
or pumping.  And guess who's ready to swoop down when this happens?  We all know who those players are.

This pervasive mindset of control and perfectionism has set the stage for the most effective marketing strategy I believe history has ever seen - newborn product sales especially the infant feeding industry.

What can you do?  Put the "corporate" mindset aside (that's fine for work) and tap into the feminine/maternal side of's in there somewhere!  Don't fall for the capitalism, commercialism and undermining marketing, that is stealing you from your child.  Money does not equal love.  Success in business does not equal success in parenting.  Embrace and celebrate what makes us different as women.  The tenderness, patience and fortitude to do what's right by your child comes from your heart, not your head.....or wallet.

Alcohol, Holidays & Breastfeeding

I get many calls this time of year re: alcohol intake and breastfeeding.
Even though it is fine to "partake", I think it helps to remind ourselves that too much alcohol can impair one's ability to respond and safely parent as baby needs -- no matter how baby is fed.

So it is not as much the amount of alcohol present in your milk ( its too unstable to stay there very long) but the level of impairment you experience.  Most of alcohol-related consequences are not breastfeeding issues, per se. but impairment ones.
So be smart and responsible: pay attention to how much you've had and your body's reaction to it - eat and drink lots of water.
If you get intoxicated:  do not drive, have someone else care for your baby, do not co-sleep or nurse until you are sober.  Only pump if you need to and discard that milk (until you are sober)

Please do not waste your money on alcohol test strips as they are not at all accurate or necessary.

For further info: This article from Thomas Hale's Infant Risk Center site can be helpful, whether breastmilk is direct from the source or expressed):

Enjoy and be safe

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wean Me Gently

I know I look so big to you,
Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.

But no matter how big we get,
We still have needs that are important to us.

I know that our relationship is growing and changing,
But I still need you. I need your warmth and closeness,
Especially at the end of the day
When we snuggle up in bed.

Please don't get too busy for us to nurse.
I know you think I can be patient,
Or find something to take the place of a nursing;
A book, a glass of something,
But nothing can take your place when I need you.

Sometimes just cuddling with you,
Having you near me is enough.

I guess I am growing and becoming independent,
But please be there.

This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,
Please don't break it abruptly.

Wean me gently,
Because I am your mother,
And my heart is tender.

by Cathy Cardall

Happy Holidays & Healthy New Year !