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Why Natural Childbirth Matters

0202911666_10100156572893941_1838070281_nBirth is not just a painful hoop a woman must go through to meet her baby; rather it is a critical stepping stone that has major implications for breastfeeding and bonding over a lifetime.  In fact, if we look at all other mammals (and remember, humans are mammals!), when birth gets messed up so does bonding, breastfeeding, sometimes even life itself.  It has been said that if we want to fix breastfeeding, we must first fix birth. 1 Natural childbirth matters in a profound way.

When I was a child my friend’s cat had a litter of kittens.  I thought they were the cutest little kittens I’d ever seen and ran to pick one up.  But I wasn’t allowed too…because everyone knew that if I touched a baby kitten and took it from her mother the mother might reject it and the baby could die.  Now, of course humans have brains with great reasoning skills and we don’t typically reject our babies when the doctors take them off to be weighed and have other “normal newborn procedures” done to them.  But the point is still the same. . . our births in the western world have become so medicalized, so far from natural, we don’t even recognize birth interventions as a valid reason for breastfeeding complications.

Other mammal mothers labor in a quiet, dark, relaxing place, upright, with as much food/drink as they like – without bright lights, stressful surroundings, medications, and time constraints.  They immediately lick, touch, or nurse their young after birth.  And when their babies are taken away, or when birth interventions are done, there is a high rate of rejection, breastfeeding problems, and even death.  Among mammals, a sign of good mothering is being fiercely protective. 2

Contrast this scene to a common birth in the west:  in a hospital, lying down, monitors on, with drugs, an unfamiliar setting, bright lights, stress of time constraints and medical staff doing “routine” checks and coming and going, dutifully “obeying” the system.  Deliveries many times involve forceps or vacuum extractions, episiotomies, or even C-sections.  Babies are promptly cleaned (we must get that icky goo off, we believe!), weighed, given an injection, oral suctioned, and the list goes on.  The baby is then dressed, swaddled, and, finally, given to his mother.  Delayed skin-to-skin, no opportunity for mom and baby to bond with the initial smells before cleaning, no chance to soak in such an amazing experience and bask in the wonderful hormones of love, attachment, and bonding during those critical minutes/hours after birth offer.  A typical hospital birth today is about as opposite to a natural birth as possible.

It’s incredibly rare for a normal mammal not to nurse.  Why is it so common for human babies?  Well, birth really does matter!  And birthing practices definitely have an impact on breastfeeding success.


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Sample Birth Plan

Labor:

  • Drugs – I desire a drug-free birth.  Please do not offer pain medication or Pitocin.
  • Vaginal Exams – Minimal
  • Monitoring baby – Intermittent only
  • Movement – I would like complete freedom of movement during labor.
  • Stripping of Membranes – Please do not strip my membranes.
  • Breaking of Water – Please allow my bag of waters to break naturally.

 During the pushing stage:

  • Positions – I would like the freedom to push in any position that is comfortable for me.
  • Perineum – I would like to try for an intact perineum with massage, support, hot compresses, controlled and guided pushing, and positions to promote perineal stretching.
  • Episiotomy – I would prefer to tear naturally and not have an episiotomy.
  • Forceps/Vacuum extraction – I do not want these used unless my baby’s life is threatened.
  • C-section – A last resort and only to be considered if my life or baby’s life is threatened.
  • Time – As long as baby is tolerating labor well, I would like to labor at my own pace without time constraints or labor augmentation.

 After Birth:

  • Baby – To be laid directly on mother’s chest after birth and allowed to breastfeed in skin-to-skin contact.  Any observations or measurements should be done while baby is on my chest.  Please allow baby to be laid on mom even through delivery of placenta and any repair work.  I would like to be present for all newborn procedures.
  • Cord – Please allow cord to stop pulsating before it is clamped.  Please do not milk the cord to speed the process.  Please do not clamp the cord early.  If possible, I would like to leave cord attached until placenta is delivered.
  • Placenta – Please allow the placenta to be expelled on its own, with no pulling or tugging.  I do not want to be given Pitocin unless fundal massage to control bleeding is not effective.
  • Temperature – I would like to hold baby skin-to-skin during the first hours to help regulate baby’s body temperature.

 Baby Care:

  • Rooming In – To begin immediately.  All necessary examinations should be performed w/us present.
  • Breastfeeding – The baby will be breastfed exclusively.  Please do not give baby a pacifier, bottled water, glucose water, formula, etc.
  • NO lab work is to be drawn, no injections or medications of any kind are to be given without our prior consent.

Alternate Plans:

  • Should a C-section be necessary, I would like my husband to hold baby in skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth until I am able to hold baby.
  • Should baby need special care after delivery, my husband or I would like to be present in the NICU or elsewhere.

Click here to download a .pdf of this sample birth plan.


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Making Your Birth Plan

iStock_000014079658XSmallPlanning and preparing for the type of birth you want to have are important steps in achieving your birth goals.  Having a birth plan is an important part of this process.  Making your birth plan and having it written down so that you can talk about and share it with your doctor, midwife, doula, and nurses at delivery can help ensure you are able to clearly communicate your wishes and desires so that during labor your expectations are clearly understood.  Below are some important do’s and don’ts when writing a birth plan:

  • Limit to one page
  • Only include things that are not standard practice – you don’t want it to be too long
  • Clearly communicate your birth expectations and desires
  • Include what you want to happen in a “Plan B” scenario…IF this happens, THEN x, y, and z are my wishes…
  • Bold or highlight key points you want to stand out
  • Share your birth plan with your doctor(s)/midwife BEFORE your birth
  • Make sure doula has a copy (if you have a doula)
  • Take with you to hospital/birth center and share with nurses when you arrive (consider having a small basket ready that includes some fresh fruit, chocolate, etc. along with your birth plan as a kind gesture to the nurses who will be in your labor and delivery room)

Click here to see a sample birth plan.


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Birthing Practices that Help Breastfeeding

Having the freedom to move during labor is important for natural birth.

Having the freedom to move during labor is important for natural birth.

A typical hospital birth in the western world is overmedicalized – to the point where there’s almost a belief a woman’s body cannot perform this most natural of things without assistance.  We know in the rest of the mammalian kingdom that if birth is interfered with there is a great likelihood of the baby dying (usually by rejection of the mother and not suckling).  Could this actually be happening right before our own eyes with human babies and modern medicine?  Of course most mothers don’t “reject” their babies, but interventions affects a baby’s ability to latch and suckle effectively; rob mothers and babies of the critical minutes and hours immediately following birth where hormones are at their peak and establishment of a lifelong bond is beginning (could this time be even more important for teen moms, unplanned pregnancies, etc.?); and negatively impact a mother’s milk supply.

There are many simple things that can be done to improve birthing practices and allow new moms and babies every opportunity possible to succeed at breastfeeding.  The following list includes important points to consider in preparing for your birth:

  1. Plan for a natural birth.  Read books, decide what you want to have happen, write out a birth plan, and discuss it with your doctor or midwife.
  2. Select a doctor & hospital that is supportive.  The current c-section rate in America today is 1 in 3!  That’s saying that 1/3 of all women’s bodies are incapable to do what they were created to do without medical intervention.  Instead, it is much more likely to be the other way around – when you get involved in a natural process problems occur which lead to more problems and interventions…a slippery slope for sure. Doctors with low c-section rates, midwives, and birthing locations with Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative status are all better options.
  3. Plan for baby to be given to mom immediately following delivery – postponing all newborn procedures on a healthy baby until after the first few hours following birth (or allow procedures to be done while in skin-to-skin with mother).
  4. Don’t wash the baby – babies use their sense of smell to find the nipple and moms are drawn to their babies with hormones of love and bonding through smell and touch.  There is no need to scrub a newborn down before cuddling and spending precious hours in skin-to-skin care.  In fact, consider waiting a couple days before giving your baby her first bath.
  5. Dim the lights – bright lights are harsh on a new baby’s eyes.  If you have to have bright lights on, shield baby’s eyes.
  6. Allow skin-to-skin time to continue through first breastfeed- and then as much as possible in the first few days following birth.  Skin-to-skin is the single most important thing to help breastfeeding success.
  7. Delay cord clamping – this is oxygen rich blood that your baby needs.  Wait until the cord has finished pulsating – or, even better, wait to cut the cord until the placenta has been delivered.
  8. Have a Plan B in place – though you plan and prepare for a natural birth, sometimes things don’t go as planned.  For example, if you need an emergency c-section, who could hold your baby in immediate skin-to-skin following birth until mother is able?  Does your hospital have a policy of oral suctioning if your baby passes meconium in labor? Could you sign paperwork in advance to prepare for this scenario or others that might occur so you can still have your birth wishes fulfilled?
  9. Less is more – Less intervention means a more natural birth.  This is the goal.  A woman’s body knows what to do if she is not stressed, under time constraints, in a strange or harsh place, etc.  Sure, there are times when medical intervention is necessary.  But birth is natural, normal.  Plan, prepare, and expect a natural birth.
  10. Relax and don’t stress – plan and prepare and do all that is in your power to have a natural birth.  Then relax and enjoy the thought of the day you will get to meet your new little blessing!  Birth is not something to fear; rather it’s an exciting time where your body is doing what it needs to in order to birth a new life.  Trust your body; remember you’ve done all you can to prepare; relax and enjoy the experience of birth.

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Getting Rest with a Newborn

Getting rest with a newborn!  It’s one of those things we all need. . . everyday. . . and yet seems impossible to get enough of when you have a new baby.  But a new baby does not have to be synonymous with exhaustion.  I have four children and I’ve tried a lot of different things to get rest since becoming a mom (some have worked, some have failed miserably).  Here are some strategies to help you get rest when you have a new baby.

  1. Breastfeed. On Demand.
    Did you know solid research shows that moms who breastfeed their babies actually get MORE sleep than their formula-feeding counterparts?  Perhaps its because a mom must arouse from sleep much more to mix, feed, and then sterilize a bottle, or perhaps it’s because a mom is so in tune with her little one that even if she’s not giving the bottle she usually wakes thinking of her baby (and then must deal with pumping and/or engorgement).  But breastfeeding on demand also satisfies your baby’s needs, allowing him to find contentment and peace knowing his needs are met. . . and by the person he loves most in his big, new world.  Nursing on demand also helps to protect against engorgement, which allows mom to get rest when the opportunities arise since she won’t be in pain from too much milk.
  2. Co-sleep.
    Sleeping with your baby nearby, whether in the same room, in a side-sleeping cot, or bed sharing (when all safety criteria are met) will allow for more rest for mom while baby breastfeeds throughout the night. For families that choose to bed share, it is essential that all of the “Safe Sleep Seven” criteria are met: exclusive breastfeeding; no drugs, alcohol, or tobacco use by either parent; no pets or other siblings in bed; covers are low on the bed and there are no cracks, unsafe surfaces, or possibility of baby falling out; baby sleeps on back when not nursing; unswaddled; and baby is full-term and healthy. Mothers instinctively use the cuddle curl position to protect baby as she sleeps (which is an innate protection mechanism). [1. Wiessinger, D. T. (2014). Sweet Sleep. Random House LLC.] We know that when mom and baby are sleeping together, mom exhales carbon dioxide which stimulates baby’s breathing. While there are always risks with exhausted mothers, newborn babies that eat throughout the night, and sleeping options, the evidence of SIDS deaths shows that the four biggest risk factors involve smoking, baby sleeping on stomach, formula-feeding, and baby unsupervised during sleep. 1 Families need to be aware of the safety precautions that should be taken for safe bed sharing, as well as hazards that can occur if mom falls asleep with baby on a couch or other unsafe surface.  The risks of early-weening due to exhaustion and the known dangers of formula feeding must also be weighed in regards to sleeping space.  Bed sharing can not only be practiced wisely, but also with exceedingly low risk for families that meet all seven safe sleeping criteria. [3. Wiessinger, D. T. (2014). Sweet Sleep. Random House LLC, p. 335.]
  3. Nap when your baby naps.
    Though it’s tempting to try to get other things done when your baby is napping, try not to do too much too fast after having a baby and make resting while your baby does a priority.  Researching on the internet, using social media, cooking, cleaning, etc. can all wait.  If you have other children you are caring for, allow them to have a “quiet time” at some point each day as well.  Whether they learn to play quietly in their room, read books, or watch a video, it is okay for them to have this down time while you and your baby rest as well.
  4. Let others serve you.
    Now is not the time to be supermom!  Accept all offers of help whether it’s cleaning your house, doing laundry, cooking meals, or going grocery shopping. . . don’t turn anything down.  Let your spouse, family, and/or friends help you out while you focus on feeding your baby.  And, don’t feel guilty about “not doing anything.”  You are doing a lot!  You are feeding and nurturing a new life!
  5. Get a sling.
    Sometimes a new baby doesn’t want to nurse, but doesn’t want to be set down either.  A baby can get so overly tired he finds it hard to then go sleep.  A sling or wrap can allow your baby to snuggle in close to mom (and hear her comforting heartbeat) while you still have two hands to get other necessary things done.  Sometimes these rests are just what your baby needs to be able to sleep better at night and throughout the day – sleep begets sleep.

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Getting Started Breastfeeding

165427_10100153832465781_360474928_n As you are getting started breastfeeding, there are many breastfeeding basics you can do to create an environment for success.  Women have been breastfeeding their babies since the beginning of the human race, and its only been in the last century that anyone has used artificial infant formula. When there were no alternatives, almost every mother breastfed her babies successfully.  (And those that couldn’t would still have human milk through a wet nurse.)  I say this to encourage you. . . you can do it!  Here are some things that will help you with getting started:

    1. Prepare for the birth of your baby.
      Read books, make a birth plan, and choose your doctor/birthing facility wisely.  If you are giving birth in a hospital, try to find one that meets the BFHI (Breastfeeding Friendly Hospital Initiative set out by the World Health Organization) requirements.  We know that the type of birth you have affects breastfeeding so make a plan for how you’d like your birth to go.
    2. Have minimal intervention, as natural a birth as possible.
      A natural and unmedicated birth leaves you and your baby ready to start breastfeeding strong.  Did you know that a healthy, unmedicated baby has innate instincts and reflexes that if placed on your belly can push himself up and latch onto his mother’s breast unassisted?!  It’s been termed the breast crawl and is quite powerful to witness.  A natural birth allows you to immediately begin skin-to-skin time with your baby and helps him to be alert, able to latch, and suck well for his first breastfeed.
    3. Hold your baby skin-to-skin immediately following birth.
      Do this for at least the first 2 hours, before your baby is bathed, weighed, or even wiped off.  This is critical bonding time for you and your baby as your body has many thriving hormones that allow you to bond and absolutely fall in love with your new little blessing.  Skin-to-skin helps regulate your baby’s temperature, stabilize her heart rate, stabilize blood glucose, reduce crying, stimulate self-latching, and coordinate sucking at breast.  For the mom, skin-to-skin helps to regulate her temperature, increase oxytocin levels, develop adequate milk volume, bond with her baby, increase her confidence, and decrease breastfeeding problems.
    4. Delay screenings, baby checks, bath, etc. until after first breastfeed.
      You can never get the first two hours after your birth back and all the key baby checks for a healthy, full-term baby can be done while on skin-to-skin with her mom.  Postpone everything else and enjoy these precious moments with your new baby.
    5. Room in with your baby.
      The best way to get to know your new baby is to spend time together.  Keep your baby in your room with you so you can see early feeding cues your baby gives and nurse on demand.
    6. Practice safe co-sleeping.
      Co-sleeping allows you to maximize sleep while allowing your baby to nurse on demand.  Rather than having to get up every time your baby wakes and go to another part of the house, it is much easier to nurse and take care of your newborn’s needs while bed sharing or in the same room as mother.  Follow safe co-sleeping guidelines. And remember, your baby hasn’t read all those parenting books about scheduling sleep and feeds. You’ll find it a lot less stressful if you just follow your baby’s needs and go with it.
    7. Have support in the first weeks after birth so you can concentrate on feeding your baby. 
      Your job is to feed your baby.  Treat yourself as  queen. . .prop pillows around you to be comfortable, have a remote, book, and cell phone nearby, as well as a glass of water and snack.   And, accept all offers for help around the house with cooking, cleaning, and taking care of older siblings.  Now is not the time to keep a spotless house and or to cook gourmet meals.  Enjoy your new baby and take time to rest and nurse often.
    8. Breastfeed often and on demand.
      It is normal for your baby to nurse often.  If you have a sleepy baby, make sure to wake her up and nurse at least every three hours. It is also normal for babies to not only want to nurse for hunger, but also nurse for comfort (“non-nutritive sucking”).  Even non-nutritive sucking offers milk, builds your supply, and allows you to bond.  Offer both breasts at each feed and nurse until your baby comes off satisfied.
    9. Don’t settle for breastfeeding pain.
      Breastfeeding should not hurt.  If you have pain or sense something is not right, seek help from a qualified Lactation Consultant (ideally an IBCLC – International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). Seek help sooner rather than later!
    10. Find a mom-to-mom support group.
      For help and encouragement, try to find a local breastfeeding group such as La Leche League.  You will meet other moms who are at different places in their breastfeeding journey and it can be a wonderful encouragement and support for you.
    11. Know what’s normal. . . and what’s not.
      For example, all babies loose weight after birth.  It is normal to take up to 2 weeks to gain this weight back.  It doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk.  Or, after your baby is born you have colostrum (the thick, rich, antibacterial first milk) for the first 2-4 days before your milk begins to come in.  This is normal and it helps your baby pass meconium (the dark first poo) and help against developing jaundice.  Just nurse often and on demand to encourage your milk to come in strong.
    12. Find a pediatrician who is supportive of breastfeeding.
      And don’t hesitate to find a new one if you find out yours just gives lip service to the importance of breastfeeding.  If you want to nurse your baby and you or your pediatrician have concerns, seek a lactation consultant before turning to artificial infant formula.
    13. If you sense there is a problem, work to build your supply by expressing (either by hand or with a pump).
      You can offer this additional milk to your baby via syringe, cup, or bottle.  But, building a strong supply of milk is important.  Don’t wait until your supply dwindles to begin pumping if you have concerns about your supply or how much your baby is eating at each feed.
    14. Trust your body to make milk.
      Your body knows what to do and it has been getting ready throughout your pregnancy.  Have confidence in your body’s ability to make milk.  Relax and don’t stress.  Also, don’t supplement with formula just because you don’t think you have enough milk.  (This is a slippery slope and will just about guarantee you won’t have enough milk.)  Believe in your body and nurse your baby on demand so your body gets the message to continue to make milk.  Remember, an empty breast makes more milk!  Not only does your body know what to do, but your baby also has an innate ability to latch on to your breast and nurse.
    15. Finally, through it all, remember why you want to nurse your baby.
      Realize nursing is more than just giving your baby amazing milk. . . it is also a wonderful bond that you share and will grow throughout your lives.  Lots of skin-to-skin and cuddling with your baby not only has a positive impact on breastfeeding, but also on your mothering relationship.  Cherish these precious moments as your little blessing will grow so fast.  You cannot spoil your baby by nursing too frequently, cuddling too much, or sharing too much skin-to-skin time.  Your baby just spent the last nine months in your womb having every need met immediately.  Continuing to meet her needs (food, love, cuddles, nurturing) are exactly what she needs.

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Breastfeeding Myths

dsc1Breastfeeding myths abound.  Here is a list of the most common along with the real facts:

Myth #1: Breastfeeding is easy.

Truth: Breastfeeding is natural but it is not always easy! Having experienced help to get your breastfeeding relationship off to a good start is very important. And finding support from other breastfeeding moms is a wonderful help and encouragement. If you are experiencing any pain or anxiety about breastfeeding, or if you just want to prepare for breastfeeding while pregnant, find a local IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) as well as try to plug into a local La Leche League (or other) breastfeeding support group.

Myth #2: Doctors and nurses know a lot about breastfeeding and are helpful resources.

Truth: Most doctors and nurses do not receive training in school about breastfeeding. Even if they do, it is quite limited.  Some may sincerely want to help you, but unless they have specific (additional) lactation training they are no more qualified than anyone else to assist you with breastfeeding. In addition to this, many are influenced by formula companies who fund research, encourage the use of their growth charts, and give free formula and coupons for doctors, nurses, and hospitals to give to unsuspecting moms. For qualified lactation support, seek out an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) as well as a La Leche League group for mom-to-mom breastfeeding support.  Also, find a hospital or birthing center that has BFHI (Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative) status for the birth of your baby.  Staff at these locations are trained in practices that support and encourage breastfeeding.

Myth #3: If it’s hot outside, your baby needs water in addition to breast milk.

Truth: All your exclusively breastfed baby needs is breast milk. Breast milk is over 85% water. Your baby may need to nurse more frequently because he is hot and thirsty (just as you are!) but all he needs is your milk. In fact, milk is unique and specific to each mammalian species and breast milk is the perfect food for human babies!

Myth #4: Nursing on demand spoils your baby.

Truth: Inside your womb your baby was able to eat 24/7. Now that he’s out, he no longer has that luxury. But he does know when he’s hungry and if you follow his cues and feed him on demand you will have a baby that is happier and content because he is having his needs satisfied. Your baby is not being manipulative if he cries or lets you know he is hungry.  This isn’t spoiling, it is simply taking care of your baby’s needs.

Myth #5: There are no health benefits to non-nutritive sucking.

Truth: There are many health benefits to non-nurtritive sucking! Not only are breasts the original baby soother they are good for so much more than just active milk transfer. Breasts are a healthy pacifier, comforter, cuddle, and breastfeeding helps develop a normal face and jaw palate.

Myth #6: Breastfeeding moms have no idea if their baby is getting enough milk.

Truth: There are many signs your baby is feeding well and ways a mom can tell if her breastfed baby is getting enough milk. First, she should hear active sucking/gulping during breastfeeds. Her baby should nurse until he comes off the breast satisfied, or wanting the other side. After nursing he should be content (or asleep) for at least a few minutes before wanting to nurse again. He should show normal developmental signs, good skin tone, contentment, and grow out of his clothes appropriately. And, most importantly, what goes in must come out! If a baby is drinking sufficient breast milk he will have enough wet and dirty diapers.

Myth #7: Putting babies on a feeding schedule is best for them to develop a routine and learn proper sleep schedule.

Truth: A baby knows when he is hungry and it is best if mom follows her baby’s cues. All women are different as are all babies. A woman’s breast capacity varies not only from mom to mom, but between her own breasts. And the amount each baby takes in is different – each feed can even vary (just as we might be hungrier or eat more and then later want less to eat – there is no difference with babies and breast milk). Finally, your baby has not read the latest scheduling book about what he’s “supposed” to do. It is best to nurse on demand to establish your milk supply and grow your baby. Most babies nurse every 1-2 hours and this is normal. It is important to nurse at night and seeking to schedule his breastfeeding and sleep patterns could severely diminish a mother’s milk supply too.

Myth #8: I can’t nurse if I’m sick or taking an antibiotic.

Truth: You absolutely can! Your body is so amazing that if you are sick or have come into contact with bacteria, your body is making antibodies to put in your milk to protect your baby from these very same things! In addition, there are very few medications that are contraindicated for nursing. Almost every antibiotic or medicine you are prescribed from your doctor is compatible with nursing. There are many factors that affect how a medication can enter breast milk as well as how a baby’s body will be affected by a medication.  In general, most antibiotics, antidepressants, topical creams, and pills for acute and chronic illnesses are fine. Examples of drugs to be concerned with are some used to treat cancer and radiopharmaceuticals.

Myth #9: It’s normal for breastfeeding to hurt.

Truth: Breastfeeding should never hurt. If you are in pain, please seek qualified lactation support to find out why and help solve the problem. When you are beginning breastfeeding and the milk first comes in you might feel a tinge, or tingle, or “pain” just for a second while the milk lets down, but breastfeeding should not hurt. The vast majority of the time breastfeeding pain can be solved with altering positioning and latch of the baby to the breast.

Myth #10: Its too painful to nurse if I’ve had a c-section.

Truth: There are many ways to nurse a newborn after having a c-section. While you are in the hospital, ask to see a lactation consultant and have her help you find a position that is comfortable for you to nurse in. Many women have found nursing their babies while lying on their side to be effective so there is no pain/pressure on the incision.

Myth #11: I have to worry too much about my nutrition in order to nurse.

Truth: While some things you eat do affect your breast milk, your body will make good, healthy milk for your baby on just about any diet you eat. In fact, unless a mom is severely malnourished to the point of dying her milk will be healthier than any artificially manufactured formula.

Myth#12: Mothers with small breasts produce less milk.

Truth: Breast size does not equal breast capacity. Glandular tissue is necessary for milk, not fat tissue. Even women with small amounts of glandular tissue can make plenty of milk for their baby throughout a 24-hour period. Some moms will just need to feed more often than others. But, even if the mom has plenty of milk, some babies need to be fed more often than others so even large milk capacity in breasts doesn’t mean a mom will nurse less often. Just follow your babies cues and feed on demand and your breasts will be able to adequately and exclusively nourish your baby.

Myth #13: There’s not enough milk to nurse twins.

Truth: You have two breasts and two babies – there is plenty of milk! Your body makes milk according to how much is needed. With two babies nursing, your body gets the message to make more milk and will do so. If you will give attention in the early days to establishing a strong milk supply, and don’t supplement your babies, you will have plenty of milk to nurse twins.

Myth #14: Colostrum isn’t really milk so it doesn’t matter if I nurse much before my milk comes in.

Truth: Colostrum is breast milk and it is amazing and so important for your baby. No one has been able to replicate it, and if they could they would be able to charge a fortune. For the first 48 hours after birth, babies are not yet very hungry, but they need immunological protection from all the new things they are encountering outside their mother’s womb. Colostrum provides this protection. Additionally, lots of skin-to-skin and nursing in the first couple of days helps to establish a strong milk supply and allow mother’s milk to come in more quickly.

Myth #15: If I nurse my baby at night he’ll never learn good sleep habits.

Truth: All babies learn to sleep eventually. And they grow up so fast you will one day look back on the first couple of years of your baby’s life and wonder where it went. Nursing at night is important, too, because prolactin levels are higher. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk production so nursing at night helps you to establish your milk supplyBreastfeeding and sleep is a hot topic in our western culture these days, but babies are designed to need to nurse frequently in the early days – both night and day.  Sleeping through the night will come when they are bigger/older.

Myth #16: Moms who don’t nurse get more sleep.

Truth: Actually, the exact opposite is true. The latest research shows that nursing moms get more sleep than bottle-fed babies. How can this be? Well, first of all, even if you aren’t giving the bottle yourself, if your baby is eating your body needs to get the message and you should be pumping. If you choose to sleep during the feed and not pump your supply could begin to suffer. Additionally, your body will probably be uncomfortably full and you may be awake with engorgement. Or, if you hear your baby cry or stir your maternal instincts will kick in and you may wake up. Bottle feeding requires a more active state of alertness on your part as well. You have to get up, mix the formula, and give the bottle to your baby. Then the bottles need to be cleaned and sterilized. Contrast this with the semi-awake state you can be in to help your baby latch onto your breast and then you fall back asleep while your baby nurses. Not only does the research show that moms who breastfeed get an average of 40 minutes more sleep each night, but the quality of sleep is also better. Yet another reason to nurse your baby!

Myth #17: Formula is a perfectly safe/good alternative.

Truth: Formula is a man-made, synthetic concoction that is made by assimilating cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and/or soybeans, synthetic vitamins, and other factory-processed ingredients, heated to high temperatures, and canned for unwitting families to purchase for their precious baby. Breast milk is the norm, and it cannot be replicated. In fact, every alternative is so far from the norm that it is linked with lower IQs, sicker children, increased rates of cancer, asthma, allergies, diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders, and more. Formula is not only not a good alternative, it is actually quite dangerous. Did you know that the World Health Organization states that formula is only the fourth best feeding option for babies? Breast milk at the breast, breast milk in a cup/bottle/etc., and donor breast milk are all considered better feeding options.

Myth #18: You only have milk every 2-3 hours.

Truth: You always have milk! It’s the law of supply and demand – the more the baby drinks the more your body will make. In fact, empty breasts make more milk. Therefore, the more you nurse, the more you have! Your body is so unique and in tune with milk-making that when your baby goes through a growth-spurt and needs additional milk it will get this message as your baby nurses more and increase the amount of milk it makes!

Myth #19: Breastfeeding keeps your baby weight around longer.

Truth: Breastfeeding helps moms to lose their baby weight quicker. Every time a new mom nurses, her uterus contracts and returns to its original size faster. On average, breastfeeding moms have returned to their pre-pregnancy weight by 6-9 months postpartum – just through nursing! Nursing allows moms to eat more and burn more calories, all while sitting and nursing her precious baby.

Myth #20: After the first year there’s no real benefit to continued nursing.

Truth: The World Health Organization states that babies should be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months and then complimentary foods introduced alongside breast milk. Breastfeeding should continue for up to two years or beyond! There are always health benefits that baby will get from breast milk. In fact, as your toddler grows and explores more and more of his world around him, breast milk is even more important to help protect him from the organisms he is exposed to in his environment.

Myth #21: Breastfed babies are picky eaters.

Truth: Breast milk changes flavor with mom’s diet so breastfed babies are actually exposed to a wide variety of flavors and tastes. Breastfeeding helps to prepare babies for the tastes of different and varied foods they will be exposed to in the future.  Breastfeeding allows babies to have various flavors and smells in their food every single day, preparing them for a wide variety of foods when solids are introduced!

Myth #22: Breastfed babies have many cavities from nighttime nursing.

Truth: Breastfeeding and bottle feeding require completely different tongue and palate movements. A breast nipple goes back farther in the baby’s mouth so milk does not sit around the teeth but is moved directly to the back of the mouth to be swallowed. In contrast, bottle-feeding is linked with increased cavities (no matter what is in the bottle) as the teat from the bottle does not go far into the baby’s mouth and the liquid can sit around the teeth overnight. Tongue tie and lip tie are also associated with cavities.  Breastfeeding is NOT associated with cavities.

Myth #23: Formula-fed babies are just as healthy as breastfed babies.

Truth: Breast milk gives your baby immunities. It contains immunoglobulins which allow a mother’s milk to specifically protect against whatever bacteria her baby is exposed to. In fact, not only are breastfed babies sick less and healthier overall while they are fed on breast milk, they are healthier over the course of their entire lives! Let’s put it another way, formula fed babies are sick more often and more severely than breastfed babies.

Myth #24: Formula-fed babies have the same IQs as breastfed babies.

Truth: Breastfed babies have higher IQs than formula-fed babies, 10 points higher on average per person! But, since breast milk is the norm, it is more accurate to say that formula-fed babies have lower IQs than breastfed counterparts.1 2 3 There are many other health benefits for babies as well!

Myth #25: Once my baby gets teeth he should be weaned.

Truth: Teeth have no bearing on breastfeeding. The sucking a baby does at the breast is not affected by his teeth and should not cause the mother any pain either. When a baby is latched and actively nursing the nipple is in the back of his mouth and his tongue is extended beyond his bottom teeth.  If there is any “damage” done by teeth while breastfeeding it would be to the underside of a baby’s tongue.  Teething and biting at the breast can sometimes occur during comfort feeding but there are many things a mom can do to make sure this doesn’t happen.  Breastfeeding should continue as long as is mutually beneficial for mom and baby. World-wide, weaning typically occurs between 2 1/2 – 7 years of age.

Myth #26: Supplementing with just one bottle while in the hospital does not hurt breastfeeding.

Truth: Whether a baby is supplemented with formula, water, herbal tea, glucose water, donor milk, or her milk is “fortified” all have an impact on the long-term breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby. There are many reasons given for this: mom needing sleep/recovery time, prevention of hypoglycemia or jaundice in baby, or because mom’s milk “hasn’t come in yet.” (Though none of these reasons are good indications for supplementing breast milk.) Actual research shows that supplemented babies are significantly less likely to be exclusively breastfed after hospital discharge; breastfeeding duration is shortened 4-fold; and, moms remember which brand of formula was used and most will then use that brand seeing it as an endorsement by the medical establishment.

Myth #27: Tongue tie is an uncommon condition and not worth worrying about.

Truth: If mom is experiencing any pain while nursing or if baby is having trouble latching and/or slow weight gain then your baby should be evaluated for tongue-tie and lip tie. With a trained practitioner, tongue tie is easy to diagnose, simple to resolve, and has immediate, positive results with no side effects. The younger your baby is when tongue-tie is diagnosed and resolved the easier it will be to continue breastfeeding. Early treatment, before your baby has learned – and become comfortable with a poor latch – means a lot less reteaching later.

Myth #28: Birthing practices do not affect breastfeeding.

Truth: Birthing practices have a huge impact on breastfeeding. Stress is strongly linked with delayed milk onset. 4 Cesarean sections and instrumental vaginal births typically delay skin-to-skin initiation and the first breastfeed, both of which have a high impact on breastfeeding duration. 5 Pain medications given to the mother affect the baby causing drowsiness and inability to suck well. 6 Some of these pain medications continue to impact the newborn for up to a month after birth!

Myth #29: Determination is no match for breastfeeding obstacles.

Truth: Maternal determination is a huge factor in overcoming breastfeeding obstacles and helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals. Even in cases of emergency cesarean sections and other unplanned birthing interventions, premature births, multiples, etc. research shows over and over that maternal commitment goes a long way in overcoming strikes against mom or baby in breastfeeding and allowing the breastfeeding relationship to succeed. 7

Myth #30: Bigger babies are hungrier and need to be supplemented or start solids earlier.

Truth: A baby’s size does not impact when to start solids. In fact, from one to six months of age babies consume roughly the same amount of milk each day. Both the World Health Organization and American Pediatric Association state that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, with complimentary foods introduced alongside breastfeeding thereafter. Large or small, all a baby needs for the first six months is breast milk.

Myth #31: Babies can be allergic to their own mother’s milk.

Truth:  There has never been a single documented case of a baby allergic to his mother’s milk.  Mothers and babies share 50% of their genetic makeup; no antibody response to a mother’s breast milk has ever been reported. 8 Babies CAN be allergic to various foods a mother eats that can pass through her milk. Allergies occur in approximately 6% of children but breastfeeding when a baby has allergies not only can continue but can help lessen allergens and severe reactions.

Myth #32: A mother must wean her baby when she is acutely ill.

Truth: Whether a mother is sick with the common cold, influenza, food poisoning, or other illness – even if it requires antibiotics or other medications – is NOT an indication for weaning.  Breast milk is absolutely unique and amazing with its antibodies that are made specific to any germs or bacteria a mother comes into contact with.  Therefore, if a mother has the flu, her milk already has antibodies to protect her baby from this specific illness!  Food poisoning cannot pass through breast milk, nor can any other acute illness.  When mother is ill, it is best to drink plenty of liquids, practice good hygiene, and continue to breastfeed your baby as normal.

Myth #33: Maternal vaccines are contraindicated while breastfeeding.

Truth:  While maternal immunizations when a mother is breastfeeding are not ideal, every vaccine is considered safe with the exception of smallpox.  There are many well-documented health consequences associated with formula, even for a short duration.  Therefore, when a vaccine is necessary in a breastfeeding mother it should not be a cause of breastfeeding concern or reason for supplementation and/or early weaning.

Myth #34: A baby who is lactose intolerant should not drink breast milk.

Truth: While breast milk has the highest lactose amount of any mammalian milk, babies are not lactose intolerant.  Lactase – the enzyme that digests lactose – is produced in abundance in all babies regardless of ethnicity until at least the age of 2 1/2 and beyond.  As we age, the body can begin to have an insufficient amount of lactase, which is why it is common to hear of older children and adults who are lactose intolerant.  But primary lactose intolerance is so rare that the majority of medical practitioners will never see it in their lifetimes.  On the other hand, some babies will develop secondary lactase deficiency after using antibiotics, gastrointestinal illness, food allergies, and feeding mismanagement.  In these cases, breast milk (and proper lactation support) will bring the quickest healing to a baby.

Myth #35: A breastfeeding mother is extremely fertile 6 weeks after birth.
Truth: Exclusively breastfeeding mothers who nurse their babies on demand both day and night have a very effective form of birth control for six months following birth! The Lactational Amenorrhea Method is even more effective than the progestin-only birth control pill and various barrier methods.  Plus, it has the added bonus of not causing a hormonal disruption to your body or milk supply like many other birth control options.

Myth #36: Breastfeeding is an individual decision with no impact on society.
Truth: While it is up to each mother to decide if she is going to breastfeed her baby, choosing to not breastfeed does have tremendous societal implications. In the US alone, human milk as part of the Gross Domestic Product is valued at more than $110 billion/annually, but two thirds of this amount is lost because moms are forced to wean their babies prematurely. 9  Millions upon millions of dollars would be saved each year on healthcare costs as well.

Myth #37: It is too challenging for dads to bond with their breastfed babies.
Truth: There are MANY ways to interact with a new baby! Dads can hold their babies in skin-to-skin time, carry their babies in a sling, give baths, change diapers, burp them after feeds, practice baby massage, rock baby, sing to baby, and so much more. Breastfeeding is only one part of a baby’s life.  In fact, dads also play a vital role in this by supporting and encouraging breastfeeding, helping with positioning at the breast, etc.  Babies who are breastfed can and do have an amazing bond with their dads!

Myth #38: Exclusively breastfed babies need supplemental vitamins.
Truth: Breast milk has everything a baby needs for the first six months of life, with the possible exception of Vitamin D.  Some pediatricians may falsely encourage breastfed babies to have a multivitamin supplement since formula is “fortified with vitamins.” However, breast milk has the perfect balance of vitamins and minerals, the amounts it has are incredibly bio available for baby, and taking supplements actually inhibits the absorption of nutrients in breast milk.  Vitamin D is synthesized in the body by direct exposure to sunlight.  If baby is not receiving adequate amounts of sunshine each week, this is one vitamin supplement a breastfed baby would need.

Myth #39: Breastfeeding in public is too embarrassing.
Truth: Sadly, there are many in our society who want breastfeeding mothers to believe this lie.  The reality is that breastfeeding is natural and normal; babies need to eat all the time; and mothers and babies can and should go out together. If someone has a problem with breastfeeding in public then it should be their problem – not yours! A breastfeeding mother is just doing the most normal thing she can – feeding her baby.  It is important to normalize breastfeeding in everyone’s eyes…and the more people see it the more normal it will be.  There are many tips for breastfeeding mothers to nurse in public too.  A breastfeeding mother doesn’t need to be embarrassed for giving her baby the milk he was created to drink.

Myth #40: Nursing while pregnant is dangerous for my unborn baby.
Truth:  Research concludes there is not an increased risk of preterm labor while breastfeeding and the amount of oxytocin released while breastfeeding does not cause cervical effacement or dilation  While discussing breastfeeding during pregnancy with your health care provider is prudent, worldwide it is quite common for mothers to continue breastfeeding an older child after conception.


Krista Gray, IBCLC

Krista Gray, IBCLC – Lactation Services

Positioning and attachmentWhether you’re preparing to breastfeed or need support with your current situation, Krista Gray, IBCLC – Lactation Services is here to help.  I am a certified lactation consultant and offer face-to-face and online breastfeeding support (as well as prenatal breastfeeding classes) to assist you in meeting your breastfeeding goals.   I see clients throughout the Upstate of South Carolina and North East Georgia as well as via Skype and FaceTime worldwide.

Lactation Consultations

Initial Consultation – $135 for a 1 – 1 1/2 hour private consultation.  Sometimes you just need that bit of extra support to get breastfeeding off to a good start or to overcome challenges. I can help you reach your personal breastfeeding goals. This visit can take place in your home or my home office.  (Follow-up phone/text/emails for home or office consultations are always free!) Discount for clients who have a prenatal appointment with me.*

Follow Up Consultation – $75 For new concerns and follow up appointments*

Pump Consultation – $60 Heading back to work and want to make sure your pump is working properly? I can help get your pump set up, ensure the flanges are the right size, and share tips and information about maintaining your supply as you return to work.*

Virtual Consultation – $50 I offer virtual breastfeeding consultations worldwide via Skype or FaceTime. (Up to one hour consultation; Payment made via PayPal) 

Telephone/E-mail Consultation – $30 Do you have a specific breastfeeding question? I can discuss this with you on the telephone (up to 30 minute call) or through e-mail.

Monthly Retainer Option – $150 For those who would like me to be available for unlimited calls/texts/emails throughout the month.  There is no limit to how often you can contact me and, if I am not available at the time of a call/email/text I will always respond the same day.

*In home rate applies to homes within 15 miles of 29655 zip code.  Beyond that area, there will be a fuel surcharge and hourly travel fee, which will be quoted at time appointment is made.

*Payment can be made with cash, check, and PayPal.

*Payment is expected at the time services are rendered.  Nursing Nurture does not file insurance on your behalf, but will provide you with an itemized Super Bill for your health insurance provider.

What happens during a consultation? Find out more here.

Download the forms for your breastfeeding consultation.

Learn more about Krista Gray, IBCLC or contact Krista to schedule a lactation consultation. Continue reading »


Ethnic Hispanic Mother breastfeeding her son

Breastfeeding Positions

How should I breastfeed my baby?

There is no right or wrong way to nurse your little one.  Any position that is comfortable for you and your baby is just fine.  And while it is important to ensure your baby is positioned and latched well in the beginning, after a few months your growing baby and then active toddler just might choose some positions you never would have considered!  The following breastfeeding positions will give you ideas of ways many moms have comfortably and effectively nursed their babies.

Positioning Techniques

Many moms find it helpful to have plenty of pillows to prop up around them so they don’t have to support the weight of their baby while nursing.  Other moms find having pillows and feeling like they can only nurse in their “nursing station” to be cumbersome.  These moms prefer to not use pillows or other support.  Either way is perfectly fine!

What is most important is to make sure your baby is supported throughout his head/neck/shoulder region, his head and neck are in alignment, and he has equal muscle movement on both sides of his body.  This means you will want his body gently pressed against yours – his tummy on your body – and your hand securely holding his head between his shoulder blades.  Make sure your hand does not hold his head though as this is very uncomfortable and keeps a baby from latching well.  (Imagine if you had to keep your chin down on your chest while you chewed and swallowed your food!)  His head should be free so that he can bring it back if his nose becomes blocked.  Your baby should have firm contact against his mother (skin-to-skin is ideal!).

Latching Techniques

In addition to ensuring good positioning in the early days, it is equally important to ensure a proper latch.  A mother can support her breast with her hand if necessary.  Make sure to keep your fingers behind the areola and position fingers in a C-hold so that you can easily help your baby latch on and take enough breast into his mouth.  A baby’s nose should be level with the mother’s nipple.  Your baby should have his head tilted back and lead his mouth to the breast with his lower jaw.  His mouth should be opened wide, tongue down and extended over the bottom gum, with nipple pointing up toward roof of baby’s mouth.  His chin should be pressed against breast with bottom of jaw/lip taking in more areola than the top.  Your baby forms a teat with the nipple and breast tissue, which should be tucked well into baby’s mouth.  His mouth should be open very wide with both top and bottom lips relaxed on the breast and flanged outward.  There should not be any pain!  Make sure to allow your baby to nurse as long as he wants – don’t set a time limit.

Cradle Hold

Cradle Hold

Cradle Hold

This is one of the most popular nursing positions.  A baby lies on the forearm of the side she is going to nurse, and her body extends across the front of her mother.  Her head may be cradled in the bend of the elbow or down lower on the mother’s forearm depending on the size of the baby.  The baby’s chest is against her mother’s chest without space in between; baby’s chest should not be facing up toward the ceiling.  Her legs/feet may be tucked in around the mother’s waist to feel more secure.  It is important that baby is held at breast-level rather than the breast being lowered down to reach baby (which can alter the latch, put pressure on the breast, and keep milk from draining adequately in some areas leading to plugged ducts and mastitis).

Cross-Cradle Hold

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Cross-Cradle Hold

Similar to the cradle hold, but the baby is supported in the arm opposite of the side she is nursing on.  If nursing on the left side, baby would be held by the right arm.  In this example, a mother could support her breast with her left hand and help ensure an optimal latch.  This position is often used with preterm infants.

Football/Clutch Hold

Football Hold

Football Hold

In this position, a baby lies at breast level on the arm of the side she is going to nurse.  Her head is by her mother’s hand and her body wraps around the side and back of her mother.  This hold is especially helpful for a mother who needs to be able to better see her baby’s latch – with large breasts or with a painful latch – as well as after a c-section so baby doesn’t put weight on the incision.  Many mothers of twins also nurse their babies in this position.

Laid-Back Nursing/Biological Nurturing/Reclining

Laid-Back Nursing

Laid-Back Breastfeeding

It has a variety of names but in this position, rather than sitting straight up, the mother is comfortably reclining.  She could simply slide down in a straight back chair, sit in a reclining chair, or lie on a bed propped up with a couple pillows.  A baby can then be positioned across the mother’s body allowing gravity to securely position baby’s body against hers as well as allowing gravity to help with the latch.  This position allows a baby’s natural breastfeeding instincts to kick in.  It is particularly helpful for a tired mom to get rest while nursing or when your baby struggles to open wide to latch such as in cases of tongue tie.

Nursing Lying Down (Side-lying)

Side-Lying Breastfeeding

Side-Lying Breastfeeding

Nursing lying down is an essential tool for breastfeeding and sleep.  Since babies need to nurse at night but mothers also need sleep it is a wonderful way to meet both needs.  In this position, mother and baby lie next to one another on a safe surface.  Baby is securely pressed against mother’s body, and a mother protects her baby with her legs curled around the bottom of her baby and arm over the top.  It can be challenging to first learn this position, but with practice most mothers find it very relaxing to know they can nurse while also getting rest.

Upright Nursing (Baby Sitting)

Upright Breastfeeding

Upright Breastfeeding

Some babies prefer to be in a seated, upright position when nursing.  This type of position is especially useful when a mother has a forceful milk ejection, baby has breathing or swallowing issues, cleft palate, etc.  This position helps reduce choking from a fast flow of milk.  It is still important to adequately support a baby in this position allowing her body to feel a secure touch across her body as well as ensuring her head is well supported by holding one hand in between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck.


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Perseverance at the Pump

Mary Straits HeadshotMary Straits resides in North Carolina with her husband of ten years and two energetic boys, ages six and three.  She earned a B.A. in English and music from Columbia College and a Masters of Education from Liberty University.  In her spare time, Mary teaches 8th-grade English and somehow finds time to blog at www.marystraits.blogspot.com.

When our ob gave us the list of classes the hospital was offering for soon-to-be parents, we actually said, “Nah.  We don’t need the breastfeeding class.  I mean, how hard could it be?  It’s natural, right?”

Out loud.  To each other.

It took about two hours of mommy-hood for me to realize that breastfeeding, albeit natural, is an art form.  It takes coaching and practice and patience and sometimes a trip to the ER at 2 am.

When my first son was freshly born, we started nursing about two hours later. I came to the hospital ready.  I didn’t just have a Boppy—I had a “My Breast Friend.”  I had my own pump and all the parts.  I thought breast-feeding was going rather well until the nurse came in and started saying things like, “Nope.  He’s not latched.  Let’s try it again.”  And, “It’s not supposed to hurt.  You’re wincing.”

Then, when they called in the lactation specialists, things got real.  I learned about all sorts of positions that involved stacks of pillows.  They gave me something called a nipple shield.  Then came a syringe with a tube to connect to the shield.  In the tube, we put formula.  The idea was to make baby associate my breast with his food source.  But we couldn’t use the shield too long or he would become dependent on it.  And then we’d REALLY have problems.  I was to feed baby with the system and then pump to get my milk to come in faster.

Two days later, we went home with a shield and a syringe feeding system, which I promptly abandoned once my milk came in the next day.  In fear, I used the shield off and on, and pumped after each feeding.

When our pediatrician’s lactation specialist called me at home to see how nursing was going, I stupidly said it was going fine.  And no, I didn’t need to see her.  She didn’t let me off the hook, though.  When she found out we were bringing baby in for his weight check, she said, “Great!  I’ll check in with you then!”

The next day, however, I came down with a high fever and chills that would not go away.  Being that our baby was five days old at this point, we ended up in the emergency room at midnight and I endured all sorts of trauma I hope I never relive.   I was discharged hours later with a heavy dose of Tylenol and a label of “Fever of Unknown Origin.”

When we showed up at the pediatrician the next day, I looked like a mess.  But not your average mess.  A HOT mess.

The lactation nurse took one look at me and said, “Oh, you poor thing.”  Then, when we showed off our breast-feeding ritual, she knew we were really in bad shape.  My nipples were raw and cracked in several places.  She said I had a touch of thrush as well and gave me a concoction of creams to put on my nipples after every feeding:  Neosporin, Monistat, and Lanolin.  We were to use only the shield until my nipples healed and continue pumping in between.  And see her again in two days.

A few days later we checked back in, and my skin was on the mend finally.  Baby, however, was not latching properly.  Come to find out, his frenulum was tight, which prevented him from latching properly.  We had to drive across town to the pediatrician who could clip his frenulum and then continue on with the work of breast feeding.  With the shield, pumping after a feed.

At this point, my milk supply was very profound, as I was pumping off 4-5 ounces after baby was done with a feed.

A few days later, the fever came back with a vengeance.  It hit me almost instantly, and I struggled to even pick up the baby to feed.  I somehow loaded up the baby, lifted the car seat, and headed to the ob-gyn, who said I had a bladder and sinus infection.  They gave me a z-pack and sent me on my way, and I felt remarkably better in about 6 hours.

At this point, I tried abandoning the nipple shield, but it didn’t take long for me  to get a little crack and then have shooting pains during a feeding.  I promptly used the compound the lactation nurse told me about.  A few days later, we found out both baby and I had thrush.  At this point, I didn’t try to feed him straight from my breast, but just pumped and bottle fed until we both were cured.

The next week or so, the fever came back AGAIN on a Saturday.  This time I had a red patch on one my breasts, which really freaked me out, but I took ibuprofen and waited for my primary care doctor to open on Monday.   All the while, I continued to pump for feedings, as I was too weak to try and latch baby.

On Monday, all mysteries were answered.  My primary care doctor finally figured out what was causing the fever:  Mastitis.  There is a specific antibiotic that treats it, and he advised me not to feed the baby the milk I was expressing but to be sure that I completely emptied my breasts often.

At this point, my milk supply reached epic proportions, as I was pumping for a long time every two hours or so.

After I finished the antibiotic, my husband and I decided that we had enough drama with this breastfeeding journey.  But, it was so important to me that my baby had breast milk.  For one, I knew it was the best for him.  For two, formula feeding would have cost us $30 a week (at least).  For three, we had a great pump and my supply was ample, to say the least.

I ended up pumping on a schedule of 5:45 am, 8:30 am, 11:15 am, 3:15 pm, 6:30 pm, 10:30 pm, and maybe during the night if baby woke up.  It took me about 10 minutes to totally empty both breasts, which was a lot easier/ faster for me than before.  After a while, I was able to drop a pumping session and still maintain my milk supply very well.  In the end, in fact, I ended up giving my sister bags and bags of frozen milk and using the other bags of frozen milk in baby food purees.

I found pumping much less stressful than our previous experience, which I learned later was pretty extreme.  When I ran into the lactation nurse on a routine pediatrician visit when Noah turned one, she congratulated me on making it a full year and assured me that pumping “counted.”  For some reason, I had it in my head that I wasn’t really breastfeeding by pumping full-time, but I couldn’t bring myself to give up and quit.  And I knew it was best for my baby.

When our second son was born, as soon as we started having latch problems and I started getting cracked nipples, I broke out the pump and began pumping full time.  With a very energetic almost three-year-old, I did not have the stamina and the time for any semblance of our first go round.  I brought out my trusty pump (Medela, if you’re wondering!), and once again, had a solid supply in about 5 days time.

The second time around, though, I worked on pumping a bottle right before baby would eat so that he could have fresh milk more often than not.  I ended up having an epic milk supply the second time around, all from the pump.  At one point, I had so many bags of milk in the freezer, that our freezer actually broke.  Ha!

The point of my story is this:  If you’re passionate about breast feeding and struggling to find peace from any challenges you may be facing, consider pumping full time.  Don’t listen to the masses, who tend to view a breast pump as a ball and chain.  It was an awesome avenue for us to be able to give our boys the most optimal start. And saved us hundreds of dollars!

{Note from Nursing Nurture: Mary’s determination allowed her to give her babies breast milk even when the medical system really failed her.  Though every issue she had could have been remedied with good, qualified lactation support this mother – like so many – did everything she knew to do.  If you are experiencing breastfeeding issues and your lactation support is not helping solve the problems at hand, find someone else!  Look for an IBCLC – which is the only certification showing a lactation consultant is a specialist.  And, if your IBCLC is not helpful, find another (just like you would any medical doctor you weren’t pleased with).}