World Breastfeeding Week – What am I doing to prepare to breastfeed the new baby?

The Grasshopper and I did not have an easy start to our breastfeeding relationship.

My milk was slow to come in (thanks pitocin).  She struggled with latch due to flat nipples.  I got engorged.  Then I got mastitis because she wasn’t able to latch to remove the milk.  I didn’t know enough about pumping and thought that the milk I was pumping was “not real milk” because of the whole not-coming-in thing so I dumped what little I did pump.  She got dehydrated (no poops, no wets over a couple of days)  so we supplemented with formula through a bottle and then through a supplemental nursing system via finger-feeding.

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Then, right as she was starting to latch, I got thrush, which took forever to figure out because the Grasshopper never showed signs.  It was all in me.  By then, my milk supply was almost gone, so I essentially had to relactate.  The Boppy nursing pillow that I got was sliding all over God’s creation, so I was trying to hold the pillow in place, hold the baby, deal with the stupid nipple shield, get the baby latched, keep the baby latched, ignore the agony in my back (thanks epidural), and just fight fight fight fight fight.

Meanwhile, the “help” I was getting from hospital “lactation consultants” was vague and not helpful.  We could manage to nurse in the office, but not once we got home.  And when I would call for help they wouldn’t call me back.

It was a really difficult time.

Finally, we managed to turn the corner at around six weeks.  I ditched the Boppy for the My Breast Friend pillow (they’re WHO code compliant and the BEST nursing pillow on the market!), I threw the nipple shield across the room, I found the kellymom.com forums where I could get some real help, and suddenly the Grasshopper was alert enough and started latching and nursing.  I also dropped in to a local baby shop that had an IBCLC on staff, and she proved to me that I actually had milk by doing pre- and post-feed weighs.  Having this confidence is what ultimately saved our nursing relationship.

The Grasshopper’s latch was never great.  I think the nipple shield had a lot to do with why.  But we managed.  She was exclusively breastfed from 4 and a half weeks until she was a little over 8 months old.  As she grew older, her perpetual bad latch became worse, but she got enough.  I’m so proud of the fact that I managed to nurse her for 3 and a half years, and I’m so grateful that those resources (seriously! the pillow ruled!) all came together at the same time.

I was so lucky.

This time, I don’t intend to leave things up to luck.

What am I doing differently this time?

Unlike last time, I have developed a network of support.  I co-founded a Lactation Support Group at my workplace, and I know that I can reach out to my co-leaders for help if I need it.  I’ve also become an active member of the Kellymom.com forum community.  I cannot say enough good things about this community.  If you’re interested in nursing or plan to nurse or are thinking about it, join this group.  This–and the Kellymom.com website of course–is hands down one of the best resources out there.  The information, compiled by Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC,is accurate, carefully vetted and moderated, and evidence based.  It is truly second to none.

I’m also planning an unmedicated birth.  The IV fluids and pitocin were both, I believe based on several years of reading up on it, at least partly responsible for my severe engorgement and the delay of my milk coming in.  The terrible back pain I suffered was, in large part, from the epidural.

I know now, having observed the way my body reacts to these interventions, that they are harmful to my ability to breastfeed.  To promote the gentlest and least invasive birth possible, I’m using the Hypnobabies childbirth method and birthing at a birth center with the help of midwives and the support of an experienced doula.  Based on my experience and research, I believe that these and other birth choices I’m making will help our breastfeeding relationship to have the best possible start.

In addition to surrounding myself with accurate information and having a natural birth, I will have personal support from my midwives.  They’ve got extensive experience helping moms and babies get off to a good start with nursing, and I will not be cut adrift once I go home.  They will visit me in my home the day after the baby is born to check on both of us.  Following that, they will call daily and be available for me to call if I need help.

I’ve also found a local La Leche League group and I will begin attending meetings starting this month!

I know so much more now than when I was pregnant with the Grasshopper.  Now I don’t say, “I hope to breastfeed.”  This time I know that I can.  It is simply what we do in our family.  I know that if I run into difficulties that help is a phone call or keystroke away.  Whatever we may stumble upon, we will overcome.  Just like the Grasshopper and I did.

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I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

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8 thoughts on “World Breastfeeding Week – What am I doing to prepare to breastfeed the new baby?

  1. As a former LaLeche League Leader and mom of 3 (youngest is now in his 20’s), I wish you a heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS on your drive and commitment to breastfeeding! Society today does not make it easy. Not only is breast milk far superior to any other, but the bonding and comfort it brings our children far outweighs any other method. I smile whenever I see a nursing mom, remembering the joy and satisfaction. Cherish the moments and continue to hang on. Best wishes.

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  2. I’m so impressed that you nursed through HG!! I ended up weaning during my last pregnancy, and it wasn’t even an HG pregnancy (just bad NVP). Good for you!

    I agree about the My Breast Friend, too! I have a Boppy and use it, but I got to use a MBF at the IBCLC’s office, and it is WAY better!!

    Good for you for surrounding yourself with so many resources! I will remember them if we have problems next time (though I am really hoping we don’t!!). 🙂

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  3. I’m due with #2 in about five weeks, and I had a similar experience trying to breastfeed my first (flat nipples, unhelpful lactation consultants, etc.). I am also determined to have a better experience this time around, and I’m glad to hear (before I try using them) that the nipple shields could possibly be more of a problem-causer than a solution. I purchased a couple, but I think I’ll leave them as an absolute last resort. Anyways, thank you for your honest post, and I wish you the best of luck with breastfeeding. 🙂

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    1. By shields, you’re talking about those flappy things that go between the baby’s mouth and the nipple while the baby is feeding right? Not the hard shells used to help draw out the nipples?

      Can I offer a suggestion? And this is just what I would do, bear in mind. I would return the shields. Shields really should only be used under the guidance of a lactation consultant. A real trained and certified one, not someone in the hospital who decided they liked the title LC.

      What I would do instead is get together with a La Leche League group and schedule a pre-birth consultation with an IBCLC. Couple of reasons for this: 1-You can go ahead and establish a relationship ahead of time and make sure you’ve got good support ready if you need it. 2-The IBCLC will be able to take a look at you and see if your nipples are still flat. After 3+ years of nursing, mine, thankfully, are not. You may find the same to be true for you, and having it confirmed by a professional may give your confidence the boost you need to help get you through the challengind first few weeks.

      Also, Hey! We’re almost Due Date buddies! I’m just a bit ahead of you though. 😉 Thanks so much for reading!

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  4. Excellent prep work! I’m definitely going to look further into Kellymom. I see it referenced all the time! Our son (due in January) has Down syndrome and breastfeeding issues are a common problem with this condition. The books I’ve read even recommend seeing a Lactation Consultant *in advance* of the birth! And so, even though I’ve had 3 relatively easy and definitely successful breastfeeding relationships, I plan to meet at least one of the LCs on staff at our hospital soon. I’m just hoping one of them has specific experience with Down syndrome… otherwise I may have to keep looking for the best members to have on my support team!

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    1. Kellymom is a phenomenal resource. Definitely check it out. I would also agree with the advice to seek out an IBCLC to talk about some of the special nursing needs your son will have. I seem to remember hearing that babies with downs can have either high pallettes or bubble pallettes. Can’t quite remember. Having an established relationship with an IBCLC will probably really help you to be prepared with how to handle any of those special circumstances that you may encounter.

      Thanks so much for reading! Congrats on your baby boy and best of luck on your journey!

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