Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful natural occurrences in the world. It is among the many amazing things that the female body can do. When I think about the fact that I MADE a human and am now feeding him with my own body, I am in awe. The first time I nursed my son, I cried. I had to wait almost a week to have the joy of holding him for the first time, and waited over a week to have the experience of feeding him (see Baby Update | Home From The NICU). So my tears were mostly tears of joy for finally doing what every mother normally does in the first hour of her child’s life. They were also tears of relief, because it was not easy to get Ant to latch. It was really, really hard. From that day we have had ups and downs- from having to switch to a special formula, to returning to breast feeding, to growth spurts, and blocked ducts. Fortunately, I have many knowledgeable friends and access to some really great lactation consultants. Because I know how difficult breastfeeding truly can be, I would like to share what I’ve learned with you. I hope if you are having hard times that this will help. Don’t give up, Mama!
The Dangle Position. I recently had a blocked duct that I could not soften no matter what I tried (pumping after feedings, massage, hand expression, hot shower). So, I reached out to fellow moms in a Facebook group that I’m a part of. One member sent me to Kellymom.com to check this out. Basically, the idea is that gravity aids your baby in loosening the milk that has become backed up in your milk duct. Totally makes sense! And it worked for me!
Hand Expression. Hand expression is really important if you are pumping. A pump – no matter how fancy – is not as good at getting milk from your breast as baby is. So, some milk gets left behind. This can cause your milk ducts to become blocked. If you do not relieve those ducts it can result in mastitis. Using hand expression can help prevent infections and sore breasts. Take a look at this helpful video from Stanford University.
La Leche League. Another great resource for breastfeeding moms to find helpful advice and support is La Leche League, a network of mothers which provides education and resources to breastfeeding moms. If you are having difficulties and don’t have people around you who can help you through your difficulties, I definitely suggest finding your local La Leche League and going to one of their classes or meetings.
Best for Babes. Best for Babes is an organization dedicated to helping moms meet their breastfeeding goals. When I was trying to figure out why my son’s GI doctor thought that he had galactosemia, I reached out to one of the website’s founders who has a child with galactosemia. She called me the next day and listened to my concerns, gave me advice and when I cried to her she told me I was a good mom. The women who write for this website are wonderful people and can help you with any of your breastfeeding concerns.
Nutrition. Proper nutrition is essential to healthy milk production. Staying very hydrated is the most important part of breastfeeding nutrition. I was told to drink at least 20 ounces of water after each pumping session or feeding. Oatmeal is also supposed to help with milk production.
Herbal Supplements. Since baby Ant was discharged from his re-admission to the hospital, I have been taking fenugreek and drinking Traditional Medicinal’s Mother’s Milk tea. Fenugreek and the other herbs in Mother’s Milk tea have been used for hundreds of years to promote healthy lactation.
I hope that your breastfeeding experience is as beautiful and bonding as you could hope for it to be. My best advice is to surround yourself with love and support, stay hydrated, make a comfy spot for you to feed in (get a Boppy Pillow!!!), and use all the resources that are available to you.