Saturday, November 5, 2011

Remember, It Gets Better.

I wish more women were told this at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey. I hate the mentality that 'if it hurts you're doing it wrong.' That's simply not true. M had a perfect latch from her first time at the breast, and guess what it still hurt. It's to be expected. You are going through a transition of having a baby at your breast for about thirty minutes every hour or so. Chances are there will be pain with that. What you need to remind yourself is that it does get better.

There are so many issues that can come out with breastfeeding that most women feel they should give up over. Please know that there are answers to most breastfeeding problems.

For pain in the beginning get a good cream whether it be lanolin or an all natural cream like Earth Mama Angel Baby. Ice packs are your friend. Place them over your nipples after feedings for some relief. One thing you'll probably notice is that showers will be painful on your nipples. I would try and face away from the stream as much as I could. Cover them with your arm if you have to face in.

Most women aren't prepared for what it is like for milk to come in. I know I wasn't. Each breast was probably 50lbs each. Try a heated wet rag or a Bed Buddy. I would lay mine over my chest in bed and throughout the day. Your Bed Buddy can also be put in the freezer for a cooling effect. During those first weeks I had to pump just so M could latch on. Which really is counter productive. Just know that the more you tell your body you need the more it's going to produce.

If you are dealing with low supply try an herbal supplement called fenugreek. You can get this herb alone or in a blend with other supplements that help milk supply. After getting my supply under control it dipped pretty low. I took Mother's Milk which includes goat's rue, blessed thistle, and other herbs. You can also get similar products in tea and drop form. You should also pump after each feeding to try and boost your supply. Nurse from each side. Until your supply is established make sure you are nursing or pumping frequently. At this point I can sleep seven hours without it effecting my supply. Using heat will also help your milk let down.

Most people wouldn't think having an oversupply could be an issue. It can be. Oversupply can cause fussiness, too much fore milk, gagging, and gas. I had this issue with M. She would clamp down on my nipple to control the flow and then pull away gagging. Her stools were often green from getting too much fore milk. To get your supply under control put down the pump and step away. It will hurt at first and you will be engorged. If it gets to be too uncomfortable hand express a small amount out for some relief. Block feed until your supply settles. This means only nursing one side each feeding. This will also help your baby get hind milk. If your let down is too strong lean back or lay down while nursing. Side nursing is my favorite position now.

You may come across milk blisters, especially if you are dealing with over supply. These a little blisters on your nipple that may appear white, clear, or yellow. Try soaking your nipple in an Epsom salt mix. I would take a bowl of warm water and add 2 teaspoons to a cup and soak. If you can break the skin over the blister. I used my clean hand. Try a wet compress and then nurse. You also need to find out what is the cause of your blisters. Think oversupply or yeast as examples.

For the dirty little 'M' word. I never dealt with mastitis, but I did have a plugged duct which is all I want to know of it. You may feel this as a hard lump in your breast. This could be further into your breast like mine or a block in the pore. I was pumping strings of milk. Yeah, it was sick. You can still nurse your baby on this side to clear the clog. I didn't want to so I just pumped that side until it was clear and the lump was gone. Plugged ducts can happen for several reason. Oversupply, infrequent nursing, ineffective suck or latch to name a few. Mastitis is an infection that occurs in the breast. You may notice red streaks on your breast and a more intense pain accompanying your plugged duct. You may experience flu like symptoms and a rise in temp. Message is your friend. A would laugh at me while I would massage my breast and moan with a big ole' heating pad laid across me. Use heat in the form of a shower, compress or soak. I loved each. Have you or your partner massage the breast. I felt best going in an upward motion if that makes sense. Nurse frequently and try pumping after each feeding. I read a good tip to lean forward or stand above your baby or pump. I would massage my breast while pumping. It took about 24 hours for the duct to clear in my case. If you suspect mastitis you should call your Doctor as soon as you start symptoms. They may want you to start antibiotics. I called, but they didn't suspect I had an infection and they were right.

Nursing in public can be a challenge for a lot of women. That is why I love to nurse in public to show women 'hey you can do this too.' If you want to try a cover there are many out there. Some with front wires to make it easier to look down at baby. M hates covers so that wasn't an option for us. I usually try to wear a tank top under my clothes. I'll leave it down and pull my breast over the tank. That's for my comfort so my stomach doesn't show. If you want to add cover place a burpie over the top of your breast and away from babies nose. Practice at home until you are comfortable with your nursing skill. By the time I nursed in public I had the process down from practice at home. You would be surprised how little others can see. Remember, it's your right. Nothing is more natural and beautiful than a mother nursing. I seriously question a person's mind who finds nursing to be offensive or sexual. If you don't want to nurse in public you can always take pumped bottles with you. Get a good cooler pack and you should be good for 24 hours. Remember breast milk can set at room temp for up to 10 hours. It's hard to mess that up. It's all about your comfort level. Just don't let public feeding determine whether or not you should breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is Love

I hope I've covered some of the common breastfeeding issues. I'll add more if I think of them. Just remember it does get better. Here we are pain free with no issues at the breast. You can do this. There are millions of women out there believing in you and cheering you on. I know it may not feel like it at times but you are not alone and you are meant to do this. It gets better!

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