Got Milk? Part One: What does a new momma need to know?

This “Got Milk?” post is the first in a series I am putting together on breastfeeding.

A few months ago I was doing henna at India Restaurant and had the most pleasant conversation whilst doing henna on the belly of a pregnant woman.  She was 39 weeks along with her first baby, and was very excited to share that she was planning to clothdiaper and breastfeed.  We got on so well she asked to exchange numbers- thinking we could get together sometime in the future.

A week later she called me.  She was upset.  Her baby wasn’t eating “enough” on schedule or gaining “enough” according to her doctor- who was giving her the classic breastfeeding sabotage information.  Her mother was telling her to supplement- and had actually gone to the store to buy formula for the baby.  I did my best- gave her every scrap of information I could fit into the conversation before she had to go.  I never heard from her again.  I really hope she managed to hold out and go on to a successful nursing relationship with her baby.

If she is now formula feeding it is NOT her fault and I do not think less of her.  At one point even the most experienced and knowledgeable of us mothers was once a first time mom.  Scared and nervous and susceptible to the opinions of others- especially those in the medical profession.  It could have easily happened to me.  I was seventeen, in high school, on my own, and if my doctor or my mother had been vehemently against breastfeeding I would have listened to them and stopped.  I had no idea what I was doing.   I didn’t have any confidence in my choices as a parent.  I only lasted as long as I did (11 months) because I was left alone and did what worked for me.  Although, the flip side of that is -I would have maybe nursed for another year if there had been anyone around to give me GOOD advice and support.

When Cooper was a few weeks old I took him for a check up at the pediatrician.  The office was running late-as usual- and so I stood in the waiting room and nursed him in the babyhawk.  The two very young, (one of which was very pregnant) girls behind me began talking about breastfeeding- and the non-preggy one commented that I made it look so easy but it wasn’t- she had tried for five whole days but her milk never came in.  The other made faces and told her friend she couldn’t do THAT.  She also said that formula was way easier- cuz, like, other people can feed the baby.

I find these attitudes so aggravating.  If it was really THAT difficult, if milk “didn’t come in” THAT often, we would never have survived as a species.  It is EASY.  But you have to be confident.  You have to be informed, because so many unqualified (or just plain ignorant) people will be ready and waiting- armed with bad advice, misinformation and bottles of free formula.

But I took a deep breath, turned around and smiled.   I told them that breastfeeding isn’t difficult- sometimes the first few weeks are tricky, but after you get the hang of it, it becomes very easy and I’m a lazy person.  I told them that I do it because not only is it better for my baby for all those healthy reasons, but it is free and I’m broke.  They laughed and rolled their eyes.  I’m pretty sure my words had no effect on her decision to formula feed, but I am glad I tried.

I have been exchanging messages with a facebook friend who is pregnant with her first baby.  She is going to breastfeed- and can I say I love that she wrote “IS” and not “TRY” -it got me thinking about the things first time mothers need to hear about breastfeeding. So I posed this question to twitter:

“What do you think a new mother needs to know/hear about breastfeeding?”

“What do you wish someone had told you?”

Breastfeeding Advice- a twitterstream-

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pshouseblog

@kitchenwitch that just b/c someone has bfd or says they have bfing exp they might be wrong (like my mom, w/ horrible advice etc)

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Grow_Diego_Grow

@kitchenwitch lanolin is a hero. nipple shields arent hard and they are helpful. boppy or breastfriend pillow is a must. lots of breast pads

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Peace_Love_Play

@kitchenwitch nurse asap nurse on demand.bm digests in 90 minutes, so Ok to feed often. do not supplement. U WILL make enough #breastfeeding

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Grow_Diego_Grow

@kitchenwitch u can breastfeed baby with food allergy. avoid milk products as much as you can.

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mymilkspilt

@kitchenwitch Tell them to join a support group like LLL before birth. And to remember that ‘this too shall pass’!

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mymilkspilt

@kitchenwitch The blog ‘first the egg’ has a good page on BF with links – you might want to check it out

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laterleigh

@kitchenwitch what amde me decide to keep breastfeeding after all our issues was that- formula keeps trying to be close to breastmilk….

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laterleigh

@kitchenwitch sooo… why not just use the original?

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alittleperilous

@kitchenwitch Don’t! don’t stop, don’t supplement, don’t take the first doctor opinion you get. DO find an IBCLC and local LLLI meeting.

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Grow_Diego_Grow

@kitchenwitch just because your milk didnt come in on the 2nd day, doesnt mean you need to supplement.

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Grow_Diego_Grow

@kitchenwitch NUK pacifiers are less confusing if you want to use pacifiers for your breastfeeding baby

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jdruit

@kitchenwitch tell about the 3 & 6 week growth spurts. Lots of momma’s think they aren’t making enough and stop :(

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monsterchew

@kitchenwitch feed the baby as often as they want. Sounds obvious, but I wish i hadn’t been so schedule driven with my first.

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jdruit

@kitchenwitch have lanolin at all nursing stations for first few weeks and use regularly. Also put on before shower to protect from spray.

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monsterchew

@kitchenwitch if you’re going to have to pump, start from the get go as that’s when you’ll.have LOTS of milk

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TheDeans2007

@kitchenwitch don’t let people make her feel ashamed when she needs to feed in public. Light airy scarves are great covers and stylish.

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MendyLady

@kitchenwitch I’m coming to the BF advice late, but I always say don’t “try”, “do”. And get the help it takes. Attitude count hugely!

And here are some really great links with information on breastfeeding:

Via @FeministBreeder

FeministBreeder

@kitchenwitch I wrote a post about that here – http://thefeministbreeder.com/a-letter-to-my-friend-with-breastfeeding-struggles/

Via @RadicaLactivist:

What Every Parent Should Know About Infant Formula http://tinyurl.com/224qnj

“Just One Bottle Won’t Hurt” — or Will It? supplementation of the breastfed baby http://tinyurl.com/2a7asv8

Breast Feeding Help – Breastfeeding—Starting Out Right http://www.drjacknewman.com/help/Breastfeeding%E2%80%94Starting%20Out%20Right.asp

Sabotage (a great piece about how breastfeeding moms are set up to fail) http://www.phdinparenting.com/2009/05/04/sabotage/

Comments

  1. Lauren @ Hobo Mama Twitter: Hobo_Mama says:

    This is a great topic! I wish someone had told me to ignore the “well-meaning” nurse who pushed formula on us in the hospital because my baby “wasn’t hungry enough.” Um, huh-wha? I wish I’d been confident — and had someone holding my hand who was — that my milk would come in soon (it took 2 or so days but then was gushing!), and my newborn could absolutely hold off till then on colostrum alone.

    I also think this would be reassuring: It gets easier. It gets much, much easier. You won’t always need to nurse with pillows and props or under covers. You’ll get the hang of it and be able to nurse anywhere!

    Another helpful tip would be to show or tell someone how to nurse lying down. Lifesaver for me!

    And this: You’re not alone, even if you feel like you are. Thousands of women right at this minute are breastfeeding just like you! And we all support each other.
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last post… How to cosleep safely: A tutorial in pictures

  2. yes. i have four children. breastfed them all. even though my mom…everytime…was sooooo good about reminding me that “they have bottles now, i never did that, if you wanna sleep i could feed the baby”…maddening yes. but i forgive her because i know she was just advising out of her own ignorance and discomfort.

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