The early days of breastfeeding

EarlyDaysWhen we talk about breastfeeding most moms talk about growth spurts, distracted babies, starting solids, and weaning.  We tend to gloss over those early days and even weeks.  I’m not sure if that is because it can be such a challenging time for so many moms, or because in the end, the early weeks are such a blur that many women can’t even remember what those early weeks looked like.

A newborn baby has a very tiny stomach, and breastmilk is easily digestible.  This means that babies eat often.  Really often.  The ‘babies eat every 2.5 – 3 hours’ line is really just that.  It is important for babies to eat often.  They are still learning how to eat, sleep, breathe, and exist outside of your womb. It is not uncommon for babies to eat every 1.5 – 2 hours in the early days.  It may feel like you spend the first couple of weeks nursing a baby non-stop.  This is typical and it doesn’t last.  Eventually your baby will stretch out those feedings, and they will start to sleep in longer chunks.

Sometimes tenderness can happen through the early days, but it shouldn’t last.  If it does persist, that is a good sign that it is time to seek help.

To make the early days easier, surrounding yourself with help can make those days easier.  Having meals prepared ahead of time, or even better yet, having friends who can bring you meals and help you with household chores can allow you to spend time focused on your baby, and resting in between feedings.

Your baby doesn’t yet know the world s/he is living in, they only know you.  You are their source of comfort, food, and security.  You are who they need to be with. Your job is amazing, and challenging, and that fact will never change though the challenges will.  So yes, the first few weeks will be over before you know it, and you will be on your way to a happy breastfeeding relationship.  But they aren’t without their own challenges, and it’s ok to be exhausted and frustrated.  Know that it does get easier, you will get through it, and there are people to support you and cheer you on.  Find them, surround yourself with them, and you will have a much easier road.

Have you been through the early days? What would you tell a new mom?

Preparing to go back to work while breastfeeding!

Preparing to Return to Work While BreastfeedingFor many women, maternity leave must come to an end and then it is back to work.  For some women this is a welcome change, and for many this is a very difficult transition. How can you prepare for going back to work to make the transition easier?  Let’s talk about it…

Invest in a good breast pump.  To go back to work and pump enough milk for your baby, most moms find that a double electric pump is their best bet.  This allows you to pump both breasts at the same time and save yourself some time.

Get a Hands Free Pumping Bra.  It’s very annoying when you lean over to grab something and knock a flange loose.  The suction breaks, and you have to readjust.  A hands free pumping bra will hold the flanges where they belong so that you can read, work, or have your hands free to play games on your phone. It makes the pumping experience much less cumbersome.

Get fitted. Most mom don’t know that the flanges that come with your pump come in several sizes, and after-market parts can also change the shape! We know that every breast is different, but we don’t always think about how that relates to pumping.  The right size flange will allow you to maximize your pumping output.

Create the environment. Every mom is different in this situation.  Some moms find having a photo of their baby, or thinking about their baby helpful when pumping.  Some moms find it REALLY stressful to think about the baby they are apart from, and need things to distract them to get the milk flowing.  As you prepare to go back to work, figure out which works best for you and you can save yourself a lot of stress later.

Get extra parts. It is an awful feeling when you sit down and get your pump out to realize your membranes or valves are at home on the drying rack.  Having a second or third set of parts helps make sure you will never be without the pump pieces you need when you arrive at work to pump.

What helped you prepare for going back to work?

Top 5 Tips for Transitioning to Motherhood

TransitioningToMotherhoodEvery mother is at a different stage when she begins her journey.  For some, this journey is easier than others.  The more flexible you are the easier this transion becomes.  Remember, your baby spent 9 months growing inside of you where there was no night and day, no hunger or cold.  No loney or dirty or scared.  It can be challenging to go from being an adult who realistically only needed to worry about one person to having to care for an infant who depends on you for their every need.  Here are some tips for making that transition easier.

1.Let go of preconceived notions.  We all have this mental image of motherhood.  We look at photos and movies where women have babies and never falter from their put together picturesque life.  Try to remind yourself that this is not reality.  Most moms don’t talk about the early days, how crazy and challenging they can be.  They are such a whirlwind that most don’t even remember what they looked like a few months after giving birth.  It will be challenging, but try to remember that babies are just transitioning to this world.  They don’t know how to tell time, or that they are supposed to sit and relax between meals.  They know that they were in this warm cozy womb, and now they are not.  They cling to that familiar smell of mom, and that is what comforts them.  The days are long, but the weeks are short.  Be ready for the wildest ride of your life.

2. Allow yourself some grace.  Not everyone can handle going with the flow easily.  Most babies can not handle a schedule, at least in the early weeks.  They are still learning about night and day and hungry and full.  They have no idea what time it is.  They will make it hard for you to be on time, or even shower every day.  If you don’t get to the laundry because your baby needs you, it will wait.  Remember that you can’t do it all, and you will need an adjustment period to figure out what your new normal will look like.

3. Soak up the Oxytocin. Oxytocin is also known as the love hormone.  It is the hormone released during breastfeeding.  It is what helps you fall in love with your baby.  These moments don’t last, and you will look back on the moments spent with your baby to your breast and smile.  Despite the challenges you may face, you will never regret sitting and relaxing with your baby.  Those moment sare what help you make it through the hard days, so soak up all the oxytocin you can.

4. Spend time skin to skin. Skin to skin time is relaxing and bonding.  After a long and stressful day, it allows you to reconnect with your baby.  When you’re stressed out or things aren’t going as well as you would like, having the time to relax skin to skin with your baby can help you reconnect and refocus on what is really important.

5. Remember, it doesn’t last.  As tough as those early days, sometimes weeks can be.  Remember they are a fleeting memory.  If you look at a tape measure and see what 18 inches looks like, imagine that as your baby’s childhood.  The first year is but a small fraction of that 18 years, and those early weeks are but a fraction of that.  You will figure out a routine, a new lifestyle that works for your family.  And life will stop seeming so overwhelming.  The early days will eventually be a distant memory and you will look back on them with fondness, despite how hectic they were.

 

What would you add to the list?  

An Open Letter To All Moms

Dear Moms,

There is something I need to tell you.  And it’s kind of important.  So go ahead and change that diaper, get the toddler a snack, grab your coffee and come back.  I’ll wait.  I promise.

Ok, you ready? Here it is.  YOU are amazing.  YOU are wonderful. Please do not let others tell you otherwise.  Our media keeps trying to spin these mommy wars and put us against each other. It is time to stop feeling shame for how you fed your baby, how you diapered your baby, how you potty trained your baby, (and on and on). YOU did the best you could.  You used the tools and information you had at the time and you made the best decision for your family. Can I tell you something?  That is enough. Please don’t feel guilty because you’ve learned more since then. We all have.  It’s ok.

Don’t lash out when someone tells you that we now know better.  They’re not bashing you (and if they really are, they’re not worth your time or worry).  They’re trying to help someone else.  Moms do not look at their choices for their family and choose the one that is the worst option.  We don’t purposely make unsafe decisions for our children.  We all make decisions that we feel are best for our families based on the information we have.

Learn more about this parenting journey and what is best (or normal) for babies. Make changes and grow.  Then share that knowledge.  Don’t judge, don’t look down on others, but offer information.

You’ve heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child.  It takes a village to provide information for a mother.  Think about that.

When you have your first baby, what information do you know?  What you’ve learned from watching others.  What if we actually shared our experiences and our research with compassion for others?  How would that change our conversations?

Moms – STOP letting the media and companies try to turn us against each other.  Lets support each other, no matter what choices we have made in the past.  Lets embrace our differences, respect the new moms we want to help educate, and grow. We all deserve more than these battles.  When we can stop fighting about choices we’ve made and the things we learned in the process and we start sharing these things to SUPPORT others, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.  Imagine the change we can be for our children if we can teach them this skill.  We’ve got this moms.  Let’s put down the World’s Best Mom sash and the pitchfork and let’s support each other.

Are you with me?