During one of my prenatal appointments, I overheard some good breastfeeding advice given to a new mom. It was about some common booby traps that may seem innocuous or even considered a good idea to "be prepared."
Don't buy any bottles or formula. Don't have any bottles or formula in the house. The midwife went on to say that at 3am when we've been soothing a fussy baby for an hour, the temptation to use a bottle will prevail. Giving the baby a bottle will sound like a great idea when we are desperate for a solution. At that moment we are not thinking about what effect supplementing will have on our breast milk supply or whether that bottle will even help baby sleep. We will try anything! Unfortunately, supplementing is a slippery slope. I once read a story from a mom that fell victim to the late night supplement quick fix. When asked whether formula at night helped baby settle down and sleep, she laughed and said no. By the time she had learned that formula feeding had no effect on the baby's sleep it was too late to continue breastfeeding. Her supply had dried up.
Don't think "I will try to breastfeed." Instead, think "I will breastfeed." This might look the same but the subtle difference the word "try" introduces can be very harmful. At the first sign of difficulty our mind will tell us, "I tried breastfeeding and it's not working. At least I tried." Which would leave you very vulnerable to pressure to begin formula feeding. Consider the phrase "I will breastfeed." When difficulties arise we view them as normal challenges that we can overcome. Instead of giving up, we seek help and support to pull through the hard times.
I was completely focused on a programming task when Desmond came over to me crying and wanting comfort. This is not an infrequent occurrence during my work day. It is an event I've had lots of time to get used to; and now doesn't disturb my work flow much.
But this particular time I was laser focused. So, autopilot momma took over. I bent a little to help him into my lap. Got him in a cradle position, all the while still thinking about my programming problem. Not seeing or paying attention at all to what was going on on my lap. My concentration was that strong. And then I felt a shot of pain in my left boob.
That's when my brain caught up with what had happened a few seconds earlier. I remembered pulling out my boob to let Desmond latch on. Usually he stays in the cradle position and snoogles with me. He rubs my belly and my breasts while they stay tucked in my bra. But this time I took my left breast out and held it for him to latch. I remembered the puzzled look on his face and how he proceeded to latch with uncertainty. The whole event played out in slow motion. That's when these thoughts finally came into my attention:
It was uncomfortable and painful but I was able to let him nurse a couple minutes on each side. And I really do mean a couple; 2 or 3 at the most. It really sucks not to be able to nurse freely during this pregnancy. But it is nice to know that my natural instincts are still with me.
So many times I've forgotten about the effectiveness of lanolin. Back when Chase was born, I bought two tubes of it, expecting to go through them quickly. I still have the same tubes around the house; four years later. But that is completely my fault. When my nipples could use some healing, I forget the lanolin. I've rediscovered lanolin's effectiveness a hundred times since I started nursing!
Hopefully I won't forget this time. This morning my nipples were quite raw and painful. So I applied lanolin, went braless or a couple of hours and viola! Relief.
I have two different types of lanolin. One that was very thick and hard to spread. This one is great for protection from water if the shower was causing irritation, for instance. Or if you expect to be in a pool or the ocean and want to minimize water contact to promote healing on cracked nipples. The downside is, it is hard to spread and not ideal for when your nipples are exceptionally sensitive.
There is another type that is much more smooth and very easy to apply. The smooth kind is ideal for very raw and sensitive nipples. The drawback being it doesn't offer much protection from water because it is very thin and wipes off much easier. It's also advisable to apply the thin lanolin more often if you are wearing a bra. When applied often, I didn't find any difference in their ability to heal. Both types healed about the same when used effectively.
So pick the one that you like the best. Or do what I do and have both on hand. But use it liberally! It helps so much.
Chase and I are at the end of our breastfeeding relationship. I'm saddened, but also ready to move on. He's nearing 5 years old; a good long time.
We weren't breastfeeding the entire time. Since I got pregnant with Desmond 2 years ago, we have been gradually weaning. At first it was because of the nursing aversion and discomfort of nursing during pregnancy. After Desmond was born, the nursing surged a bit, but after a few months started to wane again. When I got pregnant with Chloe, I nursed him for as long as I could but the second trimester dry spell was much too painful. I weaned both Chase and Desmond.
Part of me thinks Chase would still be happily nursing as much as he ever was if there were no barriers. It's unfortunate that the last 6 months he spent completely weaned has resulted in him forgetting how to latch properly. I've tried nursing him twice since Chloe was born. He latches on my nipple only, sucking like he would a straw. That is extremely painful. I explained that he needs to take more of the dark part into his mouth and not to suck like a straw. He tried. He opened wide but at the last moment releases the areola and sucks on my nipple. The last time we tried he said "I won't suck it like a straw." It was such a sad moment for me.
Feelings aside, I know he's ok with passing on the nursing to the younger ones. We had a good experience. When he sees me nursing Desmond or Chloe now, he looks on with a kind of loving nostalgia. He looks a little sad that it's over, but not upset or angry. He looks grateful.
On July 1st, 2014 at 3:16am, our family grew by one very adorable little girl, Chloe. With her, a new adventure has started! A new tandem nursing experience with Chloe and Desmond.
Before Chloe was born, I was sure that this tandem experience would be exactly like the experience I had with Chase and Desmond. Chase was never jealous of Desmond. He never showed any ill feelings towards the baby. And he happily nursed right alongside Desmond. There was no need to explain sharing. Chase was content nursing on one side while Desmond nursed on the other. The only rough times I can remember were when I didn't want to nurse them both at the same time. As long as Chase got to nurse when Desmond nursed, all was well. Over time, Chase nursed less and less. He also got used to nursing without Desmond and waiting until Desmond was done nursing before he got a turn. I was taken by surprise when Desmond flat out refused to nurse with Chloe.
The first time I tried to nurse Desmond and Chloe, Desmond latched on first. I then laid Chloe on top of me to latch onto the other side while I laid back on the bed. Desmond immediately began to fuss and swat at her. He pushed her head. He tried to keep the other boob away from her so she couldn't latch. He finally gave up nursing and cried; kicking and hitting in frustration. He wanted nothing to do with nursing with his sister. As far as he knew, the nursing was all his. And maybe that's his personality. Or maybe that's because Chase hasn't nursed for the past 6 months and Desmond has forgotten what its like to share. I'll never know.
Tandem nursing started off much more difficult than the last time. But the three of us are finding our way. Desmond is more used to Chloe being around and has nursed with her calmly once. Desmond now knows that he can still nurse even though there is another nursling around to share with. It took some patience, understanding, and love from me. And of course, time.
One day when I was nursing one of the boys my mom asked me "If you had a girl, do you think you would have breastfed this long?" A pretty disturbing question. You don't know my mom, but she's not very accepting of gays or lesbians. It makes sense that she would ask that question. But it's also very wrong that she would suggest breastfeeding would have anything to with sex.
She asked it so innocently. It makes me laugh inside. I can tell you that she doesn't realize what she's suggesting. For her, it's simple. Breastfeeding older boys is ok because they are boys. And I'm a girl. But if I were breastfeeding an older girl? A girl sucking on another girl's breast? That's lesbian behavior - to her. Her mind ignores certain key facts in the situation. For instance the fact that I'm a mother, and these are my children, have been omitted. So the question of sexuality comes up.
I can laugh inside because I know my mother is "innocent." She knows my breastfeeding is a thing to be proud of. She only speaks highly of me and how I'm such an amazing mother. But it saddens me that there are people that do mix up sexuality with breastfeeding. And they shouldn't. Sex and family is incest. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that breastfeeding, toddler breastfeeding, is absolutely, one thousand percent, NOT incest.
We all want to think about breastfeeding in a loving way. With halos and angels and soft sweet music playing while a mother calmly nurses her newborn. In our minds (mom's head), it IS that way. To anyone else, it can get quite messy and downright disgusting.
Yup, I said it. Breastfeeding can be gross. Not the act of breastfeeding. That's natural. But sometimes babies spit up and that's - kinda gross. Or, like in my case, my nursing toddler wasn't used to having unlimited access to my engorged milk supply, had way too much, then promptly vomited all over me. Doh.
For any first time tandem nursing mothers out there, don't rush to wean your toddler. Step back, and give it time. The older nursling is not used to having so much milk at once. And it's very likely they are super excited to have all that milk available to them. They try (and often succeed) at draining an engorged breast. Which is a lot to take in a short time. But don't despair! With a little patience and understanding from you, they will get better at nursing again.
Desmond had a particularly rough time when my milk came in. He vomited almost every time he nursed that week. He was nursing 2 or 3 times a day. I got better at having cleanup supplies within my reach. I only offered one boob each nursing session and suggested we stop when I felt my breast was mostly empty. Desmond got better at knowing when he had enough. At first he would only nurse on the one side. Then once my milk production started to regulate itself better, he would ask to nurse on the second side. He hasn't gotten sick in a few days now.
Daddy made this really awesome time lapse video of me during my pregnancy with Chloe. There are two things I want to point out:
1) My belly looks big doesn't it? Imagine breastfeeding a toddler with that between you.
2) Breastfeeding a newborn after breastfeeding a toddler is so much easier. Newborns are small, light, and don't want to climb and jump and run all while being attached to the boob!
When a new baby enters the family, things change. The family dynamic that always was, is now reinventing itself. Parents go through a whole list of emotions when a new baby is born. Luckily for us, we have a lot of life experience to process them. But what about our toddler nursling? Do they have the same burst of emotions that we do? Sure! But they don't have the years of life experience to help them cope.
To a nursing toddler, the biggest change is another tiny person having momma's milk. For some toddlers, this is perfectly fine. They go about tandem nursing like they were doing it for years. No sweat. For others it can be very upsetting.
These are the times when we can do some pretty amazing things. We can chose to be patient. We can chose to be loving. We can chose to be compassionate with our toddler that is having a very hard time adjusting. This is the time when we can lay a solid loving foundation between the new baby and siblings. We need to help the little ones by showing them that we still love them and care for them as much as we always did. Show them that in this time of newness and uncertainty, they can still come back and nurse their troubles away.
Love your new boobs. And if you don't, take comfort in knowing they will change. Again. And again. Wake up with voluptuous Ds; go to sleep with modest Bs. Growth spurt time? Your bra size may hit letters you never knew existed!
Don't feel self conscious about your changing body. Men love it. They do. My husband said once "it's not fair they get to suck on your boobs all day."
Self love and confidence are incredibly important. Babies sense it. A calm and confident mom can soothe a crying baby just by holding them close. So don't feel self conscience about your new breasts. They are not floppy. Or saggy. Too big or too small. They are fun sized!