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www.atmothersbreast.com Photographer Katrina Anderson

I'm kind of sad that it's the last day of baby week. It's been an awesome week here in Mumsy land and as a mom I feel like I could talk for months about babies. Here's a recap of the posts this week:

 Baby Shower with Brenda Bird of From Me With Love
I Have Loved Having A Girl
Baby Delivery Preparedness
and have you seen our Ultimate Baby Giveaway and Review?!
It's amazing!!

To finish off the week I wanted to share some thoughts on breastfeeding. I have breastfeed all of children and loved it. The first month and getting into a routine has been an adjustment every time. But after the initial month I have really enjoyed nursing my babies. I have read through this article and agree so without being redundant, I'm going to turn over the rest of today's post to an expert in breastfeeding, Alisha Stamper.



How To Achieve Your Breastfeeding Goals

Breastfeeding is a touchy subject, right? Correct information seems to be hiding from you. If you do find it, and want to share it, its almost as though you have to discredit the accuracy you are sharing so no one feels judged or guilty. It sure seems like moms feel discouraged and unsupported with breastfeeding in our culture.


For me, breastfeeding has been one of the chief joys of mothering. It is a universal perfect response to babies. It then magically morphs into the first place they learn manners, patience, and so many other desirable attributes. It is a guaranteed reconnection after a busy day and a transition to easy naptimes. It is the biologically normal food for babies AND having it in our own systems as mothers is a good thing. It is even considered a living organism because its makeup changes in the course of each feeding and throughout your nursing relationship. I’ve chosen to write about two areas that can help you most: knowing what reliable sources of breastfeeding information are, and what are the norms of breastfeeding.
What are reliable sources?

There is no end to people who are willing to tell you where and how you can and should or shouldn’t breastfeed. They give as evidence what happened to their daughters, sisters, selves, neighbor down the street and so on. How can you sift through all the anecdotes to find application to your own nursing relationship? Enter La Leche League International, the foremost authority on healthy breastfeeding practice. They have a book, now in its 8th edition The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.  Another great source is KellyMom.com. Many IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and lactation consultants or counselors are also helpful, as are other mothers that you know who are successfully breastfeeding and can offer perspective, humor and encouragement. Not all breastfeeding helpers are created equal, however, and not all have the same amount of training. The lactation nurse in the hospital may very well have no training in lactation.

You can find a lot of information online, but if you are in need of help, it can be a misuse of your time. La Leche League has leaders all over the world who are trained and accredited nursing moms who are a great first line to reach for. They undergo extensive training (much more than a Saturday class) and are current on their continuing education. You can find contact information for your area HERE.They also have meetings where you can learn and contribute, but more on that later. Help from a La Leche League Leader is always free. Most moms will never need to see a lactation consultant or IBCLC if they are already connected to reliable sources, have a strong support network, and are familiar with the norms.
Many moms think their OB, midwife or pediatrician will know exactly how to help with any nursing challenges they are facing. Sadly, most do not have more than a cursory knowledge of breastfeeding behavior. Doctors are marvelous for their skill set, yet breastfeeding knowledge is not part of their knowledge set unless they seek it out.

What are the Norms?
Newborn babies nurse a lot. It may seem, and be literal at times, that they are attached more than they aren’t in the first few months. This is normal. Newborn babes nurse every 1-2 hours, sometimes more. Feedings shouldn’t be timed, and you don’t have to switch sides after 10 minutes to make sure they get the hindmilk. You also do not need to space feedings so you breasts will “fill up” for your baby. Your body is in constant production mode. Letting your babe nurse as long as s/he wants on the first side, then offering the other after is great. If s/he wants it, ok, if not, start on that side the next time you nurse. You do not have to count nursing sessions to hit that 8-12 times many people quote: if you watch your baby and nurse whenever he fusses, whenever you want to and whenever your babe wants to, you will be nursing enough to maintain a healthy supply and demand relationship. It will probably be much more than 8-12 times. You might do better counting how often you hug your babe. The key is the transfer of milk. If your baby is not taking out the milk, your body will not make enough, no matter how many herbs you may have heard from your neighbor will MAKE you have a milk supply.
Most moms do not have milk supply issues if they are doing the biologically normal things in their nursing relationship with their babies. Babies can and should have all their suckling needs met at the breast. It does not mean that your babe is being lazy or using you as a pacifier: the pacifier is a substitute for YOU, you aren’t substituting yourself for it. You are the first choice. Additionally, pacifiers can cause baby to skip nursings. Watching your babies diaper output, nail growth, head growth and length growth are all indicators that your baby is doing great on your milk.
Babies have growth spurts around three weeks and six weeks. Your baby will be nursing so much that you might feel like there is nothing in there. Engorgement might seem like it never happened at all. You do not have to feel engorged to be making milk, nor do you have to be leaking to know if your supply is doing well.
What IS abnormal to only nurse inside your own home always. Most goals are easier when you are reaching for them with a community. Many moms find that organizing regular times to be around other moms during the week if they are able to stay home can really help you avoid isolation. Also, La Leche League has meetings all over the world. You will meet other like-minded mamas there who you might even grab lunch with after-- its a great way to practice breastfeeding in public with a bit of a buffer just in case you have an unlikely interaction with a stranger about how your baby eats. Its always nice to know what your local laws are as well. Many states protect breastfeeding mothers, as they should. You can read up on that HERE. It is easier to meet a goal if you do not resent the things you need to do to achieve it. Being married to your couch for months at a time is not a recipe for fun mothering, right? Getting comfortable with nursing outside of your home can help expand your babe’s experience with the world. Where I live, state law protects mothers and says that regardless of how much is shown during breastfeeding, it is a-ok. You do not need to use a cover when out and about if you do not want to. Going to the park or on a walk can be as easy as grabbing a wrap or sling a diaper or two and being on your way.
In the early weeks of your baby’s life, instead of people coming over to see and hold the baby, they need to let you keep holding babe while they help out with household duties. It is easiest for you to see if baby is giving hunger cues when baby is in your arms. Also, it is important to rest and let your body heal from bringing that lil soul into the world.

What if nursing is painful? What if your baby isn’t gaining weight? Call for help. Slow gain for a baby is not necessary a supply indication, but it might be a tongue tie or lip tie problem. If your pain is from nipple damage, get help so that latch is corrected. Nursing should not be grimace inducing. If it is burning or itchy, that is a sign of thrush and needs to be treated. Mastitis is not a normal occurrence for nursing moms and should be addressed as your body giving you a BIG sign that something needs to be changed. KNOW that your efforts are worth it. You deserve a support system that encourages you, has correct information, and helps you achieve your goals. Once you find your community, it gets easier.
Alisha Stamper is a Washington, D.C. transplant to Utah. She graduated with a BFA in photography and specializes in creating heirloom portraits of women. She attributes her own chance to be changed by breastfeeding to a La Leche League Leader who went out of her way to help a woman she had never met, her husband, and a friend who was present and encouraging for the first few months. She has three children. She is currently an accredited La Leche League Leader. She has special interest in tandem nursing. She leads with the Provo, Utah group.
 

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