To help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2017, we wanted to take some time to appreciate different types of breastfeeding journeys! Today, we bring you Larissa’s story of staying positive during her initial struggles and the resources she used to help her with her journey.
Did you breastfeed? If so, how long did you breastfeed for?
I’m still currently breastfeeding. I have been nursing my two-year-old since the day she was born. I do not have any plans to wean at this time since she is still happily nursing!
What, if any, misconceptions of breastfeeding did you encounter?
When I was pregnant with Grace, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I assumed that the desire alone would make it happen, however I was surprised when I realized it does take hard work and dedication. I expected it to be something that came naturally, and while I did want to breastfeed Grace, I didn’t know how long it would take for us to get our nursing relationship going. I worked closely with a lactation consultant while my daughter was still at the hospital and I owe it all to her! Breastfeeding was and still is absolutely glorious for us, and I wouldn’t change anything about our journey!
Did you have any complications or challenges on your breastfeeding journey?
My baby was in the NICU for a bit after birth. So while I expected to start nursing from the beginning, she had to be separated from me for several hours each day. I was able to go visit her and nurse her during the day, but sometimes before and after tests, they’d have to give her bottles of expressed milk. Nipple confusion was a huge concern for me, especially since I was so adamant about breastfeeding my baby. There were definitely a few tears and frustrating moments along the way though. I just really had to work at it, but that’s okay, because it was completely worth it!
Were there any specific items or resources that helped you through your challenges or that facilitated breastfeeding?
Yes, I loved my lactation consultant at the hospital. She was patient, gentle, encouraging, and understanding. She talked with me, cried with me, and celebrated when we got my baby to latch regularly after being in the intensive care unit. I also really liked the La Leche League forums for the first few months of breastfeeding, and I did read a book about it, which was so helpful. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a wonderful resource, and I’d highly recommend it to any new or expecting parent who wants to nurse.
What’s one tip you would give a first-time parent who is trying to breastfeed?
Honestly, I have several tips! My first tip is to keep at it. The first few months are rough. It’s common to get frustrated,have sore nipples, and you might worry your baby isn’t getting enough. Try to remember to trust your body, trust your instincts, and stay motivated! Also, be sure to eat enough. I loved making and freezing lactation cookies for mid-morning or late-night nursing session snacks. There may be moments when your nipples are raw and you want to quite. Get a nipple soothing cream and some nursing pads! Nourishing a human with our bodies is what we are made to do! Keep up the great work! I also have advice for the breastfeeding person’s partner — please, please, please, be supportive and encourage your partner. Let them know that you share in their frustrations, goals, and victories. An encouraging partner makes all the difference!
Feeding does not just impact one parent and baby, your partner can also have a role in your journey! Our friend, Shawn Chua, shared his experience and advice for staying involved!
How long did your partner nurse?
Wow, 20 months!
What are your top 5 tips for supporting your partner while they are nursing?
Go with their decision and not oppose it.
Do your homework and learn as much as you can before baby arrives!
Take over other tasks from her when she is feeding so that she can rest and go about doing what she needs to.
Be patient, breastfeeding is not always easy.
Be “there” even when you can’t feed the baby. Your presence means a lot to them. Imagine having to wake up all alone in the middle of the night and your partner is sleeping soundly
What would you tell a first time parent who was looking to be involved in the feeding journey?
Feeding is never easy. There may be different issues each individual will face. Some examples include low supply, block ducts, inverted nipples and sore/leaky nipples which could hinder your partner if they choose to nurse.
My wife had supply issues initially and knowing that nursing was very beneficial to our child, she was very persistent to do it. She worked hard to build her supply by waking up every two-three hours every day to pump so that it would simulate the supply. Eventually, her supply increased and now we have a freezer filled with breast milk. Take it easy and seek expert opinion if you need to.
To learn more about Shawn and his family, follow them on Instagram @scarlett.ansley!
To help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2017, we wanted to take some time to appreciate different types of breastfeeding journeys! Today, we bring you Jackie Grondahl’s story of choosing a path that worked best for her babies and her family.
1. Did you breastfeed? If so, how long did you breastfeed for?
3 weeks with my first daughter and 5 weeks with my second daughter.
2. What, if any, misconceptions of breastfeeding did you encounter?
I didn’t educate myself on anything related to breastfeeding with my first daughter because I just assumed it would happen naturally. That was a huge misconception on my part. While it may happen naturally for some, it can be overwhelming and incredibly challenging for others. With my second daughter, I was much more knowledgeable about what to do, my resources, and aware that the experience is different of every woman and baby. What I didn’t know was how bad it can hurt in the beginning!
3. Did you have any complications or challenges on your breastfeeding journey?
I had a lot of challenges – but not nearly as many as some of the stories I have heard. With my first daughter, I was advised to use a nipple shield by a lactation consultant. I had no guidance thereafter, so I continued to use it during every feeding for 3 weeks. I was still struggling to find a rhythm and my milk wasn’t coming in fast enough so I was alternating pumping and nursing just to try and keep up. By week three, I was worn down, exhausted, and on the verge of losing my sanity. Not to mention my nipples were cracked and bleeding from nursing or pumping so much. After going to my Mom in tears, she reminded me that I have options and it doesn’t have to be this way. So I stopped. We switched to formula and I started to get my bearings and some of my sanity back. With my second daughter, I had so much support from a network of Moms who encouraged me and said if I stick with it I will experience the joys they did while breastfeeding. I went into my second pregnancy knowing I would give breastfeeding a valiant effort, but if it didn’t work out I wasn’t going to be disappointed. While I didn’t experience the same challenges as I did with my first daughter, Kamdyn, I never felt the joy and connection with my second, Madison, when I was nursing. It felt like a burden and that I had no control over my body or activities. This was MUCH different than what I felt with my first. I also found myself disconnected from Kamdyn, who was 3 at the time. Madison wanted to nurse all the time, especially from 6-8pm which was usually my time with Kamdyn. After 5 weeks of trying to grow 4 arms so I could nurse and play at the same time, I made a tough decision that was in the best interest of me and my daughters. I was worried about all the criticism that would come from my mommy friends who nursed explicitly for a long time, but what I reminded myself is that no one gets to make this decision for us. I could tell it was affecting my mental and physical capabilities, and to raise healthy children, you have to take care of yourself…and for me, that meant having my body to myself and the ability to not be so attached – not just to Madison, but anyone. This gave my husband, and others, the opportunity to care for Madison and bond with her themselves. It didn’t impact the connection I had with her whatsoever. If anything, the fact that I felt better, made it easier for me to be present and able to build a relationship with both of my daughters.
4. Were there any specific items or resources that helped you through your challenges or that facilitated breastfeeding?
Not necessarily. I tried to surround myself with momma’s who were encouraging and comforting. I also read a few articles by women who made similar choices and it brought me comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone or wrong for feeling the way I did. Before deciding to stop breastfeeding, I did attend weekly support groups to help with latching and making sure Madison was getting enough.
5. What’s one tip you would give a first-time mom who is trying to breastfeed?
Remember that this journey is yours and your baby’s alone. Something “new” is always challenging, so always give it your best effort but ensure that you are making decisions based on what is right for YOU and your baby, without any concern of the potential judgement from others.
Thank you Jackie for sharing your journey with us!
Before I had my first son, I took every class I could to learn about what was going on during my pregnancy and how to get this kiddo out of me. I took prenatal yoga to make sure I could relax and open up during labor. I took a 6-week childbirth series. I read all of the prenatal books to learn about what was going on inside my body. And, I took one measly 2-hour class on breastfeeding, which I told my husband he could skip because, I mean, it’s natural and normal, right? This breastfeeding thing should be easy!
Low and behold… I wish I had done a little bit more preparation for this natural and normal act because breastfeeding was definitely NOT as easy as I thought it was going to be!
Thank goodness I had a team of supportive friends, family members, and health practitioners to help us get over our breastfeeding hurdles. In fact, breastfeeding support has been shown to be the largest indicator of how moms get breastfeeding to work . So, let’s talk about constructing this ‘Dream Team’ of breastfeeding support.
If breastfeeding is important to you, then it has to be important to your partner, as well. Your partner is going to need to be your cheerleader, your confidante, and your #1 support person. He/she will make sure you are well fed and hydrated, while you feed and hydrate your baby. He/she can assist with latching, if you need help, as well as call in other support when needed. He/she can bond with both you and baby as you breastfeed, nap, eat, and learn to maneuver this new time in your lives. When your partner is on board, you are a united force, working together towards a shared goal, which can feel absolutely amazing!
Take a Prenatal Breastfeeding Class
While I make light of my short 2-hour breastfeeding class, it was definitely helpful to learn about what ‘normal’ breastfeeding looked like. For example, newborn babies feed at least 8-12 times in a 24 hour period because their tummies are so small. They can also be really sleepy, so there are great rousing techniques to use to keep them awake while feeding. Breastfeeding is NOT supposed to hurt, so getting latching assistance from a lactation consultant, nurse, or midwife can be incredibly helpful. The class instructor should also talk about comfortable breastfeeding positions, such as laid-back breastfeeding, as well as signs of a good latch and knowing when your baby is getting enough milk. Also, have your partner or support person attend the class with you so that he/she can assist with breastfeeding in those early postpartum weeks.
Attend a Breastfeeding Support Group Prenatally
Several years ago I interviewed Ina May Gaskin about getting breastfeeding off to a great start. One of her recommendations was to attend a breastfeeding support group while pregnant. That advice really struck me. Why would a pregnant mom want to go to a support group prenatally? Upon further thought, I realized how brilliant this idea was.
One – after having a baby, it can be incredibly anxiety-provoking to go an unfamiliar place. What if your baby starts to cry? What if your baby has a massive blow out? Where do you park your car? If you check out this group prenatally, after you have your baby this group will already be a familiar place….meaning, you are more likely to go get support and assistance early on.
Two – not all groups are the same. Location (hospital-based vs birth center vs yoga studio, etc) might make a difference to you. Some are led by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), while others are led by Lactation Educators or mothers trained by Breastfeeding USA or La Leche League, just to name a few. Stopping by prenatally can help you figure out which group has the best ‘feel for you.’
Three – many of us are not surrounded by breastfeeding, so we have no idea what it really looks like or what to expect. At a support group, you can meet other new moms, ask questions, and get a sense of the many ways that women latch on their babies. It is awesome!
Choose a Breastfeeding-Friendly Pediatrician
This might seem like a stupid recommendation… I mean, shouldn’t all pediatricians be ‘breastfeeding-friendly’? Yes, they should, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some pediatricians are very well-versed in breastfeeding knowledge. They know how much a baby needs per feeding, how much a baby should gain per week, how often they should be feeding, the difference between nipple tenderness and pain, and when to refer to a lactation consultant, if necessary. Other pediatricians might provide advice which doesn’t protect a mother’s milk supply or the breastfeeding relationship, not purposely sabotaging breastfeeding, but ultimately making things more challenging for mom and baby. Ask your friends and post on Facebook for recommendations. Ask a local IBCLC. You’ll be glad you did!
Find a Local International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (just in case you need assistance after baby is born)
What is an IBCLC ? An IBCLC is a healthcare professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. We study, take classes and exams, and practice all things breastfeeding. We are the people you call when you feel like breastfeeding is a struggle. We help you figure out how to make breastfeeding easier and enjoyable!
Like I mentioned earlier, prenatally we have all the time in the world to do research. So, while you are looking for that breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician, add IBCLC to that list, as well. There is nothing worse that trying to find a practitioner to help when you are in panic-mode! Prenatally, you can check out the websites of local IBCLCs, ask your friends for recommendations, and look online for reviews. It is not like you have to contact her prenatally, although you could. Instead, write down the names and contact info of a few IBCLCs you can contact, if you should need them after the baby is born.
Create a Visitor Policy
After having a baby, you might find that everyone you know wants to come and meet him/her. While this might sound innocuous, getting the hang of taking care of a new baby takes more time and effort than one might think. You (and your partner) might feel elated, but exhausted. Your baby will be feeding around the clock, which you might not want an audience for. Entertaining guests should not be at the top of your priority list. So, consider creating a visitor policy, prenatally. Tell your favorite, most helpful friends and family that you’ll let them know a good time to come over and that it would be awesome if they would bring lunch or dinner treats with them. Maybe they can clean up the dirty dishes, afterwards, as well. Give your less-helpful friends a head’s up that you will be spending the first few weeks bonding with your baby (which means limited visitors) and that you will text them photos of your bundle of joy. Have a code word for you and your partner which, when spoken, indicates to the other that it is time to escort your guests to the door or go lie down to take a nap.
Hopefully, with this Dream Team of breastfeeding supporters you will be well on your way to getting the hang of this breastfeeding thing!
Robin Kaplan is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), frequent media commentator on the topic of breastfeeding, and founding host of The Boob Group, a podcast about breastfeeding hosted on New Mommy Media. She launched the San Diego Breastfeeding Center in 2009 and is an established voice in the parenting world known equally for her knowledge about lactation and her commitment to supporting moms without judging them, a keystone of the SDBFC philosophy.
To learn more about Robin and the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, visit www.sdbfc.com.
Saguaro - Tula Baby Blanket Set
'Saguaro' combines a favorite spiky plant with the fluffy softness of our baby blankets! In serene hues of green, our 'Saguaro' blanket is a dreamy desert landscape of cacti. Babies love our blankets as a soft place for tummy time or diaper changes, to snuggle with in their carrier or stroller, for shade or additional privacy when breastfeeding, and to snuggle in while they snooze.
Lansinoh® Smart Pump
A Smarter Way to Pump! Lansinoh’s New Smartpump™ Double Electric Breastpump uses Bluetooth® technology to connect seamlessly to the Lansinoh Baby App to track pumping sessions, baby's activities and more, simplifying your pumping routine. Three customizable pumping styles mimic baby's natural feeding pattern to maximize milk production and comfort. Hygienic closed system design guarantees no milk backup in tubing or motor for easier cleaning.
Includes two sizes of ComfortFit™ flanges with soft, flexible rims for ideal fit and comfort, cooler bag with ice pack, four bottles, two bottle stands and a carrying tote. Lansinoh's wide-neck bottles make milk transfer easier and are compatible with the Lansinoh® NaturalWave®Nipple, so you can pump, store and feed baby, all with the same bottle.
Lansinoh® Breastfeeding Starter Set
The Lansinoh® Breastfeeding Starter Set has everything mom needs to successfully start and continue breastfeeding! This set is perfect for a new mom and will help her to address common challenges for new breastfeeding moms. Includes best-selling Lansinoh® HPA® Lanolin, recommended by lactation consultants and doctors in the USA. Also includes best selling Lansinoh® Disposable Nursing Pads, Therapearl® 3-in-1 Breast Therapy packs, and Latch Assist™ nipple everter.
Belabumbum’s Tallulah Lace Nursing Bra ($53) is a supportive nursing bralette that is as beautiful as it is practical. Ideal for everyday wear, the chic peacock lace is cute enough to peek out under clothing. Belabumbum’s Lotus Nursing Chemise ($68) in soft baby jersey trimmed with vintage Lotus lace. One of the line’s best-selling silhouettes, this nursing nightie features bra top support and one-handed, easy drop-down nursing access.
Up for grabs is the Adele Ultimate Rainbow Nursing Necklace
Each Crochet Nursing Necklace is unique and designed to appeal to babies senses vision, touch, sound and allows the baby to safely play while nursing or babywearing. Great care has been taken to create a stylish, functional and versatile nursing necklace made from non toxic, eco friendly materials.
All Cherub Chews necklaces are made with EU sourced unfinished (no colour or varnish non toxic) wooden beads, crochet covered wooden beads made with organic cotton yarn , on an adjustable slip knotted cotton cord, so you can wear the necklace long or short. The beads range between 12 mm to 27 mm and the length is approx 30 cm full length.
The necklaces are designed with nursing and babywearing mothers in mind. They are attractive to little ones, beautiful and safe.
Chic, classic and timeless, the nautical “Abby” breast pump bag is a fashionable, yet neutral breast pump tote with room for breast pump, pumping accessories, keys, laptop, phone, and more! Ideal for the always-stylish mama, the "Abby" bag features two thermally-lined pockets for breast pump, pump accessories and expressed milk, a multi-functional tote-like style that easily converts to a diaper bag, and easy-to-clean, durable nylon with real leather accents.
PRO-Moms delivers six probiotic strains that specifically help seed the digestive tract, birth canal, and breast milk with beneficial bacteria to promote regularity and healthy digestion, optimize nutrient absorption, and support a balanced immune system for both mother and child.