The Gift of Breastfeeding Support

207120fb1be799fba55c3388181d2430_collection-christmas-tree-with-presents-under-the-christmas-tree-clipart_504-597

The Gift of Breastfeeding Support

by Sara Smith

‘Tis the season for quality time with loved ones, laughs with good friends, and celebrating all that we have to be thankful for.  Most of us pay extra mind to the things often taken for granted during the normal course of the year: the roof over our heads, the food on the table, shoes on our feet, a safe place for our children to lie their heads, perhaps a few gifts under a tree.  These are all very worthy things to be grateful for, but as my oldest child’s third birthday draws near, I am reminded of another gift that not all are fortunate enough to have…the gift of breastfeeding support and a successful breastfeeding journey.

In and of itself breastfeeding is a gift, to the mother and the child, and to generations to follow.  We know about the unmatched nutritional content of breast milk, the healing properties the milk carries, and the ever-growing list of things breastfeeding aids in preventing for both mom and baby.  The long-term benefits of the bond formed between mother and child during nursing are well documented,  and it’s not difficult to find a mother who can attest to loving the connection she has with her nursling.  But breastfeeding is not always an easy gift to give.  Indeed, for many of us, it comes only as a great burden, of which we have no firsthand knowledge, at a time when we just want to sleep! This was my life nearly three years ago, and none of it felt healing or preventative, and my son and I seemed to have a terrible connection.  I was giving every ounce (no pun intended!) of myself to an insatiable pink screamer, and “gift” was not in the list of words I chose to use about breastfeeding.

I was hopeless and defeated.  The hospital staff gave no breastfeeding support, the women in my family either didn’t breastfeed, breastfed decades ago, or lived hours away and could only help via text when they had time in their own busy lives.  As my baby lost weight, and the pediatrician “prescribed” supplementation, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried about my failures as a new mother.  It was this feeling of failure (and utter exhaustion as my husband and I fed our hysterical son formula with a dropper in the wee hours of the morning), the led me to call on a woman whom I had met briefly just weeks before at a holiday dinner.  She was an IBCLC, and at the time I could not have cared less what this meant, because I was going to feed my baby with no problems and wouldn’t need any help.  Baby comes out, put baby to boob, baby eats, baby sleeps.  That was it, right?  I admitted to myself that that wasn’t it, pushed my pride aside, and begged her as nicely as possible to come help.

She came.  She saw.  She conquered…our poor latch, that is.  Our lives were changed that day, mine, my son’s, and my husband’s, even the life of the second baby I swore at the time I wouldn’t be having.  As she flipped through my pile of breastfeeding reference books to the exact pages that I needed, propped and stuffed pillows into every nook and cranny of my glider, and smashed (so gently!) that little open mouth against my engorged breast, I felt an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders (literally and figuratively).  This was it, this is what I had been needing.  She didn’t feed him for me, couldn’t heal my scabbed nipples in one afternoon, and wouldn’t be able to take back the upsetting first week we’d had.  But she listened, she sat with me and looked for ways to improve our technique, she smiled and hugged me when he fell asleep at the breast completely full for the first time.  She followed up, still follows up…three years later.  It was her gift of unwavering support that enabled me to gift breastfeeding to my children.

I sit here now, tearful with recollection as my little family slumbers in the next room, looking at the wrapped presents under our tiny tree.  I know what all of the packages are, I spent weeks carefully picking out things I know my son will love, sneakily wrapped them while he was distracted playing with his baby sister.  But in my heart, I know there is no greater gift than what breastfeeding has given him.  The remote-controlled car and the child-sized guitar might be fun, but I’d like to see them prevent against obesity and cancer! The new boots and ball cap with be cute, but nothing will ever fit as well as the perfect chemical balance of breast milk.  As for my five month old, there’s not much down there for her to open this year since she’s gotten most of big brother’s hand-me-down toys.  I don’t imagine she will mind much though, she’s still getting the best gift of all…boobies!!

Do you have a special support person who changed your breastfeeding journey?

Tell us about him or her!  A grateful heart (and a good supply!) is a gift that keeps on giving. <3

*Baby’s first Thanksgiving warning*

baby-turkey-costume

**Baby’s First Thanksgiving Warning**

Hey mamas, it’s almost Thanksgiving and you’re probably getting excited to see your family and introduce them to your baby, maybe for the first time! Thanksgiving is a really fun holiday but I’m here to give you a warning if this is your baby’s first T-day: someone will probably try to give your breastfed baby real food. It’s probably because food is the main part of this holiday, it’s strange and it happens all the time. From a well meaning family member saying “I wish you would just let me feed him/her a bottle of formula” to people purposely sneaking your baby food when you leave the room, it happens. So be alert, let your spouse or your Mom know not to give them table food. Breastmilk is all they need before 6 months old.

You may not think this is a big deal if your baby is young and this is your first child. I sure didn’t in 2010 when my baby was four months old. What’s the harm in a little mashed potatoes? The harm is their gut not being fully developed before six months, which may lead to upset tummies.  In worse cases, baby will have an allergic reaction which may end your Thanksgiving in a trip to the ER.

Your little one has the rest of his life to taste Aunt Mary’s famous green bean casserole so say no if they are younger than six months. Let people know that you are joyful to be able to breastfeed. It’s an amazing connection, not a burden. And use the experience as a quiet time for you when family gets to be a little too much. You may have to educate some family members on why breastfeeding is so great for babies. Keep on smiling mommy, we support you!

What do you say to family members who try to feed your baby food before they are ready?

Have you Been Breastfeeding Allll day?

momnursing11

Have You Been Breastfeeding Allll day?

Great! That’s exactly what you should be feeling in the first few months with baby. Here are some other tips/ tricks so you will know that breastfeeding is going well:

Your baby is feeding 8-12 times in 24 hours. Considering it may take up to an hour to nurse a side, burp, change a diaper, nurse other side and burp again. To you it will feel like every hour. Indulge your baby, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. By about 2-3 months your baby will start going longer between feeds.

You hear or see your baby swallow when she feeds. Click on this link to a Jack Newman video to see a baby swallowing while latched.

Baby has 6-8 wet diapers and a total of 3 yellow poop diapers by day five. Simply take 6 diapers out of the pack and put them on the changing mat. If you’ve used them all by the end of the day, baby is outputting well 🙂

Significant Moments Photography

Significant Moments Photography

 

Baby begins to gain weight after day five and is back up to birth weight by 10 days old. Yup, it’s normal for them to lose a few ounces after birth, then start gaining it back when they are being fed your wonderful, nutritious breast milk.

For those of you that have survived the newborn stage- what would you add to this?

The Global Big Latch On Arizona

All photos by M.E.K. Photography

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! You fans have blown up social media with all the beautiful breastfeeding pictures. In Arizona we celebrated with a big event called the Global Big Latch On. The BLO (Big Latch On) is a part of a world wide movement to normalize and celebrate breastfeeding. It gets communities of breastfeeding families to gather together and “latch” their babies all at 10:30am local time. This year on August 5th and 6th a new record was set: 46,290 people gathered (all family members included) and 17,223 children were breastfeeding during the count!

However, the BLO is more than a competition to us. I met a mom who was thinking about weaning but continued breastfeeding for longer just to attend the event. I met a mom who breastfed tandem in public for the first time at our event. For many moms this may be the first time they’ve seen other breastfeeding moms. At other events we find a quiet corner, use a cover or have a friend/ spouse stand guard while breastfeeding in public. But at THIS event the whole point is to breastfeed and it was wonderful!

Thank you to everyone who attended our location in Chandler and the Phoenix location at the Milk Spot. We had about 90 breastfeeding children combined. Next year we would love to see more locations in Arizona. Contact us if you want to be a host- it’s a pretty simple process with a big gain- encouraging more moms to breastfeed!