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One of my besties, who gave birth to her second baby eight weeks ago (at home! You're amazing, Erin!), showed up at my place with baby girl -- and smoothies -- in hand last week, as well as a huge bag o' new baby goods... Because she is somehow rocking the mom-of-two scene enough to get in the car and go places. With altruistic carry-on's. Round of applause very much in order. (I get no such applause as I hadn't even yet made it over to her place to visit her and meet said new baby, which is why she took the bull by the horns and came to me...) Anyway, it was a treat and a half to meet her sweet daughter, finally, outside the womb, and to sit and hang out for several hours, sipping on the smoothies and catching up after a very busy and semi-chaotic couple of months in both of our lives. (Both of our little boys were at school.) As for the baby, she breastfed pretty much the entire time, taking little naps here and there for a few minutes in between chow sessions. I asked Erin if that's how they usually roll, and she said it is; some people schedule set feedings with their infants, but she and her baby have gotten into a nice, all-day grazing rhythm, and it works for them. 

It was good for me to witness, as exclusively breastfeeding Baby O is a huge priority for me; given Kaspar's allergy situation, and what we all went through when he was a baby, I want to have full control over Baby O's diet, via my own; as I add foods into the mix, gradually, I'll be able to keep an eye on him for symptoms like eczema, and take note as I go. I'm hoping he's allergy free, of course -- it's as likely that he will be as he won't, so I'm making the proactively positive assumption that he will not be food-allergic -- but I feel so much more prepared this time around in the event that we do encounter any tell-tale signs. We won't be thrown into a tailspin again, following bad advice and worsening the problem, for months before we begin making it better, anyway. And exclusively breastfeeding will play a major role in helping me to keep everything in check. (Cybele Pascal, author of The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, reversed both of her sons' severe food allergy symptoms while nursing them by adjusting her own diet accordingly.) Even without allergies to contend with, however, I just want, and plan, to breastfeed Baby O. It's cheaper, super convenient, and good for moms and babies -- and society at large -- alike. Although I breastfed Kaspar for a while, it didn't work out quite as I'd thought it would; there were a lot of factors involved in that, but as I read more about what makes for breastfeeding success (I'm reading Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding and Making More Milk), I've realized how many misconceptions I had, and how much misinformation I was given, the first time around, right from the beginning. For example, a nurse in the hospital where Kaspar was born told me he shouldn't still be hungry soon after nursing for forty minutes. What I should have been told was to keep my baby with me and just nurse like crazy, for, well, a good six weeks to get my supply -- and our own natural feeding rhythms --  strongly established, just like Erin and her baby are doing now. I'm planning on it for round two. Here are some additional steps I'm taking in support of that plan:
  • I've got two rock-star doulas on my birth team, both with breastfeeding expertise, and I'm planning on a natural, drug-free birth.
  • We're going to wait for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it.
  • Baby O will be placed on me, skin-to-skin, immediately. He will not be given a bath. (He can be wiped down, but the smell of what's on him will actually stimulate his nursing instinct, and the arrival of my milk.) 
  • I'm going to request that Baby O is not taken to the hospital nursery at all, and instead that everything that would otherwise happen there happens in my room, with me.
  • Hep B vaccination? Not happening.
  • I'm renting a hospital-grade breast pump to take home with me. I really didn't love pumping the first time around -- does anyone? -- but that sucker's gonna get some serious use. (Another good friend has gifted me her hands-free pumping bra! It may not be sexy but it is going to make my life more awesome.)
  • I'm preparing a freezer full of GAPS (minus eggs and nuts) friendly food to keep myself well-fed. Some of it will come to the hospital with me, too. That'll just make things easier.
  • I'm going to consume my own placenta, in capsule form, courtesy of one of my doulas.
  • I'm going to let the baby nurse as much as he wants to. For as long as he wants to. Forty minutes is fine with me.
  • Baby O will not be circumcised.
  • I'm going to actually rest (and nurse a lot) during my maternity leave, rather than launching a new career or plotting to relocate half-way across the country. 

Looking back, although the food allergy stuff came out of nowhere and definitely affected my milk supply (major stress plus no sleep is no mas for booby milk), I realize that many of the things I thought were abnormal last time simply weren't. (Did you know it's normal for one breast to make more milk than the other? Or that pumping only a few ounces per sitting is par for the course, at first?) But because of what that nurse said, followed by some choice, discouraging words from the hospital pediatrician upon my discharge, I bought formula during Kaspar's first ride home, and supplemented from the start. That probably wasn't necessary. And it definitely didn't help. I'm a huge advocate of supplementation when it's needed -- breastfeeding isn't always successful as a standalone, and moms should definitely use whatever helpful means they can find to both feed their babies enough and to get as much mama milk as possible into that mix -- but I feel ready, this round, to give my boobs a fair shake before calling in backup. 

Anyway, here's to Erin and her sweet baby for bringing the reality of breastfeeding a newborn home -- literally -- for me. 

Now let's talk baby clothes, shall we? I was also reminded, by the bag of newborn-sized goods Erin generously brought with her, of how incredibly small new babies are, and of how fast they grow. I've long since passed along Kaspar's baby clothes, and definitely didn't have a stash of newborn onesies, socks, and little kimono-style snap-T's (gotta watch for that healing umbilical cord) anywhere in my home, or even on my mind. Now I have a super-cute stash! Erin included lots of plain white basics in her hand-me-down package, too; I knew as soon as I saw them that I'd be busting out the dye tub soon enough. And I did, a few days later. 

I left some of the white items alone, but dyed four onesies, four snap-T's, and a few cotton diapers, just for fun. Unlike my previous adventures in hand-dyeing baby goods, I didn't use the high-quality dyes; I just bought some Tie Dye powder -- it was at least non-toxic -- at Hobby Lobby and had at it, tying up a few of the items before dyeing, and dunking the others in unscrambled. The results are more neon than bold, but I like them! I then used a fabric marker to add some pro-booby flair to two of the onesies: the international breastfeeding symbol on one, and a "Boob Me" message on the other. (Get it? Like 'beer me'? But BOOB me? Yeah, you get it.) I wasn't at all sure how that'd turn out -- I didn't want it to appear as if I'd just scribbled on the respective items, all amateur-hour style -- so I printed both the symbol and the words from my computer, put the printed images into the onesies (i.e. between the front and back pieces of fabric), and then held the onesies up against sunlit windows to trace the designs before filling them in. This gave me cleaner outlines, and I actually love the sketchy, organic effect of the marker in the solid fill spaces. For all of the serious breastfeeding prep I'm reading and thinking about, these provided a fun little project for me to pour my positive intentions and expectations into. They're cheerful and cute and, I hope, will get the good booby-milk juju going when Baby O is born.

Do you like the onesies? Did you breastfeed? Did any of you have more success breastfeeding second babies after learning the ropes with your first? What do you think of my game plan? (Pretty thorough, right?) Anything else I should add? Leave a comment below!

 


06/20/2013 19:58

You're awesome. These are so rad.

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06/23/2013 12:07

Thanks Valerie!

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Deena
06/20/2013 20:36

The second time was more successful. I did not have to supplement as I did with my first and I wasn't sore for very long at all. I think you have a great game plan and a very positive, healthy attitude about it. Awesome onesies!

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06/23/2013 12:08

Thanks Deena! That's really encouraging and good to hear; I hope my second-kiddo breastfeeding experience goes a lot like yours did. :-)

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Jlynn
06/20/2013 20:39

With my first I had flat nipples and large breast which made latching tough. Right out of the gate I was given a shield. Then it seemed they turned around and did not want me to use it. I was so confused and went home stressed because she would not latch without te shield. I talk to a LC and she basically told me if it is working with the shield don't worry and that we will get there. She lost nearly a pound(big baby) before my milk came is five days later. My pediatcian was great as she did not even bring up formula. Once my milk came in she gained great. At four months she finally gave up the shield, you still cannot rush her.
With my second I felt like they sort of expected me to know what I was doing but I never had a newborn latch. I had some cracking and bleeding so I saw the LC again and she helped me with positioning and everything went much better. My milk was slow again and he lost almost a pound also. But when it came it I had enough for four babies. By the end of his first month I had 100oz stored. We then found out he didn't really like when I had chocolate and that was making him fussy. So most of the milk got used when he was older.
With both kids about four months in they hit growth spurts where I felt like I was on empty. That was tough and I could see where someone would want to switch when you feel like you cannot nurse anymore. But it does get better and they are usually getting enough

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06/23/2013 12:12

Way to persevere Jlynn! I suspect many moms would have given up in your shoes, with the first, just for lack of experience and for fear of baby losing too much weight. Of course, babies CAN lose too much weight and supplementing is in that case necessary, but it's great to hear your pediatrician made the judgment call (and didn't rush that side of things) and that your babies worked with the mechanics and milk flow and gained weight once it came in. Thanks for sharing your experience; hearing about moms getting through difficult (or, not totally easy-breasy) nursing experiences is really helpful. It's easy to get overwhelmed if you're the one in it, so recalling that other moms have found solutions can help others do the same.

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Brandi
06/20/2013 22:22

LOVE your game plan, sounds awesome! I had a 100% natural Bradley Method birth in the hospital with my daughter. I nursed her for 19 months, we had a beautiful nursing relationship. I now have a 2 month old son whom I also had a Bradley Birth with, but we had him at home and he's also nursing like a champ. I hope to make it almost 2 years with him as well.

The more informed and prepared you are the better. Go to as many La Leche League meetings NOW as you can, and after the baby comes go then too! It's nice to surround yourself with like-minded women, plus they can answer questions and help you too before it gets too late.

Nurse on demand, feel blessed that you can be your babies "pacifier" whether it's to comfort nurse or to ease to pain of a booboo as they get older. Don't time anything, just get in sync with your baby and trust each other.

MOST importantly... in the beginning nurse. like. crazy. If it seems like you're nursing 24 hours a day, it's because you are. If the baby cries anytime there's not a boob in his mouth it's fine. Those first few days when you have colostrum before your milk comes in is crucial and please don't get discouraged. The more the baby nurses the more he wants and the hungrier he gets. I kid you not, my 2 month old literally did not sleep for like the first 2 days, he just nursed.

Also I think my placenta pills that I took the second time definitely helped my milk production, so yay you!!!

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06/23/2013 12:16

Thank you for this, Brandi! Love that you had a homebirth -- I'm jealous! (I'm high risk because I had a blood clot in college, caused by bc pills, so have to deliver in the hospital.) This is all such great advice. I've heard other moms suggest going to LLL meetings in advance of baby's birth. I'll definitely do that. And yes, this time I am totally planning on letting baby nurse like crazy in those first couple of days, where as last time, Kaspar and I didn't see very much of each other until it was about time to leave the hospital, and by then I was just super freaked out and not in rhythm at all. Live and learn. I will keep your comment in mind in the coming months. Congrats on your breastfeeding success with both kids. Sounds like you've found the sweet spot where everyone's happy (you included). :-)

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Emily
06/21/2013 07:56

My plan was very similar to yours (for my first--I don't have a second yet!). I still struggled with bfing at first--I couldn't get him to latch on for the first few days he was born and he got dehydrated so I ended up supplementing with formula and also pumping for about a week and a half to make sure he was back on track. But since his second week of life he has been exclusively breastfed and is now six months old and still going strong. At first I thought supplementing was the worst thing in the world and it would kill my shot at breastfeeding, but I learned that even if something goes wrong at first and you have to supplement, you can pump to keep your supply up and eventually exclusively breastfeed, which was my goal all along. Now I couldn't be happier with our breastfeeding relationship. We are starting solids next week and I have to admit, it makes me just a wee bit sad--the thought that he will be getting nutrition from another source besides just me!! I just love nursing.

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06/23/2013 12:17

Thanks for this encouraging comment Emily -- so good to hear from a mama who made her way back from early supplementing. There's a whole chapter in Making More Milk on supplementing without decreasing supply. Looks a little tricky, but moms make it work.

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06/21/2013 08:51

I don't want to be a naysayer, because I loved nursing and admire everyone who does it, but I don't know how some of you ladies can deal with babies that nurse all the time. I don't care how good a latch is, you're going to get sore when your baby is nursing all. the. time. I found that I'd often get to the point where a) I was so tired that I couldn't stay awake to nurse anymore; or b) I was so sore and felt so empty that I just needed a break. I nursed my first for 14 months, but only made it six weeks with my second because of a milk protein intolerance (and God bless anyone that can go dairy-free, but for a multitude of reasons pertaining to maintaining my sanity, I could not). I must admit that aside from the added cost of special formula, bottle feeding has been a unique experience for me--better than I expected, thankfully. Not having the physical challenges of breastfeeding, nor the emotions so intertwined in loving or hating feedings or worrying about my ability to provide--freed me up mentally and emotionally to just hang out with my baby during feedings and enjoy the experience. At first I was very disappointed I had to give it up so early, but I'm grateful that I've been able to just enjoy my baby much more. And, truly, I loved breastfeeding the first time around, once I was through the initial tough part. Anyway, my point is--Taylor, best of luck with nursing; it is an awesome experience and has a lot of potential to do amazing things for Baby O! But it's a lot of build-up and anticipation, so if it doesn't work out quite like you hoped, allow yourself to grieve but don't beat yourself up...it's not worth the stress. But by all means, give it a shot and battle through as best you can. You'll know when/if it's time to change things up, and there's good to be had on the other side if it happens, you know?

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06/23/2013 12:26

Wise words AmyRyb -- and yes, I absolutely believe some moms just must go the formula route, and that can be best for both baby and mom in certain circumstances. It was not best for Kaspar and me because he had allergic reactions to ingredients in the formula, too; by the time we figured out what was going on with him, my milk was gone so I couldn't help him by modifying my own diet and feeding him non-allergenic breast milk. The reason it's so important for me to bf baby O (besides just wanting to for its own merits) is that formula may not be a workable backup plan. And finding a milk donor who's abstaining from wheat, nuts, eggs, etc. could prove, well, challenging. If, for some reason, I don't have enough supply or something, I've got some homemade formula recipes on standby, but in our family's case, diet modification will be the easiest solution (and pre-emptive measure), so my game plan is intended to get my supply coming in strong from the get-go.

All that said, each mama has to make her own calls on whether breastfeeding is working, whether alternatives are appealing or will work, and then choose the route that's best for herself and her family. And we should definitely not pass judgement when a mom has taken an alternative to BFing route. I just wish I'd had better information and support the first time around, and I'm glad I have a better bigger-picture understanding on both sides now. :-)

Thanks for sharing your experience candidly. All the best!

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Sarah
06/24/2013 18:25

For me, the first two weeks were so hard, but then at Day 14, it was like a switch flipped, and it became much easier. I didn't realize how painful those first two weeks would be, both because of my milk coming in, and scabs on my nipples from a bad latch from the first few days. My situation was complicated because I had to pump and dump from days 4-7 because I had to have a CAT scan because of medical complications after delivery (the dye used in a CAT scan is incompatible with breastfeeding). That was really hard because our first few days of breastfeeding were going so well, and I was devastated by the idea of my baby having formula. Pumping every 2-3 hours and then dumping the milk down the drain while my husband fed our daughter was not how I envisioned spending the first days of her life. Luckily, once the 72 hours passed, my baby girl was able to switch back from bottle to breast without missing a beat, and she gained weight well. 10 weeks in, I (knock on wood), haven't had any supply issues, and nursing is painfree and really lovely (and, as of the last 3 weeks, almost faster than I would like-she is an efficient eater now!)

So, my advice would be to be prepared for the first few weeks to be painful (and stock up on ice pads and nipple cream), but know that this will pass. And you are right to let the baby eat on demand and pump if necessary to get your supply up. Also, drink plenty of water!

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