Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Breastfeeding for the Nursing-Impaired

I almost titled this post: "Got Milk?" but I didn't want to sound too vulgar and scare off all my childless readers by grossing them out.  So I thought I would warn them in the title, and if they aren't interested, they can just move on to the next blog post in their reader.

As for the rest of us, I am hoping to get some great tips from all you experienced nursing mom's out there to share with all my other readers in the comments section.  Because as many of us know from experience, that sometimes the "pros" have no idea what it's like to breastfeed and the only thing they succeed in is ticking you off.  I mean it is bad enough having them lurking around your exposed chest in the hospital, but even worse when they start pointing out everything you are doing wrong.  There's nothing like being naked, mocked and postpartum hormonal all at once.

"I know what I am doing!  This is my third baby!"  I heard myself telling nurses, doctors, lactitionists etc....I am polite the first few times I have to explain it, but I get irritated when I find myself repeating it over and over to the same people who already know.  Erk.  Just don't mess with me and my "stuff" -- I just had a baby!

However, I did pick up some great new tips this time around.  I have to admit, nursing my last two boys was no picnic in the park.  My first one, Sam, had his "issues" even then.  First off, he doesn't like hugging people face to face, and he HATED it when I held him to me to nurse.  He would arch his back and scream bloody murder every time I tried to nurse him.  Secondly, he was born sick and then had jaundice so the doctors in the NICU had to feed him through a feeding tube... formula.  So my "supply" was a little doomed from the beginning.  And lastly, Sam didn't like milk warm.  He wanted cold formula.  Nasty.  But there it was!  At 3 months I gave up -- with kids you just have to pick your battles, and frankly, I was tired of fighting him.

With my second, Nephi, my "supply" didn't come in fast enough for him and his jaundice levels were really high.  The doctor told me that I had to supplement him to get the bilirubin out of his system asap.  Again, I suffered and was unable to recover.  The little guy always wanted more than I could give him.  So I ended up supplementing him until he was 6 months old and then I just dried up.

I was determined to make #3 work this time!  So I did a bunch of research on how to have a good supply and keep him from having to supplement.  I got an email from a site that has an herbal supplement for breastfeeding moms and wanted me to try out their product and do a giveaway, Baby's Best Milk Drops... which I am SO going to do in the next few days, so check back!  Anyway, I jumped at the chance to review their product.  Did they work?  Well, you will just have to wait for my review...

I also tried some herbal tea that is supposed to help the supply... but it was so nasty I could barely choke it down!

But I think the best tips have come from our pediatrician. He is an older guy who not only matches my sarcasm and quick wit with clever quips of his own, but the guy is full of useful wisdom!  When he came to see me and the baby in the hospital, I told him I was a little sore from nursing already because the baby wants to eat ALL THE TIME!  He told me not to let the baby push me around.  Babies don't need to eat all day when they are born.  Just 10-15 minutes at a time every couple or few hours.  I told him that my milk wasn't coming in yet and wouldn't having him nurse more often help bring it in?  He said that I needed to trust my body to produce exactly what the baby needs.  Best advice I ever got on the subject! I can't tell you how much not stressing about it and just sticking to those simple rules has made this experience SO MUCH better!

And the good doctor's wisdom on the subject doesn't stop there!  Today was Jacob's 2 week check up and he has lost a whole pound since his birth (now 6 lbs 9 oz), which didn't surprise me because all my boys did that, and the doctor was a bit concerned.  So I have to bring him in next week to get weighed again.  I asked him for some tips on how to fortify my supply.  He told me to drink lots of water and then he said:

"Now, you aren't going to like this last bit of advice."  Great, I thought, he wants me to eat sometime gross like that horrid tea.  "The best way to fortify your milk supply is Wendy's."

"What?!"  He totally lost me...

"I want you to go to Wendy's and eat a frosty a few times this week.  The malt in it fortifies breast milk."

"Are you serious?" I asked.


"You mean I HAVE to go eat Frosties?!  You are MEAN!" I told him sarcastically.

"Yes, I know.  Doctor's orders though."

"Oh the suffering we mom's go through for the benefit of our children..."  We laughed.

So there you go.  Need milk?  Try more water and herbal stuff (I suggest the drops, not the tea... but that's me).  Need fortified milk?  Buck up and force yourself to eat a Frosty... I know it's hard, but you can do it!
Just remember to eat good foods, don't go on strict diets (will impair your supply), and know that if it doesn't work out it's not always your fault, contrary to some people's beliefs.  And above all, trust your body to know what to do!

As for me, I have a Frosty to eat.

Moms out there, what are your best tips for helping your supply and fortifying your milk for a healthy baby?


Ruth said...

I like the frosty advice. Thinking back to my own special needs child, the not wanting to be close/hugged explains why she wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with nursing. My milk came in, it hurt, but with a few days it was gone. I think the best time for nursing babies is the middle of the night, when no one else is there and it is peaceful/calm.

MommyJo said...

Good to know about the frosty.... I used alfalfa pills from a nature store my mom ordered them for me... whenever my supply felt low I would take them and drink lots of water and it would help... Jill has a natural herb person near her that has some really good stuff that helps too! I have also heard Marshmallow root helps!!! :)
I was satisfied wht the alfalfa... I had OODLES of milk with both my kids... they were CHUB-A-LUBS!!! ;)
Good Luck!!!! :)

Bridget said...

It sounds like you have a great pediatrician! We have had many, many nursing issues with each of our kids and I think he's right - you just have to trust your body. As for supply issues (which we've had) we bit the bullet and got a nice pump (you can usually purchase them for cost through your hospital) and it was SO nice. I was able to pump a little extra when my baby was small to increase my supply and have a little saved. It also helped with engorgement issues and nursing strikes that we had. Also, it's amazing how much your diet does change the fat content in your milk. I had to give up dairy completely with our last one and I just wasn't getting enough fat in my diet and my milk consequently didn't have quite enough fat in it for our baby (was had to power pack calories when she started solids). I just think that for every mom and baby things are different, but trying breastfeeding despite challenges can be very rewarding!

Jill said...

My baby is 16 months old and I use Nursing Formula drops. A lady in my area is quite amazing when it comes to the herbal stuff. I was a bit skeptical, but IT WORKS.


Ask Amy, she used them and they do work. I take them 2 -3 times a day depending on his need for milk.

Julie said...

**Picking up keys to head to Wendy's**
Love it! What great advice! Wish I'd known about that. I took some herbal supplement with one of mine, but to be honest, it didn't help that much. Wish I had some good advice for you, but I think just eat those frostys and life'll be good. I mean really good!

Amanda Davis said...

Be careful with the frosty advice. I did that and gained all the weight I lost when having the baby back. A&W rootbeer freeze has it too.

Jennifer said...

I have a 3 yr old, 2 yr old, and 5 month old....with my 2nd kid I used Fenugreek when I felt like my supply was low. It worked and made you smell like maple syrup! With my 3rd kid I pumped after feeding to make sure I had everything out! I did this for about a month until he started eating longer. I also feed him twice at night. Once around 11:30 pm and again at around 3 am. Making sure I feed every 2 1/2 hrs to 4 hours keeps my milk supply up. Even when I start feeding them solids I would still breastfeed the same amount. I breastfeed until they are 1 years old.
Good luck, I know it can be difficult, but keep working at it! :-)

The Kooky Queen--Rachel said...

LOVE this post!!! I am an experience mom but every baby is different and this little guy has tested my supply and my pain endurance!!! Thanks for the tips though, I looooooove FROSTIES!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not a mama yet, but I found your post really interesting!

Mostly Diane said...

Great post!

Lydia said...

I never had problems with supply. But I was a feed on demand nurser. When the baby needed more more nursing made me produce enough. I also felt very comfortable nursing and would nurse when ever and where the baby needed it.

Anika and Sean said...

I don't have advice on how to fortify or increase your milk supply, but I do have advice to those mom whose little ones have latching problems.

With my first one I had to use a nipple shield (Medela makes them) in order to get him to nurse at first. If this is something you have to use... use it for a few minutes until you nipple come out enough so that you can feed your little one without it. The shields ended up giving me mastitis so it's best not to use them for too long. Don't get discouraged and keep trying.

The best advice I received and can give is don't give up! Suffer through a few weeks a pain until your skin toughens up, then nursing is such a wonderful experience. I'm glad I was able to do it.

Also have a REALLY GOOD pump is GREAT advice. I had to use mine a lot when I had mastitis to help clear out the clogged milk ducts.

And then of course, if your child won't nurse or your milk dries up, don't feel bad or guilty. It happens. You gave it your best shot. Good luck!

Lindsey said...

The Frosty thing totally makes sense to me now. My mom told me about when she had her first child, the nurses would come in at night bearing milkshakes and foot rubs! My kind of hospital!

My milk supply was ample enough for my first two kids but my second seemed to always have a problem when I ate dairy so I decided to abstain from dairy while I was breastfeeing my 3rd and I never produced enough milk so I quit at 4 months. I'm thinking that the 4th kid will just have to live with the dairy!

Amanda said...

My second one is a sleeper, unlike his brother who nursed every two hours...down to the minute.
I too felt like an idiot at the hospital because he was so sleepy he kept falling asleep right after latching. He went 6 hours without eating at the hospital. So, when the milk came in it was really painful.

I tried not to pump but after the fourth day I had to get the ducts emptied. Now that he's 4 weeks he's eating like crazy and I pump about once a day -just to be sure that there is more than enough should he need it. And if daddy isn't too busy with work he can handle one of the night time feedings. Always a plus!

Also, my doctor told me to try and drink a glass of water or juice and have a small snack after (or during, once you both get in the groove) feedings. Even if it's just a wedge of cheese or a hard boiled egg, you will feel refreshed and baby will have plenty of rich, creamy milk next feeding. Maybe time your trip to the drive-in right before a feeding and drink your malt while nursing...it helps take your mind of the cracked, chapped nipples as well.

I also noticed that when I'm stressing about the milk, it usually isn't adequate. Try lying down tummy to tummy and nursing, this way he's fed and you've had some down time.

Mom said...

I struggled with feeding my first baby! She didn't know how to latch and she was too hungry to learn. It took us about a week to get it together. By the time I got to baby number nine, I thought I was a pro. Boy, was I wrong! This little guy could not latch at all. It would take about 1/2 an hour with me squeezing milk into his mouth. He would cry...I would cry. It was so not fun! We spent our whole first month like that. I always say that you shouldn't breastfeed unless you really want to because there are times when it would be much easier to give up. The stress of it all might not be good for you or for your baby. But I love the closeness and the cuddles and the excuse for me to just hold my little one. (Breastfeeding #12 as I type this...) I didn't have trouble with my autistic son not wanting to cuddle, but #6 would not even look at me. She resented every minute I forced her to eat. (She's still kind of like that.)

Carrie and Karl said...

I've been lucky and have had very few nursing problems. The biggest one is distractions. When I'm home I don't cover up so my babies would stop to look around whenever they heard a new sound. Finally I came up with the 3 strike rule. They can pull off 3 times, then they're done. All 3 boys learned pretty quickly and would only stop eating when they were really done.