Breastfeeding

Birth and breastfeeding go together like a wedding and a honeymoon.

“I spent most of my pregnancy studying pregnancy, labor and birthing. There was a page on latching your baby for breastfeeding, but I didn’t really pay attention because I was worried about handling contractions during labor. I didn’t prepare for breastfeeding, because I figured it was natural and it would just happen naturally. It didn’t and I wish I had spent more time researching.”

Cortney

You wouldn’t plan a wedding without planning a honeymoon.

A honeymoon is a time of celebration, rest, and exploration in your new life together. It involves research. You reserve your accommodations, restaurants, recreation in beautiful, romantic spots to enjoy each other’s company in. Many buy lingerie, special outfits and gear. You probably spend hours packing and repacking your bags.

And you will definitely search blogs and reviews for places to avoid and potential pitfalls in your plan. A honeymoon is supposed to be memorable in a good way. Most people understand that honeymoons require a fair amount of planning.

Parents enjoy Babymoons while they are pregnant– massages, luxurious meals, easy walks, shopping, dreaming and cuddling. Many are figuring, “This is our last chance for many years!”

Yet, most new parents don’t plan a “honeymoon” for enjoying their new baby.

As a result, the Fourth Trimester is an exhausting Pandora’s Box of opened gifts, last-minute meals, naïveté and tears.

Why would you spend months preparing just the right layette, picking the perfect name, interviewing pediatricians and obstetricians, researching the perfect birth, and assume you and baby will just naturally and magically have a working relationship out of the gate?

“Breastfeeding is natural, isn’t it? How did humans survive in the past? We aren’t worried. We’ll figure it out!”

For some, there is a cultural belief that investing oneself in the birthed baby may cause harm. No purchases or planning can happen until the healthy baby arrives. That may work in your native culture with abundant, close-knit family support. But it does not work if you are alone in an American suburban, or urban, single family home with both parents working right up until birth.

Listen! Breastfeeding is part of the birthing process, not a separate, nor even a different event.

Babies who birth vaginally without medication, placed on their mother’s belly and observed, crawl to the nipple and are usually feeding themselves within an hour after they are born! This stimulates the release of your placenta, which starts your breasts making milk. The process of breastfeeding contracts and heals your uterus. It continues the immune protection given in-utero along with the protection, comfort and closeness of your body.

Your baby needs this!

But many birth practices will affect breastfeeding:

  • Medications pass through the placenta during labor.  They can make babies sleepy and disoriented and impair breastfeeding reflexes. They also impair you.
  • Delivering via C-section means milk production may be delayed by 12 or more hours. This is not a debate on necessary Caesareans. It’s a head’s up–stockpile some colostrum.
  • Mothers who experience rough handling or injury during birth, often find even small challenges in breastfeeding, upsetting and overwhelming.
  • Babies separated from you at birth for treatment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) need extra support if breastfeeding is going to happen.
  • You may need to be treated for high blood pressure, hemorrhaging, or illness. and may be separated from your baby.
  • Doctor-caused injuries do occur during birth, or after. A common example is an episiotomy, which makes sitting uncomfortable or suctioning a baby, which can lead to feeding aversion. 

Education is the key to good decisions.

Before you decide on giving birth with pain medication, or schedule an elective C-section, take time to educate yourself on risks and side effects. You need to be knowledgeable to make an informed decision. During labor, you will not get full risk factors from the anesthesiologist, much less be in a headspace to take in the necessary information.

If they could, babies would say “No thank you.” to these.

Post birth procedures such as bathing, eye drops, and mother-baby separation can disrupt, upset, and even repattern innate reflexes and cause your baby difficulties in latching and transferring milk.

Nipple shields, pacifiers and bottle nipples can also confuse babies who are learning to breastfeed. And nobody wants their head grabbed and forcibly jammed into their mom’s breast.

Insist that your nurse or lactation consultant uses “hand’s off” or “hand’s over” techniques.

You can only ask for what you know about.

Read as much as you can about breastfeeding. If you don’t know what is important, or even what questions to ask, take a class and make an appointment for a prenatal consultation with a Lactation Consultant.

Breastfeeding happens best with full support.

Birth and caring for yourself after birth, is challenging. And caring for a newborn is Uber-challenging. It has brought stronger women than you to tears, even when breastfeeding goes as planned, which it usually does.

But, all that stuff you do now without even thinking about it? That won’t be possible for a while.

Chores like grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom, changing your sheets and washing your clothes will end up at the bottom of your daily list. You will need someone to do these for you because there is a limited amount you and your partner will be able to do by yourselves.

The first weeks are about basics like sleeping, eating and hopefully, showering once a day.

If you plan your Babymoon, you will have a stocked pantry and a freezer full of ready to eat meals. You will have clean sheets and towels and comfy clean clothes, bras and underwear. You will have someone to clean your kitchen and bathroom while you recover from birth.

Yes, you can clean your own house, but you may not feel up to it, either. And your time will certainly be consumed by your baby. You will have someone to soothe your sweet baby while you take a shower. You will be gazing dreamily at your newborn, while munching down a bowl of fragrant curry, made by a new ‘best friend’.

Give yourself space and time to learn how you and your baby breastfeed together.

Learning breastfeeding can take extra effort because of birth experiences, recovery time and individual needs. You may need the expertise of a lactation consultant. You will need a breastfeeding community and support from peers. All this takes time to search, set up, and then use.

Do yourself a favor and find a Lactation Consultant.

Chances are you won’t need an appointment, but if you do, all you need to do is push a button on your phone and help is on its way. Even if you have breastfed before, you haven’t breastfed this baby. When pediatricians, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, obstetricians and nurses have a baby, all are shocked to find that their professional training is not helping as much as they thought it would. They certainly aren’t dumb!

What happens is that your brain changes how it works.

Babies don’t talk. They are a bundle of senses and emotions. You shift from cognitive decision making processes to empathetic relating processes. It’s disconcerting, for sure! Moms say they have ‘mommy brain’ or they can’t think straight. It’s challenging to get a list of things done when you are feeling your emotions all the time.

In the first weeks, you will have a few trips to your pediatrician’s office.

Without a baby, you just grab your purse and hop in the car. But, you may not even be cleared to drive after birth. With a baby, getting into the car takes an hour. You will have another adult and their stuff, a carseat, a diaper bag, a snack for you, your purse, a water bottle, and a baby who may, or may not, be crying.

Just as you are ready to drive, baby will poop and you start all over again.

You may need to see other health care professionals. My clients often have other appointments with professionals like a gastroenterologist, cardiologist, pediatric dentist, ENT and chiropractor. It will probably turn out that there is nothing wrong with your baby but many times, your pediatrician wants a second opinion, just to make sure.

All this takes time, at a time when you are roller coasting between bliss and overwhelm, and physically, not feeling that strong.

More overwhelmed by reading this?

Here is a Quick List for taking action:

  1. Join the Breastfeeding Café for peer support.
  2. Start to stockpile freezer meals, groceries and supplies
  3. Put my number into your phone: Donna Bruschi, IBCLC 845-750-4402

Happy Babymoon Planning!

Mother of three, including twins; Lactation Consultant; Partner of Michael;

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