Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dear Discouraged Breast-Feeding Mama

 Dear Discouraged Breast-Feeding Mama,

There are several things that could have brought you to your feelings of discouragement.

Maybe you feel like all your other friends are using formula and you're the only hippie trying to feed your baby with your own body.  You're not alone.

Maybe you feel nervous about breastfeeding in front of your friends or in public places.  Stick with it.  Practice using a cover at home and you'll soon be nursing in many different places.  While some of you might even get bold enough to nurse ANYWHERE, I am not.  However, keep in mind that fitting rooms don't have to just be for trying on clothes and that sitting in your parked car with a nursing cover can be pretty discrete.  Did you know that Babies R Us has a nursing room!?  Other places have these too.

Maybe you feel like your child cries a lot and the culprit must be your milk supply.  Before giving up on nursing, consider these things.  Is your baby having a lot of wet and dirty diapers?  Is your baby gaining weight appropriately?  Is your baby sleep deprived rather than milk deprived?

Maybe your pediatrician is pressuring you to use formula because he knows formula gets the job done.  Ask questions.  Find out what he thinks is concerning and look for ways you can fix it.  Milk doesn't just "dry up" if you're consistently nursing.  Make sure you're eating well, drinking lots of water, and taking your vitamins.

Maybe when you pump you don't get enough milk.  Know this: pumping is not an accurate measurement of your actual milk supply.  Do some research on pumping techniques and durations before you get too discouraged.  Babies are much more efficient than pumps.

Maybe you need to see a lactation consultant.  Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt.  It's better to ask for help, than to just assume your baby and you are never going to find a groove.  You will.  Give it at least 3 months.

Maybe you're frustrated that this "natural" thing doesn't seem natural at all.  It gets easier.  Eventually it will feel natural.  If it doesn't after a few months, do some extra research or ask for help from an LC.

Maybe you feel like you're going to go broke buying nursing pads and that you're constantly leaking milk.  After a couple months your body adjusts to your baby's needs.  It gets better.

Maybe you're burnt out on being the only one that is responsible for feeding your baby.  Take heart, with practice you can improve your pumping skills and take off a feeding or two.  Or maybe you can handle all the feedings as long as you let someone else help out with diaper changes, night-time routines, and play times.

Discouraged Breast-Feeding Mama, please stick with it.  Maybe there's another reason that's got you down, but remember, the more you stick with it, the less bottles you have to wash!  Also, the less supplies you have to pack in the diaper bag, the less formula you'll have to pay for and scoop, and the less illness you'll potentially have to deal with.

I don't know if you've figured this out by now, but Discouraged Breast-Feeding Mama, I've been discouraged by almost all of those things and I'm choosing to stick with it and learn as I go.  Breastfeeding takes support from those around you, so make sure to get some support and give it too.

Lexington-area mamas, you can find support here.  And all mamas can find support here.

Take care,

Support with Integrity

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the ebb & flow of sleep scheduling

After a lot of trial and error and a lot of crankiness from my baby, we tried to put a schedule in to place.  Some days it works like a dream, other days it doesn't, but it has helped lengthen naps most of the time, so it was worth my effort.

Some sleep tips I've compiled from books that have been helpful in gaining perspective:
1.  "Junk food is not healthy for our bodies.  Neither is a "junk sleep" schedule.  You try not to let your child become overly hungry, so don't let your child become overly tired." Dr. Marc Weissbluth, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby

2.  Your aim should be to never let a baby under 6 months be awake for more than 2 hours.  More than that and they end up "over tired" and sleep worse.

3.  Babies who are overtired may not scream (like my son), but they will struggle to get good sleep and feel rested and happy. 

4.  Many times my son will be crying because he is tired, yet people mistake it as hungry, which can be discouraging as a breast-feeding mom.  I'm almost always secretly concerned as to whether or not my son has gotten enough milk.

5.  It's best to avoid using sleep props (i.e. rocking and/or nursing to sleep, always giving paci, a long ritual before sleep).  These things hinder baby from learning to fall asleep on his or her own.  Sleep skills are vitally important.

6.  Following something similar to the E.A.S.Y. plan that Tracy Hogg lays out in her book, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, is a good idea.  It disassociates eating with sleeping as to not create dependency on eating in order to be able to sleep.

7.  I was worried (as I'm sure many people are) that if baby was sleeping "too well" during the day, that he would not sleep at night.  Through my reading, I've discovered the contrary to be true.  The better day sleep baby gets, the better his night sleep.

Through all the reading a perusing, I'm still unsure of all the ends and outs of sleep.  But I do think it's actually a lot more important than most people think.  Finding a good ebb and flow of getting out and about with baby and allowing him to get healthy sleep is trick and is an art I am still learning.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

nothing could have prepared me


This has had a pretty large learning curve for me, but it's something to which I'm committed.  I have learned a lot and I still have a lot to learn.  { has been a good resource}

If you choose to breastfeed and really choose to stick with it, know this:  It's going to be an emotional commitment and more of a time commitment than you might expect.  Especially within the first six weeks.

In the beginning of my baby's life I spent about 15-20 minutes nursing on each side {left and right breast--totally 30-40 minutes}.  Looking back on it I think I could have easily spent longer, but I was not mentally prepared for the time commitment.  Read-up in books ahead of time about latching and burping--two very important aspects to good feedings.

Once baby becomes more efficient extracting milk, feedings will shrink in length to around 10 minutes per side, totaling 20 minutes.  I've been told that babies are able to "drain a breast" within 5-7 minutes, so potentially in future months feedings could total 10-15 minutes.  However, don't rush this.  I'm 4 months in and finding that I might have been rushing my baby on accident and he ended up getting less milk than he actually wanted.

As far as duration between feedings--it's a personal choice.  Generally hospitals will advise you to nurse every 3 hours.  Sometimes that works and sometimes it would be wiser to nurse more frequently during the day to encourage longer stretches of sleep at night.  Babies need between 25-30ozs of breast milk per day.

In the future, I will choice to start out nursing every two hours.  With my first I tried two and a half.  Some of my friends nurse as frequently as every half hour to hour.  There's no rule.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

{some opinions about cloth diapering}

My cousin Julie Gunby put together a massive composition about how she cloth diapers.  For the most part I followed her plan with only a few tweaks here and there.
More diaper info than you ever thought possible!
The total cost up to 28lbs, which is about the first year of life is $463. 
The next year is just another $108, for a total of $571, 
this is versus the $1600 it would cost to use disposables for 2 years,
plus, most will stay in good enough condition to reuse for another baby.
Shopping list:
**new baby bundle This is a great, great deal. It lets you start with cloth super early, as early as 6lbs, also includes 6 little g pants (which themselves would cost nearly $80-100, and gives you 80 disposable liners to start off with and see if you like them/ want them on hand for if you run out of laundry or decide to go camping with your newborn
**extra liners One extra pack in small and one in medium/large will be plenty. Super helpful since sometimes you don't need to change the whole diaper. You'll see what I mean.
**g flappers  You only need to buy 2 sizes of these. The smalls work with the newborn and small gpants, and the medium/larges work with, you guessed it, the medium and large gpants. I got 18 in small and then when E was three months and went up to the next  size, I got 18 in med/large and I can do laundry every 2-3 days without stressing. 
         You may want 1-2 xtra gpants in small, I think I had 2 more than what came with the bundle, but I really did that just to get a few other fun colors, such as blue or pink The only time I needed that many pants was when she was outgrowing that size, and leaking around the edges, and I hadn't bought the mediums  yet. So, if you go ahead and get the mediums, you may avoid that trouble.
          If you went ahead and registered for 6 medium g pants in whatever assortment of colors you wanted, you'd have enough to last you through the first year.  If you also registered for 6 larges, you'd pretty much then make it till 2 years.
          Check out this lady's cloth diapering info. I found it really helpful.
**Extras: (what I used)
1 delicates bag, this is because of the one real inconvenience of the g diapers system, that it's in three parts (g pant, liner, and diaper) and that the liner bit can't be dried in the, I just try and put it directly into a delicates bag in the laundry bag, so I can toss it all in the wash without picking through dirty diapers, and then can pull it out before tossing them all in the dryer.
wipes you could easily make these... I didn't though. I only have 20 wipes... kinda think 30 would be nicer.
wipe solution bits these things are lasting me FOREVER. Just mix them with warm water and add to a spray bottle (just scroll down on this page... they also have options for wipes)
For out and about:
I got one of these travel bags that are insanely overpriced, but i do use it EVERY DAY. it's usually the only diaper bag I carry at all, I just wad up a nursing cover in it and I'm ready to go, but I can also stick it into any bag and it's instantly a diaper bag. I know there are cheaper versions of this out there... i have a wet bag that i attach to my travel bag for dirty diapers. I haven't used cloth wipes when out, but I know you could. I just like having such a small little bag, that I don't.
you need laundry soap you can just go with something like all free and clear from the grocery store, but, this stuff is super cheap, and extremely gentle on baby skin.
          Even with all the little extras on my EXHAUSTIVE list, you'd still come in Way Under Budget compared to the $1600 worth of disposables, it's all reusable, and really, really simple to use once you're started.
Here's what I do differently:  I bought a delicates bag, but have found that I rather prefer to leave all my parts unsnapped, but together in the same pail, then I dump it all into the wash at once.  This allows me less touching of the dirty diapers and I find that to be worth the inconvenience of pulling out the liners before I put the covers and flappers in the dryer.  I also don't use cloth wipes YET.  I plan on starting sometime, just haven't done it yet.  I use to not like the idea at all, but especially when traveling with cloth, it's much easier to put all your dirty stuff in one place rather than finding a separate place for the wipes.

I also use a full-sized diaper bag because, well, I don't travel light. 

So far my soap has been the earthy stuff from Kroger, but I've just ordered Rockin' Green Soap this week.  I'll be posting in the future about it as well as about stripping diapers.

Monday, May 7, 2012

3 Must-Haves for a Colicy Baby

The three items that have saved our sanity on thousands of occasions are: #1 a yoga ball, #2 swaddle blankets, and #3 "The Happiest Baby on the Block" DVD.
Some moms love this for laboring.  We love holding the baby and sitting on the ball and bouncing.  It's like a mute button for our son.
The DVD will teach you the value of these gems.  You can get them on Amazon.
This DVD teaches the Five Ss: such valuable information.  If you're a friend who lives close, I'll be happy to lend you my copy.

In addition to these tips for baby, make sure you're taking care of yourself and your postpartum care.  And do lots of Kegel exercises to get your body back into shape.  Seriously, do them.

What else have you found to be a life-saver for your little one?

the day has come

I feel like there's very few resources that fully prepare a woman for the reality of labor.  Partly because everybody labors differently and partly because probably women wouldn't want to have babies if they knew what they had to go through in order to have one.

Right after my son was born I was determined to tell every friend of mine who had not yet given birth all the dirty details.  Four months have past and already I've forgot several of them.  Perhaps that's why all the dirty little secrets of child birth are kept in the dark.

I think the main things to remember when the day comes are:
1.  Have a plan and know on which things you will not compromise.
2.  Accept that your plan may not (and probably won't) go according to plans.
3.  Child birth is a lot of work and is no where close to how it looks on tv (and in my case much much longer labor.)  In fact, I would say the only thing that's the same is the sweat.

Helpful things for the hospital:
1. Pack less than you think you'll need, b/c you'll mostly be wearing a hospital gown.
2. Remember that you can't eat (and your breath will stink) so be prepared to brush your teeth (and in my case, in bed with a cup of water and a spit pan).
3. Remember that your husband (or coach) can eat.  Bring easy food for him--and caffeine.
4. Hairbrush and hair ties.
5.  I wish I had brought a cute hat and maybe a blanket of our own just to have cute pictures (not a biggie at all though).
6.  Decide beforehand if you want to pay for hospital pictures or have someone else take them later--it's hard to say no when you've just fallen in love.
7.  Laptop/smartphone to update people because if you don't contact friends and family they'll go crazy.
8. Unless you want to depress yourself (or you're the exception to the rule who springs back immediately), pack sweatpants or gym shorts and sandals to go home in.  Your belly won't be as flat as you had hoped and your feet will be swollen like jello.

Good luck when your special, life-changing day comes!

Before Birth

Here's what I advise for all pregnant first time mommas. 
Before the baby arrives do everything on the following list at least once--and really appreciate it:
1. go to a sit down restaurant
2. go see a movie
3. spend a whole day just watching tv with your spouse, only getting up to eat food and potty
4. throw a party with all your friends
5. stay up late and sleep in late

Why you ask?  Because for my foreseeable future these things will not be happening easily.  Breastfeeding, while being very cost-effective, easy to prep, and fun for baby and momma, does attach you to your baby.  Yes, emotionally which is great...but also physically, which is great but also prevents the above list from being easy to accomplish.  (Obviously if you are a pro at pumping and are awesome at hauling around a pump, or if you're using formula, you will not find some of those things a challenge.)

Also, "sleep while you can" is not really helpful advice.  A modified piece of advise would be to really appreciate the sleep you're getting, because soon a tiny and adorable siren will awaken you at all hours of the night.

Something else that I wish I would have done more is read a little less about pregnancy and child birth and a lot more about what baby will need when s/he arrives.  There aren't that many things you can screw up if you're having a typical pregnancy--and while you should be prepared for delivery and informed about decisions that you'll need to make or that may be made for you--at the end of it all you have a baby.  That's right, out of seemingly thin air (yeah, right) the nurse hands over to you a helpless human being whose only form of communicating with you is crying--and it's now your responsibility to keep it alive and thriving.

Now in the midst of trying to become an expert nurser, sleep whisperer, soother, and playmate, all while recovering from child birth and functioning on random chunks of sleep, you also have to squeeze in time to scour books and websites trying to answer baby questions you never knew you would have.  So my advise, read up while the only distractions you have are ones you're use to and the occasional kicks coming from inside your belly.