Welcome back to Risky Baby Business, our Saturday series about babies and pregnancy here at More Cowbell! If you’re new, the previous posts in this series can be found here.
My hubby and I were having a chat with another couple about breastfeeding. (Yes, I know…we’re so MARRIED.) Anyway, he made me laugh when he said, “Oh breastfeeding was a team sport in our house.”
And it’s true. He was an integral part of the process before we even got home from the hospital.
I’m not saying this to rub it in for those of you who are going the single route in your child-rearing. I’m just saying that if you have back-up person in the hospital or house when you have your baby, USE THEM.
What do I mean?
There is now a “breast-feeding designation” given out to hospitals who promote breast over bottlefeeding and I considered myself lucky to be at a hospital with this designation. I knew they wouldn’t supplement my baby without my knowledge.
They institute a “Golden Hour“: a quiet time with only the parents and baby when the nurses ensure that your baby latches on right away and rests skin-to-skin with the mother for a bit.
The issue when you have a C-section is they’re moving you from here to there after surgery. Plus, I was whacked out from the morphine so I quickly went to sleep. I woke up briefly to the sight of the nurse laying the baby on my husband’s naked chest. I remember having a passing thought about how sweet that was, then I was out again.
They were best buddies by the time I woke up. He changed all her diapers while we were in the hospital, partly because I was moving slow and partly because I was in compression boots for the first few days to prevent blood clots.
What about that breastfeeding?
I’m a huge fan of breastfeeding if you can do. But…
I’ve spoken to one woman who had no issues whatsoever with breastfeeding. Her preemie daughter latched right out of the gate, nothing hurt and they sailed through a year plus of nursing.
Everyone else I’ve spoken to had issues (which is why I think everyone should at least chat with a lactation consultant or a doula). Baby Girl blistered me right out of the gate.
Basically, for the entire time in the hospital (and another few weeks at home), I had to do Lamaze breathing just to get through breastfeeding. I had Lanolin, etc, etc but it was pretty important to me to have a baby who would go 3-4 hours between feedings. My poor breasts needed a long intermission after feeding (plus we wanted some sleep).
Four things got me through those early days:
1. My husband fussing with the baby to keep her awake so she nursed longer.
As the lactation lady in the hospital said after she watched me nurse: “It’s not a snack bar.” (yes, she said it in that tone of disdain) “Make her work for it! Pump her arm. Rub her head. Keep her awake.”
That lactation consultant was a Baby Drill Sargeant. But she was RIGHT. We thanked her every night those first weeks as we slept for 3-5 hours stretches. (p.s. We know all bets are off if you have a preemie or a child with physical ailments that prevent sleep.)
2. Breastmilk will naturally heal any wounds from breastfeeding.
This one was a shocker to me. I had no idea that breastmilk actually heals skin. So when you’re feeding, save a squirt for YOU to rub on your nipple. After you’ve let that soak in, then move on to the next tip.
I found the Tender Care much easier to apply than Lansinoh. The Tender Care was more liquidy so I didn’t have to rub or press on top of raw flesh. I know it sounds disgusting to put it that way, but I was wrecked. Plus, I’d ASKED the teacher in our breastfeeding class if I should use a washcloth to “rough up my nipples” prior to birth and she said NO. (Yes, I hated her like poison by the second day of breastfeeding.)
4. I was committed to breastfeeding itself.
That last one is a biggie, and was the best tip I got prior to birth. A very close cousin said, “Be sure you’re committed to breastfeeding itself so you don’t give up too quickly. I promise that by the end of the first month, you’ll be fine.”
I know I’ve said this before…everybody withholds the good stuff. You take classes and people tell you stories but, unless you have a great lactation consultant or a practical mom who comes to visit, no one tells you the “why”…especially about breastfeeding.
They don’t tell you that breastfeeding is a two person job if you want a kid who stays full for more than an hour or two between feedings (i.e. SLEEPS).
My three fave sleeping/breastfeeding tips:
1. Take maternity AND paternity leave from work if at all possible.
My husband did all the feedings with me for the first three weeks. He followed Baby Sargeant’s directions and would rub Baby Girl’s head, crank her arm, tickle her feet, poke her face…all so she would eat enough to sleep for a few blessed hours.
When he went back to work, he’d still do the evening feedings with me and it made a huge difference for both of us. He was connected to that baby from day one and I had help. It was a win-win.
2. Read up on sleep and breastfeeding prior to birth
For those of you who already had the baby, read Baby Wise if you can stay awake long enough. The first three weeks are supreme suckage for everybody but Baby Wise let us get 3-4 hours in between feeding (that was just us, mind you…don’t hate me if it doesn’t work, but it SHOULD work). We also recommend the Happiest Baby on the Block book/video.
3. Sometimes you have to counter the “rules” to have a happy baby.
The best example I can think of happened the first night we brought Baby Girl home. She screamed bloody murder the entire first night, every time we put her in the crib, which was agony.
Note: When you bring a new baby home and it screams bloody murder, you freak. You can’t help it. It’s a little better if it isn’t your first baby, but you always have to learn what makes any new baby tick and it’s a process.
We were afraid we’d roll on her if she slept in the bed and her crib was right next to us. After trying everything else, I finally watched the baby.
After sitting at eyelevel with her while she screamed (for the longest 15 minutes of my life) I finally realized she was staring at the bars of the crib in abject terror. Since I thought newborns couldn’t really see, I was a bit shocked, but I followed my gut and took action.
I know all the books say NO BUMPERS.
After 7 hours of screaming, I tried bumpers. The moment they were up, she calmed down and went to sleep. She did the same thing at 9 months when we took them off for good. We had to weave sheets between the bars of the crib for her to calm down. The kid just doesn’t like to feel caged…go figure.
What breastfeeding or sleep tricks did you discover? Do any of the new moms have questions? Do you experienced moms have life-saving tips to share? We’d love to hear about it!
REMINDER: Completely unrelated to this post…Kait Nolan made it to Round 2 of the DABWAHA tournament! Voting is open until noon EST TODAY to help her advance – click here. #TeamKait thanks you for your support.