Monday, December 15, 2008

Breastfeeding Basics - Julia is the Best Teacher

In one of my many breastfeeding books, there were some suggestions for "Getting the Best Start" to breastfeeding. We found many of them to be helpful.

1. Natural Childbirth - that didn't happen as planned, hopefully VBAC for future baby #2. I'm a good candidate because of the incision I have and the circumstances for C-section (breech rather than some health related issue).

2. Baby at breast immediately after delivery, skin to skin - it was about an hour after the surgery when Julia & I reunited, luckily Bonnie noticed J was rooting and Soheyl brought her to me immediately and got us started. I have a vague recollection of this moment, thank goodness for the photos, because I was on some happy meds. There was some skin to skin contact as many of you have seen!

3. Room-in - did that, actually the only time Julia went to the nursery was in Jai's presence. A few people suggested we take advantage of the hospital nursery so we get some sleep. This is true; however, sleep deprivation is a reality so why should it be different in the hospital. Plus we wanted to be successful at breastfeeding - more access = more practice.

4. No artificial nipples - We're not planning on using a pacifier if at all possible and definitely not before 6 weeks to avoid nipple confusion. During one of the few times Jai was in the nursery with Julia, a baby cried and the nurse put a pacifier in his/her mouth. Another reason to room-in; you have more control of what happens with your baby if she is with you instead of in the nursery.

5. No restriction on length or frequency of feedings - breast milk is easily digested so a breastfed baby might need to eat more often. Letting the baby determine the duration means she gets what she needs too. Plus who couldn't use more practice! : )

6. No supplements of water, sugar water or formula - breast milk has all the baby needs. Also another reason to room-in; you have more control of what happens with your baby if she is with you instead of in the nursery.

7. No free samples of formula! - according to some literature I read there is an initiative developed in collaboration with WHO (World Health Organization) that countries will not circumvent breastfeeding by providing free formula to new families. We received a "free" diaper bag filled with all kinds of baby accessories and coupons, including formula. My stance is if I don't have formula I cannot use it, especially in a dire, desperate situation when I think my baby is starving.

8. Proper positioning and latching - this has been the most challenging part to get right. Julia truly is the best teacher because she knows what to do, latches on and sucks like a powerhouse. Unfortunately the lactation consultant didn't visit us the first day since we apparently had the reputation for breastfeeding so well (she "consulted" with us once on Wed. and once on Thurs. before we discharged for about 5 minutes each visit). Also with the post-surgery drugs I didn't notice some of the nipple pain until I got home. I struggle the most during the night with both darkness (we keep a lamp on most of the night) and sleepiness in terms of being diligent about latch and position. It's getting better every day, but I've been really frustrated and confused and I have great support from Jai AND Bonnie. I really understand how women quit breastfeeding if they don't have support and resources.

Convenience - it truly is a matter of opinion what is most convenient in terms of the breast and the bottle. We had a funny encounter with Jai's godmother, Libby, yesterday where both of us proclaimed to choose the most convenient method and then we both said different answers. Libby said the bottle and Tara said the breast! Libby meant that she could go places without concern - child could be fed by someone else; Tara meant that the breast is always available at the right temperature without a need for equipment as well as the FREE component.