I am thrilled to have a guest blogger featured on this week’s blog. Twila Collyer is a Doula in Calgary and she has taken the time to write a post about breastfeeding.
We all know how wonderful breastfeeding is, but it doesn’t always come so easy (ahem- it certainly didn’t for me). Here’s Twila’s post- perhaps it will give you a bit of encouragement if you’re struggling with it:)
Breast Feeding 101
It shouldn’t be rocket science. Bring hungry baby to your breast and feed said hungry baby. Easy, right? Well for those of us who have breastfeed a baby before we know that, easy isn’t alway the case. So why is it so hard for some of us anyways and is it worth the effort? Well my friends I am here to tell you, something so worthwhile is worth the extra effort and the benefits for both you and your baby are huge. One of mama’s most common concerns about breastfeeding is that you don’t “know” how much baby is getting.
Have you nursed long enough and often enough?
Here is a simple way of knowing. As a newborn, until 6 weeks of age baby should be having 6+ very wet diapers a day and at least 3 poopy diapers everyday. If it’s going in, it’s going to come out and then you know if baby is getting enough. A content baby is another indicator that baby is satisfied.
It is very common for baby to lose weight the first few days after baby is born. Most care providers would like baby to be back to birth weight within 2 weeks. Another common question is “how often should I feed baby?” Picture this if you can, a small marble, a shooter marble and a ping pong ball. The day your baby is born, his stomach is the size of a small marble. That is 5-7 mls. At day 3 his stomach is the size of a shooter marble. That is 15-20 mls. And at day 10 his stomach is the size of a ping pong ball, which is about 2 oz.
Frequent feedings are so important.
Some babies will go 3 or 4 hours right from the start, but don’t be concerned if your baby is “asking” to be fed every 2 hours. “How long should I feed baby for?” This really should be determined by baby’s interest. But I’ll give you a ball park number of 20 mins on one side, then burp and offer the second side for desert. There is no need to take an actively nursing (suck and swallowing) baby off the breast. If he’s happy on the first side let him stay there until he’s done. And since we all like desert, offer the second side. When the breast empties, he will most likely come off on his own. If baby falls asleep at the breast before 5 mins, you may want to wake him up and encourage him to nurse some more.
Sore nipples are one of the reasons why so many women stop breastfeeding.
Correct positioning of baby and an effective latch are the best protection against nipple soreness. Lets protect ourselves against sore nipples in the first place. It’s so easy to be satisfied with an “ok” latch, because baby is finally on the breast and happily nursing. If it pinches or is uncomfortable, please take baby off and try the latch again. It might take 3 or more tries and yes it can be frusterating, but being sore is no picnic either. If you find that you are getting sore nipples try some of these tricks to give you comfort. Rub some breast milk onto the nipple after feeding and allow to air dry. You might find some Lanolin lotion comforting. Change the position you nurse in. For example, if you always hold your baby in a cradle hold, try holding him like a football, or nurse your baby while you are lying down.
World Health Organization and most breastfeeding activists recommend you exclusively breast feed your baby for 6 months. It has been shown that it is not necessary to start solid foods until after your baby is 6 months old.
If you are struggling or having issues with breastfeeding will you do one thing for me? Please pick up the phone and call someone for support. Call your sister who breastfed her babies, call a public health nurse, call a lactation consultant or call a post partum doula. Breastfeeding is like labour, you need information and support to make it the experience that you are hoping for. That 6 week postpartum “taking care of yourself” time, it’s for learning how to breastfeed as well. It’s a learned art for both you and your baby. Give yourself enough time to really get breastfeeding established and please get some support to help you through.
Two of my recommended breastfeeding books are: La Leche League Internationals “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and Dr. Jack Newman’s “Guide to Breastfeeding” Dr. Jack also has a fantastic website with lots of video clips that are so worth watching.
Written by: Twila Collyer, Birth Coula and Childbirth Educator