From An Awakened Eye

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What your momma didn't tell you about breast feeding

After having our first born and living the traumatizing nightmare of "am I starving my baby", I decided that with our second child I would not live in that nightmare ever again. As a nurse and educator, I took every class that I could to prepare for our first child and for the breast feeding to be successful. I expected it to come natural and be like second nature. After all it is how God created our bodies and theirs, right?
  I exclusively nursed my first until he was 6 weeks. My supply was lousy and he was loosing weight. I had a pretty tough labor with pitocin and an epidural that left my milk coming in on night 4.  I remember after the first 24 hrs he "introduced us to his lungs" and cried all night! It was horrid! I would nurse for an hour and be in tears from the pain and he would still scream. So I figured it was from his circumcision that left him ticked off and screaming. No one told me what was going on.  Now I know. 
 I was sent home from the hospital with a nipple shield and told my baby "has a high arch and he will train with the shied on how to latch". So I went with what the lactation and doctors told me "because they should know", right?
  At my sons first doctors appointment when he was 4 days old I explained to the doctor that the baby was sleeping 4-5 hours at a time and should I wake him or feed on demand. The doctor told me that if he was sleeping 4-5 hours to let him sleep. {horrible advice} Being the exhausted mom that I was I let him sleep. {insert milk supply going down here}. 
  I say all of this to include that you will get advice from every angle and some from the professional ones, but you will live and learn the in's and out's of breast feeding. My lessons learned are below. Every breast is different and every baby is different. I hope that you will take away from this post what you need to help make your breast feeding experience successful. 

Breast feeding 101

1. Baby's can't lie: they know how to root, suck, poop and pee. However latching perfectly is an art they are not born with, it is a learned skill taught by mommy. Once she learns of course. 

2. The first 24 hours after birth are critical for breast and areola development. Stimulation of the breast directly after birth is important. Some babies latch right away and some are too pooped to latch from the stress of birth. What ever the case I encourage you to do skin to skin immediately after birth and for the next few hours until the baby wakes up for the first feeding.  Attempt to latch the baby, if he doesn't immediately latch after birth, every 30 minutes or so. You want stimulation of the breast at least with in 1-2 hrs after birth. This tells your body to start contracting that uterus and producing colostrum. I highly encourage you to wake the baby up and nurse every 2-3 hours with simulation to one side (breast) with a minimum of 15-20 minutes of stimulation per feeding. At this point your baby only requires nursing from one side each feeding. The baby may root to the other side, but that doesn't mean there is more "groceries" in there than the one your trying to latch him too, he only feels a hump and is rooting to the top of the mountain. It is critical for the remainder of your milk production days for this stimulation of the breast. Just prepare your self for the exhaustion and know that the glimmer of light has floods of milk at the end of it!   

3. Latching baby does not come natural to mom or baby. It is a learned skill by both. You can read more about latching at but I am going to talk about the basics later. Just know that there is nothing wrong with you because you don't know how to latch your baby... It's not natural in our society. We dont carry our babies tied to us to nurse at their leisure all day.   Instead we are forced to become proficient and have a freezer full of milk in six weeks before returning to work.  It is a learned skill and you will get the hang of it. If you latch baby and it hurts to the point your toes curl then unlatch with your finger in the corner of his mouth to break the seal.  Relatch and try again. The first few days after birth or growth spurt you will be tender but if there is pain something is not right...relatch. 

3. What is colostrum? It is the first fluid that comes from your nipples once baby is born. You may have noticed it several weeks before your baby was born or maybe not. It contains the building blocks for your baby's digestive system. It actually programs the digestive system for the rest of your baby's life on how it will absorb nutrients.  Isn't that so awesome! It also provides the first defense of immunity and probiotics to get that tarry black meconium stool out of there. Which is what you want to help decrease the bilirubin level. Remember when you were 37 weeks pregnant and couldn't breath because your intestines, lungs and heart was shoved up your throat? Well I'm gonna tell ya that it was for a good reason. Your breast tissue was so close to your intestines that it soaked up probiotics to share with your baby.  Wasn't that nice of them to share at your expense! Totally cool though, probiotics coat the intestines with "normal flora" or good bacteria that helps digest and boost immunity. Sorry, but formula doesn't do the same thing. It isn't specifically made for your particular baby, but your colostrum and milk is!

4. The 48 hour beast: just when you though you had birth the most angelic being on earth with dreams of sleeping through that first night home, you meet the 48 hour beast. The first 24 hours are typically the quietest you will ever experience as long as your baby lives. Next comes the period where baby is more alert and may want to nurse non stop. Insert extremely sore nipples here. This is where you nurse on demand and watch for cues of wanting to nurse such as lip smacking, rooting, head bobbing and you guessed it, crying. What ever the case, if you have an alert or sleepy baby, just roll with it and make sure those breast are getting the stimulation they need to switch into making milk. 

5. Cluster feeding: when the baby wants to nurse hours upon hours. Welcome to day 2 of life, or the second night in the hospital where you fear your neighbors are going to think you are starving your kid! The answer to cluster feeding= just nurse. Nurse on one side for an hour then change to the other for an hour and repeat until the baby passes out from exhaustion. ;). And your nipples feel like they are going to fall off! No I'm kidding on that part. They will be tender but they should not hurt to the point you feel they will fall off. The key to that is proper latching and changing positions of how you hold the baby each time you change breast. The pain should only last time enough for you to count from 10 backwards. If it still hurts to the point of your toes curling, then unlatch the baby by placing your finger in the corner of the baby's mouth until the seal is broken. If you continue to nurse in a painful latching position you will experience nipple trauma. Trust me you don't want to experience cracking or bleeding. You can damage the nipple in one feeding and it may take around 2 weeks to completely heal. I don't want that for you friend and I know you don't either.  If your baby wants to nurse for hours on end then do it. I found that changing breast every hour and making sure to change the hold helped the nipples to not be as sore as long as I had the baby latched on well and I saw jaw movement from the cheek to the ear I knew there was effective sucking. This is a critical period to listen to your baby and nurse, nurse, nurse.  Your baby can tell a difference in the taste of colostrum and know that sucking will cause the milk to come in.  The earlier the milk comes in the happier the baby will be and of course mommy too!

Remember each baby is different so do what's best for your baby and you. The information above is from my experience as well as tidbits from That is a solid site you can trust for advice. I found that googling "Kelly mom latching issues" found what I wanted better than searching on their site to find info.  I hope this helps and you can email me with questions at jailen2000 (at) hotmail (dot) com. Or leave a comment below. 
Blessings on you and your baby and I pray that your experience is a successful one so that you can enjoy that precious miracle God has given you. 
💜 Jenny H

1 comment:

  1. Have you had a second baby yet? I wonder how your list will change/has changed then. I was amazed at the differences between my first and second time nursing. Good luck!