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By Jessica T

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About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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Breastfeeding Tips

Uploaded: Jul 22, 2014
The twins just weaned, so I'm posting what I think will be a final piece on breastfeeding. If you've read some of my other pieces, you know I'm a breastfeeding enthusiast. I have friends who have struggled with breastfeeding (as I did with my eldest daughter and again with the twins) or never succeeded at getting their children to the breast. I thought I'd offer some tips here for those seeking help for this strangely enigmatic natural feeding phenomenon.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified lactation consultant, just a breastfeeding devotee. Take my tips with a grain of salt.

1. Keep your baby in the womb (to the best of your ability) until he/she/they are considered full-term. Full-term babies are more likely to have a fully-developed suck reflex and to be better nursers from the get-go. Do whatever you can to keep your baby healthy in utero and your own stress level low. When I was pregnant with the twins, this meant swimming twice a week, taking prenatal yoga, and getting nine hours of sleep a night. It also meant going on maternity leave a few weeks early.

2. Start breastfeeding as soon as you can after birth. This is a great opportunity to draw out your baby's nursing reflex, and it will also send the message to those who are caring for you that you need support making it work. Labor and delivery nurses, midwives, and doulas are founts of information and wisdom, so pay heed!

3. Ask for help early and often. Save the money and time you would spend on attending a breastfeeding class prior to your baby's birth and spend it on lactation consultations when you return home from the hospital. With the Affordable Care Act in place, these consultations are now covered or at least partially reimbursable! Get a recommendation from a friend, your pediatrician, or OB. With the twins, I saw Cherie Tannenbaum three times and called her on at least two occasions (and it was my second time around the block!) Cherie is a wonderful resource and a twin mom to boot.

La Leche League is also a great network. It was a La Leche Leader who diagnosed me (over the phone) with thrush on the two occasions that I had it with my oldest daughter. She also told me what the treatment was so I could ensure that I got the full course of medication from my family doctor (who bless his very, very competent heart, didn't know too much about breastfeeding ailments).

4. Keep your pain in check. When I breastfed my eldest daughter, I was in excruciating pain for months. If you are in significant pain, something is likely wrong. Get help! Call upon your a lactation consultant and your doctor. This time around I managed my pain more effectively, and it made a world of difference. I used a nipple shield by day and pumped by night. Eventually I weaned my babes off of the nipple shield (they did not like the transition, but I was persistent) and switched to nursing them at night. Pumping was key both times to letting my nipples heal and managing my pain. Applying olive oil or Elicon cream (available by prescription) can help soothe angry nipples. If you have cracked or bleeding nipples, do not use a lanolin ointment like Lansinoh, as the lanolin can trap fungus and promote thrush.

5. Give it time. Both times I breastfed my kids, it took 8 weeks for it to be a breeze. That's a long time. Your mother will tell you that she doesn't remember having any problems breastfeeding. That is probably because she was a flower child and burned her bra, which in turn toughened her nipples. You will also have friends who have no trouble whatsoever with a little monster suckling their breasts. Trust that if you keep your pain under control and seek help, you can and will be successful! And if you aren't, that's ok too. I have many friends who moved their kids onto bottles and/or formula, and their babes are every bit as healthy and adorable as my own.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Shocked, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jul 22, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I can't believe that you would start your post with the suggestion to keep the baby in the womb as long as possible, supported by the suggestion that women lower their stress by swimming, doing yoga, sleeping a lot, and taking an extended maternity leave. I agree that a full term baby is going to be better at nursing, and that taking care of yourself during pregnancy is important. But this is terribly, offensively insensitive advice. I know so many moms -- as I'm sure you do as well -- who have had very significant health issues that caused preterm delivery, which would NOT be helped by yoga.

I'm sure that you will respond that you included a little parenthetical "(to the best of your ability)" in order to recognize that there are factors outside of a mother's control. This isn't enough. The overall tone and approach of your first suggestion remains terribly insensitive. Not only are there significant medical conditions outside of a mother's control, but many mothers also aren't able to do all of the luxurious exercising and taking time off that you were able to. They require significant time and money, which aren't available to many parents -- even just those moms with one or two small children at home during pregnancy have a lot more trouble balancing their needs during pregnancy with work and parenting a toddler.

I assume that you intend your post to be kind and supportive, and that you do not sit around hoping to offend people. You may want to have your drafts reviewed by a couple of very honest readers before posting. I think there's a lot of good in many of your postings, but that a good editor/friend could help you see how they might be read differently than you intend them.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Amanda, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 8:35 am

I didn't know that about the lanolin. Thanks for the tip!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 9:02 am

I had no problem breastfeeding with 3 of mine, but one was much more difficult. I did have help from a lactation nurse recommended by the hospital where I delivered. It took a few days, but because I was experienced and was determined not to give up, we managed it. My advice is not to give up too early and provided the baby has a good birth weight and overall good health, just giving some water for a day or two until your milk comes in, will be better than offering formula and hoping things will change.

As for staying in the womb as long as possible, I would agree provided that is what the ob/gyn is advocating for mother and baby's health. There have been some articles advocating scheduled C section to reduce risks of various things, when oftentimes the biggest risk is to the hospital's liability insurance, so make sure that the reasons for an early birth are the right ones for your circumstances.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jessica T, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Jul 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Hi readers,

I'm sorry if I offended anyone with this post. Shocked raises a completely valid point that there are many factors outside of a mother's control that can influence when a baby is born. My intent was to encourage expectant moms to take as good care of themselves as possible. As Mother of 4 mentions, I was echoing advice I heard throughout my twin pregnancy from my own healthcare providers (carrying twins has a higher risk of preterm labor).


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Breastfeeding Advocate, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Jul 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Well, I think the funniest part of the article is this statement: "Take my tips with a grain of salt," which basically nullifies the entire posting. Usually, I would have quickly scanned the article and left the page, but I wanted to comment here since I am a breastfeeding enthusiast too.

Sure, breastmilk is the best for children. But mostly, breastfeeding is an indication of nurturing parenting.

I breastfed my 3 children until they were just past age 2. Usually, this type of person fits into the "hippy" category, but no, I am actually quite attractive, dress well, and wear makeup (I dunno why I feel the need to justify myself, but I do).

Important Reasons to Breastfeed:

1. Science clearly proves that breastfeeding is healthier for babies and formula cannot duplicate breastmilk.

2. Breastfeeding forces the baby to be held often.

I don't believe the argument that breastfeeding is physically impossible for so many - it's the mother's attitude. As noted in the article, there is plenty of help if someone has the desire to succeed in breastfeeding. Many moms don't want the commitment of being the sole feeder of the baby - they want to be able to multitask and allow others to feed the baby. No breastmilk? Drink more - I drank an entire bottle of water after feeding my baby.

Sure, children can be amazing even if they aren't breastfed, even if the mom is not a stay-at-home mom. But a mom who is interested in breastfeeding already has the mindset to nurture her baby. The other moms prefer to pass their baby to someone else to feed them or complete their errands on their own time instead of working their schedule around baby. Those who prefer to be hybrid, use a breastpump and feed their own milk to their baby (this is a lot of work - I salute those who have the desire).

Agree that breastfeeding the first child is not comfortable in the first month - the breasts are ridiculously enlarged because the body doesn't know how much milk to make (mine were like DD rocks and I am a A/B cup). Somehow, the breasts have memory with subsequent births so the breasts know how much milk to produce and they aren't uncomfortable.

Bottom line is, in parenting, you get back what you put in. If you nurture and respect your children, they will do this in return. To those who want to be hands-off parents, I question why they desired to have children if they don't adore them or want to be part of their lives. I think it's wonderful that it's acceptable now to decide to stay childless - don't want them - don't have them.

I get irritated with warnings of "Terrible 2's, teenage rebellion/"They won't want to talk with you". This never occurred in our family because we gave them what they wanted - love, affection, and respect. If they feel this in their hearts, they will want to please their parents. Parents should understand that their children, even as babies, knows what's going on, even if they cannot communicate it. They know when they are truly loved. They are respected and their wants and needs are fulfilled. Do you get spoiled/rowdy children when you do everything for them? Absolutely not. You get spoiled/rowdy children when you never say "no" and there are no boundaries. But if a child wants to wear the same outfit for a week, so what? If a child doesn't want to wear matching clothes or shoes, so what? Let them - it's not a safety issue - it gives them confidence to make their own decisions so they won't rebel later. Put simply, how would you like it if someone was always telling you what to do and always telling you "no"? You'd feel like rebelling. Kids aren't stupid - their human like you.

A sure way to guarantee teenage rebellion and attitude is to disrespect your children. If a child doesn't actually feel love in their heart - they will never feel whole. Why are super religious people peaceful? They feel the love of God (whether it's real or imagined). It's never too late to win back your child (begin doing things for them, talking with them). Children always want the love of their parents, at all ages.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Breastfeeding Advocate, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Jul 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

P.S. Weaning? Use popsicles or other things to suck on.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Not in your club, a resident of Los Altos,
on Jul 25, 2014 at 7:14 am

What I find frustrating isn't the original post as it is clear the intent for the poster to just express her opinions on her experiences it is the advocates generalities about breastfeeding. The La Leche mafia is strong in this area and it makes people that don't or can't breastfeed feel like there is something wrong. Claiming that a mom that chooses to breastfeed has the mind set of nurturing and that your children's wonderful behavior is directly related to the choices you made for them when they were 2 is ridiculous. We were not able to breast feed our child due to the fact that she is adopted. By your theories we are screwed and she isn't being nurtured the way your loved children were. Additionally there is something to be said for the distribution of the nurturing amongst both parents. Is this bond solely for the mother? Why can't the father participate? I recognize that this is a local paper's blog space but I had just had enough as this is something that I have witnessed/heard/experienced for far too many years.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Member, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jul 25, 2014 at 10:44 am

My twins had bottles and they turned out to be six feet inches tall, healthy and happy.
There are order ways to go!
New mothers...be easy on yourself if you decide to bottle feed but be sure the baby is held.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Most snobby, or is that snobbiest, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks,
on Jul 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Got any holier-than-thou lately? I breastfed my four kids for an average of 2 years+ each(and am also not a hippie, though am actually not very attractive, even though I dress nicely and wear makeup, but it doesn't help enough) and though it's still too early to tell how they're going to turn out, I'm not sure how early feeding habits correlate to much of anything. The biggest advantage of breastfeeding for me was that I didn't have to get out of bed to prepare a bottle for those middle-of-the-night feedings. Bottles are a lot of work! I would say that all four kids have inherited my laziness to a certain degree, but they might have done that even if we'd used bottles from the beginning.

We parents all do the best we can for our beloved children, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for much of anything related to parenting. Any parent who thinks that s/he has the answers for the rest of us has some serious issues with overinflated self-importance.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by 1st time mom, a resident of Professorville,
on Jul 25, 2014 at 4:54 pm


No one ever said it was going to be easy. Breast fed my darling daughter for 3.5 years - that was not my original plan but it just worked out that way. I was lucky that it did work for me since I know so many women that it did not work out for a huge host of reasons - adoption, work schedules, husbands, low production, illness, latching issues, etc etc.

Best thing we can do for these kids is love them and keep them stimulated to hopefully mature into good citizens. If you see a neighbor that needs a helping hand, like a few hours off from their kids - pitch in.

We are all in this together.

Remember - this is a Blog about one person's experience - nice for her to share.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joseph, a resident of another community,
on Jul 28, 2014 at 9:39 am

This was a nice thoughtful post. Thank you for writing and your openness, JT. All of you who somehow found offense, please get over yourselves. If you think she could write it better to assuage your sensitivities, well, you could read it better to empathize with her intent, which is all positive and helpful. Of course this the insight of one person based on her experience, which is her own. Your negativity -- shocked-offense, holier-than-thou, outside-the-club attitude -- is your own.



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