Breastfeeding From the Beginning

So, breastfeeding is one of those things that could have you torn in different directions. Throughout my pregnancy I thought I was only going to exclusively pump. I knew that breast milk was the best form of nutrition for my baby, but I didn't feel comfortable with the thought of a baby at my breast. Boy was I wrong! Once dear husband handed me the baby to nurse for the very first time, it felt natural. If you have mixed emotions about breastfeeding from the beginning, then you are not alone. Many women don't feel comfortable nursing from the start or they may choose not to nurse because of their lifestyle, so formula is the way they choose to nourish their baby. Even if you can only breastfeed your new baby for a few weeks, then that is a few weeks of the very best nutrition your child will ever get. Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

I hope you (and your spouse or significant other) banked up on some sleep hours, because there is a reason why your OB told you to get sleep before labor and delivery!  Newborns should be nursed whenever they show signs of hunger:

You will usually have to wake them up to feed them until his pediatrician says to let him sleep (this is usually the first week or so of baby's life). So, why do we need to wake a peacefully sleeping newborn to feed every couple of hours during the first couple of weeks? Because baby no longer has his beloved placenta to continuously provide him with nutrients. Waking the baby to feed every 2 hours is needed so they gain weight properly. It is expected that all newborns will lose some weight in the first 5-7 days of life. A 5% weight loss is considered normal for a formula fed newborn. A 7%-10% loss is considered normal for the breastfed baby (American Pregnancy, 2013). Our little one lost 7% if his body weight while in the hospital, but quickly gained it back (and more) when we had our 1 week appointment with the pediatrician. 

First Feeding
Breastfeeding should begin usually within the first hour of the baby's life.  Dear husband handed me Baby D to feed for the first time.  Because newborns are super sleepy and have undergone a huge amount of stress getting here, you will need to wake baby to feed him.  We set an alarm on our phones to go off every 2 hours at the hospital (even though the nurses would come in every 2 hours and wake us up to feed baby) to feed baby. The alarm was called, "Baby Buffet".  For the very first feeding, I let Baby D eat as long as he wanted, which lasted an hour.  So, the next feeding would be in an hour.  That is how you count baby "eating every 2 hours".  If baby eats for 45 minutes on one side and then 45 minutes on the other side, he will need to eat again in 30 minutes.  You start counting 2 hours from the time baby has a good latch and you can hear him swallowing.  So yeah, that gives you 30 minutes to rest.  Breastfeeding is a true commitment, but you can do it!  You are providing nutrients for your baby.  YOU! Not a cow, not a soy bean, you and your body have produced milk for your baby.  You are now even more amazing than you were and hour ago!

Latching on

Baby D had a hard time latching on, because of my anatomy...Some women have absolutely no problems with their new babies to latch on.  This is true for veteran moms who have breastfed their children in the past.  For many new moms however, latching on is challenging and most of the time need assistance due to their anatomy.  Below is a diagram showing different types of nipples.  If you have a flat or inverted nipple, then you could benefit from a few different products that Medela has to offer.  It's 2013 and there are products out there to help you breastfeed!
As a side note, you are breastfeeding, not nipplefeeding.  The nipple is just a piece of the puzzle that makes breastfeeding possible, but as long as baby gets a good amount of breast in his mouth you can breastfeed successfully.  Watch this short clip for a visual:

Let's talk about some of these products to assist with breastfeeding.  From the very beginning of breastfeeding Baby D had a very hard time latching on, due to my anatomy.  Turns out, I had flat nipples. Wah, wah, waaaaaah.  No big deal right? Riiiiight.  I was so determined to breastfeed my baby that the lactation specialist gave me the hook up with ALL the Medela goodies to assist with breastfeeding.  If it wasn't for these products to help, I would have had no other choice but to formula feed my baby.  Ok, so here is the first product that was handed to me:
Medela Contact Nipple Shield

(I keep it in a little Rubbermaid container after each use without a lid)
The Contact Nipple Shield comes in a few different sizes.  You can get them on Amazon for under $11 with Prime, or they are sold at most retail baby stores for about $9.99.

The Contact Nipple Shield is made of light silicone that is odorless and for the most part, tasteless, so baby won't be detoured from using it.  This product is not just used to help women who have flat or inverted nipples, but it is a LIFESAVER if you have sore or cracked nipples.  The purpose of this product is to draw out the nipple, so baby can latch-on.  But, if you use this, won't baby get nipple confusion? For the most part, no.  Your baby can smell your milk from up to 20 feet away.  He knows it's there and he was born with a rooting reflex to find the milk at the breast regardless of what is on the nipple.  Again, it's breastfeeding not nipplefeeding.  I went back and forth with 

The Contact Nipple Shield was great too, because I was able to see if baby was getting colostrum, because there was remnants of it inside the shield.  Colostrum is the yellowish-gooey goodness that your body has been producing during pregnancy and it now comes out of the breast at the beginning of breastfeeding.  It contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and proteins (antibodies) that fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses. Antibody levels in colostrum can be 100 times higher than levels in regular cow’s milk (formula is made from cow's milk).  I sometimes still use the nipple shield when my breasts are really full.  I find that baby has a hard time latching onto my breast, since they are so full, that the shield assists him.  Don't be afraid to stock up on these things too!  They are made to be used over and over, so just rinse them off with warm water after each use.  You never know when and where you are going to need them.  For under $10 each, I bought two (in addition to the two the hospital gave me).  One was at my nursing station, one was in each of my diaper bags (2 total) and I have 2 un-opened in the baby's first-aid box just in case.  They come in different sizes too!

You can easily wean baby from the nipple shield.  After a couple months of using the shield, I would start the feeding with the shield on and then 2 minutes into the feeding take it off.  Then, I would re-latch Baby D to my breast.  It took a couple of feedings, but pretty soon I was shield free!

Next product! Breast Shells

  The SoftShells from Medela are supposed to be worn on your breast in between feedings.  The  contoured shape of the shell is designed to draw out your nipple.  These shells are, for the most part, discrete when you wear them in your bra.  One benefit is that that collect milk that has leaked out and when your milk first comes in you will want to be ready with something to catch or absorb it!  I only used the SoftShells for about 2 weeks and got annoyed with them.  They didn't really "draw out my nipple", they just got on my nerves and it was just something else that I had to wash and sterilize everyday.  Maybe they will work for you! 

So there you have it.  Products to help your baby nurse!

Check out this other blog post on my secrets to pumping and storing breastmilk!  There is a guide on here to help you get a good process and system down while pumping at work.

Or how to supplement formula to assist with breastfeeding


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