Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Breastfeeding Q&A

Disclaimer: Whether you choose to breastfeed, exclusively pump, formula feed, or a combination of those I support you. As long as you are feeding and providing for you baby I support you. Every woman's body and circumstances are different and I am not here to make you feel judged or like this space is not for you. Recently, I received a few questions about my experience with breastfeeding so I thought I would break that down into a few posts. This is the second post in that series. 

As I said in my previous post I always assumed breastfeeding would be easy. While it was a very natural process for me, there are a lot of things I wish I had known going into it. I've had several of my friends who are also first time mom's ask me questions, so I thought I would answer them here.

Please keep in mind that this is what worked for me. If you have specific concerns, reach out to your local lactation consultant or doctor. I have provided a link for you to locate a lactation consultant near you at the bottom of this post.

How do you keep yourself motivated to continue doing it?
I have successfully breastfed exclusively for 10 months, introducing a cup of formula recently in the 11th month in the evenings. There were times I wanted to quit, I won't lie to you. Between the night feedings, sore nipples, and people around me telling me "it would just be easier" if I could give formula. My biggest tip is to find support. Breastfeeding is tiring physically and emotionally, because you simply can't pass on the task to someone else. I was lucky in that my husband was extremely supportive of me, and while he told me he would be willing to switch to formula if that is what I wanted to do, he never forced it upon me in my low moments. He would offer to give me a break and rock our daughter, he would tell me to breathe and relax for a minute when I would cry over not being able to get the latch right, or he would remind me how great of a job I was doing. This was so helpful to me, and I don't think I would have gotten through that first month without him. Our hospital has a weekly meet up where you can meet with lactation consultants and other moms who are new to breastfeeding. Look to see if there is a group near you. I met with a lactation consultant one on one provided by our pediatrician, and kept in close contact with a friend in North Carolina via Facebook message. That friend helped me through the highs, the lows, and the "is this normal?" stages. Shout out to you, Emily. You are not alone in this process. I will provide a list of resources at the bottom of this post.

What about feeding in public? 
I was so nervous about breastfeeding in public the first time I did it, so I understand the hesitation! First and foremost, know your rights. In the United States it is federal law that a mother is allowed to breastfeed in any private or public location. That's right! You are legally allowed to feed your child wherever you need to do so. I have been lucky in that I have never had someone approach me or say anything negative to me while breastfeeding in public, but know that is not every woman's experience. Therefore it is important to know your rights in order for you to be able to defend yourself if need be. 

When it comes to breastfeeding, I try to plan ahead by feeding my baby before ever leaving the house. Planning ahead can be difficult, but if you can then it makes for a more enjoyable and hassle free experience anyway. It is also a good idea to become acquainted with breastfeeding friendly locations when first getting started. The Cincinnati Zoo and Aquarium, for example, both have nursing rooms. When in doubt, ask someone working where you are if there is a place they recommend you go. Stay clear of bathrooms. It isn't sanitary for your baby, and there are other options for you. You wouldn't eat your lunch on the toilet, so don't do the same for your baby. I have often grabbed a clothing item and gone into a fitting room just to nurse in peace. 

If you would like, get a cover. There are so many options out there for women now. My daughter no longer tolerates being covered, but it helped me feel more comfortable in the beginning. Now I wear nursing friendly clothes, and am confident in positioning to where I will not feel exposed. This is up to personal preference. 

Be confident. I am blessed to have friends who support my decision to breastfeed, and when I am out with them I am often able to do so with them. They sit with me, I maintain eye contact with them, and we continue chatting. When you act confident and secure in what you are doing, no one will question it. I have done this in the mall, on a bench at a park, and in restaurants. I have even have waiters come up and carry on conversation with me while I began breastfeeding. Of course I had some people in my life say it would be easier to not breastfeed or discourage it altogether, but I stayed firm and told them that this was what I wanted to do with my body for my baby. Any time I would doubt myself I would simply remind myself of the benefits and look into my daughter's eyes. She was who I was doing this for. Not them.

What are some nursing friendly clothes that you wore?
Many motherhood stores make breastfeeding friendly clothing. However, all you really need are some nursing bras and tanks, and leggings. If in a pinch wear a nursing tank under another shirt, and you can lift up the shirt without exposing your stomach. Often that top provides a cover for you as well! If wearing a dress, wear leggings and you can do the same. You can also stick a muslin swaddle in your bra strap to provide cover, or wear a scarf and do the same. Your baby's head covers most of your breast anyway.

Did you pump at work?
Yes! I usually woke up early so I could nurse and get a pumping session in, and then I pumped at work. Even though legally you are allowed a space to pump, I often had to fight with my employer to have a space to do so. I made it work by being persistent, creative, and as flexible as I could be. I bought a white noise machine for the space when I would pump, created a curtain out of construction paper or my cover, and I even pumped in the car with a cover on some days. You can do it, you just have to think outside of the box. Again, know your rights. It makes standing up for yourself so much easier.

How do I handle people who disapprove of my choice to breastfeed, like family?
I hate to say it, but I have been there. Some people just don't get it, and so they make rude or dismissive comments. Do not let anyone's negative comments discourage you! When people would tell me my baby must be hungry because she was crying, I would explain that we are on a nursing schedule and would try other methods of comfort instead. When others would say that I could have more flexibility by giving up, I would respond that I can breastfeed anywhere - and have! Often I give a brief summary of the health benefits of breastfeeding, or let them know the simple truth: I enjoy breastfeeding! It helps me feel bonded to my daughter, and I find it very natural. Women have to make the right choices for themselves, their bodies, and their families. This was the right decision for mine. If it makes certain people uncomfortable, then that has more to do with them than it does you.

How can I boost my supply/why is my supply running low?
Water. Water, water, water. You have to stay hydrated and consume enough calories to continue to produce milk. As far as why a supply is running low, in my experience (and I am not a lactation consultant or doctor) this went hand in hand with me being sick or on my period. Stay hydrated, continue to eat nutrient rich foods, and feed your baby on demand. Feeding on demand forces your body to produce more! It is as simple as more demand leads to more supply. The same is true for growth spurts, your baby will want to nurse more often then. It is a short period of time, and it will pass.

What products were helpful to you/what are your breastfeeding essentials?
I am going to dedicate an entire post to this, and it will be out next week!

Hopefully this answers some of your questions. Let me know if you have any more by shooting me an email, DM, or comment.

List of resources:

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