Posts Tagged ‘challenges of breastfeeding’

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Nursing in a room full of people you know

June 14, 2009

Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding readers! This month we are writing about Nursing in Public. Please read more of the posts, found at the bottom of this post. More links will be added until Monday

When I decided to breastfeed, I didn’t realize it would be so hard. I didn’t realize it would hurt. I didn’t realize that nursing my daughter in public would require an advanced degree in acrobatics to keep from showing a little skin. I didn’t realize that our civilization is shall we say… less than civilized?

Long before Adam ever thought about groping Eve, breasts were created to pass sustenance on to our offspring, thereby keeping them alive and perpetuating our species.

With this in mind, I have been trying from the day of my daughter’s birth to comfortably nurse her in public. To me, public means anywhere other than the privacy of my own home. And even that sanctuary is breeched at times by people I don’t feel right nursing in front of.

I have progressed, admirably in my mind, but I still have a long way to go. I can nurse Penny in a purely public place (say that 3 times fast), where I know no one, and could care less what they think. Recently, I’ve been able to add nursing her without a cover. Any cover I do use is mostly to cover my bare tummy (or I wear my maternity pants with the armpit-high elastics to cover it). Some women stay home for fear of nursing in public. I don’t give in to the justifiable fear but instead, I try to time it so that I feed her and then leave the house. But if I get stuck out, it’s fine. I admit, I’ve sat on the back seat of the car to feed her, but to save my back and arms, it works in a pinch.

Filling Penny's belly before the start of the MS Walk

Filling Penny's belly before the start of the MS Walk

What is still a problem for me, and apparently my friends and family, is nursing Penny in front of them. Oddly enough, I feel completely comfortable with my in-laws. I’m also fine in front of the females in my family, and obviously with my very supportive husband. But the rest of the males? Ha! They are so unbelievably (ok, very believably) uncomfortable with me nursing Penny in front of them. The few times I’ve tried with men in the room, they quickly make excuses to be elsewhere as soon as it becomes evident that I am going to breastfeed. Or pointedly look anywhere that’s not in my direction – including peripheral vision. I’ve even had them stand in another room and carry on a conversation with people in the same room as me. I hate having to leave the room to nurse Penny. I feel like we’re being shut out and excluded from the festivities, just because my little girl has an empty belly. Thankfully, no one’s even suggested bottle-feeding, but still…

The newest problem I am facing, and one that some of you pros can maybe help with, is an easily distractable baby. Penny has taken to feeding for 10 seconds or so, then looking around for 30 seconds. It has resulted in some nursing sessions being cut short because I don’t particularly like flashing my nipple around that much. I know the first step is to feed her in a darkened area with no distractions. But when we’re out in public, that’s not an option. What do you suggest doing to help limit the wandering eyeball syndrome?

Other Carnival of Breastfeeding posts:

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Breastfeeding Failures and Success

May 23, 2009

Welcome Carnival of Breastfeeding Readers!

This blog isn’t intended to be solely about breastfeeding. But it is important to me, and I want to talk about it.

Other moms have written about their breastfeeding experiences as well. Read about them here:

When I was pregnant, I didn’t know that almost every mom should physically be able to breastfeed. I was asked if I planned to breastfeed, and it wasn’t even a question for me. I said as long as both of us were willing and able, I would be breastfeeding. And I only said it like that because the one friend of mine who has a baby wasn’t able to breastfeed. I just thought breastfeeding was natural and was the right way to feed a baby. Plus I wanted the bonding time. During our prenatal class, the instructor was listing off the benefits of breastfeeding, including cost (aka FREE) and ease (aka you don’t need to haul bottles around or sterilize or any of that). To me, that was 2 perfectly good reasons to breastfeed, beyond the fact that I just wanted to.

Well, when Penny was born, I had a pretty bad hemorrhage. I didn’t get to feed her right away because the doctors were busy fixing me up. Apparently my lips were blue, and I actually had to tell Court to go get pictures of Penny. I didn’t even get to hold her until almost an hour after she was born, nevermind feed her. After they eventually got me over to the maternity ward and settled into the bed, they pretty much thrust Penny at me and said “FEED!” That was the start of my problems…

To make a 1789 word story a heck of a lot shorter, over the course of about a month, I had at least 6 different nurses and lactation consultants tell me that my latch was fine, even though I was still in alot of pain.

I signed out books from the library and bought some from Chapters. Reading one of them, a light bulb goes on. When holding your baby in the cross-cradle position, your middle finger should be on their jaw on the bottom side, your hand around the base of their skull and your thumb just under their ear on the top side. Well geez! If someone had said to put my middle finger on Penny’s jaw I bet half of these problems could have been eliminated!

At a follow-up appointment at The Alex Community Health Centre, I tell the doctor about the jaw thing and how it made a world of difference for us. Still not perfect, but I can feel improvement. I get talking to her about positioning and using the breastfeeding pillow. Apparently most moms using the pillow rely on it too much. They actually use it to hold up the baby, rather than using it to support their arms which should be holding baby. That’s exactly what I was doing! My other failing was that I thought you couldn’t move your breast around to help feed the baby, as in move the baby over to where my nipple is, not move the nipple to where baby is. So I was moving Penny so far over to the side that her chin would end up near her chest. BAD! Over the course of the next week, every appointment I had, every book I read, even the videos I watched on YouTube, helped! Each one had one more tidbit that helped perfect what was going on. It still wasn’t perfect, but we could manage. I could feed Penny without being in too much pain, and she could get enough to eat and was gaining weight again. It took almost 3 weeks to get back to her birthweight (the norm is 2 weeks).

After a couple of weeks of not-perfect, but not-too-painful feeding, I got so frustrated with feeding Penny one morning that I just got up and fed her without hunting down my breastfeeding pillow. I just plopped down on the couch with her in the cradle position. And everything clicked into place! Jackpot! I couldn’t feed her with the breastfeeding pillow without having problems. Now that I know that, everything’s gone so much better!

We still have a bit of trouble with Penny squirming and flailing while she’s eating, and I’ve wanted to get into the clinic to ask about that. Last week, I finally attempted to feed Penny while lying down in bed at night. I was so tired that night! I’m sure we don’t have the position perfect, but we found a spot that works for us. And it’s totally hands-off for me (I might put a hand behind her just to keep her from rolling backwards away from me). I immediately noticed a difference with her. Where she’d kick and squirm before, she mostly lies quietly and feeds. Where she’d feed for 10 seconds, pop off, look around, then try feeding again – she latches on and stays there for almost the full feed. She sounds like she’s sucking and swallowing better, and she seems more content while feeding. I’ve now applied this idea to feeding her during the day too. I hold her up on the breastfeeding pillow again, but I don’t use my arms to try and hold her at all. I let her lay how she wants and feed how she wants. It really seems to be working for us!

I was also concerned about weight gain. Penny had her 4-month immunizations last week, and the nurses mentioned that she’s “on the lean side.” She is 24.5″ long and 12 lbs. Birthweight was 7 lbs 14 oz. But on last week’s Carnival I read about increasing my milk supply naturally. What I’ve taken from that is to use good fats for my extra calories – cream in my coffee, olive oil where I can. Between that, and letting Penny feed how she wants so, I think her weight is going to get back on track. I still have an appointment at the clinic on Monday, but I think everything is falling into place. (See the update to the weight gain issue here)

I’m glad breastfeeding is really working out now. I enjoy my bonding time with Penny, and I didn’t realize I would enjoy breastfeeding her this much. I think I’d be rather sad to have this connection and experience taken away from us.

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