Saturday, June 30, 2012

Meet My Nurslings

These two precious babies are the reasons that I care about breastfeeding so much. Since August 2009, when my big boy came into this world, my entire life has been devoted to being the best mother I can be. I have done a lot (and I mean A LOT) of research on parenting practices and choices. I have looked into all the issues and made my decisions accordingly. My wonderful husband helps me make these decisions but I'm the one who takes the time to do the research so, in most cases, I get the final say. He trusts me and usually just goes with what I say is best.

This is my big boy, Jackson

Jax was born at 10lbs, 13oz (by csection in case you were wondering) and has been my little muncher ever since. He had the appetite of a 6 month old the day he was born and my big ole boobs could barely keep up. I went through a long, emotional battle with my supply but I stuck to my guns and did not offer him formula. Well, he did get a few bottles while we were waiting for my milk to come in, as his blood sugar was dropping and the doctors insisted. For the record, I most certainly would have given him formula if he was hungry, I would never EVER try and make a hungry baby go to sleep. I do not think formula is a horrible poison, but we'll go into all that in another post. Jax kept me on my toes and I soon developed a taste for oatmeal. I also relied on beer to keep my supply up, which was enjoyable :) I eventually got my supply up and by the time he was on solids, we were good to go. He was a distracted nurser which made things a little difficult and he ended up with a dairy allergy which also threw a kink into my plans, but it all worked out and he nursed for 17 long months. It seems like it went by in a heartbeat when I think about it, but there were definitely days that seemed to last for an eternity. Now that I am nursing his baby sister, and I'm dairy-free for her, he drinks a cup of pumped breastmilk every morning for breakfast. 

And this is my darling Angelina

Ange is the world's easiest baby, despite the fact that she has severe reflux, and a suspected milk protein intolerance. When Ange was 2 days old, the scariest thing in my life happened. My husband called my name in a panicked voice and I ran into the room to see my baby girl completely blue. She had stopped breathing! After a call to 9-1-1, a trip to the ER and a 3 day stay at the hospital (complete with a bazillion tests) they determined that she has reflux and had aspirated on the reflux. Essentially she breathed in the spit up and choked on it. I was beyond relieved that she didn't have any "serious" medical condition! Just as the relief finished sinking in, I was hit with a ton of bricks. I could not breastfeed her. Ever. My breastmilk was too thin and liquidy (as all breastmilk is) so I would either have to switch to formula or pump and add a thickener to my milk. Of course I chose to pump but let me tell you, exclusively pumping for a newborn is hard core! I give MAJOR credit to exclusively pumping mamas. Major credit! If you exclusively pump for your baby, let me know and I will come to your house and clean your bathroom for you. Those two weeks that I was pumping were hard, and having to hold her upright for 30 minutes after each feeding didn't make it any easier. I would pump for half an hour, feed her for 15 minutes, hold her for half an hour and an hour or two after that I would have to start all over. All day and all night long. That schedule also doesn't account for washing bottles and pump parts which are a pain in the ass, to say the least! Did you know that if you plan to exclusively pump, you need to pump a minimum of 8 times a day for the first 6 weeks? Skipping even one pumping session can affect your supply. Not only was I exhausted from the insane pumping schedule but I wanted to breastfeed my baby so badly! I craved the bonding, skin to skin, special time and I hated that just anyone could pick up a bottle and feed my baby. I'm supposed to be the one feeding my baby! I'm the mama and mamas feed their babies. The emotional toll this took on me cannot be put into words, so I'll stop trying. Anyway, after 2 weeks I took her to our pediatrician to see what she thought. The pumping recommendation was given my the ped at the hospital. Well, my ped told me "you might as well try". I almost kissed her. Of course, after seeing Angelina turn blue a few weeks earlier, I was cautious, to say the least. I nursed her in an upright position and then my husband and I watched her like a hawk for hours. She was fine. We gradually weaned her off of the bottle and she is doing wonderfully. As you can see from her picture, she is clearly not having any trouble gaining weight. Ange is now 2 months old and over 16 pounds. She does reflux from time to time and is on meds for it, but she nurses like a champ and we both love it. My husband has offered to take over some night feedings so I can sleep but I turn him down every time. There are not too many things that will get me out of bed at 4am with a smile on my face, but nursing my baby is one of them. 

So those are my babies and that is my story. I have learned so much along my nursing journey and I hope to share most, if not all of my knowledge with my readers. This blog is not only written my me, it's written by Jackson and Angelina too. If it weren't for my kids and the challenged they have presented me with, I wouldn't know half of what I do about breastfeeding. 

Top 10 ways to increase your milk supply

Many moms believe their supply is too low. This is usually due to the fact that you cannot tell how much milk you're making unless you pump and, when you do pump, you get far less milk than your baby will does when he or she nurses. Here is a common scenario: baby doesn't sleep well one night, mom thinks maybe he's hungry and starts to worry about her supply, she pulls out the old pump and only gets an ounce from each breast (partly due to the inefficiency of the pump and partly due to her stress about her supply), mom freaks out and self diagnoses as having a low supply. I've seen this happen to my friends a million times (ok, not a million, maybe ten, I don't have that many friends...) Anyway, my point is that the mom in the above scenario likely does not have a low supply, her baby was probably just having a rough night. Bringing your supply up too high can be a pain (literally, your boobs will hurt!) and can even be dangerous for you baby as he can choke on your milk when it starts coming out harder and faster than before. Oversupply can also lead to clogged ducts, engorged breasts that are difficult for baby to latch on to and even tummy problems in your baby, caused by him consuming too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. My point is, don't try to increase your milk supply unless you think your baby really needs it.

Some ways to tell that your supply may be low include baby fussing at the breast after a couple minutes of eating, frequent eating (every hour) all day long, little to no weight gain (your doctor will tell you if it's a problem, don't bother weighing your baby yourself) and, most importantly, too few wet/dirty diapers. See this link for a chart of how many wet/dirty diapers you should expect.

After reading this, if you still think your milk supply is too low, there are several things you can do to bring it up. Of course, every body is different and certain things work better for some people than others. You also may not want to take medication or herbal supplements - that's ok, there are lots of other methods!

Top Ten Ways to Increase Your Supply

  • Eat oatmeal. Not instant, not "quick oats" just good, old fashioned oatmeal. If you eat a big ole bowl of it once or twice a day, you will soon see an increase in your milk supply. To keep from getting sick of eating oatmeal, try spicing it up with some cinnamon, or adding dry fruit before cooking. Also, beware that you will probably have frequent, smelly gas (fun!)
  • Drink beer. Of course, you don't want to nurse your baby while under the influence of alcohol, but drinking 1-2 beers a day (preferably after baby is in bed for the night) can help your supply.
  • Take brewer's yeast capsules. Brewer's yeast is the ingredient in beer that helps your supply, so if you don't want the alcohol, or don't like the taste of beer, go buy some brewer's yeast in capsule form. They sell these at many pharmacies and stores like Walmart and Target. 
  • Pump, pump, pump! After your baby nurses, pump until both breasts are empty. Then "dry pump" for 5 minutes on each side. You can also do what's called a "power pump" - pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes. You can repeat this for up to an hour. 
  • Take Fenugreek herbal supplements. You will need to take many of these pills a day and they can be pricey, but they do work for most people. You can find them at most health food stores. 
  • Drink Mother's Milk tea. This is also an herbal supplement and can be found at most health food stores and some maternity shops. 
  • Talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for Domperidone. This is a drug intended for relief of irritable bowel syndrome, but has the nice side effect of drastically increasing your milk supply. In Canada, many OB's prescribe it for low milk supply but the American FDA has not approved it for this use, so it can be more difficult to find a doctor in the US who will prescribe it. A common side effect is that you will smell like maple syrup... All. The. Time. While this drug works very well, especially for moms with seriously supply issues, there has been some new research which questions the safety of it. Please do lots of research and talk to your doctor before considering this medication. 
  • Keep the baby on the breast as much as possible. As long as he's not upset about it, try to get your baby to nurse as much as you can. All day long is good! If you have an awesome hubby like I do, have him take care of everything else (including older children) and take a "nursing vacation". Bring some books, your phone, and some good movies into your bedroom and relax all day with your baby, letting him nurse as much as possible. 
  • Stay hydrated. Water is THE key component in breastmilk. Without water, your body cannot make milk. It is not uncommon for nursing mothers to drink upwards of 20 glasses of water a day. So drink, drink, drink. And when you think you can't possibly take another sip of water, drink another glass! Water is great for your metabolism, hair, nails and lots of other things too, so it can't hurt to drink a whole boatload of it!
  • Eat your heart out! Your body needs calories and fat to manufacture breastmilk. So eat A LOT. Of course, it's a good idea to stick to mainly nutritious foods, but the main point is just to eat! Also, try to spread out your eating, don't just eat three meals a day. Remember you aren't pregnant anymore, but you're still eating for two. 
So there you have it. My list of supply enhancers. Try one, try em all. Go for it! Feel free to comment and let me know what you tried and how it worked for you. Oh, and one more thing, DON'T STRESS ABOUT IT! I know that is much, much easier said than done, but stress will deplete your supply. Choose which techniques you're going to use and just do them, don't think about it, don't count your ounces, just relax and enjoy nursing your precious baby. Before you know it he will be an acne covered teenager, eating you our of house and home. Enjoy this while it lasts :)

Why I'm a "breastspert"

Hello and welcome to my blog! 

If you're here, you are probably interested in breastfeeding. Maybe you are currently nursing your little one, maybe you have nursed in the past or maybe you're planning on breastfeeding a future baby. Either way, you may want to know what makes me such an expert (or a "breastspert" as I like to say). Well, I'm not a certified lactation consultant or anything, but I do have lots of experience and I have spent a great deal of time doing my research. Let me share some of my experiences with you before we dive right into the good stuff.

As a breastfeeding mama...

  • I have nursed my son from birth to 17 months
  • I am currently nursing my 2 month old daughter
  • I dealt with low supply issues with my son(but persevered and never had to supplement!)
  • I have, more recently, dealt with oversupply issues that lead to choking and tummy problems for my daughter
  • I have suffered from clogged ducts, milk blisters and mastitis (which is something I would never wish on my worst enemy!)
  • My milk came in very late when my son was born
  • I have gone through the weaning process
  • I exclusively pumped for the first 2 weeks of my daughter's life, and then made the transition back to the breast
  • I have traveled while breastfeeding and pumping
  • I am currently on a limited diet due to my daughter's food allergies and sensitivies
  • My daughter who I am currently nursing has severe reflux, so I know all about nursing reflux babies
  • I am in the process of donating hundreds of ounces of breastmilk to a milk bank
So.... as you can see, I am pretty well versed in the ins and outs of breastfeeding. In the posts to follow, I will address all of the issues you see above, plus lots more! I also intend on interjecting some of my own opinions on breastfeeding as well as some much needed humor. Oh, and of course there will be lots of pics of my little nurslings :)

Welcome to my boobie blog, I think you're gonna like it here!