You have had your baby. Congratulations! You have conquered the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Yippee! Everything seems to be going well. Baby is healthy and happy and your new family unit is adjusting. Then, you start realizing that you and baby have become one unit. This is awesome! Right? Well, yes it is awesome. Of course it is. But, what about the other parent? Is the non-breastfeeding parent involved enough? Does he/she feel as connected to your new bundle of joy as you? Do you have silent resentment starting to take shape since you are the primary food giver? Does your partner have "pushed down" feelings that they are the lesser parent because the baby seems to only be soothed by you? How can both parents find a way to share in the joys, work, care and memories of the new baby?
The answer to all of these questions are for you to decide and whatever the answers are, you should know that all these stirred up feelings are natural. How can you process and manage these new feelings though? How can you implement positive ways into your family so that you and your partner get to share duties and create new roles?
Many breastfeeding families need to find ways to allow both parents to become involved. It is healthy and helpful that your new baby learns different ways to be soothed, besides at the breast, as well as learns that there are two parents to form a bond with. Now, of course there are situations where there is only one parent from the very beginning. Finding ways to engage with your new baby, besides being stuck at home and on the couch, will be beneficial for you both and a few ideas are mentioned in this post that can help you.
This is probably the number one way a non-breastfeeding parent can help soothe a new baby, feel empowered by it, and bond. This is also one of the best ways a breastfeeding parent can be close to their baby and get things done! Baby wearing is not only for women. Baby wearing is unisex and baby wearing wraps come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Many times you can try out a baby wearing wrap from a local baby wearing chapter in your area. Here in San Diego, CA Babywearing International of San Diego and Babywearing San Diego are the best local resources in town to learn about all the different baby wraps/slings out there. Baby wraps can be expensive and when you quickly purchase one you do not know if the wrap will necessarily be the most comfortable. Trying out a few wraps before making the purchase is helpful. Go to Babywearing International to find a chapter near you.
Bath time is a great way that the other parent can get involved. Maybe it is every night or a few times a week when baths are given by the other parent. Baths are supposed to be fun and soothing to babies. Bath times do not have to be in the evening. Maybe your partner works late all week and can't be there in the evening. If this is the case, a morning bath on the weekend would be another great option! Need ideas for keeping it fun? Check out these ideas from What To Expect.
Taking your baby for a stroll is a wonderful way to bond and have some fun. Babies love movement as well as new sights and sounds. This can also benefit you as you get exercise while having fun with your baby. Stroller rides after a long day at work is also a stress reducer. Maybe one parent was home all day and needs a mental break, but the other parent might have been at work all day and is stressed and tired. Taking a long walk at the end of the day, together with your partner or separate, can be beneficial for everyone involved. Get moving!
Babies love getting massages! Why wouldn't they? This is another wonderful way for either parent to bond with their baby and learn more about them. This is a great "wind down routine" before bedtime as well. You do not need to be certified in infant massage to give your baby a massage! Gentle hand movements on their arms, torso, legs, feet, and hands are incredibly soothing. Most babies turn to jello while receiving a massage. To learn more and find ways to massage your new baby go to the International Association of Infant Massage or to A Foundation for Healthy Family Living.
Music and Dance:
Holding your baby in your arms and dancing around the house is fun and healthy! Yes, you might feel a little silly doing this, but who will see you? Turn on your favorite tunes, hold baby close, and dance around the house! Your baby will love it. Not only will they love the movement; they will love the sounds they hear. They will love being close to you and seeing that you are having fun. More often than not, parents find out what music their baby likes, what music soothes them, what music makes them happy, etc. Not to mention....it beats going to the gym!
Hopefully, one of the above listed ideas will resonate with you and your family. If not, take some time to think of other alternatives that can fit into your unique home. Bonding with your baby can take many shapes and forms and does not always have to be at feeding times. Get creative, communicate, and take action! Your family will love you for it!
Written by Heather Shabestari, IBCLC
Owner at Breastfeeding Consultants of San Diego, LLC
The temperature is rising and you are concerned that your baby will become dehydrated. The question many mothers ask is whether or not they should offer their exclusively breastfed baby water. Although for adults increasing our water intake is a good and often necessary practice, for exclusively breastfed infants, this is not usually the case. Breast milk has a high water content, thus baby's thirst should be quenched by breastfeeding. Often times the number of breastfeeds will increase during hot summer months because babies do need more fluid during this time. This is natural and absolutely normal. So, please allow your baby to breastfeed often and do not limit the amount of time or number of feeds your little one requests during hot weather periods.
For older babies or toddlers that are eating solids and not exclusively breastfed anymore, adding in a little bit of water between breastfeeds might be necessary. Offering additional short breastfeeding sessions can also do the trick as well.
The key to knowing if your baby is getting enough fluid is to watch for signs of dehydration. How does one do this you might ask. First, record how many wet diapers your baby has and the color of your baby's urine. Hydrated babies should have at least 6-8 wet diapers in a 24 hour period and the urine color should be very light yellow. If your baby is not producing a lot of wet diapers or their urine color is dark yellow or orange, an increase in fluid intake is necessary. Other symptoms of dehydration are:
Here are a few ideas to help make breastfeeding in the heat more manageable for both you and your little one:
Beating the heat can prove to be a little challenging, especially because we all just feel a little less energetic when we are hot. Being proactive and well informed can make all the difference though in making sure your baby is plenty hydrated. Now, don't forget that your hydration is also important, so grab a glass of cool water and let you and your baby quench both your thirsts during these last few weeks of summer!
Bringing your new baby home is exciting, thrilling, and scary! For the first few days after your birth, many people are around helping you and your new bundle of joy. Once home though, many realize that taking care of your new baby is 24 hour work and the help you had is no longer there. In addition, between days 3-6 your milk starts to come in more and managing breastfeeding can become a challenge. Most women know that their milk will begin to come in more fully, but many do not realize to the extent that it can increase. This can lead to engorgement if the breasts are not properly drained via breastfeeding. On the other hand, if a mother's milk does not come in as fully as needed, she may not realize that her baby is not getting enough milk at each feeding. This can lead to a baby that does not gain weight appropriately and can be more sleepy than normal. In addition to breastfeeding, women are also dealing with hormonal changes and less sleep and many try to take on more tasks than are needed (i.e. cleaning, washing, emailing, cooking, engaging with guests that stop by, etc.).
So...how can a new mother try and make coming home the best experience she and her baby can possibly have? Here are a few tips:
These tips along with the advice of your primary care physician will help you and your new baby get on a positive path. For those of you that have different words of advice, please feel free to share in the comment section. Best of luck to all the new mothers out there!
~ Heather Shabestari, IBCLC
When people learn about what I do most assume that I breastfed both my children. This would be the most common and logical thought, right? Well, this was not the case in my situation. My life was pretty hectic a few months before I had my first child (almost 12 years ago). We were moving. My husband and I drove from the Midwest to California, pulling a U-Haul and I tried my best to take many rest breaks along the way to get the blood moving in my legs and body. A few weeks after settling in I went for a routine ultrasound and after some long pauses from the ultrasound technician and then a stint in the waiting room I was told I had to go immediately to the hospital. A blood clot (DVT) was found in my upper thigh. Fast forward a few days and I was thankfully sent home and instructed to give myself an injection of medication (blood thinner) in the abdomen every day for the remaining 6 weeks of pregnancy and be on strict bed rest. No fun!
A week or so later I went in for a check-up and to see a specialist. It was during this time that my obstetrician and the specialist told me that once I gave birth I would have to continue to take an oral blood thinning medication for 6 weeks AND I could not breastfeed my child. They informed me that the medication I was to take was harmful to newborns because it passed through breastmilk. I was devastated. Crushed actually. I don't really know why I wanted to breastfeed my first baby so badly, but it was just something that I wanted to do. I wanted to experience it. I wanted to see if the breastfeeding horror stories were valid. I wanted to be the one to have that intimate connection with my baby. I wanted to be the one to decide if I could or could not handle it. I wanted to feed my baby. When that decision was taken away from me, I was deeply saddened. I shed some tears, but kept my dismay largely to myself and tried to move on.
My son was born by caesarean delivery unexpectedly. He was breech. He was fed formula by bottle and on day 3 in the hospital my milk volume increased tremendously. I went through pain, swelling, redness, and breasts feeling like a ton of bricks. Over the course of 24-48 hours, I told my body to stop making milk by applying bags of ice and cabbage and wearing a sports bra to constrict my breasts. The nurses on the floor did not really know what to do with me because my breasts had swelled to a massive factor and so I was a willing patient to try and do anything to stop the pain.
Fast forward 6 weeks post delivery. I went to my family practice physician for a check-up. I will never forget this visit. He asked me how I was feeling and if I was breastfeeding. I told him that I was not breastfeeding because I was told by the specialist that I could not breastfeed due to the medication I was on. He then stated that he was pretty sure I could still breastfeed while taking the medication. I think he saw a look of alarm on my face and he quickly said, "Wait right here. I will be right back." When he came back he opened a medical book, looked up the medication I was taking and said, "The medication you are taking is a class B drug. Although some of the medication does pass through breastmilk, there is no proven evidence that it would cause any harm to your baby." He then continued to say, "If you still want to breastfeed your baby, you can re-initiate breastfeeding now." I had two reactions when I heard this. The first was ANGER and the second was NO WAY. I was so angry at the specialist that told me I could not breastfeed my baby. Why did he not know what this physician knew? Why was there a disconnect? The question of me re-initiating breastfeeding was like talking crazy talk. At the time I did not understand how incredible the human body was nor how forgiving it can be. I did not have someone to guide me, educate me, or show me how someone could produce breastmilk after giving birth 6 weeks out. I was young and I was not from a family of breastfeeding women. This was a foreign idea to me. I had no idea how a woman would even attempt this. So, I did not breastfeed my first-born child. I did do the best I could with the resources I had. I did everything in my power to bond and connect with my baby. From reading to him every day, to giving him a full body massage every night, along with singing, cuddling, holding, rocking, crying, and laughing I did bond. Do I wish I had breastfed him? Yes. Do I sometimes still feel guilty about it? Yes. Do I dwell on it? No. Do I think I would have been a better mother to him if I had breastfed him? No. Do I wish I knew then what I know now? Yes, of course. Did I make sure I had the opportunity to breastfeed my second child? Yes....
The point to all of this is that each and every mother has her own story. Not every woman can breastfeed her child. Many circumstances can stand in the way. Many problems can be resolved though with proper instruction and care. The number one rule that lactation consultants live by is: FEED THE BABY. This is our main concern. We are baby and mother advocates. We want thriving, healthy babies. If this can be achieved with exclusive breastfeeding, great! If this needs to be achieved with breastfeeding and supplementation, great! If this needs to be achieved with exclusive supplementation with lots of skin-to-skin time, great! Whatever needs to happen to make sure the baby is getting the calories and nutrients it needs to grow and thrive as well as assessing the comfort of the mother is what truly matters. We want women to be educated and well informed about breastfeeding so that they can make informed choices. If your story is not the norm or if you had problems breastfeeding your child, don't feel bad! Every mother does the best she can with the tools, knowledge, and resources that are available to her. My hope is that all women continue to ask questions, trust their instincts, learn from one another, get educated on the many aspects of breastfeeding and ask for help when help is needed.
Please share my story with anyone you think may benefit from reading it and then I invite you to share your own stories with our followers. For further information or if you need help, please visit www.bfcofsd.com and send me an email!
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." ~ Albert Einstein
Today marks the first post to our breastfeeding blog, Milk Matters. Milk matters to us all and there are definitely matters concerning milk nationwide and globally. To the breastfeeding mom, milk matters could pertain to so many different aspects of her day. Maybe it is the scheduling aspect of breastfeeding or pumping. It could be a question of "Why is my baby spitting up so much these days", or "Why can't I seem to make enough milk for my baby?" Then, there is the social aspect of breastfeeding. Maybe your family or friends don't feel comfortable with you breastfeeding in front of them or you feel embarrassed doing it in front of them. Whatever issues, thoughts, ideas, strategies, conflicts or successes a breastfeeding mother has, most of the time it has to do with the matter of milk.
Milk Matters is here to give you breastfeeding support, resources, advice, and tips, along with a little humor. Life is too short to be so serious and laughter is a proven strategy to reduce stress and disease. So, why not use it!
Please check back often as we hope to learn from you as much as we hope you learn or take something useful from us!
Heather Shabestari, BS, IBCLC, CEIM, is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM). Her lactation training was completed through University of California, San Diego and an 8 month internship at Kaiser Permanente's outpatient lactation department.