Author Topic: "I'm pregnant for the first time and think I do want to breastfeed. Help me?"  (Read 11155 times)

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Offline Samuel's mum

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OK - now obviously I'm not talking about me here but I'd like to ask you ladies for a bit of help. The mods are developing a child board with 'frequently asked questions' and I would love to have a set of replies here as if this question was a real one. If a new mum-to-be is surfing one day and comes across us I would like her to be inspired.

So imagine:

I'm 26 weeks pregnant with my first child. I really do think I want to breastfeed as I've heard it's more healthy but I don't know anyone who does. Noone in my family has ever done it. Is there anything you think I should know? Will it hurt? Is it worth it? I would appreciate any support or advice you could give me. TIA.
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Offline Julian2006

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I would recommend learning as much as possible before the baby comes and to be prepared for a lot of hard work.  For some women it comes very easily, and others struggle. 

I knew that I wanted to breastfeed, but did not anticipate it taking three months to get the hang of it!  Julian would not latch on in the hospital so we were trying to get him to latch, then giving him a bottle of previously expressed milk, and then me pumping for the next feeding.  This whole process took twice as long as regular feedings.  I was exhausted!!!  And this went on for three weeks!!  I was going to breastfeeding clinics and having a nurse come to the house to help me but he just wouldn't do it.  At the three week mark a nurse finally gave me a nipple shield and he latched on immediately and had his first full meal from just my breast.  I was so happy, everyone in the room had tears in their eyes!  We continued using the shield for the next several weeks and then I started having milk supply issues.  Using the shield he wasn't getting as much milk out of the breast as he would without.  It was also taking him much longer.  I went and saw another lactation consultant and I started pumping a minimum of eight times a day after he ate - I would supplement with expressed milk when I needed to and froze the rest.  I also took Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle (from the health food store) to try to stimulate my production.  Also, I started to wean him off the latch by lying in bed with him on my stomach with both our shirts off.  Being in this position he would root around looking for my breast and would latch on without the shield - I guess this is what newborns do if you put them on your stomach right after they are born.  I did this for 12 days and am happy to say that everything is great now.  My milk supply is good and there are no problems latching:)

So the moral of the story is to be prepared to fight for it.  Make sure you know what resources are available to you in your community to help you, rent a hospital grade electric pump if you are required to pump, and be sure that the people around you know that you will need support!

I am really happy now that we are exclusively breastfeeding and strongly recommend at least trying; but if it doesn't work for you, then it doesn't work for you.

Offline hatshetsut

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Breast feeding is the way to go if you ask me. I feel that nature knows what it is doing, and breast feeding is the most natural healthy thing you can do for a baby. Plus, it is great bonding time with your little one, and is low maintenance!

Breast feeding doesn't hurt, but does take some time to get you and your baby in sync with each other. I would recommend taking a breast feeding class that describes positions to nurse, recommended feeding techniques, and take full benefit of the lactation consultants at the hospital where you will deliver. Also, Tracy's books have great guidelines for breast feeding, so if you haven't picked up the BW Solves All Your Problems, I would!

If you do decide to BF, you will not regret it!
Abigail - Defines Spirited! - 5-1-06

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Offline Harvey and Theos Mam

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No one in my family had breastfed so i had very little help. I did go to "parentcraft classes" and found a lot of the information sheets they gave me to be excellent in helping towards my success.

I wasn't sure if i would like the feel of b/f or if it would be the right choice for me, but........as you can tell because i am posting here and now b/f my 2nd child, i thought it was the best experience i could've wished for.
Look for your local b/f group or mother group as they can be a great support network. And do not be afraid to ask for help as both you and baby are both learning how to feed.

Things i love about b/f
The closeness you feel with your baby.
never having to worry about washing, sterilizing or making bottles.
Great for early hour feeds as you already have your milk ready available.
Your bag is much smaller as you haven't got to load it with bottles of milk.

I got a mammoth amount of support from these great ladies on the BW when i was having a hard time with  my 2nd baby. There is always someone somewhere to listen to you and help you as best they can.
Rhian
 

Offline Petunia

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Honestly, the best advice I can give is to read So That's What They're For , 3rd Edition by Janet Tamaro.  It's funny, easy to read, and covers all the basics.  You can go from there into more in-depth things.

Until I read the first three chapters in her book my attitude was "I'll give breast feeding a try...if it doesn't work, oh well."  After reading those chapters I was determined that breastfeeding was the only option for my baby!  After reading the rest of the book I was armed with enough information to know that breastfeeding was possible and not to give up when the going got tough.  That knowledge and my determination were what got me over the beginning hurdles.  I ended up breastfeeding for a year.

Since you don't know anyone who breastfeeds (I was in the same boat) I would recommend seeking out a lactation consultant before the baby is born.  You'll need the eyes and ears of someone who knows more than you to help you over hurdles.  Without this kind of help, it is very likely that you will give up breastfeeding before you really wish to do so.

Offline Ennypen

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Hope you don't mind me sticking my nose in here - this is a subject I get a bit emotional about sometimes so wanted to say something.

Like some posters have mentioned many women find they can't breastfeed no matter how hard they try or how hard they fight. Me included. At first I felt a failure and was very very emotional about it... feeling like something was missing ... but I realised that I should not feel this way and in fact was doing the very best I could for my LO under the circumstances.

Please please mention somewhere in your FAQ thread that after trying hard to breast feed and still you can't you should not feel that you have failed and that you can bond just as well with a baby when bottle feeding as you can when breastfeeding.

Thanks

Helen xxx

Offline Samuel's mum

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Thanks Ennypen for sharing that. Your post will stand in this thread so I don't need to mention it because you already have very eloquently.

Thanks everyone for great responses so far. Keep it coming.
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Offline Sam's mum

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Breast feeding is definitely the best way to go however....

My experience was that it did hurt for up to 3-4 weeks and the first weeks in particular were really tough. The best advice I was given and can give away now is that it takes at least 6 weeks for it to start to feel natural but the rewards once it starts to fall into place are huge.  No sterilising, milk on tap when we're out and never worrying about if I've made enough or waiting for bottles to cool down and I love the fact that it's all down to me that she's putting weight on and growing.  Having said that my lo didn't like turning her head to the right to start with so we spent the first few weeks trying all sorts of positions to try and trick her to take the side she didn't like ;D.  My dh had to help me position her for the first couple of days until we both started getting comfortable with the latch (and for some this alone can take a few weeks).  

SOO while in the long run it's a lot easier and fantastic getting started was really hard work and at times exhausting but all worth it in the end.

Fiona

Offline onemodestdiva

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I want to metion some things that I had a hrd time with:
No matter how much people say that breastfeeding is natural and easy noone said "they don't come out knowing how to breastfeed and neither do you."  It is a learned process, sometimes with tears and pain.
There will come a day when you might wake up DRENCHED in breast milk.  Get up dry yourself off and then go back to sleep.
If your baby nurses one day it is a gift.  If you are able to go 2 then it is wonderful and if you go as long as you both want then it is a miracle.
It is okay to give your LO a bottle.  It is even convient when you want to take some time to yourself.  You are a good mother regardless of how you chose to feed your child.  A bottle doesn't make you less.
Alisha



Offline nattymarsh

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Hear Hear onemodestdiva!

I did take a prenatal class and asked for help from nurses and lactation consultants and went to breastfeeding clinics when trying to learn how to breastfeed.  It may be natural and easy for some, but for me and my lo it was the hardest thing we've ever had to learn, and I found it painful in the beginning (improper latch, cracked and bleeding nipples, engorgment). Because I heard over and over again that breastfeeding is so easy and natural I felt like a failure when it didn't happen to me right away.   I had no idea that it was a learning process and there are many variables that can hinder it along the way (i.e. my lo had jaundice)  There were many tears along the way but I can tell you that I'm glad I stuck with it because I find it very rewarding (and convienent!)  Please, please, please keep this in mind: 
You are a good mother regardless of how you chose to feed your child.


Good luck with whatever you choose to do and enjoy your new baby!

Offline Monika aka annamum

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I would say, get in touch with LLL or any local breastfeeding organization before you have your baby. That way, when you experience problems with nursing you will know whom to call and ask for help. Some hospitals have a free lactation consultant on staff and all you need to do is to call the number and ask the question.

It really may be tough at the beginning, especially for a first time mom with little or no help from outside. Just handling a newborn is a demanding and stressful job, learning how to nurse is just one more thing to handle and at times it may seem daunting. But, in a long run, it is so worth it, there are emotional, nutritional and health benefits for both mom and baby.

I agree, you may need to have a book on breastfeeding available. I found it easier to nurse and read in the first weeks, my baby didn't mind me reading while she was at my breast and as you can imagine, I was spending a lot of time doing that. My favorite one is : Dr. Jack Newman's "Guide to Breastfeeding" (called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers" in the USA.

Personally, if you are commited, don't have cans of formula at home, it may be really tempting at times to open one. If it is not available, you may have enough time to rethink your decision before you go to the grocery to buy one :).

And always you can come here, you will get a superb support on this board!
tandem nursing mama to sweet Anna (Feb 2004) and Alexandra (born at home Dec 2006)

Offline Samuel's mum

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Some fabulous responses - thank you ladies.

I'll move this to the FAQ board soon.

Would anyone else like to post?
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Offline momma2g

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Hello .
Do as you see fit!  If your not confortable breastfeeding you may not stick with it it is difficult in the first few weeks!  I BF both my girls.  No one in my family ever breast fed so I had no one to ask advice from but if you decide to go with it there is a wonderful organization call the la Leche league. http://www.lalecheleague.org
they have a web site with tons of people all over the world to answer any question you can think of here is a link also I did supplement with formula when I was out and pumped to bottle feed on occasion if you are going to BF for more than 6 mons invest in a good pump.  But not until after the baby is at least 4 weeks old and has your milk supply regulated trust me it is very uncomfortable if you don't wait as i soon learned.  Also every formula package you read starts out by saying Breast milk is best. Tracy has a blurb in her book about nipple confusion as well which is help ful however small or newborn nipples work best when feed from bottle and breast. good luck on whatever you decide
Momma2g

Offline evanskimberley

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Silly practical things, work out before hand (whilst still pregnant) where you can and you feel happy to breastfeed in public. For instance, does you local shopping mall have facilities, what are they like, if you go food shopping, can you do it there?
This helps you get out and about and not feel like you have to stay in even if you are feeding on demand in the early days.

Drink loads and loads of water. Gets lots of rest.

At the end of a feed get things read again for the next feed. If you have designated feeding chair, have glass of water handy, keep the phone there, snacks incase you get hungry, TV remote!!! Bfeeding is a lovely time to bond with your baby, but it can be a way of getting a bit of 'me; time too!!!

Invest in a few good bras. I mean a few, cos they will need washing frequently due to leakage, so get breastpads in too!! Splash out and buy really good quality bras that are pretty and and feminine, but still do the job. it will help you to feel 'normal'. Make sure you get them fitted by a professional. Many shops have trained bra fitters and in the UK, the NCT have a service where they will come out to your house to measure you and sell you the bras. (You don't have to be a member)
Kimberley


Offline Mrs. Gravy

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Expect to be nursing around the clock for the first while. 

Forget about the housework.  Concentrate on nursing your baby when he/she demands it.  Don't ever try to force a schedule.  Breast feeding works best when it's on demand.  Doing otherwise can mess with your supply.

Find a local LLL group in advance, so you will have support when you need it.  Find a Lactation Consultant in case you run into problems.

Read all you can about it before the baby.  http://kellymom.com/store/reviews/index.html - has some great books and reviews.

Stick with it.  The first few weeks are the hardest but it gets easier.  It is one of the best things you can do for your child. 

Expect your family to have questions.  They're probably used to formula feeding and maybe starting solids at an earlier age than is now recommended.  Be prepared to educate others.  101 Reasons to Breast Feed Your Child - http://www.notmilk.com/101.html  Print copies and hand them out to people who question what you're doing!

Be confident that you are doing what is best for your child.  Being educated will let you put up with the questions and comments others make.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 21:19:25 pm by Fiver »

Offline robynfuller

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Hello, also wanted to add a bit, I am a first time mum and no-one had breastfed, I was formula fed, or given me any guidelines prior to breastfeeding my lo. My mom works at a pharmacy and gave me a wonderful cream to put on my nipples to prepare them for when the time finally came (It is called Lansinhol - hope I got the spelling right, not sure where else in the world this is available - I from South Africa and it is the best stuff on the market) Anyway it really worked, I used it a month prior to birth and for 1 month after, you put it on after feeding) the first few days was quite difficult and it was sore, as this is a whole new experience for mother and child but as you go on and the baby gets better at latching and you learn more about breastfeeding it does get easier (although not for everyone) . Even if you cant breastfeed or if you choose not to breastfeed I do feel it is important to at least let the baby get the colostrum (full of antibodies) - I think it is for the first 3 days after baby is born, thick like syrup and see through. although this is very hard for the baby - they really have to suck - I read somewhere its like sucking syrup through a pin. 

Either way whichever route you choose you are doing the best for you and your baby, good luck to you, try to get as much information as you can and use what suites you and your babies needs, and when in doubt come to these boards, everyone is sooo helpful and I think everyone has been in almost all and any situations so you are not alone.
HTH
Robyn

tstasko

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Everyone has covered most of what I would say, but just wanted to add a couple of things (by the way Robyn, I'm in the States, and I was going to mention Lansinoh as well - it's fabulous!! )great for chapped lips too - lol!):

-First-Give yourself a huge pat on the back for even thinking about giving this beautiful gift to you and your baby!! 
Nobody in my family breastfed, but there is so much support through forums like these and LLL.
It is different for every woman, but just remember that BOTH of you are learning a new skill, respect that time it will take to feel each other out.
Please know that cetain things like a C-Section can make it a little harder in the beginning, but it absolutely gets better and easier - I didn't know that and thought there was something wrong w/ME but my body was just recovering.
Even if you are too shy or nervous about asking questions outright - lurk on boards like these!! ;D  I did, and it helped tremdously!
Take time to enjoy it - even if it's just one feeding your lo is lucky enough to get from you - it's a lovely moment.
Set small goals. My overall goal was(is) to breastfeed for a year - but obstacles do come up and I had to redefine my goals! My first goal was to just get colostrum into my lo.  Then I took it feed by feed until I thought I could make it to 6 weeks.  Then another week and so on (at 7mo and going strong!).  If I looked too far down the line it was too overwhelming. 
Is is worth it?  If you are able to do it you will probably find that it is worth more than words can describe.  I wish you the best while continuing your breastfeeding research.  No matter what you choose to do, or what you have to do, the fact that you considered this an option is lovely. 

Tari





Offline Erin M

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My best advice is to take a class beforehand that tells you what to expect and shows you all the different latch-on positions.  In the US, it seems as if most hospitals offer them as part of their prenatal education classes.  Expect some bumps in the road in the beginning, but it shouldn't be impossible -- if it feels that way find a LLL chapter or a lactation consultant to help you out.  Buy/rent a good breast pump so you can get away every now and then or if you're planning on going back to work.  Most of all, give it 6 weeks -- I'm of the opinion that you can do just about anytyhing for 6 weeks -- even if the beginning is rough, most people I've talked to have seen such a difference at that point, I know I did.  And from my personal opinion (though others differ on this point), it's ok if you don't just adore BF from the first time the baby latches on -- quite honestly, I hated it at first, but it got much, much, much better with time. :)

Oh, and if your family doesn't have any BF experience, find someone who does.  It's great to have someone to talk to about problems/issues/feelings you may be having.  (Or just stick around this site, it's a lifesaver!)
Erin, mom to
Katie Rose and Allie Quinn

and...


Offline elsa and jethro's mum

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OK my advice might sound kind of weird (well one bit of it anyhow) but someone gave me this advice, and we had a really tough time getting started BFing so I ended up really grateful for it:

learn to express before the baby's born. I know that sounds weird, and you won't get much, just  a few drops up to about a capful of yellowish fluid (thats the colostrum). It will just mean that a) you know your way around your own boobs and how they work to get the milk out which helps as you're trying to position the baby, and b) that you know you have access to your milk suply to be feeding your baby in those early hours/days. Don't worry you cant dry up your supply by expressing, it replenishes itself.
also, I had in the house a few 10 mL syringes and some small medicine pots for cup feeding. So when elsa didn;'t latch on for 2 weeks I could be fairly relaxed about it as I already knew how to express and had a non bottle way of feeding her at my fingertips! This meant I could relax and we could learn together how to do it properly.
It was hard work in those early weeks but shes 9.5 months old now, still BF and I promise you it is so worth the hard work if you can manage it!
L





tstasko

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L-
I heard that too - but wondered if you were to do that when the baby is born do they not get the colustrum because you've already started producing milk?
Sorry this is getting off topic - I'll start another thread if needed, but just curious - my LC told me the same thing, that my dr. should have had me start pumping a week or so in advacne since there was a good chance for a C-section.
Curious for next time ..... ;)
Thanks,
Tari

Offline chargerfans

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I highly, highly recommend breastfeeding! It is the most awesome experience. Your will have an incredible bond with your child that no one else will ever have. The way he looks up at you when he is latched on is an image you will never forget. And when he cracks a smile while latched on you can't help but smile back. He knows and trusts that you will be his provider. It is a great feeling to know that you are a necessary part of this child's life and that you are helping him get off to a better start. My little one is almost 1 and we are going strong. I will start weaning at 1 and go straight to whole milk. He has only had a few runny noses in his first year of life - very healthy little guy!

My little one was small so I had to nurse and then pump and provide extra expressed breast milk after each feeding until he was at a good weight. Although I was exhausted I never got engorged since I was always emptying my breasts. I also had a tough time in the beginning. I really wanted to nurse and was going to try everything I could. Since he was small and I had to offer him expressed milk in the bottle he got used to the bottle. At 2 weeks he decided he didn't want to nurse, it was too much work! If he had the bottle it was free flowing milk... I was determined to make this work. I went to the hospital and spoke with a lactation consultant. Her #1 piece of advice - RELAX. If you don't relax you might not have your let down. And that was one of my problems. She could see how uptight I was and once I started to breath and focus on relaxing here it came. Another problem was that he didn't want to nurse. So I also used a nipple shield. He did take to the breast after that (must have been a texture thing) but using the shield was a complete pain. You always had to wash it and he would move while nursing and sometimes it would fall off. So slowing we were able to get him off of that by the help of the lactation consultants at the hospital. I would go to breastfeeding support groups (which is recommended if you use the shield, you should have weekly weigh ins to ensure your little one is getting enough milk) and these ladies know just how to get the latch right.

#1 Definitely do not offer the bottle before 5 weeks. If breastfeeding is not established he may decide he likes the bottle better as mine did
#2 Find out when your hospital has their breastfeeding support groups
#3 Definitely take a breastfeeding class

The beginning is tough because you don't know what you are doing. But trust yourself that you are doing it right and it will become natural. It didn't really hurt me at all (just the initial when my uterus would contract) but no cracked nipples, engorgement etc

Don't knock it till you try it - Everything is worth a shot. And if its better for your little one you might as well try it

Offline chargerfans

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About the last topic my Dr never suggested that I pump a week or so before I was due. Doesn't nipple stimulation bring on contractions??

Colostrum is enough for your baby to live off of until your milk comes in. It takes about 2-3 days for your milk to come in.. Until then the baby latches on and gets the nutrients from the colostrum. Since they do not have a lot of milk they do loose weight. This is why it is common for babies to loose a few ounces before they go home. Most babies are born with a little extra fat on the back of their necks/shoulders to help hold them over (that's what my Dr said at least). And my little one was only 5 lbs and didn't have any extra fat. So his blood sugar was too low and they would give him bottle of formula in between his nursings to get his blood sugar within range. Had he been a bit larger he would have been able to loose a few oz before my milk came in. But since he was small they didn't want him to loose anything.

So thats a long story just to say I think you are ok if you just wait until the baby is born. I too had an unplanned C Section...

Offline Maeve

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I have breastfed two babies and I was lucky to have two good feeders that hardly hurt me at all, so for me breastfeeding was great. But, even as a happy breastfeeder, I sometimes feel that there is pressure on women to breastfeed, which might make it hard for those who can't or don't want to. So all I would like to say is that yes for a lot of women breastfeeding may be difficult initially, but the thing is, until you try, you don't know how it will be, and you might love it (or hate it), and it is always easy to change from breast to bottle, but not the other way around. So anyone who isn't sure, or thinks they might want to, they should try, but not beat themselves up if it doesn't work. There are lots of ways to be a good parent.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2006, 22:16:46 pm by Samuel's mum »
Maeve, mother to:
Con, full of fun (22nd may 2004)
Cathal "I'll do it" (9th february 2006) and
Sophie 'so far so good' (31st august 2007).