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Everyone receiving this newsletter most likely knows the basics of breastfeeding. They have been to LLL meetings, they are reading the Breastfeeding Answer Book. You probobly know how to latch a baby on, how to make sure a baby is sucking effectively. But what if the mother you help has her baby too early? What if the baby has an illness or is not able to nurse for a period of time? What if the mother has had a breast reduction?
There are many different circumstances which might affect the breastfeeding relationship. And for every situation there are a plethora of gadgets to help the new mom and baby get started. Some are great and others should never have hit the market. There is the nipple shell, nipple shield, breast pump, sns, herbs, prescription drugs....it is endless. I am going to go out on a limb here-before you ever suggest to a mom that she try a device to aid breastfeeding, exhaust all possibilities. If a mom has had a reduction, and is nursing her baby with cut ducts, she probobly is not producing well. However, if she is having to hook up the sns every time she nurses, even if she is the most adamant breastfeeding woman she will come to the point that it is not worth it. I have seen this happen several times, in different situations. I regret being overeager to "help" using difficult to use devices when I should have praised the mother for doing such a great job, and listened better when she was frustrated. Being quiet, and listening, can save the breastfeeding relationship.
No, I am not talking of non-medical situations when the mother decides she has had enough. Or she wants to give bottles so she can go to the store. I won't even go there as I am way too opinionated, hehe! I am speaking of mothers who want to breastfeed, know the benefits and want the best for their babies. Please reward their efforts by letting go of the paraphanelia. I knew a wonderful mom who pumped for three days of the week only. She nursed also on these days and produced a lot of milk. The rest of the week she doled out what she had pumped into bottles of formula, so her baby would get some breastmilk each feeding. She worked the rest of the week at a chicken plant. Pumping there was out of the question. A small amount of breastmilk will do amazing things. It breaks down formula so it is easier to digest. All of the antibodies are concentrated into whatever amount the mother produces. So the baby gets the benefits even if she breastfeeds once a day. A determined mom is a wonderful weapon! So fuel her with information and praise, and be very sparing of equipment that can undermine as much as it helps.
A dear friend had a preemie (30 weeks). Determined to breastfeed, she pumped faithfully every two hours, round the clock. She started to dry up. After going to a breastfeeding specialist (a wonderful Dr) she began Reglan. She was one of the few it affects adversly, and she had horrible spasms that held her head to her neck for days. She tried other things and could not keep her supply going. She only got to nurse her baby a few times, and eventually gave up. She did nothing wrong. She did get to nurse her baby!!! And she provided wonderful breastmilk for those eight weeks they were growing her baby enough to come home. She did NOT FAIL!
A young mother had a preemie and pumped while he was in the hospital. When he came home she used an sns, as he was so tiny and her Dr. wanted that formula(grrr). Because she had trouble hooking the thing up(it is very hard by yourself), she finally got aggravated and gave up. She nursed for about three weeks, I think, after baby's discharge. She could have just nursed and given bottles, and worried about nipple confusion if it happened. I hindered her by helping her. We so need to listen to these moms!!!
All the gadgets have their place. They do help mothers provide breastmilk to their babies. But the more complicated you make the breastfeeding process, the less likely a mom is going to nurse long term. Be supportive of her goals, have factual information available, but leave the stuff in the trunk.