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Breastfeeding: What You Need To Know Before Baby Arrives

Lori Ramsey


My first pregnancy was the most challenging and rewarding time of my life. So many firsts were happening to me. All celebrated with such ignorant bliss - I literally went through labor and delivery with no clue that I actually had choices I could make - and then embarking on the most single rewarding task - that of becoming a mother. What little I did know - I chose to breastfeed.

My son, my first child - was certainly a learning experience for me. I have twenty-twenty hindsight now and wish I knew then what I know now! I was blessed, so I was told, to have a lactation consultant for a pediatric nurse with my son. Please know I am not bashing lactation consultants or the like. With my son's birth, I felt I received suggestions that frustrated me - leaving me in tears and ready to give up. I do have a very good friend who is a lactation consultant and she gives wonderful advice. I truly wish I could have had her then! But, just in case you receive advice from someone who is well meaning - but who leaves you ready to throw in the towel - I have a few suggestions from my own experience.

The trauma of birthing a child is certainly something that takes a little while to recover from. Unfortunately, mothering and breastfeeding are not going to wait. They pretty much begin immediately. The number one piece of advice I can give to all new mothers embarking on breastfeeding for the first time is to relax. It's when I finally relaxed with my son that I was able to properly breastfeed him. This occurred about 5 days after he was born - when I was on the verge of completely giving up breastfeeding.

While in the hospital - I was taught how to "hold" the baby - in the football hold - cross lying hold - with pillows, without pillows. It was enough to confuse me. What worked best for me was to put a pillow in my lap - this worked well with my daughter after a cesarean too - and to lay the baby in my arm crossways and with my free hand to help the baby to latch on. I usually put a pillow under the arm holding the baby. This was most comfortable as I could see the baby and nurse easily.

I had, with both children, a nurse to come in and inquire if I had "pulled" my nipples before placing the baby at my breasts. I had to laugh with my daughter - because, quite frankly, I did not. I see no need - at least unless you have inverted nipples to pull on them or to prepare them before beginning to breastfeed. Nature has a way of working things out - if you follow your instincts. The baby will know what to do when the time comes.

At first you may need to "tease" the baby with the nipple - enticing him to latch on - sometimes you may need to gently pull his chin down and help to place the entire areola into his mouth - he will begin sucking. One thing I would like to talk about is "sleepy babies." This occurs if the mother has had IV injection of a narcotic such as Stadol. This does pass on to the baby and for the first couple of days the newborn is very groggy and may need a lot of coaxing to nurse. I had this with my son - which further frustrated me. With my daughter, a cesarean, I only had a spinal and epidural - and she was more awake and latched on right away.

Many women give up because they think that if the milk does not come in within a few days of giving birth - then they are not producing enough. With my daughter, who was born at 36 weeks and by a cesarean, it took my milk a good five days to come in. My pediatrician voiced concern that I was starving my daughter - yet I did not give up. I knew that being pre-term and with the cesarean - it could take a little longer for the milk to come in. A newborn baby can go really well for the first week or so on nothing but colostrum - the first milk produced. I relaxed and took warm showers and massaged my breasts to help my milk come in. Finally - 5 days later, my milk came in heavily and my daughter to this day is a thriving 2 1/2 year old.

Another point I would like to touch on is the length of time you allow the baby at each breast. I have heard 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes; but the truth is that the baby can stay on a breast a lot longer - as long as you are comfortable and the baby is sucking. The breast has the ability to constantly reproduce - just keep this in mind.

So, my resounding advice - derived from experience (I nursed my son for 12 months and my daughter for 19 months) is to relax and not give up. Listen to the nurses - but don't get frustrated by all their well meaning tips. Babies are born with the ability to latch on and in most cases do not need to be taught to do so. Do as I do and smile and nod and then do what you feel is right. If you haven't a clue - then try some of their suggestions and by all means - enjoy this wonderful time with your new baby.

My name is Lori Ramsey. My education consists of a diploma in Business Data Processing. I also successfully completed two courses with the Famous Writers School on Basic Writing and Fiction Writing. I am a mother of two children ages 4 and 2. I am currently pregnant with my third child, due to be born in early November.

Embarking on first conception then parenting, I realize how ignorant I was at the beginning. Knowledge is power and since I have literally devoured books, magazines, and online articles on the subject of conception and pregnancy. I honestly feel I know more than the average "public" about this subject. And was shocked at how little I actually didn't know before!

My hobbies, as such, revolve around being a mother and a wife. Being a writer has been a long time dream - even to the point that I have written 16 chapters in a fiction novel and numerous articles (non published). And at present, I am focused on my pregnancy, enjoying each moment and loving the expressions on my children's faces as my belly grows. I am involved in my church, working with the nursery and am one of the leaders of the worship dance ministry. And lastly, but certainly not least, I love surfing the web!

Lori is a Contributing writer for The Baby Corner as well as for Suite 101 Preconception: Trying To Conceive.

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