You finally get on a roll with breastfeeding. It felt like it would never happen – then all of a sudden your sweet baby is breastfeeding well, is more efficient, even sleeping longer stretches. And then it happens – distraction.
Distraction sets in around 4 months or so. One day your baby is breastfeeding just fine. The next day every little noise makes him turn his head. Sometimes while still holding on to the nipple (not pleasant at all). Any noise. Is the tv on? Did the cat come in the room? Is the dog barking? Phone notification go off? Or maybe your baby just wants to stop and gaze into your eyes.
I admit, part of me loves this stage. Your baby’s brain is growing at an amazing rate and he is starting to recognize the whole wide world around him. There is so much to look at and so much to learn! It may seem like your baby isn’t feeding as much, may even seem as if she’s weaning, but that’s definitely not the case. You may have to start changing your patterns a little to accommodate your new routine. Take your baby in a dark, quiet room for feeds, limit distractions, get a nursing necklace…or just accept that your baby is enjoying everything that is happening around him and trust that he will get what he needs when he does eat.
Listen to more discussion about distracted feeding on this week’s episode of the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast. Lots of good suggestions to help you through this next part of your breastfeeding journey!
I have been a lactation consultant for about 10 years now. More than that if you want to count the years I was working towards my certification. I have talked to so many mothers and heard so many stories about childbirth and breastfeeding and extended nursing…some heartwarming and some heartbreaking. I feel so honored when a mother trusts me with her story, this is information that will always sit close to her heart and live forever in her memory.
My son is 17 and my twins are 15. I remember the nurse who first helped me latch my son. 17 years ago. I remember the words she said, the encouragement she gave and how she did not breastfeed all 4 of her kids but she wished she had. I remember my twins’ cluster feeding in the hospital on night 2, and the nurse who came in to help me because I couldn’t figure out how to calm them both at the same time post cesarean section. I remember my dr telling me that I didn’t have to try breastfeeding both babies, I could alternate breast and bottle. I remember feeling defeated because I wanted help, and she was offering me an out that I did not want to take. I remember thinking “well, I guess I will figure this out on my own”. And I did. I remember the lactation consultant in the local hospital who handed me a pack of lanolin and sent me on my way when I went in looking for help with a bleeding nipple. These are memories that will stay with me forever, because these people were in my life during a very vulnerable time.
When new mothers tell me their story, it is usually in great detail, with emotion. Sometimes these stories haunt me for a long time. Sometimes I find myself so angry, angry at society for misunderstanding how important breastfeeding is. It is this that makes me a lactation consultant. It is my own experience that led me in this direction. I have told mothers that their experience will make them breastfeeding advocates as well, and to tell their story to everyone.
This week’s podcast is Part 2 of a story that came to us via email. Don’t miss hearing what this mom experienced during her breastfeeding journey.
Skin to skin is a practice that has become so widespread in the last few years. When I first started working with moms and babies, skin to skin after delivery wasn’t a “thing”. In fact, I remember attending a birth as a doula several years ago and I requested that the baby stay with mom and the response I got from the nurse was “she can have the baby when we are done”.
Going from that, to encouraging skin to skin as soon and often as possible is a big jump. The benefits of skin to skin are just amazing, and I am disappointed that this isn’t something we have been doing all along. I mean…really…it’s so natural. When you think about it, as adults we like to be skin to skin with our partner if we can. It’s such a calming, comfortable place to be. Why wouldn’t your newborn baby want to be skin to skin with mom? It’s the next best thing to being in the womb. Babies that are skin to skin with mom after delivery are calmer babies overall, their body temperature regulates easier, respirations are even, breastfeeding is easier and oxytocin is flowing. If mom cannot be skin to skin with baby right away, this is a good time for partners to step up and tuck that baby into your shirt. Sometimes called “Kangaroo Care”, skin to skin has been known to save the lives of preemie babies in the NICU. This is one of the most important things you can do for your baby in the first weeks of life (and beyond).
This week on the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, Dianne and Abby talk about the benefits of skin to skin. Check it out here:
Returning to work after having a baby is difficult. Overwhelming in many ways. Mentally you are responsible for doing your job, whatever that may be, when your mind seems to stay with the little bundle of joy that was left behind for the day. Physically you are still in a state of recovery (unless you are going back a year after the baby was born, but many in our society do not have that benefit) you are feeling sleep deprived and your breasts will fill with milk every few hours. Getting milk stains out of your work clothes might be a new skill you never realized you’d need. Not to take away from spouses who most definitely hold down the fort while mom is on maternity leave, being a working mother is a whole different routine. Babies miss having that bonding time, and some mothers find that babies will spend the duration of the evening wanting to nurse. Babies that were sleeping longer stretches at night might wake more frequently again, trying to make up for lost time during the quiet hours of the night.
Yet as mothers, we do this. We stay dedicated to both employer and family. We are able to multi-task in new, imaginative ways (raise your hand if you have ever pumped milk while driving). I am beyond proud of the women I meet who are returning to work. The challenges of figuring out how and when to pump milk, worrying about milk supply. Afraid to upset the delicate balance of work life and family life, concerned that colleagues won’t understand the distraction. Add in figuring out child care for your baby, how much milk to leave and how to get out of that meeting that was scheduled during your afternoon pump…it’s just too much.
We are here to help you. Often mothers are worrying about all of this before the baby is born. I get questions about pumping before the baby is born. What kind of bottle to give…and what is paced feeding anyway?? This week’s Badass Breastfeeding Podcast will cover all of that, and more. If you are planning to return to work at any point, you don’t want to miss it.
Birth Interventions and breastfeeding can be somewhat controversial. Meaning that there are still some people out there who believe that HOW a baby was born does not have any affect on HOW that baby breastfeeds in the early days. Contrary to that, birth, birth interventions and medications received can play a large role into how feeding is initiated, how things progress and how mom and baby adapt to their new life.
In a perfect situation, this is information that women should receive well before the birth of their baby. It goes along with informed consent, and laboring women should be aware that what happens during labor could potentially make breastfeeding a challenge in the beginning. This does not mean that women should not be encouraged to have the labor they want to have. It just means that being educated on choices is an important part of the whole process.
Regardless of how things progress with breastfeeding and why, a solid support system makes a big difference if a new mother is struggling at all. Good breastfeeding support, information that pertains to their specific situation and follow up are the foundation to ensuring that mom and baby are off to a positive start.
Feeding a baby is all consuming in the beginning. Not just physically, but mentally as well. I think that comes as a real surprise to so many new families. Not only do babies eat often to grow, latching and nursing also fulfills a need to soothe, offer security and nurture. In the early days, it can be easy to forget (after all, you are running on little sleep) that feeding for your little one is not all about the food.
We are talking about the constantly nursing baby. Have you met that baby? I have met thousands of them. The confusing thing isn’t necessarily that they are feeding frequently; the confusing thing is all the conflicting information new mothers receive about WHY the baby is constantly feeding. There’s even a name for it – cluster feeding (if there’s a name for it, then it’s a thing, right?). Here’s the breakdown:
Cluster feeding is when the baby will nurse frequently over a period of time. Some families will notice that their baby is fussy in the evening and cluster feeding calms him down. He may nurse for a few minutes, doze off, wake 20 minutes later and want to nurse again. Or maybe it is happening in the morning, after several hours of sleep. During these frequent feedings it is really hard to remember that it is normal and expected for babies to do this, and not a supply problem or a feeding problem. You do not need to give additional bottles during this time. Sometimes it is more of the act of nursing – the comfort and security – that your baby is looking for.
Try to keep in mind that this is a temporary thing. Once your baby is a little older you won’t experience this as often as you will when they are newborn. This too shall pass.
It’s hard to be sick, no matter what the situation. It seems like there is always way too much to do, and recovering from illness is never on that list. The feeling intensifies when you are a mother. Who will take care of kids or the house? Or you? These are questions that usually go unanswered. Mom always seems to be it.
When I was a little girl, I remember asking my mom why she never got sick. Her response was always the same “mothers don’t get sick. We don’t have time.” Of course, when I was 8 I thought that was a pretty cool advantage to being a mother. Of course I know differently now.
This time of year, I get a lot of questions about breastfeeding when sick. We are in the throws of flu season, cold season, RSV, sinus infections…the list goes on. Not only does the concern hover around breastfeeding the baby and risking getting the baby sick, what can you take to help you feel better? Doesn’t everything transfer to the baby? What medication is ok?
And what about the baby? What if the baby is already sick. Does this alter breastfeeding routines at all? Check out this week’s episode of the Badass Breastfeeding Podcast, and you will hear Dianne and Abby talk about what happens when mom and / or baby gets sick, and how to handle breastfeeding until everyone feels better. For additional information, check out these tips as well.