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  1. #1

    A Letter To My Pre-Breastfeeding Self

    Recently, a number of my close friends have given birth to their first child and started their breastfeeding journeys. This has got me thinking, and reminiscing, about the time following the birth of my first son nearly three years ago now. If I could send myself a message, perhaps late in pregnancy, about breastfeeding what would I say? What knowledge would I want to pass on to make those early days easier? Could I make those early days easier?

    The start of my breastfeeding journey was a particularly bumpy one with an undiagnosed tongue tie and the aftermath of a traumatic birth. I wish I knew then what I know now about breastfeeding. We made it through and breastfed happily for two and a half years which, I believe, has positively founded my relationship with my son in care, love and respect. However, the early days were not happy days as they should have been. This is what I would have liked to say to my pre-breastfeeding self.

    "Your body was created to feed your children. Have confidence in the wonder of your body. You can, and will, produce enough milk to feed your children. So relax, and enjoy those early days. Stroke your baby boy's head as he quietly drinks his milk, without worry. He will grow and develop and be strong because your milk is what he needs.

    You are all he needs. You will naturally know when he needs feeding. Shut out the other opinions about how and when he should be feeding and sleeping. He wants to be close - always. He wants to feed - lots. Feeding for comfort is a wonderful thing.

    It will get easier. There is so much change at first so be gentle with yourself. You both need time to learn about each other and about breastfeeding. Keep asking for help. Then keep asking for more help. That is ok. It is ok to need time and support. You are giving your son a marvellous gift - Nature's Perfect Milk. Your tiny baby will become an active, bounding toddler on your breastmilk and he will be comforted, and know love, through your milk.

    Take one day at a time; you will get there. With support, dedication and following your instincts your breastfeeding relationship will be firmly established and you will both flourish."

    What would you tell your pre-breastfeeding self? How do you think this knowledge would have impacted your breastfeeding journey?

    I look forward to reading your letters.

  2. #2
    LJ,

    I love your pre-breastfeeding letter to yourself. Any woman reading it would be encouraged and enlightened.

    My pre-breastfeeding letter would have looked something like this...

    Learn how to breastfeed by watching others. Without the benefit of watching Aunts feed their babies, and without the closeness of Grandmothers and mother nearby (my mother passed away when I was 16), hook up with a La Leche League group and visit the groups during pregnancy. Watch breastfeeding videos, especially those which teach how to use compressions to fill baby more quickly, thus allowing nipples more exposure to the air during the first few weeks when they can be sore. Learn how to position bub properly so that there is little or no pain while breastfeeding.

    If you run into a specific challenge, ask for help and look for videos which address this challenge (my challenge was inverted nipples that baby had a hard time pulling out and latching onto).

    Put baby to the breast often, starting right after birth. This not only helps bring the uterus back down to size faster (breastfeeding causes mild uterine contractions) but it gives baby an opportunity to pacify at the breast, helps baby get as much colostrum as possible, and helps to keep the breasts from becoming hard and engorged with milk, once the milk comes in. (Much harder for a baby to latch onto a hard, engorged breast, than it is for baby to latch onto a soft breast.)

    Get as much rest as you possibly can. Have meals prepared ahead of time, and be sure to have plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and high quality protein on hand (for me, this would be turkey, chicken, steak and fish).

    If you start to over due it, not getting enough rest, your body may let you know by producing a low fever, which can be an indication of plugged milk ducts. If this happens, stop everything, and hop in bed, tucking the baby down next to you. Let the baby drink from the breasts often, especially if one breast has a warm red spot or seems quite tender. Keeping the breast well drained and putting warm compresses or breast warmers on it will help resolve plugged milk ducts. Feed baby in different positions so that all ducts are being drained, and avoid wearing bras or clothing which might compress the breast for extended periods of time.

    Before giving birth, have a basket prepared with breastfeeding supplies like breast pads, lanolin, breast shells (helpful for keeping nipples aired out) and breast soothers.

    You will use lots of clean towels, wash cloths or cloth diapers for burping and cleaning up milk when the let down happens and milk pours into baby's mouth so fast that he comes off, gulping and gasping while your milk squirts all over him (and you). It won't happen at every feed, but it does happen (unless you don't have a forceful let-down) and being prepared with cloth in hand is quite helpful.

    Always remember that breastfeeding gets easier with time, and often if you've had a hard time with the first baby, you'll have no trouble at all with the next baby. If you ever feel like giving up, ask yourself if you will regret it if you do. If you think you may regret having the wonderful bonding experience of breastfeeding your baby, then don't give up.

    I had 3 months of breastfeeding challenges with my first child, and enjoyed... REALLY enjoyed that breastfeeding relationship with her until after she was a year old. I had no challenges at all getting started breastfeeding with my other 4 children and enjoyed many, many years of a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with all of my children.

    Kate
    Last edited by 5Homebirths4Kate; 30th September 2013 at 07:11 AM.

  3. #3
    What super advice - I hope that lots of our mums-to-be on the forum learn from your breastfeeding experience. In particular, I like how important you place the mum's rest and emotional well-being. As a new mum, it can be easy to be hard on yourself or down on yourself but this is (in my opinion) golden breastfeeding advice:

    'If you start to over due it, not getting enough rest, your body may let you know by producing a low fever, which can be an indication of plugged milk ducts. If this happens, stop everything, and hop in bed, tucking the baby down next to you.'

    Simple but true. That's all it takes really for a happy breastfeeding relationship (in by far the majority of cases). So often other factors or other people's voices and opinions come in and over-complicate matters.

    Thank you Kate.

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