Breastfeeding & Bottle Feeding | Breastfeeding |
To or Not to
Get Information Before Birth
Talk to friends and family members to get their thoughts and advice on breastfeeding. Although, as with most things some people are very one sided and may advise you to do something that you may not want to do or discourage you from trying; remember that ultimately you have to decide what works best for you and your family.
Reading and doing your own research may help you decide what is best for you and your baby. I bought The Complete Book of Breastfeeding by Eiger, although, I didn’t read it before I had my first baby or it may have helped with breastfeeding. Refer to Breastfeeding & Bottle Feeding Resources, for more resources such as La Leche League International or the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that offer advice about breastfeeding.
Based on my experience, the more committed you are toward breastfeeding the easier it may be. With my first baby I was not sure if I would really want to breastfeed and I planned to supplement with bottles and partially because of that I didn't successfully establish breastfeeding before giving my baby a bottle which complicated the breastfeeding process. With my second baby, ideally I wanted to primarily breastfeed for at least the first six months and my baby is now 5 1/2 months old and is primarily breastfed. She will take a bottle but she has not had anything other than breast milk.
Do First Feed Close to Baby’s Birth
As recommended by Hogg, try to do “the first feed as close to your baby’s birth as you can….the first feed establishes a blueprint in his memory of how to latch on correctly” (104). Hogg also discussed that “when a woman has a C-section, and the first feed doesn’t happen for a good three hours or more after birth…it usually takes more time and patience for a proper latch-on” (104). It generally helps to have someone experienced like a lactation consultant show you how to have the baby properly latch on.
This definitely was applicable to my situation. With my first baby, I had a C-Section and I believe we did not try to latch my son until several hours after his birth. With my daughter I also had a C-Section but I delivered her at a different hospital and they had the baby come back to my recovery room immediately and I was able to latch her on as soon as my arms were strong enough to hold her. She immediately latched on perfectly and it was such a relief. But don't be discouraged if your baby does not latch on immediately. It takes practice.
Meet with Lactation Consultant
This is probably the best advice I could provide is to utilize a lactation consultant, especially while you're in the hospital as the services are generally covered by insurance while you're in the hospital. I was also advised that if you want insurance to cover follow-up visits you need to first meet with them in the hospital. Not sure if that is true or not, I did meet with one in the hospital although, I never scheduled a follow-up visit once I got home.
With my first baby I met with a lactation consultant in the hospital but the timing never worked out and she wasn’t able to be in the room when it was a good time to feed my baby. I didn't push for a follow-up meeting. With my second baby, I was extremely fortunate to be in a hospital that provided a breastfeeding class everyday and also had the private lactation consultant meetings. Since I was in the hospital for five days due to my C-Section, I was fortunate to attend the class everyday. I was extremely motivated to make sure I successfully established breastfeeding with my second baby as I feel the earlier you can establish it the easier it is. Going to the class everyday and meeting with the lactation consultants several times was invaluable.
Try not to be embarrassed if breastfeeding does not come naturally, it is NOT uncommon for it to be hard to establish. It takes practice and advice from those experienced. If you get home and you need more advice, then you may want to schedule a follow-up visit. Although, ultimately, you still need to do what works best for you and your family. I had a friend that had extremely cracked nipples and the lactation consultant advised to simply forego breastfeeding for one day (give the baby pumped breast milk) but realistically it would have been impossible for her nipples to heal in ONE day. Thus, she had to use plastic nipple shields for awhile and then her nipples were able to heal and her baby was able to continue to breastfeed and mom felt better.
Try Haberman Bottle
You may want to consider using a Haberman bottle if you have to give your baby a bottle before breastfeeding is established. As discussed by Hogg “with all but the Haberman, the formula just falls into the bottle, and gravity, not Baby, determines the flow...” (120). If I had used something like the Haberman, with my first baby he may not have grown to expect immediate satisfaction and would have realized he’d have to work to eat.
Start Pumping Immediately in Hospital
With my first baby I didn’t think to start pumping immediately while in the hospital. Although, the best thing is to try to latch the baby on as soon as possible and then continue to have the baby latch on but if you are having trouble with that it may help to pump as well.
Even if you have your own machine generally it is preferred to rent one of the hospital machines during your stay. The hospital machines are more versatile and have lower settings which are more accommodating when your milk is first coming in. You may want to make sure it is covered with your insurance. My insurance covered the renting of the pump machine and we got to keep the accessories; it was nice to have an extra set of tubes, plastic pumps, and bottles. In addition to pumping you’ll want to continue to put your baby on your breast “because the sucking helps activate Mum’s lactiferous sinuses, which a breast pump cannot do” (123). Refer to this article for more information on breast pumps.
Pump Immediately Before Feeding Baby
Pumping for a brief period of time before feeding your baby may help if you have either A) fast letdown or B) slow letdown. If you have fast letdown the baby may choke in the first few minutes of the feed due to the fact your milk is coming out too fast. If you pump briefly before putting the baby on your breast, this may help alleviate the problem.
On the other hand, if you have slow let down your baby may become frustrated when he doesn’t receive instant satisfaction. I occasionally would use the electric pump for a brief period before feeding my baby to ensure when he started sucking he would receive breast milk immediately. It can be a hassle to try to pump before you feed your baby since the baby is hungry and wants to eat NOW but in the long run it may help both you and your baby adjust to breastfeeding. Eventually you should be able to eliminate this step.
Right or Left Breast?
You would think this would be something easy to remember, whether you last fed your baby on the right or left breast? But for most women it’s not always an easy question when you may be sleep deprived and all of the feedings seem to merge into one giant feeding for the day. One tip is to use a safety pin and simply pin it to the breast you just used to feed the baby so next time you aren’t wondering, what breast did I feed him from? Another way is to write down the side when you document how long the baby drank. Refer to the templates for 0-6 months or 6+ months to document your baby’s schedule. Or my favorite way with my baby girl was to move a bracelet to the respective wrist of the side of the feeding.
Plastic Nipple Shield
A lot of women at some point in the breastfeeding process use plastic nipple shields, such as the ones made by Medela or Avent. Generally, they are meant to be used for a limited amount of time if a woman has severely cracked nipples. Breast cream, like Lansinoh, can also be used to help heal cracked nipples.
I used plastic nipple shields for two other different purposes. With my son since he preferred bottle feeding, I used a plastic nipple shield to "trick" him into thinking he was drinking from a bottle and also to help with slow let down. For my daughter I used the nipple shields to help her latch on and also to help with fast let down.
With my son I wanted to breastfeed and I knew he liked the texture of the plastic nipples with bottles. Every time I tried to breastfeed, my son would make a funny face when he tasted the different texture of the plastic versus the breast nipple. So one day I thought he’s use to the plastic so I used a plastic nipple shield and he breastfed just fine. So the next feeding I used the plastic nipple shield again and it worked…and the next day…and the next day…and for six months I breastfed with a plastic nipple shield. I definitely never had a problem with cracked nipples.
Another trick I would do initially is to put some breast milk directly in the plastic nipple shield so he would immediately taste the milk and would start sucking. My son wanted immediate satisfaction or he would get upset. I don’t think it is generally recommended to use the nipple shield every time and some research I came across warns that you won’t be able to keep producing as much breast milk as I believe the baby’s saliva in addition to the sucking contributes to your production of milk. I never did produce a tremendous amount of milk with my son, but I produced enough to feed him for six months, while supplementing with some formula.
With my daughter she breastfed great from day one. That was until my milk really came in and then it was hard for her to latch on. If your breasts become engorged it may be harder for your baby to latch on. I once again started using nipple shields. I only planned to use them for a few days but I found it was easier for her to latch on with the shields. I would occasionally try without and sometimes she would do it without and other times it was just easier to use them. Then when she was around 2 months old, she no longer needed me to use the shields. I have to say, once I didn't need the shields it was very freeing. It just made breastfeeding that much easier.
I wouldn’t recommend always using the plastic nipple shields as it may interfere with milk production, but for me with my son it was the only thing that worked and with my daughter it also assisted for the first few months.
I'm glad I was able to wean my daughter off of them but if I wasn't able to then I would have simply continued breastfeeding with the nipple shields.
Increase Milk Supply
It is important to remember that primarily “milk production is based on supply and demand—how much milk the breast makes is determined by how much milk is removed from the breast” (Vickers). Although, some women may produce a ton of milk while others have to work at it. You may not be sure how much milk your producing, so one way to find out is fifteen minutes before you breastfeed, pump your breasts and measure what you are yielding. “Taking into account that a baby can extract at least one ounce more by physically sucking at your breast…” (Hogg 108).
If you don’t feel your producing enough milk then it is usually recommended to allow baby to be placed on each breast at each feeding. Remember as stated in the "About Breastfeeding" article, to let the baby primarily finish feeding on one side so he can receive the hind milk before switching to the other side. In this case you are primarily only switching the baby to the other side to stimulate the breast so it can produce more milk.
I never seemed to have enough milk with my first baby and I definitely had enough with my second baby. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact with my second baby I primarily breastfed. A lot truly depends on supply/demand. The more you breastfeed the more your body will produce.The more you supplement the less your body will produce. So if you really want to exclusively breastfeed and you're not producing enough milk and need to supplement then I would try pumping for a few minutes after each breastfeeding, try to breastfeed as often as you can, and when you need to supplement pump at the same time someone is giving your baby a bottle or pump immediately afterward.
A friend at work mentioned that you produce more milk if you are well rested. Dr. Greene also suggests getting “as much sleep as possible.” This may be why typically you produce less milk at the end of the day when you are more tired. Sleep is very important for many reasons, but that is easier said than done. Also, according to Dr. Greene, drinking more water, at least eight glasses a day, will also increase your milk supply. My friend was advised by others to drink a breastfeeding mom herbal tea to help produce more milk. I would make sure if you decide to drink a special tea to produce more milk that you really know what ingredients are in the tea, just because it is advertised to help breastfeeding moms produce more milk doesn't mean it has ingredients you want to give your baby. I do know several women that used a special herbal tea and liked it. You may want to check out your local La Leche League for more information.
Please refer to the "Breastfeeding Accessories" article for things you may need for breastfeeding such as a breast pump, storage containers, plastic nipple shields, breast cream, nursing bras, breast pads, breastfeeding cover or sling, boppy pillow, and a comfort chair.
Enjoy the Time While it Lasts
This article is to provide some tips of things that worked well for me as I would have appreciated knowing them before I had my baby but also you need to try things on your own and decide what works best for you.
Good luck! The most important thing is to enjoy being with your baby. It goes so fast and soon they no longer are breastfeeding. They may not want to sit and cuddle with you in a comfort chair and you’ll be thinking back to the days where you spent most of your time in a comfort chair watching your baby drift to sleep so peaceful and content.
Greene, Alan M.D., and Cheryl Greene."Steps to Take Before Giving Up on Breast Feeding.”
drgreene.com. 19 Nov. 2009. <http://www.drgreene.com/21_210.html>.
Hogg, Tracy and Melinda Blau. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and
Communicate with Your Baby. New York: Ballantine, 2001.
Vickers, Melissa. “Finish the First Breast First.” LEAVEN September-October (1995): 69-71. 18 Nov.
Last Updated: March 2011; November 2009