Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
In honor of this week, I thought I'd do a breastfeeding post. Because it's been a while.
I've been really lucky when it comes to breastfeeding. Not because it came naturally. Or because my boys were the world's best breastfeeders, but because I had amazing, fantastic resources. Both times I have been so surprised by the people around me who had such a strong desire to breastfeed, and quit within the first month. Because they didn't have the resources. So let me share with you some of the common traps that cause people who want to breastfeed to quit.
*Weight Loss - Medical professionals don't like to see babies lose weight. It makes them antsy. Weight loss after birth often causes hospitals to push supplementation. The problem is, all babies lose weight after birth. For a variety of reasons. And the reasons mean some babies lose more than others. For instance, a mother who is on an IV usually has some swelling from the intake of fluids. Guess what? Baby gets that extra fluid and swelling too. Which means the "birthweight" is inflated from those fluids. Can you imagine having to put your swollen, water weight weight on your drivers license? It's not an accurate weight, and those babies tend to lose more, because they lose their regular weight as well as that water weight. Both my kids lost a lot of weight, Thatbaby lost 9 oz in the first 3 days. Instead or worrying, my doctor noted that babies lose consistently for the first 3 days, and then start gaining.
*Not Gaining Quickly Enough - Ideally, babies regain their birthweight a week or so after birth. And when they don't some health care providers push supplementation. But there are so many factors involved in this, and I was lucky enough to have a doctor who recognized that. "As long as they're gaining, and not losing, then you're on the right track." Thatkid, who was always a little baby had JUST hit his birthweight at 2 weeks.
*Milk Slow to Come In - I am not a quick milk getter-inner. A lot of people (*cough L&O cough*) have their milk before they even leave the hospital. That's not me. And that's true of a lot of women. Which can make you feel like you have supply issues and you need to supplement. That's rarely the case. I know someone who started supplementing in the hospital because her milk hadn't come in, and she stopped breastfeeding before her child was one month old. She was pretty upset about the whole thing happened, feeling like a failure. But the truth is, she didn't have good resources. But it can take a week for the milk to come in. And really, before then, your colostrum is enough. Even though you barely make any of it, it's really nutrient rich.
*Supply Issues - This one kills me. And I want to give so many women huge hugs, because they think they have supply issues when they don't. And that can be so frustrating. But no one has told these women how very little babies eat. Very very little. They have teeny tiny little stomachs.
The first day, your baby's stomach can only hold half a teaspoon at a time. Go take a look at one, I'll wait. Back? Yup, that's small. Their stomach maxes out at one month - if you need an easy way to remember the size, that's the size of your baby's fist. 2.5-5oz. It doesn't get any bigger until they start solids, which stretch the stomach out more.
Some people start pumping to see how much they're producing, but this is a terrible way to determine your supply. Women just don't respond to the pump the way they respond to a baby, so what you pump doesn't coincide with how much your baby is getting. Instead of worry about amount, the surefire way to determine if you're producing enough is to look at output. How many diapers your baby is going through in a day. After the fourth day, baby should be having 6-8 wet diapers and 3-4 soiled diapers. (And the soiled diapers isn't the important one since a breastfed baby can go a week without pooping!) If your baby has wet and dirty diapers, and is gaining weight, your supply is fine!