Breastfeeding & Parenting: One Family’s Experience

By Lauralee Moss

Creative Commons photo by Raphael GoetterColds and the flu always surrounded my poor babies. Before I stayed home with them, I taught high school language arts. My students gave their nasty germs to me, and even though I nursed my children, they still got “lighter” versions of my illnesses. Seeing sick babies is always difficult for me, but it’s even more tough with a nursling who struggles to latch with a stuffed nose.

My husband and I created a routine to make nursing a sick baby easier: I showered and dressed before work, and then he showered. Only about five minutes into his time, I handed him a small towel and an infant. The warm water and steam rinsed off goopy eyes and cleared stuffy noses. Daddy finished showering, and I nursed a relaxed and latch-able baby.

I no longer teach, but my older two children are in school and bring home germs to the baby. We continue our routine, as he still volunteers to shower the baby if the tiny nose stuffs up again.

This seemingly small task makes my nursing life easier, as does all of my husband’s help. Nursing is an important, but fractional part of our larger parenting work. I may do the actual, physical feeding, but their father provides indispensable support as I nurse.

I’ve heard friends make the argument that by formula-feeding, they are not the only ones responsible for feeding — that the father will bond with the baby and will do “just as much work” as the mom.

In our family, we have found ways, apart from feeding, for my husband to bond with our babies. Showering tiny sick ones is just one of those ways. He lifted our babies’ tiny arms to wake them when they fell asleep at the breast. He carefully positioned them around my cesarean section incision for more comfortable nursing. He remembered advice from the lactation consultants and pediatrician as I sat in a new-mom daze. He helped me cover myself with a blanket as I ventured out as a new mother. As I grew in my confidence, he stood beside me as I publicly breastfed without a cover. He has listened to me discuss my breastfeeding theories and observations and defended me when family members questioned why I was still feeding our baby “on the boob.” When others question why I didn’t start feeding our first baby solids at four months, he quoted the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization statements about breastfeeding for six months.

Now that I nurse our third child, he provides healthy answers for our older two children when they ask: “How does the milk come out? Where does the milk go? Why does Cara not drink from a bottle? I want to see the MILK!” Most importantly, when my impressionable son asked why I nurse the baby, my husband said, “Because that is how it is supposed to be.”

Normalizing the process for the next generation — acting as a role model for a son — is important work. My husband has defended, physically helped, and mentally supported my breastfeeding. He does it all, not because he came to our parenting relationship as an outspoken breastfeeding advocate, but because we parent the best way we know how, and we do that together.

We have always seen breastfeeding as a part of parenting — and we parent together. I supply the food for a tiny fraction of our children’s lives. He has at least seventeen years to feed our babies.  I have breasts for food — he has big bear shoulders for the kids to ride around the house. Together, we provide both the physical and mental nourishment for our children.

 

Lauralee Moss lives in Illinois with her husband, three children, and crazy dog. She writes at switchingclassrooms.com.

The Importance of “Hands-free” Breastfeeding

Creative Commons photo by Raphael GoetterIf you’re a new breastfeeding parent (or a parent newly returning to breastfeeding), you may have been instructed to keep your baby swaddled or otherwise tuck her hands down whilst breastfeeding. After all, those squirmy baby hands can get in the way of ensuring a good latch! As it turns out, however, current research shows that baby’s hands play an important role in facilitating breastfeeding in several different ways.

In a recent review on Science & Sensibility, blog administrator (and doula and Lamaze educator) Sharon Muza reviewed the research paper Facilitating Autonomous Infant Hand Use During Breastfeeding by Catherine Watson Genna, BS, IBCLC, RLC and Diklah Barak, BOT. In her review, Sharon points out:

[The authors] share that babies that hug the breast with their hands are helping to stabilize their neck and shoulder girdle, by pulling together the shoulder blades. Hand movements, by the infant on the breast, increase maternal oxytocin.  It also causes the nipple tissue to become erect, which facilitates latch.  Babies are best able to use their hands “against gravity,” lifting them up, when their hands are in their field of vision.  The hands are used along with the lips and tongue to draw the nipple into the mouth, a behavior that disappears around 3-4 months of age.

And if you think baby’s hands fluttering about are attempts at pushing your breast away, you may be right — but it’s for good reason:

Infants use their hands to push and pull the breast to shape the breast and provide easier access to the nipple.  Newborns and young infants also use their hands to push the breast away, possibly to get a better visual sense of the location of the nipple.  Genna and Barak also state that an infant may feel the nipple with their hand, and use the hand as a guide to bring their mouth to the nipple.

I encourage you to click through to Genna and Barak’s paper — it provides multiple photos demonstrating positioning and detailed instructions (in easy-to-read language) for facilitating hand use during breastfeeding.

The next time you sit down to feed your newborn (or if you’re reading this in preparation for a new little one), remember to unswaddle (and undress, if possible — skin-to-skin contact also helps facilitate breastfeeding and is beneficial for development and bonding) and allow your baby’s hands to wander as they see fit. She may be brand new, but her feeding instincts are innate and strong. Follow your baby’s cues!

Using Hand Expression to Support Breastfeeding

Did you know that you don’t need a breast pump to express milk? “Hand expression” refers to the act of manually pumping milk from the breast using your hands. Knowing how to effectively use hand expression can help relieve engorgement, encourage milk supply, and even pump enough milk to store and feed baby at a later time. For the best results, follow these steps for hand expression:

 

1. Wash your hands.

2. Massage your breast.

3. Position your hand in a “C” shape on the outside of your areola (or 1-1.5 inches from your nipple) using your thumb and two forefingers.

4. Press back toward your chest.

5. Roll your fingers forward toward your nipple, compressing your breast.

6. Release & repeat. Be sure to change positions of your “C” throughout your session so as to use all of your milk ducts. If your breast was a clock, move your “C” so your thumb hits 12, 3, 6 & 9 o’clock.

 

When collecting milk during hand expression, use a cup, bowl or any container with a wide mouth opening. And, keep a towel under your breast to help absorb any runaway drips.

Hand expression can also be used while feeding your baby and while pumping to encourage flow. For more information, including an excellent video demonstration, check out these resources:

1. Hand expression basic instructions PDF - La Leche League

2. Hand expression video – Stanford School of Medicine (best video I’ve seen, by far)

3. More tips for hand expression – Dr. Sears

 

 

World Breastfeeding Week – Supporting Moms

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and one of the best ways we like to celebrate — all year long — is by offering support to breastfeeding moms. Below is one of our favorite, basic breastfeeding information articles. If you’re seeking additional support right now, contact your Babies R Us store to find out if they are participating in the free event, “Nursing Basics for New Moms” this Saturday, August 4 from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. The event, which is held in conjunction with Lamaze International, will answer basic “how-to” questions, provide informational handouts and give moms access to experienced Lamaze educators.

 

Nursing is Natural

Nursing is natural, but it helps to learn as much as possible before you start.

By Judith A. Lothian, Rn, PHD, LCCE, FACCE

Nursing is a natural and simple way to provide nutrients to your newborn. Nature intended your baby to drink breast milk, and your body is perfectly designed to produce it. During pregnancy your body has been preparing for breastfeeding, and colostrum (early Nursing Schoolbreast milk) will be ready and waiting. Right from birth your baby is able to let you know when he is hungry, to attach to the breast, and to suck, swallow and digest milk that meets his specific nutritional needs.

So how does it work? Your baby’s sucking at the breast stimulates milk production, so the more he nurses, the more milk will be available to him. Pacifiers and formula supplements will interfere with this process. Your baby should nurse at least eight to 12 times in 24 hours during the first weeks. (The exception to this is the first 24 hours after birth, when many babies sleep more.) He may nurse in clusters, rather than every 2 hours, and he should nurse until he’s satisfied. This ensures that he receives your hind milk, which is rich in fat and calories. Limiting nursing to 5 or 10 minutes on each side deprives your baby of this important and nutritious food. Let baby finish the first breast before offering the second. Watch your baby, not the clock.

Contrary to what you may have heard, you do not need to drink large amounts of fluid or avoid certain foods when you’re breastfeeding. Eat and drink to satisfy your thirst and your appetite, but aim to take in about 500 additional calories per day, for a total of about 2,700 calories daily (discuss your personal nutritional needs with your doctor). Most women find nursing helps shed some pregnancy pounds since it burns between 600 and 800 calories a day.

Your baby will let you know when he is ready to nurse, lastly by crying but first with a number of early feeding cues: rapid eye movements under the eyelids, an imitation of sucking, hand-to-mouth gestures and small sounds. If you wait until your baby cries, it may be difficult to help him settle down enough to latch on properly. Keep your baby close, and you’ll learn to spot his hunger cues.

Latching On

It’s instinctual for a newborn to attach to the breast. Studies have shown that a baby placed skin-to-skin on his mother’s chest right after birth can crawl to the breast and latch on. If you hold your baby in the traditional cradle position, he’ll be able to latch on properly when his head is level with your breast, aligned with his body, and he is facing you. You should not have to lean toward him, and he should not have to reach toward you to attach. Wait for your baby to open his mouth wide so that he attaches to the areola, not just the nipple.

Another option is the football hold, where your baby is tucked by your side. Hold him on his side, his nose to your nipple. Place your arm along his back, supporting his shoulders and neck with your fingers and thumb behind his ears. Don’t hold the back of his head; he will instinctively throw it back as he latches on. Be patient and let your baby lead you; don’t rush him or pressure yourself. Remember, he knows how to do this.

As he sucks, watch and listen for his swallowing. This is the ultimate assurance that he is getting milk. Your baby will let you know when he is finished by unlatching or falling asleep; he may not want to nurse on the other breast. If he doesn’t, it will feel full when he is ready to nurse again, so start with that side.

If you pay attention to your baby’s feeding cues, nurse him often and allow him to nurse until he is finished, you can be sure he is getting enough milk. Look for these signs:

  • You will notice the change in his sucking: bursts of sucking will be followed by a pause as he swallows. You can also see the neck muscles move as he swallows milk.
  • The color of his stool will change from the dark meconium to mustard yellow by day four if he’s getting enough milk. By day six, your baby should have at least six wet diapers and three or more bowel movements in a 24-hour period.
  • Your baby should be gaining weight, although it may take 2 to 3 weeks for him to regain his birth weight.

Some babies take a few days or even weeks to breastfeed effortlessly. If yours is not nursing frequently, you are unable to identify swallowing or he is not producing enough wet diapers and bowel movements, contact your health-care provider or lactation consultant immediately. Also, keep in mind that it’s common to experience some discomfort during the first few minutes of breastfeeding. However, your nipples shouldn’t hurt throughout the entire feeding. If they do, it’s likely that your baby isn’t latching on properly (see box at right). If your baby is latched correctly and you’re still experiencing pain after a few minutes, you should seek help. Most breastfeeding problems have simple solutions, but it’s important to get help sooner rather than later. Many pediatricians and hospitals have lactation consultants on staff – and may conduct regular breastfeeding classes. Your local department of health may also have a referral service.

You and your baby were made to breastfeed. Have confidence in yourself and your baby’s ability, and treasure this natural bonding time.

Have you been through the breastfeeding experience? What tips can you offer a new mom?

Broccoli with a Side of Amniotic Fluid

Imagine a world without finicky eaters, where even infants readily devour broccoli, kale, garlic, and onion.  Sound too good be true?  It appears that the key is to start out young–very young, as in before birth.  More and more evidence is showing that taste and flavor preferences, especially those for healthful food selections like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, start in utero and continue forming in the first months of breastfeeding.  This positive impact on food preferences and willingness to try new fare is likely to continue into childhood and beyond.

The nuances of every morsel a mama puts in her mouth pass into the amniotic fluid.  The growing baby bathes and drinks in the fluid, in essence sampling foods from the outside world. From those first tastes, children are then more likely to crave similar foods when they begin eating solid foods in infancy. In addition, developing babies pick up on every spice, seasoning, and flavor from the food that their mamas eat, creating a palate that is open to a wide variety of foods. Thus, eating a healthy, varied diet translates into having a child who does the same. On the flip side, women who consume highly processed, fat-laden foods and/or a fairly bland diet throughout pregnancy could be more likely to have offspring with similar eating preferences.

This palate-shaping isn’t just taking place in the womb. After birth, a mama’s breast milk also possesses elements and flavors from the foods she eats, which then are passed on to baby.  Breast milk becomes an ever-changing taste sensation, preparing babies for the cuisine that is to come. The most formative time to shape tastes happens between months 2-5 after birth — yet another great reason for exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months or so.

This makes sense from the simple logic that, “If I give you A, you will like A. If I give you B, you will like B.”  Also, from an anthropological standpoint, an infant needs to be primed for the culture that it is being born into. For most, if not all, families, societies and ethnic groups, food is at the forefront.  Basically, if you want to fit in, you eat what the group eats.

Now, are you destined to have a child who only eats french fries and ice cream if that’s all you ate throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding? I think it depends on whether or not you continue to eat french fries and ice cream as your child grows. A huge influence on what a child prefers to eat comes from what food is available in the home and how a child’s role models (namely parents) eat. Looking at my own study group (i.e. my 4 children) I definitely see evidence of my prenatal eating habits and how they have influenced my children. While none of them are “picky eaters,” my 8-year-old, who was a product of a less-than-stellar diet including lots of pasta with a few veggies sprinkled in, definitely has more of a preference for junk food and is less adventurous when it comes to food. (I used to get a cheeseburger after each of my prenatal appointments and now he insists on one after every visit to his pediatrician. Coincidence?) My 18-month-old, whose amniotic fluid was doused with unending salad and spicy food, definitely prefers vegetables over mac & cheese and eats crushed red pepper without batting an eye.  Our family’s shift towards healthier eating in general has made a huge impact on what everyone eats. We all eat whole grains and vegetables–though some members of the family take a bit more convincing than others.

The bottom line?  Eat as healthfully as you can, as soon as you can, and pass that wonderful gift on to your child!

Here are some references to studies on the subject:

Bayol SA, Farrington SJ, and Stickland NC. 2007. A maternal ‘junk food’ diet in pregnancy and lactation promotes an exacerbated taste for ‘junk food’ and a greater propensity for obesity in rat offspring. Br J Nutr. 98(4):843-51.

Bilko A, Altbacker V, and Hudson R. 1994. Transmission of food preference in the rabbit: The means of information transfer. Physiology and Behaviour 56: 907-912.

Capretta PJ, Petersik JT, Steward DJ. Acceptance of novel flavours is increased after early experience of diverse taste. Nature. 1975;254:689–691.

Cooke LJ, Wardle J, Gibson EL, Sapochnik M, Sheilham A, Lawson M. Demographic, familial and trait predictors of fruit and vegetable consumption by pre-school children. Public Health Nutrition. 2004;7:295–302.

Gerrish CJ, Mennella JA. Flavor variety enhances food acceptance in formula-fed infants. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2001;73:1080–1085.

Hepper PG. Adaptive fetal learning: prenatal exposure to garlic affects postnatal preferences. Animal Behavior. 1988;36:935–936.

Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Maternal diet alters the sensory qualities of human milk and the nursling’s behavior. Pediatrics. 1991;88:737–744.

Mennella JA, Jagnow CP, Beauchamp GK. Prenatal and postnatal flavor learning by human infants. Pediatrics. 2001;107:1–6.

Mennella JA, Johnson A, Beauchamp GK. Garlic ingestion by pregnant women alters the odor of amniotic fluid. Chemical Senses. 1995;20:207–209.

Mennella JA, Turnbull B, Ziegler PJ, Martinez H. Infant feeding practices and early flavor experiences in Mexican infants: an intra-cultural study. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2005;105:908–915.

Nicklaus S, Boggio V, Chabanet C, Issanchou S. A prospective study of food preferences in children. Food Quality and Preference. 2004;15:805–817.

Schaal B, Marlier L, Soussignan R. Human foetuses learn odours from their pregnant mother’s diet. Chemical Senses. 2000;25:729–733.

Skinner JD, Carruth BR, Wendy B, Ziegler PJ. Children’s food preferences: a longitudinal analysis. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2002;102:1638–1646.

Sullivan S, Birch LL. Infant dietary experience and acceptance of solid foods. Pediatrics. 1994;93:271–277.

Varendi H, Porter RH, Winberg J. 1996. Attractiveness of amniotic fluid odor: evidence of prenatal olfactory learning? Acta Paediatr. 85(10):1223-7.

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 5 Months

Adelyn is five months old today and it seems fitting that one of my best friends just had her second baby yesterday. It has gotten me to thinking about how far we’ve come in just a few months. Adelyn has already started rolling over, smiling and giving us the best belly laughs. She can interact with us (to a certain degree) and we can already see her personality coming out. It was only five months ago that she joined us, yet it seems like she has always been a part of the family.

I am happy to report that I’ve continued working at dropping the pregnancy weight and I’m making progress. I’m within seven pounds of my pre-Adelyn weight. I even completed a 5K a couple of weeks ago. I have run several 5Ks over the years, but there was a certain amount of satisfaction that came with crossing the finish line less than five months post-partum.

Nursing has continued to be up and down. As a whole, things are definitely better. She has fallen into somewhat of a routine of nursing five times a day. I still struggle with thinking she should be eating more frequently, as her siblings did. But her growth is still going strong, so she’s definitely getting the nutrition she needs. She does still fuss until letdown happens, which continues to baffle me. When we give her a bottle, we are sure to use the newborn nipples so she doesn’t receive too much gratification from an easy flow. She doesn’t get a bottle too often, so I would think she would be used to the rhythm of our nursing sessions, but she still puts up a fuss until letdown happens. I still have hope that some day she will be an easier baby to nurse. Some day maybe I’ll get to sit through an entire nursing session from start to finish. Maybe someday I can nurse her in public once again.

Breastfeeding After Traumatic Birth

 

This article is part of the Traumatic Birth Prevention & Resource Guide by PATTCh. Access the complete guide to learn more about traumatic birth and find resources for women and families.

By Teri Shilling, MS, LCCE, CD(DONA), IBCLC

The image of a baby’s arrival into the world often shows a calm, romanticized picture of a beautiful baby being gently lifted into the waiting arms of the baby’s mother, followed by the mother putting the baby skin to skin, leaning triumphantly back while releasing a relieved sigh in the spirit of “I did it.” The baby is then supported in doing its dance to bop and wiggle to find the breast and latch on.

What if instead the journey has been fraught with challenges and struggles and separations or surgery? What if fears and trauma and suffering have colored the experience? What if the mother is overwhelmed or not supported or unable to deal with anything other than the basic survival of the experience? What happens then to early breastfeeding?

Cheryl Beck and Sue Watson (2008) in their research on the impact of birth trauma on breastfeeding, cited that over a third of all mothers have reported experiencing a traumatic birth. The breastfeeding research lists challenges to early and successful breastfeeding as unscheduled cesarean birth, psychosocial stress, and pain related to labor and birth. Other influences include loss of control, exceptionally long labors and dissatisfaction with care and support.

By closely looking at the impact of birth trauma on breastfeeding, there seems to be two paths — on one path women persevered and on the other path, breastfeeding is curtailed. What allows a woman to take the path toward a fulfilling breastfeeding experience? Beck and Watson (2008) identified three themes:

  • sheer determination
  • a motivation to make up for a baby’s less than optimal arrival or
  • the time spent breastfeeding was soothing

The path that led to less than the desired length of breastfeeding was influenced by:

  • a fear that breastfeeding was just one more way to fail
  • no emotional or pain-coping reserves were left to cope with possible breastfeeding pain and discomforts after the overwhelming physical pain of birth
  • a feeling that the traumatic birth created an insufficient supply of breast milk
  • flashbacks that intruded on the breastfeeding experience
  • a feeling of detachment from the baby created by the birth trauma

So what guidance is there for the women who have had a traumatic birth who want to follow their own path to a fulfilling breastfeeding experience?

  • Seek intensive one-on-one support to establish breastfeeding. Set short-term goals. Discuss options like pumping or substituting skin-to-skin time for breastfeeding or supplementing early feeding with donor milk.
  • Find respectful support. Often it’s preferable to find help from someone who can provide support and assistance while verbally guiding you and building your confidence vs. someone who grabs your breast and pushes the baby on for the sake of efficiency.
  • Locate non-judgmental help from someone who will support you in your choice to continue or stop breastfeeding without guilt or judgment.  This person should be someone who can listen to your birth experience and knows the symptoms of traumatic stress and knows to whom to refer you to for dealing with these feelings and reactions to a traumatic birth.

Find the support and resources to follow your path to feed your baby!

Reference

Beck, C.T., & Watson, S. (2008). Impact of birth trauma on breast-feeding. Nursing Research 57(4), 228-36.

 

Teri Shilling, MS, LCCE, CD(DONA), IBCLC is the director of Passion for Birth, the largest Lamaze accredited childbirth educator training program, creator of the Idea Box for Creative and Interactive Childbirth Educator, and instructor at the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University.  A past president of Lamaze International, she now focuses her volunteer work with PATTCh, Skagit Valley Breastfeeding Coalition and W.I.S.E. Birth (a 3 county Doula Collective.) She has a small private practice providing doula support, lactation support and birth education in her Mount Vernon, WA, community.


 

 

PATTCh is a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of traumatic childbirth. Our mission is to develop cross-disciplinary relationships, research, and programs that:

  • prevent PTSD following childbirth through education, interdisciplinary collaboration, and multidisciplinary research;
  • educate perinatal care providers and paraprofessionals in the prevention and treatment of birth and reproduction related trauma;
  • encourage the development of culturally appropriate therapeutic approaches to post-traumatic stress symptoms following childbirth;
  • promote healthy birth practices for all women and families;
  • promote evidence-based research regarding PTSD secondary to childbirth;
  • increase global awareness of the prevalence, risk factors, and effects of PTSD secondary to childbirth; and
  • support collaboration and understanding among all stake-holders, including: researchers, policy makers, medical and mental health care providers, educators, community members, volunteers, women, and families.

 

Postpartum Diary: Meagan & Adelyn @ 4 Months

I’m going to be completely honest: I’m ready to have my body back. I know I talked about this in my last post, but we’re four months out now and I’m ready for all of this weight and softness to be forever gone. A few weeks ago, we had a family picture taken at my niece’s birthday party. I was horrified when I saw it. I still look four to five months pregnant. Mind you, I had a stomach for a few months after having my first two kiddos, but this time around it seems to be more stubborn, lingering longer than before…or longer than I remember. The good news is that I have started watching what I eat more and I’ve started the TurboFire workout series, plus I’ve been targeting my abs with extra crunches and leg lifts. I know with time and hard work, I will see results. I just hope those results come quickly because I’d like to head to the beach soon…or at least have clothes that fit me again.

It is hard to believe that Adelyn is now four months old. This girl has amazed me in several ways. Her sleep is still pretty good overall. I’d say she is sleeping roughly 16 hours a day. This astonishes me since my first child seemed to be awake for 16 hours a day. She has been generous with her smiles and giggles, and she rolled over for the first time just a few days ago. I was surprised not only by how soon she rolled over, but by the fact that she chose to go from her back to her stomach before she mastered rolling over from stomach to back first. From the time she was in utero, she seemed strong and she continues to be that way.

Breastfeeding has continued to be an up and down battle, but I am happy to report that we are falling into a more positive rhythm as of recent. A few weeks ago, I was frustrated and fed up with how difficult she was to feed. I finally packed her up and went to a breastfeeding clinic. By the time I got there, she was extremely hungry, so much so that she was more interested in crying than she was in latching on. Unfortunately the clinic was a bit busy and no consultant could help me until Adelyn had already finished eating (well, first she screamed for a few minutes, disturbing everyone else’s babies, but with some coaxing she finally settled down). When I explained to the consultant that she was fussing and I was having to walk around with her at every feeding, she had no advice for me other than what I had already tried for myself. I went home discouraged. I started reading “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” by Pamela Druckerman and I was inspired when I learned that French babies feed only four times a day by four months of age. I had been trying to get her to eat six or seven times each day. I thought that was what she needed. Her siblings still fed every two to three hours at her age. So, I resolved to back off and watch her cues better.

She has started feeding generally five times a day and it has been going much better. She might fuss some, while she impatiently awaits letdown (especially in the middle of the night), but that fussing is nothing compared to the screaming she did before. We are making progress and I’ve even been able to sit down during a few feedings. I guess my doctor was right; I just needed to back off and let her tell me when she was hungry. My comparing her to her siblings made me think that surely, she had to be hungry more often than she was. Again, she has shown me that just because she is my third child, it doesn’t mean I have everything figured out.

Great Expectations: Meagan @ 2 Months Postpartum

I just got back from Adelyn’s 2-month-check up. I was looking forward to this appointment because a few weeks ago she started giving me some problems breastfeeding. She has been crying when I try to get her to eat. I tried a variety of things to coax her into feeding. I found that standing and walking with her worked best. This was all new territory for me because my first two were excellent nursers and would take the breast anytime it was offered. Not only was Adelyn not taking it at every offering, but also she was wanting to space out feedings and then would only nurse for about five minutes per feeding. So what did the doctor have to say? Chill out. At least that’s my interpretation of what he said.

 

During our struggles, Adelyn seemed to be getting enough to eat because she was acting fine and had enough wet diapers. But it bothered me that she seemed to nurse infrequently and quickly. Of course I turned to books and online sources. They all tell how often a newborn should feed (every two hours), but they fail to go beyond that. How was I supposed to know the ideal frequency for a two-month-old? After all, my first two fed every two to three hours for months. The books also all warned that if a baby doesn’t feed often enough, your supply could suffer. Great. So now I wasn’t only worrying about her ability to thrive, but also the level of my milk supply. Who said breastfeeding was easy? This being my third child, you’d think I would be a seasoned pro. After all, I nursed the first two exclusively for nine months each and they weaned after the age of one. The problem was the first two were very similar and never gave me any issues. They fed like champs. Well, perhaps they fed too well, as you can see below from Kenna’s plethora of fat rolls.


As for Adelyn, I had no idea how her weight was doing. I was tempted to put her in the produce scale at the grocery store to see what she weighed. Instead, I waited for today’s appointment. Turns out that she is holding steady in the 50th percentile at nearly 12 pounds. She is growing ever longer, measuring 24 inches, which puts her in the 95th. (She apparently didn’t get my height genes.) When the doc saw her numbers and took a look at her, he basically said she’s completely healthy and thriving. I told him about the fussy feedings and all I had done to try to get her to feed. He said I had done exactly as he would’ve recommended. Given her numbers, he thinks I have an abundant supply and she can handle a larger quantity at an earlier age than my first two kids could, plus she is so efficient that she can drain the breast quickly.

 

So what I’ve learned today is that each child is different. Just because you have three kids, it doesn’t mean you are a pro by any means. Breastfeeding can be stressful, but a healthy baby knows what she is doing. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath. And at other times you need to throw away the books.

Baby’s First Food

Sometime in your baby’s first year of life, you’ll make the leap from liquid nourishment (breastmilk or formula) to solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends introducing solids around 6 months of age. Some babies may not be ready to try solid foods at 6 months, and that’s OK too. For many years, the gold standard of baby’s first food has been white rice cereal. The thought has been that rice cereal is bland and easy to digest. However, in recent years, pediatricians, nutrition experts, and parents have been sounding off against white rice cereal — and for good reason.

White rice cereal is a processed (read: junk) food that is devoid of nearly any nutrition. Alan Greene, MD, FAAP, and the voice behind drgreene.com, says about white rice cereal:

“We call it cereal, but it’s processed white flour with added iron. … Metabolically, it’s similar to eating sugar.”

Dr. Greene initiated a campaign called the WhiteOut movement in which he educates and urges parents to feed their babies real first foods, like vegetables and fruit, or whole grains, like brown rice or whole oats. The difference between brown rice and white rice is bigger than you may think. White rice is a processed food that is created by removing the bran and germ portions of brown rice. Removing these portions of the rice removes fiber, vitamins, and minerals. What’s left is a high starch, high carbohydrate, low nutrient food.

So what is a good first baby food? If you’re intent on using cereal, choose the whole grain baby cereals — or make your own! An even better path is to skip the cereals altogether and feed baby mashed avocado, banana, cooked sweet potato, or cooked pear. These pureed foods, mixed together with a small amount of breastmilk or formula, make the perfect first meal for your baby.

What did you feed your baby first?