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Sunday, July 22, 2012

You Can Nurse Your Baby

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Here are some true nursing stories:

Be Creative
For the last two days Peter would not eat during the daytime.  He was perfectly pleasant all day, but any time I tried to put him to my breast he would arch his back and yell.  At night he ate voraciously.  Was it the heat?  Was it adjusting to being back home after our trip?  Was it the travel itself?  Was it my own lingering cold?  Something I ate?  I didn't know.  I tried all different positions --- cradle hold, football hold, lying down.  All to no avail.  He DID however seem very interested in everything that Cam and I were eating, and wanted to try all of it, even reaching out for it.  Determined that this toothless 5-month old is not ready to be weaned, I continued my futile efforts.  Then I had this strange idea to stand him up on his own two feet, and kneel at a height where he could latch on as he stood.  He latched on immediately and sucked vigorously, only pausing every once in a while to laugh at how silly we were being.  (He's eating like a normal boy today. Whew.)

Rosy-cheeked Peter on his blessing day, by which he had acquired a healthy double chin.
Let Your Baby's Instincts Lead You
When Peter was three weeks old, a member of my Relief Society presidency came over with a birthday gift.  I expressed to her that Peter was having a very difficult time eating.  Our feedings would stretch to be an hour long, because I couldn't keep him drinking for more than a couple short minutes at a time before he cried or fell asleep.  She revealed to me that she is a nurse who has been helping newborn mothers and babies learn to breastfeed for 15 years.  She offered to help, and I gladly accepted.  One thing she noticed right away was that I was swaddling Peter, arms and all, very tightly when I got him ready to feed.  This was because his arms would always get in the way and make my already difficult task much harder.  She taught me that it is an eating instinct all babies have to put their hands up by their faces when they eat (Peter still does this).  I freed his little arms and he had his best feeding in a long time.

Earlier that morning I had broken down in tears, frustrated that Peter just couldn't latch on.  I felt inspired to strip us both down and put him skin to skin on my tummy.  I let go of him to see if he would follow his natural instincts, unguided, to my breast.  Sure enough he wiggled his little body upward until he latched on.  He actually got a really good latch.

This is not Peter.  Source.
Avoid Mastitis, but if you get it, Avoid Antibiotics
Peter was probably 4 weeks old when we were visiting my parents and I suddenly got very very cold.  It was a warm day, but everyone around me looked underdressed to me!  I kept piling blankets around little Peter, while Cam kept assuring me it wasn't really that cold.  My right breast hurt, and felt hard and itchy.  It had what looked like a rash as well.  I soon became very feverish, and we left for home.  Once we got home I could barely walk I was so sick, and felt so terribly cold (though I was really very hot to the touch).  Mastitis.  I called my midwife, Richelle Jolley, who gave me a quick list of instructions.
  • Keep nursing as much as I could from the infected breast.  If Peter had too much trouble extracting the milk, pump it from the breast and bottle-feed it to him.  
  • Every hour take a natural antibiotic supplement, rotating Grapefruit Seed Extract, Colloidal Silver, and Goldenseal.
  • Heat my breast before nursing with a hot compress, and after each feeding apply a compress of either crushed cabbage leaf or grated potato (Melissa grated this for me :)
  • Get to bed as soon as possible, not worrying about the supplements as long as I was asleep.
This all seemed overwhelming to me since I felt I could barely move, but I had a baby who was still eating every 2 hours and needed to be taken care of.  I had no choice but to follow instructions!  Cameron helped me in a huge way.  All I wanted to do was get in a hot bath, I felt so cold, so I counted that as my "hot compress."  That hot bath did wonders for me, and brought my fever down (see Nonie's post on fevers).  By midnight when I got up for Peter's first feeding, my fever was gone.  By 2:00 am, my breast was softening and Peter was able to drink directly from me without needing to pump.

Richelle later told me that Mastitis can be caused by a few things.
  • Mama under too much stress (I had returned to work --- way prematurely --- the week before)
  • Mama wearing tight clothing (I had worn a shirt that day that was a little tight in the bust now that I was a nursing mama)
  • Mama going too long without nursing (We had introduced Peter to a bottle for the first time that morning, and I had gone the longest time ever without feeding him --- 4 hrs)