Monday, December 27, 2010

Early Breastfeeding Obstacles - Visitors & Helpers

Problem: During those first few precious days of nursing a new mother often has many visitors. People who want to hold the baby, comfort their cries with rocking motions, give mom a "break" by holding him/her, etc. These things are all nice... but they can also cause a disrupt in that initial bond. That crying baby needs a boob 9 times out of 10, and if this visitor is in your home for an extended period of time they might be doing more harm than good.


Baby Chase spent his first weeks on my skin and on the breast!
Not in visitors arms or with a pacifier.
Solution: Make a postpartum plan, just like a birth plan, that outlines your wishes, limits, and expectations. Share this with everyone before the baby is born and after, please understand that the postpartum period is about YOU, BABY, and YOUR FAMILY, not visitors...they can wait. There is nothing wrong with asking visitors to bring food for the family, fold a load of laundry, and help out with household things so that you are better able to care for and bond with your baby. There is also nothing wrong with printing up a sign asking guests to wash their hands immediately upon arrival to your home and to limit visits to 30 minutes or less.


If this visitor is living in your home, you may need to have a frank discussion with them about the importance of bringing baby to the breast often. This may lead into unwanted advice about how you are 'spoiling' the baby or that they must be 'starving and you should use formula since they nurse so much', but we'll talk more about that later. One of the biggest culprits behind milk supply issues is the fact that baby is not permitted unlimited access to the breast and one reason that baby does not get this access is because mom has many visitors to entertain, share baby with, and she may not be comfortable nursing in front of them, even in her own home. So limit visitors and if baby wants to suck, don't give baby a pacifier so grandma or aunty or neighbor can hold the baby a little longer. Give that baby a breast and ask your visitor to bring you a glass of water and a snack.


Please make sure all your visitors know how committed you are to breastfeeding, ask THEM to leave the room if you or they are uncomfortable with nursing at that time. This is your time to bond with baby, you need lots of rest, water, and skin to skin time. Your guests can admire baby while baby is in your arms, and even at your breast! Baby is at his or her best in your arms in those first days anyway...that's where baby was meant to be. Accept help around the home, with older children, with meals...not with baby. Baby is your task these first weeks, developing a bond, establishing milk supply, and recovering from the birth. Newborns are boring anyway (or so they say) there will be lots of time as baby gets older for giggles, smiles, playing, and the like. For now, you need a hot meal, a jug of water, and quiet time with your baby.


Go forth, normalize, and educate,


15 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful post. I got ATTACKED on facebook by a friend of a friend I barely know for telling someone it's rude to offer to bottle feed a baby that's having trouble gaining weight and has a tired mom. "let me give the baby a bottle and you go take a nap." Today, the same friend was being advised to start her 4.5 month old on solids by another uneducated friend, so I posted a link to Kellymom.com's article about delaying solids. I feel sorry for people surrounded by the uneducated, especially when they don't have the guts to tell those people to go jump in a lake.

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  2. We are going to have a whole series on this topic... so far we have 10 written up... who knows how long the list will get! :) Stay tuned for more tips! :)

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  3. Nice article. I had problems with my DS when I first started bfing since he was SEVERELY tongie-tied. Once his frenulum was clipped, he was able to nurse better, but not perfectly (due to me also having flat nipples), and I ended up having to use a nipple shield for 5 months until I was able to wean him off of it.

    It definitely was worth the trouble though! He's almost 22mo and STILL bfing 2x a day! I have another LO due within the next couple of weeks and will be tandem nursing, which kind of worries me.

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  4. You've inspired me to start writing a list of no-nos for when I give birth myself :) I realised that, while I know establishing BFing and bonding is important, certain family members might not. I know up until I was pregnant I didn't realise that not all visitors got a cuddle of the new baby!

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  5. Teni, when Chicklett was born even us good friends didn't cuddle that baby till she was AT LEAST a week old! We're all committed to eachother's breastfeeding success in a big way!

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  6. Never thought of a post partum plan AWESOME IDEA :) Good points in the article :) THANKS for sharing :)

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  7. Yup...I saw her right away, but no cuddles! :)

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  8. Thank you for posting this. as my husband and I already planned our thoughts and ideas on our birth, I have used your brilliant advice to write it down to send to family and friends.

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  9. Glad to help! Good luck with your LO! :)

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  10. Visiting from the blog hop. This is EXCELLENT advice!

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  11. I am not even a birth mom yet, but I do know that for the first 6 months of a baby's life it is best if the baby can breastfeed. I know sometimes that can't happen if the child was born with certain disorders or if the mom dies in childbirth. But I think ever mom has the right to decide if she is going to breast feed and for how long and that friends should be supportive of her efforts to do that. If that means doing the laundry or other chores around the house instead of trying to hold the baby or bottle feed it then that is what they should do.

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  12. Very true! And even if something happens where the mother cannot breastfeed directly there are milk donors out there who can. No matter what a baby can be raised on breastmilk!

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  13. Great post! except the part about putting up a sign is a little over the top. I'd probably turn around and leave before I'd enter a house w/ a sign like that. (Don't touch my precious child w/ your filthy hands!Can't u just politely ask them to wash their hands? Geez.)

    @motherhen I nursed my bio daughter for 2 1/2 yrs and am a big bfing adovocate.It's also awesome that women share and donate milk to get others through rough patches or to supplement. But the idea that you can exclusively feed your child on donor milk is simply unrealistic. It SHOULD be possible, but it's not for most women. No doubt there are a few moms who have that kind of access. I say this because I will be adopting in the near future and would love to nurse that baby too, but in reality, it's unlikely (yes, I know all about adoptive bfing and have read pretty much everything available -- what they don't tell you is that few are able to bf exclusively and that adopted babies are difficult to get to latch, particularly when moms supply is minimal at first. It's very very hard). I'm looking forward to lots of skin to sking contact for bonding and maybe even nursing if we're lucky -- but the idea that donor milk means everyone can give their babies an unlimited supply breast milk is simply not true. (not to mention, there are complicated legal questions if you're going through a state agency) It's a great start...but seriously, think about what would be involved with getting your child THAT MUCH breastmilk for months on end. And you have to trust that the donors are eating right, not taking drugs etc etc. It's not that simple.

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  14. I remember my husband and mom snuggling up close in those early days happy just to rub babies arm while he nursed away what seemed like 20/24 hrs in the day. I'm so thankful and grateful I had the support I did. We only had 3 visitors in the hospital and he spent 90% of our stay in just a diaper on my chest...I miss those first few days!

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