Breastfeeding After Failure Part 2-Getting Educated December 09 2014
When I was about 20 weeks along in my second pregnancy, I was introduced to the Facebook groups mentioned in the previous post. They recommended the book “A Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk” and “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” I began by reading both of those books, and then came across other books including “Mother Food,” “The Nursing Mother’s Companion,” and “The Nursing Mother’s Herbal.”
If you don’t have much time to read, I would highly recommend starting with “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” It is the most comprehensive book on breastfeeding and will give you the greatest amount of information. If you struggled with low supply with a previous child, I would highly recommend reading “A Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk.” It is full of information on how breast milk is made, how to maximize breast milk production, and herbs and other supplements to help with milk production.
One of the most important things that I learned about breastfeeding in reading these books was to breast feed on demand. I heard that with my first as well, but didn’t really understand the magnitude of nursing on demand until I was reading these books. Babies are not born on a schedule. They are fed 24 hours a day while they are in the womb, and it’s hard for them to adjust to the cruel, outside world. Breast milk is easily digested by babies, usually within 1.5-2 hours, so it is perfectly normal for babies to eat every 30 min to 2 hours in the beginning. This is also how they establish your milk supply! It is very important to avoid any pacifiers in those first few weeks so that you can learn your baby’s hunger cues and not miss any of those important nursing sessions needed to build your supply. It is also quite normal for babies to cluster feed. Cluster feeding is when babies eat more frequently at certain times of the day (usually in the evenings.) Babies also have many growth spurts where they nurse more often throughout the day/night for several days to a week at a time. All of this is completely normal and does not mean that you have low supply.
I also learned that skin to skin was very important. I knew this with my first as well, but after having my second and spending our first couple of weeks mostly skin to skin, I can attest first-hand to just how powerful skin to skin really is. It is a great way to bond with your baby. Skin to skin also helps to regulate baby’s temperature and breathing and raises baby’s blood sugar levels. Being skin to skin also helps with latching, breastfeeding and soothes the baby. You can read more about skin to skin on this website.
Going along with skin to skin is baby wearing. Human infants are extremely fragile compared to other mammals. Babies love to be carried and held close to their mothers. Many ‘colicky’ baby symptoms are cured by baby wearing. Babies who are worn are calmer and cry less than other babies. It also makes life so much easier to baby wear when baby is fussy to allow mommy to get more things done, like getting dinner on the table. Although this might be hard to do in the beginning, you can also learn to nurse while baby wearing, and that is an amazing help when you have other kids to take care of.
I also learned a lot about tongue tie and lip tie, as I believe this was the main issue with my first baby.
Tongue-tie or ankyloglossia (from the Greek for “crooked tongue”) is the condition where the lingual frenulum, the band of tissue that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth, restricts tongue movement. In tongue-tied infants, the frenulum is usually attached close to the tongue tip, leaving little or no “free tongue,” but it can also be placed further back and be unusually short or tight.
Common symptoms of tongue tie include sore, cracked nipples, extended engorgement, misshaped nipples after nursing, clicking sounds while nursing, and poor weight gain.
All of this was great and really helped me get prepared for when my baby would arrive, but what I wanted to know most of all was what I could do while I was pregnant to optimize my chances of breastfeeding. What I learned from “The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk” and the IGT/Low Milk Supply Support Group on Facebook was that I could take Alfalfa, Go-Lacta, and Goat’s Rue while pregnant to optimize breast tissue growth. You want to check with your care provider first, to make sure that this is ok for you in your situation. Alfalfa can be taken throughout pregnancy. The recommended dose of Alfalfa is 4500 mg per day. You want to gradually work up to this as it may cause you to have an upset stomach if you start with that much. You can take Go-Lacta in your last trimester. Go-Lacta is made from the Moringa plant and is not an herb, so it is generally considered safe for anyone to take. Goat’s Rue is an herbal supplement that will increase breast tissue. You can begin taking it at 36 weeks. Again, please check with your care provider to make sure that these supplements are ok for you in your unique situation.
You may begin hand-expression of colostrum at 36 weeks if you have a healthy pregnancy and are not high-risk. This can be done 1 time a day or a few times a day, depending on your preference. If hand-expression causes contractions, you should discontinue them immediately. I chose to hand express after showering because I would massage during my showers. You can watch videos online on how to hand express, and you can hand express into a teaspoon and then put the colostrum in a medical syringe and freeze it. You can then use the colostrum to supplement after baby is born if you have supply issues again.
You can read more about Pregnancy and Breast Tissue Growth Here.
Other Posts in this Series:
Part 1: Introduction
Part 3: Finding Support
Part 4: Making a Game Plan
Part 5: Defining Your Success