BREAST START

The early days of breastfeeding with Shar­lene Poole

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -

ONE OF THE VERY FIRST BOND­ING

ex­pe­ri­ences when your baby ar­rives is to breast­feed. When all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, you and your baby will come to­gether and be­gin your life as a pair: feed­ing, hold­ing your baby skin to skin and learn­ing about each other through this prac­tice. A lot of new mums find the first latch or even the first 24hrs of latch­ing and feed­ing baby goes smoothly and can be pretty straight for­ward, giv­ing you a great sense of joy and ac­com­plish­ment at be­ing able to nurse and give your baby their first food, colostrum. If you ask for help or have cho­sen to have a baby where you have good as­sis­tance, in th­ese first 2-3 days, you get a good chance to learn the art of breastfeeding be­cause you are feed­ing so of­ten. It is im­por­tant to ask for help, even if, like me, you have ex­pe­ri­ence with ba­bies. I did not feel I needed help – my new­born baby Ge­orge latched well af­ter birth and con­tin­ued to feed and latch well for that first night – but I thought to my­self in the mid­dle of the night that it would not hurt to ask one of the hospital mid­wives to watch what I was do­ing to see if there was some­thing she could see that I needed to rec­tify. I was lucky enough to be blessed with ‘good’ nip­ples, large enough that there was a good bit to latch to once my milk came in and the size of the breast in­creased. For the first week or two of breastfeeding, they were nor­mal, ten­der nip­ples and I ex­pe­ri­enced toe curl­ing pain for about the first 30 sec­onds of a feed. Dur­ing the first trimester of preg­nancy, and again for the first six weeks af­ter Ge­orge was born, I self­di­ag­nosed Rey­nard’s of the nip­ple. With this con­di­tion, any cold wind or wa­ter or even a strong emo­tion, made my nip­ples ache with such a pain that it felt like a nee­dle go­ing into the end of them. It was a very short-lived pain for me and worth rid­ing through. I re­ally was very lucky to know how to latch my baby, to know how to time bring­ing Ge­orge to the breast in re­la­tion to his mouth be­ing wide open and if it was the right po­si­tion or not, pre­vent­ing cracked nip­ples. This is where my two decades of watch­ing and guid­ing moth­ers with breastfeeding paid off. Over my past 20 odd years of work­ing with mums, it doesn’t al­ways con­tinue as it has be­gun. Some­where be­tween day two and day five, your milk will come in, your baby will be hun­gry, and latch­ing your baby to the breast can be­come more of a chal­lenge. Your baby can be­come fran­tic with hunger, gets more milk and wind and the tim­ing of bring­ing your baby to the breast can be­come more dif­fi­cult due to con­fi­dence, tired­ness and worry. The wind that your baby gets from your milk can give them a sense of full­ness or distraction that makes breastfeeding harder and this is a very com­mon early breastfeeding prob­lem that leads to an un­set­tled baby. I re­ally do be­lieve that most moth­ers need a lot of guid­ance. They need to have that in­struc­tion from very early on, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the milk comes in, which in most cases is once you are home. A lot of mid­wives can do this very well but many of my clients need this guid­ance for more than just one feed, and this is where ask­ing for help is cru­cial early on. Maybe the as­sis­tance of a lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant is needed, or some­one like my­self who can look at ev­ery­thing along­side the cor­rect feed­ing tech­nique. Cur­rently, and for the past three or so years, there has been a com­mon theme with clients of mine who are hav­ing feed­ing is­sues, and that is lip or tongue ties. Just this year, I have had three clients whose ba­bies have had un­di­ag­nosed lip or tongue ties, who have strug­gled with feed­ing is­sues, ei­ther lack of sup­ply, low weight gain for baby, a very un­set­tled baby or all of the above. Most of th­ese clients have had their ba­bies checked in the hospital or birthing cen­tre and have heard one or two opin­ions on their baby’s lip and tongue tie but not from a pro­fes­sional den­tal or oral spe­cial­ist. What I’ve found is that it’s al­ways best to get more than one opin­ion and to al­ways see a spe­cial­ist in this field, out of all my clients that I re­ferred, one has come back say­ing their feed­ing is­sues have been re­solved be­cause their baby did in­deed have a tongue tie. My baby Ge­orge did not have any feed­ing is­sues but my mid­wife thought he might have ei­ther a lip or tongue tie or both, so slightly re­luc­tantly I went to get him checked. To my sur­prise he did in­deed have a lip tie that needed to be ad­dressed but the tongue tie was mi­nor and I was able to leave it. The clinic talked me

through fu­ture signs to watch out for. The other thing that I have found both with work and with be­ing a mother my­self is how to look af­ter your­self when breastfeeding. You need to eat and drink well, eat to suit your baby’s de­mands and sen­si­tiv­i­ties, and re­mem­ber that you need to pro­vide your baby with the best milk you can. I was lucky enough in the early days and weeks to have ei­ther my mother mak­ing meals for me, or friends de­liv­er­ing the odd meal. I had a freezer filled with whole­some and milk­stim­u­lat­ing food ready for the times I was alone or un­able to find the time to cook. Eat­ing toast doesn’t create good milk, and miss­ing a meal doesn’t help to create a good sup­ply, so be­ing proac­tive with your diet is es­sen­tial in the early days and also in the months ahead. Along­side a good diet I had breastfeeding tea and ate breastfeeding cook­ies or home bak­ing to boost sup­ply, which was never abun­dant. Breastfeeding is not al­ways easy and not all moth­ers love it. It takes per­se­ver­ance and a will­ing­ness to of­fer this known nour­ish­ment for a new­born. For me, a love of breastfeeding has come with time. I never dis­liked it but it has be­come more of a joy, par­tic­u­larly now when Ge­orge (six months) makes a “ha ha ha” sound of an­tic­i­pa­tion when he sees me pulling my top up ready to feed.  Shar­lene Poole is an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed baby ad­vi­sor. Trained as an early child­hood ed­u­ca­tor, she worked as a ma­ter­nity nurse in many coun­tries be­fore re­turn­ing to New Zealand and set­ting up her busi­ness Lit­tle Mir­a­cles. Her suc­cess in work­ing with fam­i­lies in their own homes has earned her the ti­tle of New Zealand’s Baby Whis­perer. For an archive of Shar­lene’s col­umns and ad­vice, visit trea­sures.co.nz

“Some­where be­tween day two and day five, your milk will come in, and latch­ing on can be­come more of a chal­lenge”

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