Breastfeeding 101: Last, But Not Least...
• Little Extras
I will take this opportunity to tell you that the time for herds of relatives and friends to come visiting your new bundle of joy is not in the first two days. Yes, they love you, and mean well, but visitors are exhausting. Plus, I promise that taking lots of selfies and being on display will not sound fun to you. You really need quiet, privacy and time to get through the first couple of days. Having lots of visitors at the hospital is not helpful to you. At all. If you have people in your life that tend to push boundaries, now is the time to set them. Having one person there a lot, like a partner, is perfect. If your family and friends insist on visiting you at the hospital, keep it to two or three people, and really try to keep it to an hour or less. The only person your baby really wants right now is you Mama. It’s nothing personal, that’s just biology.
Once you go home, let the visiting begin slowly. Also make sure you ask people to bring you food, because the last thing you’ll want to do when you home is cook. Asking people to push your vacuum and do your dishes is also very helpful. Other people holding your baby for hours on end, while swaddled, so you can “entertain” your guests, is not helpful. Having other people hold baby for short periods of time is fine. People love new babies! Just remember that learning to breastfeed takes some time and energy but it’s totally worth it!
Fortunately circumcision rates in the U.S. are dropping like a rock. But if you really want your baby circumcised, and can afford to have a Mohel do it at the end of the first week, go for it. This is the Jewish tradition, or rite, of having a Bris. Even if you are not Jewish, most Mohels will be happy to oblige. They are very skilled at it, usually do a better job than the hospital, and the reason for a Bris taking place on the eighth day is because breastfeeding has been established and it is less traumatic for the infant. If you don’t have this option and want to have your baby circumcised in the hospital so insurance will pay for it, try to wait as long as possible. Know that babies almost always shut down completely afterward, and usually don’t nurse well. Just keep him skin to skin for as long as you can after the procedure to give him time for recovery. His natural habitat is on your chest, skin to skin, the quicker he can back to "home base" afterward, the better for both of you.
The stimulation to your nipples of a baby nursing can cause what feels like menstrual cramps, sometimes really killer cramps! Don’t fret, this too is normal and they will go away after a couple of days. If you can take some Ibuprofen, it helps.
Let’s get this old wives tale out of our language for good. Breastfeeding should NOT hurt, pain is not normal. If you have sensitive skin, the pulling feeling can be somewhat unpleasant at the beginning, but that’s different than pain. Feeling a strong “pull” is what you should expect. If you feel pinching or biting, or if your nipples are looking bruised, becoming cracked or bleeding, scream and ask for help! First check your positioning. You want to be able to draw a straight line from baby’s ears to their hips, regardless of position. They should not have to turn their head to nurse. You want to make sure you have lots of breast in the baby’s mouth, not just nipple. You want baby unswaddled and close to you. That way they will usually feed more effectively and be able to get more breast in their mouth. The more breast, the better it feels for you.
If you are consistently sore even when your latch “looks good”, you hear clicking sounds through a feed, or you just feel that something isn’t right. Trust yourself and ask for help.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Congratulations, you’re not pregnant anymore! Eat what you want and enjoy it! Breastfeeding makes you thirsty so have water close at the beginning. You don’t need to water log yourself, just drink to thirst.
Most of all, ENJOY YOUR BABY! I know this is a lot of information but there is a lot of information to give. Breastfeeding can be one of the most rewarding and intimate things you will do. Trust yourself, trust your body, trust your baby. Allow yourself the time and space to learn and fall in love with your baby. It’s the best love affair you will ever have, I promise!