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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Breastfeeding: Breaking the Rules Responsibly

This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop hosted by Life with Levi, and co-hosted by The Slacker Mom, and Diary of a Devil Dog Wife. Visit the links below and link up your own story or leave a comment!

Last week's blog hop was about words of encouragement. This week's topic deals with breaking the rules. The question that was posed was: Have you ever had to think outside the box when it comes to breastfeeding?

I'm a firm believer that in order to break the rules, you need to be informed of them. You need to know what you're breaking, right? With breastfeeding, it seems as though there are so many rules, yet at the same time it seems like there are no rules at all. I've been on both ends of the spectrum.

When I had Baby T, I:
  • had a little book that I kept out, where I wrote when he ate, when he slept, and what he did in between. I was a little obsessive about it. 
  • I offered both breasts during feedings. 
  • I had a bracelet that I switched from wrist to wrist so I could remember which breast he had last nursed on. 
  • I rested Baby T's body on the boppy. 
  • I didn't introduce a pacifier. 
  • I even--gasp--ended up scheduling feedings because I was so insecure about feeding Baby T on demand.

Fast forward to Little M:
  • I no longer had time to keep a book about what he ate or when he slept. 
  • When Little M cried, I would offer to nurse, and he often fell asleep in the wrap afterward
  • I usually only offered one breast during feedings because Little M was often tied up in the wrap, and it was difficult to change his position. 
  • I could tell which breast I had last nursed on by the fullness. (If you ever see a nursing mom grab both boobs before she nurses, she's checking to see which one is more full.) 
  • I held Little M's body in one hand while I tended to Baby T or did housework with the other. 
  • I introduced a pacifier at 2 days old (which he didn't take). 
  • I didn't schedule feedings, because that was just one more thing to think about, and I didn't have the mental capacity to think about anything else. 
  • Most importantly, I was confident that my nursing relationship with Little M was perfect exactly as it was.

I am not recommending that moms shouldn't keep track of what breast they last nursed on or that they should only offer one breast at a time, especially if they are establishing their breastfeeding relationship. Don't introduce a pacifier if your baby's latch isn't perfect. (Of course, I'm totally being a hypocrite, because Little M's latch was shallow for quite some time--until his mouth grew a bit--but I would have dealt with it if he would have taken the paci in the middle of the night).

But something wonderful happens after you have breastfed once: You really know your body. I could tell when my milk was letting down. I knew that with Baby T, I had a major oversupply and forceful letdown, but with Little M, I had a normal supply (although I still had a forceful letdown). I could probably tell you exactly how many ounces he was getting out of each breast. When I pump, I can give a pretty good estimate of how much will come out at a time.

Because I knew the rules, I knew how to break them. I knew the signs to look for in case offering only one breast meant was decreasing my supply (in fact, it may have been the reason that I didn't have an oversupply with Little M). I knew how to make sure Little M was getting enough milk (he was having at least six wet or dirty diapers each day, and although he is only in the 25th percentile for weight, he was gaining along the curve). And it was working for us. Little M was happy, Baby T was happy, and I was happy.


Jeniffer Smith @ Sisters 'N Cloth said... Best Blogger Tips

Good points! I started out much more of a rule follower, but now that I know my body and my daughter's tendencies, it's much easier on us both.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

I quiet forgot the bracelet I swapped from arm to arm to make sure my son didn't get the same side twice - lol my toddler wouldn't allow you decide which side he was getting!

mamaburgher said... Best Blogger Tips

I like the rules you followed and didn't...and how funny it is to look at how Mamas do things differently with #2. ;) Thanks for sharing!

Tmuffin said... Best Blogger Tips

Sometimes I feel like I did everything the opposite with Little M. But my two kids ARE very different.

Tmuffin said... Best Blogger Tips

I have so many friends whose toddlers were partial to sides. When Baby T was still nursing, all he cared about was that he was getting boob.

Tmuffin said... Best Blogger Tips

That's such a good point. It does make it easier for the babies when we just relax!

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