Sunday, November 25, 2012

Breastfeeding: A Quick Guide

As a first time parent, I wanted to do it all, including breast-feeding. Despite some ladies warning me that it would be hard, I figured it would just happen, like mother nature. The baby would just needs to latch on, and voila!

Fast forward to an actual baby, that’s a whole other story. It gets even more fun when the baby is agitated and wants to eat NOW. No one tells you how to feed a newborn that is screaming and kicking, and wriggling all about.  Keep in mind is will take time to get used to your baby and his pattern.

Here are the top worries and complaints from moms and solutions:

Problems latching on
Most mums experience this, especially if this is your first time. You should feel initial discomfort/pain, but it should disappear after the first minute, if not, the baby is not latched on properly.

Try to achieve a latch where the baby’s mouth covers more of the areola from below the nipple. You know they have fed properly when your nipple does not feel pain and looks elongated after their feed.
In order to reposition the baby, place your clean index finger gently inside the corner of the baby’s mouth to disengage the suction.
The 3 key points to latching on properly is: turned to mummy, nipple to nose, and baby to breast.

Here are other helpful instructions/tips to help.

Cracked nipples
This happens mainly when the baby isn’t latched on properly. You end up with very sore nipples, in some severe cases there is bleeding.

It can be cured with expressing some milk and smearing it on the nipple to help with healing and letting it air dry. If you find it still hurts, you can get a nipple guard, or use Lanolin; a thick petroleum like jelly that you don’t have to wipe off before feeding the baby( also to help with healing).

Leaky breasts
Congratulations on a good milk supply! But sorry they always leak at the most inconvenient time, usually in front of friends, or better yet the postman.

Try not to go to long without feeding the baby. Use breast pads, Johnson and Johnson makes the best breast pads to help with the leakage.

Not enough milk
Not being able to feed you baby is stressful enough. Doctors will say its supply and demand, but speaking with several mummies, sometimes supply does not meet demand no matter how hard we try. There is nothing wrong with you, sometimes it just happens.

You can try this Chinese fish soup; I found it helped with milk supply. One thing to note, it is very pungent and the house will smell fishy. Here is the link: Chinese Soup Lady

There is also the other more obvious choice, formula. Most moms like Aptamil.

Sore/engorged breasts
This typically happens when your baby is having a long sleep or not too hungry, your breasts become swollen and sensitive to touch/temperature.

  • Try expressing some milk and saving it for a later use. Do not express too much or your breasts will produce even more milk, exacerbating the problem.
  • You can also use hot compress before a feed to ease the pain, and cool compress after feeding.
  • Wear a snug but not tight bra at all times. (Also helps prevent from droopy breasts)

Mastitis is a bacterial infection in your breasts marked by flu-like symptoms such as fever and pain in your breasts. This is typically what happens when the breasts becomes engorged for prolonged periods. Breast may also feel hot to the touch and bumpy (this is from engorgement). Cracked skin, clogged milk ducts, or engorgement causes the infection. Mastitis typically only effects one breast, usually the breast the baby favors least.
Firstly, try to put damp heat on the breasts and express the bumpy, red areas until it softens. If that does not work after a day or so, you should contact your doctor and they may prescribe antibiotics. Please keep in mind, it is safe and recommended that you continue breastfeeding when you have mastitis.

Shooting milk
This is the mum that have so much milk, it actually shoots out like a weapon.

Mums recommend expressing some milk first and then feeding the baby (if they are a newborn).  As the baby gets older, they will be able to handle the flow.

Baby sleeping on the breast
Babies are typically sleepy in the first couple of months after so falling asleep while nursing is common. It happens to me often with baby J but I find it helps me put him into his bed much easier.
If you do not want the baby to sleep on the breast, notice when baby’s sucking slows down and his eyes start closing, remove him from your breast and try to stimulate him by burping, tickling his feet, or gently talking to him while rubbing his back, and then switch breasts. As baby gets older he’ll be able to stay awake longer.

Lastly, despite all the complaints, once you find the rhythm with your baby, it is a quite enjoyable and great bonding time. Also, breastfeeding can help you burn off approximately 500 calories a day and can help you get back to pre-baby weight faster.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hello baby, goodbye you.

Some mums prep to the max and get all the books to prep for their journey into motherhood. Others, like me pick up one book and leave the rest to maternal instinct. Regardless of with methods you choose, you will definitely learn on the job.

From the moment your baby is born, you are in awe at this amazing little creature that has come from your womb. As you dedicate your time, your love, you forget about you. Out goes getting work done on time, replying to e-mails, cleaning the house, clothes that use to fit you just perfectly, time to leisurely shower, and pretty much time in general.  None of those things seems to matter anymore. Our focus is on the baby and we forget to take care of ourselves.

There lies a guilt with many mummies.  We are afraid to admit it, so it goes unsaid but sometimes we just want some me time. Me time; where you can sit quietly, read a book, go to the gym, go shopping, whatever you use to enjoy without worrying about a dirty nappy, or a hungry baby. Although mummies can be very hush-hush about it, some do suffer from post-natal depression, and the majority suffers from a tinge of baby blues. Statistics show up to 80% of women suffer from the blues. Feelings include feeling trapped, anxious, weepy, irritable, lost of concentration, appetite changes, and worried about being a good mother. These feelings are normal in the first few weeks after the baby is born and should disappear on its own.

Causes of the blues may be linked to the changes in your body and shift of your hormones as your milk comes in. The emotional aspect is typically linked to transitioning into a new routine while being sleep deprived. As much as they say “sleep when the baby sleeps” sometimes it is hard to accomplish that.

To help get rid of the blues, call a friend and have a chat. Better yet, try to arrange a date and meet up with them for a few hours while your husband or someone watches the baby. If there isn’t anyone to help, figure out when your baby usually sleeps a huge block of time and use it to pop in your favorite tunes, get some exercise, or take a nice bath. Exercise will be the best form for kicking the baby blues in the butt. But it may be hard especially if you had a cesarean. (We will discuss exercise tips for C-section mummies in December)

Postnatal Depression(PND) is a more serious matter. Although it piggybacks similar symptoms of the baby blues, the symptoms are much more severe and longer lasting. The signs and symptoms include: lack of interest in your baby, negative feelings towards the baby, worrying about hurting the baby, lack of concern for yourself, sleeping more or less than usual, lack of energy and motivation, lack of pleasure, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

There are 3 main causes of PND: hormonal changes, physical changes, and stress.

Hormonal changes. After childbirth women experience a big drop in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. Thyroid levels can also drop, which leads to fatigue and depression. These rapid hormonal changes—along with the changes in blood pressure, immune system functioning, and metabolism that new mummies experience—may trigger postpartum depression.

Physical Changes. Giving birth brings numerous physical and emotional changes. You may be dealing with physical pain from the delivery or the difficulty of losing the baby weight, leaving you insecure about your physical and sexual attractiveness.

Stress. The stress of caring for a newborn can also take a toll. New mummies are often sleep deprived. In addition, you may feel overwhelmed and anxious about your ability to properly care for your baby. These adjustments can be particularly difficult if you’re a first time mum who must get used to an entirely new identity.

PND can effect your ability to take care of yourself and your baby. If you suspect that you may have it, please be assured you are still a good mum, you just need to get a bit of help to make you healthy again. If left untreated, it can have detrimental effects on you and the baby.

Some tips to self-help on PND is getting enough sleep, setting quality time to yourself, eat, go out and get some sun, spend time with friend and family and let them know what you need, share your feelings with your loved ones, get some exercise, or join a mummy support group.

If you have tried the self-help and are still struggling with PND, you may want to consider professional help. Postpartum depression responds to the same types of treatment as regular depression. Therapy, medication, and support groups can all be helpful.

In the coming months, I will be putting together articles to help you get back into fighting shape along with nutritional tips that will help you and your beautiful baby stay happy and healthy.