New Mom Guilt, Ending the Segregation of Breastfeeding and Bottle feeding Mom's

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I spend everyday supporting new moms and babies. Wiping tears, setting up breast pumps, and being a cheerleader for parents that haven't slept in days. And and you know what? There is a look that I see over and over, a deer in the headlights look that I recognize that says "nothing happened like we imagined it would, like it does in the movies"

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Actually maybe that is a good thing. The point is we all have this idea of how our birth is going to be. We look beautiful, makeup done, hair blown out. We imagine our partner by our side cheering us on, our doctor will be there telling us what a great job we are doing. And then a big slap in the face reality. When I was in labor with my 12-year-old daughter, I felt like a beached whale because I was a full 70lbs heavier than I was when I got pregnant.

The doctor that delivered my baby was some random doctor I had never met because my doctor just so happened to be on vacation. Everyone thought I would be in labor for longer than I was. My ex-husband was across the street at the food court getting food, it was 10 o’clock at night, and before my mystery doctor showed up I was alone with a nurse pleading with me not to push because she could see my daughters head crowning. Let’s just say it was not the birth I imagined it would be.

The reason I am telling you my experience is because I took every class, read every book, picked the perfect doctor, got the best insurance, and my birth story STILL turned out this way. But at the end of the day, I have the 2 greatest, smartest, funniest, most talented kids on the planet.

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And it’s because I took everyones advice with a grain of salt, and ultimately did what I wanted and that was Snuggled as much as I could with my baby’s. I couldn't be there all the time. I had to work, and I was able to breastfeed, but I held my kids every possible second I could and even now that they are 9 and 12, our bond is still incredibly strong and we have a connection that is hard to describe.

Do you know how hard it is for me to see a new mom and know she already feels like a failure within hours of giving birth? New mom guilt is real, and it takes a toll. New moms, I am here to tell you are not a failure if you don’t have lavender oil defusing in the delivery room, use disposable diapers, or have to supplement with formula if you’re not making enough breastmilk.

I help mom’s breastfeed everyday. I know how hard it is. I know how much pressure they put on you. If you can’t breastfeed, “Snuggle Feed” with breastmilk is just as good as far as I’m concerned. And Dad’s! You can even “Snuggle Feed” with baby too!

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New mom’s, trust your gut, love your baby, and take care of YOU. When you deliver a baby your Left Brain stops working as well, so logic goes out the window and emotions take the wheel. When this happens, realize you will learn better visually and by demonstration. For example, if you need help with breastfeeding, don't by a breastfeeding book, schedule an appointment with a Lactation Consultant. 

Research also shows that Male rats that stay in the nest with their young have lower levels of Testosterone and higher levels of Prolactin. What does that mean for you? Have your husband Snuggle Feed and do lots of Skin to Skin with the baby to build that family unit. Every female mama on the planet stops bathing after giving birth to tend to their young. You want support from your partner, not more pressure. Hormones are a MAJOR component to breastfeeding, birthing, parenting and bonding. If you focus on Snuggle Feeding, on the breast or in a bottle, it's a great place to start to get those hormones to fall into place and get that strong connection from the very beginning.

Keep up the great work my Milkalicious Mamas!

The First Stage of Lactation (Colostrum)

Here some fun facts for you! The reason your breasts changed size during pregnancy is because you already have milk in your breasts, ready to go!

Right now you are currently in a phase called lactation called Lactogenesis Stage I. During this stage, you are making a highly concentrated breast milk called colostrum. The colostrum is full of anti-oxidants, antibodies, and white blood cells (to start the process of repairing your baby’s leaky gut). All babies are born with a leaky gut, like a porous rock, so that these important components of the milk can pass through the digestive system and get right into their bloodstream. Your baby is born from a very sterile environment, to very non-sterile environment, especially if they’re born vaginally. The colostrum will protect your baby from our bacteria filled world, like giving them a big antibiotic shot.

The bumps on your areolas have also grown in size, and your areolas are now bigger and darker. Your baby will only be able to see contrast, so that is why you now have a bull’s-eye on your chest. Don’t worry; they won’t be like this forever. The bumps on your areolas are called Montgomery Glands. The almost undetectable fluid that is secreted serves as a lubricant, and smells like the amniotic fluid. So yes, your mom is right. Your baby can smell you and knows that you are there. They use their sense of smell to guide them to the breast.

Newborns do not get a lot of volume in the 1st few days, and they are born with their intestines full of this black tar looking poop called Meconium.

Because babies poop out this Meconium, even when they are only eating about 1 teaspoon per meal, all breastfed babies lose weight in the first 3-4 days.

During the colostrum phase babies just do a lot of sucking. They typically do 10-12 bursts of sucking in a row... suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, pause... suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, pause.. I’m getting really sleepy mommy... and I am asleep.

This is very common, because the baby is using a ton of effort for not a lot of return. A baby needs calories for strength and endurance, so we like to keep the baby alert and feeding by “politely” annoying them. This little trick is called the milk pump.

This handy “annoying aid” will wake that baby just enough that they will keep eating, and it will not stimulate any of the reflexes that can interrupt the feeding (for example: touching a babies cheek may cause the baby to pull off of the breast because of the reflex). Another great way to keep a baby awake is to increase the volume. How do you do that? Simply grab and squeeze the boob like a lemon. Not a massage, but literally grabbing a hold of a section of the breast and squeezing. Your breast is filled with tons of little sacks of milk, so you can’t grab a wrong spot!

Breastfeeding Preparation While You Are Pregnant

There are lots of things that we can do while you are still pregnant. We can prepare for boosting milk supply based on your medical history, or put a tool or two in your hospital bag just in case. Breastfeeding is physical and hormonal, so there is a checklist you can go through while you’re pregnant to see if you have any precursors for low milk supply.

1. Did you have trouble getting pregnant?

2. Do you have thyroid issues?

3. Do you have diabetes?

4. Do you have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome?

5. Did your breasts change size during pregnancy?

6. Have you had a breast surgery?

#5 is an important question: Did you experience breast changes during pregnancy. Sometimes you need to ask her significant other to answer that one.

I’m not talking Dolly Parton changes, just slight changes in your bra cup size. About 1.5% of women do not have enough mammary tissue to make milk, so we must consider this as a possibility.

If you have any history of thyroid issues, diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or you had problems getting pregnant; these are all precursors for low milk supply. Don’t worry, we can work on synthetically boosting your prolactin after the baby is born, but just knowing this information will help.

Look At Your Nipples

When I work with a pregnant mom, I do a breast exam to see if I can find any potential issues with the latch. If the nipples are flat or when you compress the areola do they retract, we can plan for the use of a nipple shield. Simply squeeze your areola from both sides and see what your nipple does. If it stays in place, you are in good shape. If it retracts back into the boob, you will want to be prepared for a possible latch issue. Don’t worry, you found out before any issues began, so that is an excellent start!