WARNING! This post is more than a quick fact. It is a bit lengthy in description but please trust me when I say it is worth the read. It is about connection.
Baby’s First food.
Books will give you a weight your baby should be for a certain age. This is a guideline and should not be used as a measurement meant to follow ounce by ounce. People come in all different sizes. Let me say this a different way: Babies come in all different sizes. Babies = People.
If your baby is nursing only, from a drug free mother who eats healthy food, and they are looking really big compared to others babies or compared to what the book says your baby should be….your baby is healthy. Period. Do not cut back on it’s feedings. Do not introduce foods to slim the baby down, Your baby is healthy, they are just being a normal human being. Relax.
Likewise if you baby is small compared to the other babies, please don’t jump to the conclusion that you body is not making enough milk for the little one. Don’t start investigating formulas and solid food yet. The same rule applies above. People=Babies come in different sizes.
Do recognize if your babies is dehydrated or not keeping foods down to the point they are not receiving proper hydration and nourishment. Use your motherly judgement on this. Lots of babies are spit up babies but keep plenty down, they are just little gobblers and don’t know when to stop so their body is getting rid of what they do not need.
There are times when a baby’s body is not doing well due to one reason or another and you need a little help from an outside educated source. Is you baby feverish? Is your baby not latching on properly due to Ankyloglossia, otherwise known as tongue tie or lip tie? Is the soft spot sunken? Does the skin stick up when you gently pinch it? Not many wet diapers? The last three being signs of dehydration. These are all signs outside help is needed. Seek it.
The human race wants to survive and since nature designed us to feed our babies via the breast, you would be surprised how well the whole system works. Barring all the unwarranted fear that our society has created, mothers love to nurse. And the great news is that your baby loves nursing too. We just need to get women back on board. The best tool I can recommend is this one word.
Relax the mind, relax the arm that holds your baby, relax all the people around you after your baby is born, relax your breath. Babies pick up on nervousness.
Some of you may be saying, easier said than done. I get this. I am afraid of dogs. When I first see them running toward me with hair raised on their neck, my nerves raise. I’m sure the dog see’s this erratic energy field of fear surrounding me. I’ve been told they do and for no other reason then fear, I really do believe they sense it. Now here’s the tricky part, how exactly do I get rid of this fear? Well there are ways to trick a dog that you are not afraid: body posture, loud voice, breathe, never can remember if I’m suppose to look them straight in the eye or not so the last rule is important…always carry a big stick .
There are ways to relax around your baby also (please don’t carry a big stick). Understand that your baby is not fine china, neither is your baby an unbreakable dish; more like your everyday dish set. Hold you baby in many positions, get use to holding her/him. Explore them, look over every nook and cranny. Move their tiny arms and legs up and down. Let them cry for a few seconds if they happen on it. Let them explore their voice. When they are newborn, the cry is really the only voice they have. If it is awkward to get them to latch on don’t freak out if they even cry themselves to sleep. Freaking out is the opposite of relaxing. So hold your baby and focus for a bit on your breath and the breath of your wee one. Feel the energy of your bodies when crying, when just chilling and when sleeping. Notice your breath during each of these cycles. Notice you body tension. Breathe into any area you feel might be holding tight. Tell it to relax. This body part may listen to you or it may not. If not, visualize the muscles letting go but don’t be attached to how they are actually reacting. The same lessons we learned to get us through labor actually help get us through mothering. Learn them and practice them often, they are most effective when you actually use them. (I’m not being sarcastic, I’m being practical and real.)
Here are a few other helpful tools:
Drink lots of water. Use a straw (metal and reusable of course) to get it down quicker, have it next to you all the time. Do not sit unless the water is there. Start your morning with water and lemon, or hot tea and lemon. The lemon is a very gentle cleanser keeping your immune system working and your bowels moving.
Yoga every day. Yes that right, even if it is just a posture or two. Find ways to incorporate it into your everyday life. Do a forward bend while gently swinging your baby close to the ground, do plank pose and spinal twist while playing peek-a-boo. Think differently about your practice. The days of an hour long continuous session are not so much an option anymore for most. Don’t abandon your exercise, just shift it to fit into your new life. You are with the baby almost 24/7 so why not take advantage of this time and create a healthier mind and body that in turn creates a more peaceful relationship with all.
Visualize milk flowing, the power of the mind can work for you.
Have books you have read and trust available when questions arise. My recommendations are “Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding”, “Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League, “The Nursing Mother’s Companion Guide” by Huggins.
Try to let go of all the do this and do that. I have a really hard time watching some well intentioned nurse making a woman hold their baby’s head a certain way and hearing them tell the mother the baby’s mouth is not on the nipple right. Just hold your baby anyway you feel comfortable and trust they will grab hold of your nipple just right when you are comfortable. Yes you want the baby to breathe, so some common sense is in order. Don’t smash the head to the breast so hard their little nostrils can’t get air, but at the same time the body was designed so the lips and nose have a curve in them that allows an air space to form. It might look like a tiny space but if there is a space you are good. Turn your baby’s body to your body and that will make for a better bond so baby is comfortable. You wouldn’t want to eat your food by turning your head hard to the side and neither does the baby. Once again, we would not be having this conversation if strong communities still existed. You would have exposure to this happening on a daily basis.
Quickly, see a Hypnotherapist. They help us undo conditioning that is harmful to us, really almost instantly.
Pay for a massage, have them come to the house if you can. It is preferred if someone could watch the baby for quiet time so you can totally let go. If not still better to get the massage then not. Prepare yourself for the massage before you go so you can take full advantage of this short hour. Do deep breathing while driving there. Tell yourself this is your hour and do not spend it talking non stop. The massage therapist should be let in on this so they can honor the silence. Allow your mind to go to a place of no activity. I know you don’t get much adult conversation, but do not use this time for socializing. If you do deep breathing here and there and focus on the muscles releasing wherever the therapist is touching, you will get so much more out of this. Close your eyes while getting the massage, trust. Even better, when you release each muscle, visualize a color with that area. What ever comes to you. See the color turn into an oil and use that oil color to mentally release.
Think about how you have been holding your body when the baby cries, when you sleep and try to nurse if you are co-sleeping, when you are carrying your baby? This is your hour to allow your body to reverse stress and release muscles, allowing them to move back into proper positions.
Have happy thoughts while you and your baby are connecting, These days of nursing are so short, soon they will be over never to return again. The oxytocin that is released and the feeling of nurturing that comes from this rush of hormones only happens while you nurse. Try to be aware of this flow of sensation that comes, this is a special tonic that nature prepared so that nurturing, mothering, bonding can occur.
Nature prepared us with this perfect beautiful tonic. Breastfeeding. Now see if your milk does not flow better once you adjust a few things.
I will end this by saying the person I least recommend to seek out for breastfeeding advise is your pediatrician. I say this often but most don’t listen to me, they are given wrong advise in little hidden fear based false advise partly because their pediatricians training involved very little breastfeeding information and partly because they are trained to approach patients with what is wrong, how do we fix it, they are not trained to trust nature when it does many things perfect. I am glad they learned how to help when things go wrong, I welcome them. But this is where Many mothers learn the hard way, some can correct this but some never recover and end breastfeeding, feeling their body was not capable. I recommend La Leache League as a starting point for a support system and for information we are missing from nuclear family being the norm for a few generations. We are missing the knowledge passed down when the body was trusted. It has not been trusted ever since the 30’s when formula company’s ran the campaign against breastfeeding. Yes, it is more complicated than this. Yes, some Pediatricians give great breastfeeding advise and yes some women truly do have real concerns when it comes to their bodies producing enough milk. And I will support any woman who makes the choice not to breastfeed, babies do thrive on formula. But I want woman who want to breastfeed to have the best support and advise for making that happen for them.