Thursday, December 16, 2010

Breastfeeding: Getting Ready to Go Back to Work

Big time gory detail warning here folks.

You’ll have to forgive me, but I have to do another public service post. I have found some great stuff that must be shared in regards to keeping up with breastfeeding when you go back to work. I have talked to my midwife, a lactation consultant and our pediatrician and have gotten a great framework on what to do. I love using this medium to help other moms out there where I can, so here goes.

Ladies, I had three months off for maternity leave, so what I am doing is based on that timetable. I had my son, and had about two months of getting a great start at breastfeeding. We had it down to a science. Now I am doing the following:

The Basis:

When you spend 8-10 hours a day away from your baby, your milk supply will decrease. There is something about the pheromones when you and your baby are around each other that plays into your milk supply. For some lucky moms, this won’t happen. For the vast majority of us, you need to plan on reaching a day when you will not make enough for your baby, and may need to supplement with formula. Knowing this, you can plan ahead and pump well before you go back to work, so when your supply takes a hit, you have reserves in your freezer ready to go so you can keep them on breast milk longer.

Getting Mom Ready:

  • A month (or a month in a half if you want a really great start) begin pumping.

  • Pump an ounce out of each breast a day at first.

  • Gradually build up to pumping a maximum of 4 ounces a day out of each breast. Don’t rush it – give your body time to build up to this.

  • Pump right after feeding your baby. (Not after every feeding. Build up to pumping 3 times a day. Again, don’t rush it. Give your body time to adjust to this volume.)

  • Try to do it when you have more milk. If you are feeling engorged, feed the baby, then pump.

  • Never pump at night.

  • There are some great supplements out there to help build your milk supply. There is a company called “Motherlove” that makes some of the best around. My midwife told me to get one of their “More Milk” blends that has “Goat’s Rue” in it. Their “More Milk Special Blend” is the perfect one, but they are all good. Use the Store Locator link to find where you can buy this near you.

  • Omega 3 supplements (fish oil, flaxseed oil) are also really great to take to boost your supply. These can be found at your grocery store. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water.

  • Important! If you get plugged ducts, fever, chills, mastitis, stop pumping until you heal up and are feeling 100% again. You are doing too much. I had luck with acupuncture to get myself under control again quickly so I could resume this regimen.

Pumping Tips:

  • Use the “Letdown” button – Some pumps have a “letdown” button. Check your owner’s manual to see if you have this feature. I have a Medela Freestyle, and the button is located here:

    When you pump, if you see your breast begin to stream milk out (as opposed to drops of milk coming out) hit the letdown button. Leave it this way for the rest of your pumping session. This helps the pump to be much more efficient at getting the milk out. It will do longer pulls on your breast, rather than shorter ones.

  • If one breast is having a good letdown (milk is streaming out of your breast rather than dripping out) and the other one is just dripping, use this technique to get more milk out of the slower breast. Massage from the very top of your breast down until you find a pocket where when you push on it, milk comes streaming out of the slow breast. Hold it there until it shops spraying out so hard (like, stop massaging - just press in on that spot). It helps you get more milk out in less time. You may need to hold it for a full couple of minutes until you fully drain that cell of milk out.

Getting Baby Ready:

  • The very best bottles for breastfed fed babies are the Breastfiow bottles made by First Years

  • Start giving baby a bottle a day. A great time to do this is to have dad give a bottle in the middle of the night so you can get a break and catch up on sleep!

  • Start with giving baby 1oz, then finish the feeding with breastfeeding. Build up from there. Check with your pediatrician for what’s normal and healthy, but my son takes 4 oz. a feeding usually.

  • If he is a natural at taking a bottle, just do a bottle every few days. Save your milk!

When you are back at work:

  • Ease back into work if you can. Work half days, do flex time, or go see him at lunch to feed him for as long as you can. They begin taking cereal in their bottles at 4-6 months old. The closest you can get to this age with breastfeeding, the better. Remember, the more time you spend away from your baby, the greater the chance of your milk supply decreasing, so do what you can to spend as much time as possible with your baby!

  • By law, your employer has to provide you with a place to pump and time to do it. Don’t be afraid to insist that they honor this.

  • When you pump have pictures of your baby around, something that smells like him, MP3 recording of his noises or anything else that would help you connect with your baby at a distance. The biggest thing is to relax as much as possible. This may be hard, feeding self conscious being naked at work, the anxiety around taking time from your busy day to pump, etc. Try to look at it as some quiet time to yourself to relax. Bring a good book with you. Put a sign on the door so that you feel comfortable that you won’t be disturbed.

  • Whenever you are home with the baby, you feed him through regular breastfeeding. Everyone else gives him bottles when you are not around. When you breastfeed, it will stimulate your supply.

  • If you have to start adding in formula, do it gradually. Start with giving an ounce or two a day and build up from there. Watch for gas and dirty diapers for clues that he’s having a hard time with the change and adjust as needed. Never change your baby’s diet all at once.

Good luck!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Months Old!

I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my calendar for this week and saw that another month has passed! Aaron is doing great, and he is growing like crazy! He is 11 pounds, 13 ounces. He is 25 inches tall which is in the 98th percentile for his age (makes sense! And, for those keeping track, that's 5 inches since he was born!). His head is 15.75 inches in diameter. He has gained about an ounce a week since he was born, which is the top end of what's normal for a breast fed baby! He is really filling out. When I changed his diaper the other day, I was amazed when I felt his thighs! He is close to having rolls on them! I see it in his face too. He is also has eyelashes now, and is making tears when he cries, which are both new things.

Aaron has had a bit of acid reflux this last month. I’ll feed him, and then if I have him anywhere other than up on my shoulder, he starts crying because it hurts. Poor guy! We got some medication from the doctor, but the problem is that acid reflux babies spit up a lot, and sure enough, as soon as we get medicine in him, he spits it up! I think he doesn’t like the way it tastes, so that might have something to do with it too. We also tried this homeopathic stuff called “gripe water.” He LOVES it! It helps a little. I talked to our midwife about it (they are trained in baby care from a medical perspective as well) and she suggested a chiropractor in town. I was nervous about this because I am not a fan of people messing around with the spine. She assured me that the treatment on a baby would be really non-invasive. I took Aaron last week to this guy, and sure enough, he basically did infant massage on him. Aaron liked it! After two visits, he appears to be completely cured! I am keeping an eye on him to see if it comes back. When it bothers him, he does what I call his “lizard tongue” where he is constantly sticking his tongue out (precursor to the inevitable spit up!) and if I see him do it I may take him back to this guy since it was so quick and easy, and Aaron liked the massage.

Aaron is in a real daddy phase right now. Chris walks into the room, and Aaron lights up like a Christmas tree! He just smiles and smiles at Chris. This really melts Chris’s heart. After being at work all day, to come home to this is pretty great. It is hard for guys in the beginning because babies are so attached to their mothers. It is easy to feel left out. But no, Aaron loves his father, and is eager to show it!

Allow me to take a second to gush over my husband. As women, we can’t help but think about what our guys will be like as fathers when we marry them. I knew Chris would be good at it. He has such a gentle, laid back personality. He has a very kind heart, and I just knew he would be a natural at this. He has just blown me away with both our boys in his ability to connect with them right off the bat! Noah was only here for four days, yet he knew who his father was and felt so comfortable with him; just as comfortable as he did with me. Aaron is no different. Part of it is that Chris is so involved! He’s up in the middle of the night with me, changing diapers, and soothing him back to sleep. He will cuddle up with Aaron on the couch for hours. He has helped me give Aaron his acid reflux medicine and does it better than I can do it. He has great instincts on what Aaron needs and how to take care of him. He is such a great partner in caring for Aaron! I loved my husband before, but to see him as a father to our boys makes me love him even more!

Another of Aaron’s latest things is that he is getting to be more impatient and insistent when he wants things. Namely, he is getting to the place where he will completely fall apart crying! It sounds almost like he is hurt or something, even though I know he is just fine. Every time he does this, it feels like I am getting kicked in the gut. There must be some residual chemical connection between us from being attached through pregnancy or something because of how I feel when this happens. For example, it is as simple as he’s hungry, he wants food NOW and I can’t seem to get it to him quick enough, even though we are sitting down, and I am getting ready to feed him. I understand that this is a phase that will pass, and lord I hope it happens soon. It is really tough.

Maybe what I am noticing is the development of a broader spectrum of emotions in him overall perhaps. Because, on the flip side, he is also smiling so much more, and even has a version of a baby laugh that he does when he is really excited! It is the cutest thing ever. He LOVES his toys, and is just so over the top happy to be down there playing with them on his play mat. I caught the best video of him doing his smiles and laughs the other day. He was lying in his crib for a moment while I went to do something. When I came back to check on him, he had clearly just discovered his mobile and thought it was the funniest thing he’d seen in a while:

Our sleep really hasn’t changed much in the last month. Aaron is still up every 2-3 hours to eat. It is pretty exhausting, but we are getting used to it. I am trying to adjust to his schedule. He starts his night about 8:00pm. If I go to bed when he does, over the course of the night I will get about 7 hours of sleep. The problem is, who wants to go to bed at 8:00? Chris gets home from work in the evenings, and I cook dinner. By the time that’s done, there’s not much time to do anything else other than go to bed. It’s hard because I always end up getting sidetracked on trying to get something done, and before I know it, it’s 11:00!

He is cute when he wakes up. Last night for example, I heard him grunting and shifting around. I got up and went to his bassinet to check on him. His eyes were open, and when he saw me, he gave me the biggest smile! It was so cute, and I love that he is so happy to see me. It almost made me forget that it was 3:00 in the morning! Everyone tells me to hang in there, and that at some point in the not too distant future, this will change. He is growing and developing so fast, I am sure they are right.

We are beginning to think about me going back to work (sigh!). It’s going to be hard, but I have to do it. The lady we were hoping to leave him with during the day has decided that she is too old to take babies anymore, so we are back to square one on child care. We have a couple of contenders that we have found. We hope to have that worked out soon (as in next week or so I think). I am off work until mid-January so I have another month left to go, which is nice.

Monday is our postpartum doula’s last day. I am scared! With her help, the last two months have been much easier than they would have been. Every day I get regular meals and showers. I also get some precious extra couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep. I also haven’t done laundry since Aaron was born, or had to do much to clean up my house. All that is going to go away, or will be harder to come by I should say. I know that I need to figure it out on my own. I can’t keep her forever! With her help, I have regained my confidence in my ability to be a mother of a baby, which is exactly what I needed her help with. Think good thoughts for me!

We are really looking forward to our first Christmas with Aaron. We had a blast shopping for him. I know he is too little to get what it is really about, but we don’t care! Last year, it was a hard holiday, after we had been looking forward to having it be about Noah, but then of course he wasn’t there. This year, we are really going to do it up just how we had dreamed and enjoy it. I hope to write about that in next month’s post. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday from the Wilkerson’s! We are grateful for each and every one of you, and thanks for following along in this journey with us!