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bottle feeding

An Honest Mom's top 3 breastfeeding tips

Since breastfeeding (“Giving C some boo boos” as J likes to say) is something that I am once again doing, say, 10-15 times a day, I figured I’d share a few of the tips and resources that have helped me navigate my cumulative total of 3.5 years of boo boo feeding.

1.  The “laid back” breastfeeding position. I discovered this when I visited Janaki at East Bay Lactation Associates in the midst of the breastfeeding crisis I had a few years ago with J. I was worried about my milk supply and we’d been supplementing with formula and J just seemed, in general, unwell. In the hour I spent with Janaki, her kindness, wisdom and humor sunk into my tired self like a salve. And she showed me the “laid back” position. It changed everything for J and me. I’ve been using it with C from the beginning. It magically turns breastfeeding into the relaxing break it was meant to be. Here’s me, a few days ago, all laid back in our front yard. Yes, I breastfeed in our front yard.

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Yes. We have a wheelbarrow in our front yard. And yes. Those are A’s feet in the bottom of the picture. He was going the extra mile and taking pictures from multiple angles after I said, “Quick, go get the camera–I want a picture of this breastfeeding position!”

The great thing about this position is how easy it is. You…uh…lay back. Wherever you happen to be. Couch, chair, bed. Prop yourself up with as many blankets and pillows as you need to be 100% comfortable relaxing every muscle in your body. Really. Every muscle. Janaki told me that you’ve done it right if you could fall asleep in that position. Then drape your babe across your abdomen diagonally, so that you’re belly to belly. I like to position C so he has one leg on either side of my leg, sort of horsey ride style. Then you just support the baby’s upper back, where their shoulder blades are, with your hand. When you support them like this with firm pressure, babies gain some leverage and are able to move their heads more freely to initiate the latch. (The same way that sit ups are easier when you brace your feet under the couch.) Then you sit back and relax. That’s it, folks.

And a side angle...just so you can see how laid back I am.

This somewhat upright position makes it easier for babies to feed, instead of having them in those perfectly horizontal positions that breastfeeding pillows encourage. (Would you rather guzzle down a big glass of water laying flat or propped up?) It also has the extra added benefits of giving your tired mommy arms a break, giving tired mommy a break, and making it more pleasant for your baby to breastfeed, since you’re a relaxed mommy.  So throw your breastfeeding pillows out the window, ladies, cause all you need is to lean back!

2.  Kelly Mom. By far the best online breastfeeding resource out there. If you have a question, they have a helpful, well-resourced article on it. Like this one that helped us navigate our first bottle feedings with both C and J. Or this one that helped me through a painful bout of mastitis that I had when J was 2.

3.  If you have a partner (or a really generous friend) and a baby who will take a bottle, and you want help with night feedings to get more uninterrupted sleep, consider how your Crock-Pot could help.

Here’s a how-to on how to duplicate our life-saving, DIY, middle-of-the-night, on-demand bottle warmer:

 

As a parting shot, I have to share this sketch. A year(ish) ago, I audited a birth class for my doula training and gaped over the shoulder of one of the dads in the class as he whisked his pencil ever so lightly across the page and created this gem in a couple minutes.

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When you’re breastfeeding, think of it like your baby is at a bar. You don’t want her to just occupy a stool at the bar, you want her to get drunk.

So go forth, lay back and get ’em drunk, ladies.
Cheers.

Small victories for a new mother of 2

1) I had 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night. My dearest A. took the first nighttime shift with my new dearest baby C. who is taking a bottle like a champ.

2) Rather than trying for 2 hours to put C. to sleep between the hours of 5 and 7 a.m., I just held him this morning and dozed off and on. In the end, when my dearest 3-and-3-quarters child, J woke up at 7:20 a.m., C was asleep and I was able to put him down and go enjoy a full 45 minutes of morning time with J. It was blissful to have some uninterrupted time with him, all warm and rumpled and bright.

3) At some point in the afternoon, A. said he’d make dinner, an offer that nearly moves me to tears these days, since I’ve been nearly 100% on dinner duty for the past months while A. does things like demolishing bathrooms and putting up siding. I handed both boys off to him, and they all headed for a quick runaround at the park. I went off to do some caulking the bathroom of our rental. The caulking was dreamy. I was unencumbered by the stream of spontaneous toddler and baby demands and able to focus on one single thing—in this case, creating a mildew-free, water tight seal around our renter’s bathtub. And I listened to this episode of This American Life, which I found characteristically soulful, charming and thought-provoking (I just effing love that show). Just as I was finishing up, I felt my own hunger pulling me towards dinner time, so walked back to our place to find it empty.

My mind immediately hopped on the hamster wheel it runs in such situations.

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Photo by Beth L. Alexander

Yep. 6:30. Also known as dinner time. And he offered to cook dinner, and he’s nowhere to be found and now dinner will be late, bedtime will be late and J will get all hopped up and hard to put to sleep. Not to mention that I’m hungry and just want someone else to make dinner for once.

 I figured that they were still at the park and got ready to walk over and go find them in order to pull out all the passive aggressive stops to make sure A knew that I was pissed about the lack of dinner.

But instead, I stopped. I felt myself revving up in this familiar way that I do when I’m tired and frustrated. And I just stopped for a moment. I was hungry. Almost shaky with hunger as only a breastfeeding woman who has been caulking a bathtub can be. And I also remembered for a moment that A. is capable and smart and caring and probably had some reasonable thoughts about why he wasn’t in the kitchen working on dinner.

Instead of marching out to the park to let A. have it, I opened the fridge, found some leftover chicken and a beer and sat down to eat it.

Tonight, I took part in a quiet revolution at my dining table: I was hungry. So I fed myself. And I gave my partner some credit.

A few minutes later, he came home with C sleeping in the sling and J trotting beside him. “Sorry we got held up at the park. I’m just gonna figure out a quick dinner for J.” And he did figure it out. More importantly, I let him. I did not bang around angry to find a quick dinner for J. And when they all walked in the door, wasn’t resentful because I was already eating my dinner and drinking a beer and knowing that A. was a capable, reasonable person.

4) I am now going to stop typing, turn on the white noise, pop in my earplugs and go to sleep alone in this queen sized bed while A. takes another night shift with baby C. Here’s hoping for another 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. But I’ll settle for 3-4.

p.s. I’m posting this at 7:30 am after 6, count them SIX hours of sleep.  And C. is sleeping in our bed with A. And J. is awake but playing in his room quietly.

Small victories.