I’m a fourth time mama. My baby was born yesterday morning at 9:03am.
While all babies are different, I thought this might encourage you.
I’ve successfully nursed all three other babies and am starting the nursing with my first right off the bat.
Here’s what I’m dealing with even though I have plenty of experience. My babies are all tongue tied, so until I get that fixed, my nipples are really sore. I know we will face engorgement and an overactive let down.
This has been my most difficult labor and my first traumatic one, so healing will take longer… at last three weeks and up to six weeks. Even though I didn’t need a c section, it will still be long. On top of being sore up top, my bottom half is more sore than it’s every been and I’ve suffered a third degree tear which means my anal sphincter had to be sewn back together… but only superficially. It could be worse. Some women’s entire rectum is torn open. My pubic bone was impacted somehow so I can barely walk… it’s a little better a 18 hours after the birth, but the worst healing day will be tomorrow.
And I see so many moms here asking about cluster feeding. Here’s what my newest baby has done so far… which will show you how nonstop it is on day one while baby is working hard to get the milk to come in… and I already have some milk, but it’s not the big engorgement milk that will hit on day three or four.
Last night I had one three hour stretch of sleep, and a two hour stretch of sleep. I had a nap of one hour today and consider that a major blessing. Otherwise, very very broken sleep that was less than an hour at a time, with much of the night actively nursing.
12:10pm Ibuprofen (take 1 every four hours)
1:45pm nurse left
3:20 pm right nurse and left for an hour
6:47pm 2 ibuprofen
7:37pm and 8:19pm right
8:43pm and 9:32 left
11:45pm left and hiccups
12:23 and 12:37 am left (I SLEPT 3 HOURS)
3:39am right 10 min (1st bm for mom) milk in!
3:53am right football hold 10 min
4:10am left 27 min
4:45am left 15 min
5:24am right then left
6:28 am left (I SLEPT TWO HOURS)
8:30am first pee, 2 ibuprofen
8:35am right 25 min
9am left 30 min
9:30am left 30 min pee diaper
11:30am hair wash
11:30am right then left and sleeping
12pm left, 12:23pm left (I SLEPT 1 hour)
3:09pm right, 2 ibuprofen
So here’s what’s helping me. First of all, my mom and sister are here helping with my three kids. I’m not obligating myself to ANY housework or cooking AT ALL.
My midwife told them I’m to stay in bed a full week… like I’m only allowed to get up to use the restroom.
I sent my husband to work now, and he will take off of work after my sister and mom leave… that buys me three weeks of recovery time, which my body really needs right now.
I’m keeping my bladder empty. I was given a catheter in the hospital, and I get frequent UTIs anyhow, so I also take D-Mannose with cranberry every single morning, along with prenatals, electrolytes, probiotics, chloroxygen, herbalmeucil, and colace. At night I take Dr Schultz formula 1. These are all to keep my stool bearable while I’m healing. I can not afford to mess my stitches up.
I am doing tons of skin to skin… and I sleep with my babies, so the only reason baby cries is from wet diapers, hunger or gas, but never because he feels insecure. So some of those nursing sessions above in the middle of the night, I am able to side-lie and go into a haze of sleepy time even if I’m not sleeping. I’m better at that when I’m on my left side for some reason. I’ve always favored the left side for my babies… I think it has something to do with the way our brains read emotion. It’s processed in right brain, so your perception crosses over to left side (maybe I could explain it better, but it doesn’t really matter).
For nipple care, I’m putting some breastmilk on them and air drying. This is much more healing than lanolin. If you don’t have milk yet you could use coconut oil.
Also staying hydrated is wonderful and necessary. So before my husband goes to work I ask him for that battery of supplements I listed before.
So listen, I know not all moms have this amount of help. And I know many of you struggle with supply.
Here are some tips…
Let down has to do with how relaxed you are. Figure out how to be calm about nursing.
Every time your baby nurses you should drink too.
Keep your bladder empty.
Take a shower or bath when you need it.
Eat lactogenic food (fenugreek tea (“mother’s milk tea), lactation cookies, granola bars…)
Avoid gassy or acidic food if you notice your baby is gassy
Feed on demand
Snack when you’re hungry
Hold your baby as long as you want, skin to skin helps your body produce milk and regulate baby’s temperature too.
Don’t expect milk to really be in until day 3-4… and until then your baby will be fussy and want to stay attached to you because he’s “putting his order in” for milk to come.
If you’re pumping, that’s great, but it’s not a true indicator of how much your baby is pulling out of you. Double pumps do about 80% of what a baby will do.
Nursing is so hard. They call them tough titties for a reason. Get help. Hire a lactation consultant. Get the latch right. Re-latch your baby every time it hurts. You’re both learning the right way to do this.
Kellymom.com is a great website with sound information.
If you need to supplement you could try an SNS (supplemental nursing system) before completely going to a bottle because then baby will still stimulate your supply and not get used to the quick flow of a bottle.
Check out your local Le Leche League group, and check your hospitals and midwifery groups for free breastfeeding support groups. These mom friendships will really help you with much more than only nursing… but also questions about poop, sleep, discipline, weaning, development, and much more.
Babies love to be “on you” and expect to remain near you, especially for the first three months. Try wearing your babies – this is wonderfully freeing, and great help if you have more than one baby. I have five types of carriers and I use them at different stages past even two years old.
Here’s how to decipher newborn language:
Lastly, if you cannot or don’t want to nurse, please toss the guilt aside.
If you don’t have as much help, then pick the things on two ends of the spectrum. Pick the things that stress you the most that you can creatively fix… think outside of the box for them, really work hard on finding these solutions… figure out what you can compromise and tell yourself to be okay with it. Pick the things that help you the most and really prioritize them.
For me, my food standards for my kids disappear. Since I have others caring for them, whatever makes it easy for them is what goes. I buy premade snacks, processed food, and all the things I normally wouldn’t do to make it easy for them. I use Instacart so they no one has to shop or leave to get the food.
My home organization standards fall. I’m not cleaning right now, or doing laundry.
My social requirements disappear. If people are here too long, I politely ask them for privacy to sleep. My sister and mom both suggested I start walking around- I reminded them both what my midwife said, which was three weeks bed rest with the first week only going to the bathroom. Otherwise I’m to stay in bed.
The things I need the most are to heal my undercarriage, to nurse my baby, and to stay nourished and love on this new baby. ALL my energy is going here and no where else. And I have NO guilt or frustration in other places – this is a choice… because I could bend and sway these choices. But I’d pay for it, and so would my new son, so I don’t.
I hope this helps some of you to set some wonderful expectations of yourselves and your babies and your family.
Get strong and stay strong. Some of you have tough families with blurry boundaries. Make decisions that are right for you and don’t feel you need to explain them. At the end of the day, you answer to God, yourself, a significant other (for some), and your baby. No one else has to live with your choices, do they? So be a tough mama, and love strong and love well… this includes loving yourself and finding grace for yourself. This will happen all of motherhood. Grace is a big word that you need to learn to love. Forgiveness is another one. Start with you and let that kind of depth of love permeate to your babies, and you will walk beautifully in motherhood.