Tuesday, December 9, 2014

When "The Most Natural Thing" Doesn't Come Naturally

Yea, guys. This is going to be a post about nursing.

And I don't mean in the "LPN, RN" kind of way. I mean in the milk coming out of boobs sorta way. So, if that makes you uncomfortable -- maybe just skip this post.

Expectant and new mothers know the phrase "breast is best". Almost every mother I know nurses, or tried to, or wishes they did. There is a lot of propaganda out there that will make you believe it is the most natural thing in the world and you should be 100% OK with doing it at anytime, anywhere. Rock on, Momma! Breast is best!

(As a sidenote: When I say "nursing" I mean any type of way breastmilk is provided to your baby. I know that may not be the "official" definition, but this is my blog and so I say what I want. If you exclusively nurse, exclusively pump, or do a combination of something like that, I consider you a "nursing mom")

But what happens when "the most natural thing" doesn't come so naturally to you? It is actually really, really difficult to nurse! Not for everyone, but for a lot of people it takes weeks/months to "get the hang of it"! When supply is low, it can be a stressful time!

It is my advice that you keep trying. There is a lot to know about nursing, and a lot of factors that go into doing it effectively. 

My first piece of advice is that if you plan to nurse, pick out a pediatrician with an IBCLC on staff. Wait...what?  That stands for Independent Board Certified Lactation Consultant. This consultant (usually a female) will be able to help you in ways your pediatrician can't. Generally, pediatricians recommend extra pumping and supplementing with formula. Not bad suggestions, but the IBCLC can help you get to the root of the issue.

My second piece of advice is to ensure that you are getting the right nutrients. The best thing I did while nursing was go on a diet.  Wait...what? Don't worry. It wasn't the "restrict your calories" sort of diet. It was a diet that forced me to focus on eating the right amounts of the right foods. Which means that I was eating enough AND producing quality milk. Sorry folks, quality breastmilk does not come from empty calories.  (As a sidenote here: I do enjoy my share of "empty" calories. I just make sure that I get the right calories in first! If I'm still hungry, I go ahead and eat that slice of cake!) This allowed me to not only produce enough milk for my little one, but also lean out postpartum. If you'd like more info on that, just find me on facebook!

Water. Water. Water. Oh, and then a little more WATER.

If your supply is still low the following items are common solutions. As a note; this is not a complete list AND not all of these work for everyone! You have to find what works for you! (Yup. Just get used to that. It's a common theme in parenting).

- fenugreek, an herbal capsule that will make you smell like maple syrup.
- mothers milk tea
- mothers milk plus - the tea, but in capsule form for people like me who don't like tea.
- oatmeal
- brewers yeast
- fennel seed
- yogurt 
- flax seed
- eggs
- healthy fats (coconut oil, avocados, almonds)
- salmon & tuna
- Wendy's Frosty (I've heard it's the malt that is used in them - maybe you could buy malt and make your own shake at home?)
- Gatorade/Powerade (some swear by one or the other, and apparently flavor can make a difference. Who knew?)

Oatmeal, brewers yeast, fennel seed and flax seed can be combined to make a great lactation cookie -- essentially just a healthier cookie that helps milk production. (Totally safe for non-nursing people) :) 

Additional issues that can effect nursing are lip/tongue ties, breathing issues and your own stress levels. Consider researching those issues, asking friends you know have nursed and consulting with your IBCLC. No two cases are exactly the same, so it is important to keep an open mind and keep trying.

Did you nurse? Do you plan to? What are some common struggles you had/are having? What helped?