At a mummy morning tea I organised this week, the age-old topic of sleep came up (as it inevitably does). Mostly the mums were just venting, there was lots of nodding and eye rolling and ‘that sounds just like us!’-type revelations, reinforcing that all we really need to know is that most disrupted sleep is normal when you have a little person in your life and that eventually, all babies DO sleep (really, they truly will).
I wrote this blog when I was studying towards sitting the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant – eek! So much to learn. I went to a course in immunology, and loved reading up on all the super hero-like powers of breastmilk, it’s fascinating how it works to protect our little babies, who are born with almost no acquired immunity (one of their only defences is the ability to cough) from developing infections and viruses. This is where the immunity protection in a mother’s breastmilk steps in.
Sorry for the bad title (perhaps caught your eye, yes?), my daughter keeps playing that Flo-Rida song on her iPod! I must have breastfeeding on the brain, though, ‘cause I keep hearing that chorus line as ‘next thing you know, supply got low low low low low low low’. Anyway, these aren’t entirely random ramblings, I’m sure the reason I keep hearing this low supply chant is that it’s a constant question among the mothers I speak to on a day-to-day basis.
For those who have followed my blogs in the past, you may already know that my volunteer work as an ABA counsellor has led me to launch into boobs as a paid career (who knew, from journalism to breastfeeding!). I am now a lactation consultant and work in a hospital breastfeeding clinic and in private practice, seeing mammas in their own homes.
Today I was asked whether it was safe to watch TV while breastfeeding — that was a first, for sure. My response elicited a little giggle from the mum, ‘Anywhere where you feel relaxed is a great place to breastfeed, but watch out, in a few months, he might want to start watching it with you!’ As long as he’s happy with back-to-back episodes of Big Love, or maybe a bit of Law and Order, I reckon that would be pretty good.
One of the major reasons many women stop breastfeeding is that they feel they don’t have enough milk to nourish their baby. I hear statements again and again, like ‘he was a hungry baby’, ‘my milk just dried up’ and ‘my mum didn’t have enough either’. This just breaks my heart and makes me want to push push push to get the message out to more mums to better manage their supply, or seek help to get to the root of their problem before it spirals out of control, ending their breastfeeding dream before it even began.
Here are some reasons for low supply, and how to overcome them:
I’m not good at birth. I’ve had three babies and three caesareans, including one pregnancy when I was holed up in hospital on bed rest for 10 weeks with bleeding and an annoying case of placenta praevia. But breastfeeding, that’s something natural I knew I could do, and I did.
Even though I haven’t fed twins or even tandem fed before, I am often asked to help mums breastfeed two babies. I love this challenge — there is so much misinformation out there to do with breastfeeding twins or feeding a newborn and a toddler together, and I love a bit of myth-busting!
Yesterday I helped a mum to have a whole night of pain-free feeding for the first time since her baby was born. I haven’t stopped smiling since she called this morning to tell me, it really did make my day. You see, I’ve never actually met this woman, all the techniques and tips I gave her were all described over the phone.