You’ve made it! You’re breastfeeding. It’s all going smoothly-ish. And boom, you have to go back to work. Now you have to figure out pumping, bottle-feeding, and keeping up a milk supply, all while juggling the demands of your job and mothering! Whew. If you want to keep breastfeeding after returning to work, it’s important to ensure you don’t accidentally wean before you are ready. Weaning is the process of transitioning from breastfeeding to not breastfeeding at all.
Breastfeeding: As a parent-to-be, you’re looking forward to the experience of connecting with your newborn this way. But you’ve also heard it’s going to hurt. You’ve been told that cracked, bleeding nipples, soreness, and anxiety about milk supply are all in your near future. Maybe you already experienced those things the first time around. But the truth is, pain and suffering do not have to be part of the breastfeeding equation. In fact, cracked, bleeding nipples and soreness are all signs that you need to tweak something in order to make the breastfeeding experience better—much better—for both you and your baby. Pain and damaged nipples should not be considered the norm.
When you are expecting a new baby, it’s normal to have lots of questions about pumping. It can feel like getting a breast pump for your milk is a top priority! Whether you plan to breastfeed/bodyfeed, exclusively pump and bottle feed or are not sure what your feeding plan will look like yet, having a pump available after your baby is born can be really helpful. In fact, most insurance companies will cover the cost of a double-electric pump and for those who end up needing a stronger hospital-grade pump—you can usually obtain one from a local hospital, pharmacy or lactation consultant’s office. In addition to having access to an electric pump, many nursing parents also like to have a hand pump like the Hakkaa or Elvie Curve. Finally, it is important to note that often the most effective and comfortable way to express milk is with your own hands. Hand expression is the best method for early milk (colostrum) removal, and lots of lactating parents continue to use manual milk expression throughout their nursing journeys!
Plugged ducts and mastitis are common conditions that can appear in lactating people. If you’re experiencing a hard, painful spot or lump it could be a plugged or clogged duct.
One of the most rewarding parts of my Family Medicine practice is working with new parents to help their babies with breastfeeding/bodyfeeding challenges. Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for babies is an amazing modality, widely used in Europe, that few American parents are aware of. OMT can help change a frustrating and painful breastfeeding experience to a more peaceful and fulfilling one. Here are the top 5 questions people have about OMT to help you see if OMT is the right modality for you to try on your lactation journey!
Ultimately the breastfeeding position or bodyfeeding position that works best for you and your baby is your ideal position! You may start with one or two positions and as your baby grows you may begin to find many ways to nurse. In any position, remember that your comfort and stability is as important as your baby’s.
We all know there are three trimesters to pregnancy, and, thankfully, there is beginning to be broader
awareness of the all-important – yet little-discussed – fourth trimester. These post-birth months are
both a time of continued newborn growth and development and an incredibly important time of
healing, adjustment and regeneration for new postpartum parents. Your postpartum diet is a key part
of your recovery. For ages, different cultures have honored traditions of ‘mothering the mother’ or
nurturing the birthing parent with emotional support and nourishing meals, all in the name of helping
the new parent replenish their strength and heal from the hugely physical accomplishment that is
pregnancy and birth.
Many new parents worry that their nipples are not adequate for nursing their new babies. While breastfeeding/chestfeeding with flat and inverted nipples can be more difficult, especially if your baby also has challenges achieving a deep latch, nipple size and shape may be less of a concern than a parent may have anticipated. With ideal latch and positioning support, many people can nurse their babies just fine, despite non-protruding nipples. It might be reassuring to remember that babies latch onto the areola, not just the nipple and that they can even “pull” an inverted nipple out with good sucking.
There are many reasons a nursing parent may decide to stop breastfeeding or pumping. It can feel like a big decision or just a natural next step, but no matter why you are choosing to wean, it is really important to protect your health (both physical and mental) during the process. It might be comforting to remember that all nursing parents do eventually wean and that the body is designed for the transition.
Are you experiencing pain while nursing? Cracked nipples? Super long or very short feedings? Slow weight gain? Shallow latch? Challenges with bottle feeding? Gassy/acid-reflux baby? Possibly combined with slow weight gain for your baby? Tongue-tie might be the cause of the problem. Medically known as ankyloglossia, this condition, present at birth, can restrict the tongue’s range of motion so it may interfere with compression and milk removal.