I teach prenatal classes at a local hospital, and one of my favorite class activities is to have expectant parents brainstorm about how to deal with a crying baby. I put them in groups, armed with poster-size sheets of paper and Sharpies. After they make their lists, one person from each group presents the ideas. What follows is a compilation of some of the best ideas generated by class participants:
Reasons Babies Cry
3. Diaper issues
4. Embarrassing outfit (see photo)
5. "That's not a breast!"
6. Incompetent swaddle
8. Existential dread
9. Thermometer left in rectum
10. Vomited in public, and everyone saw
11. Genitals exposed in public, and everyone saw
12. Smooth jazz playing in all rooms of pediatric clinic
13. Conflicting pressure to gain a lot of weight AND sleep more
14. Have to stay wherever adults put them
Find out how to soothe your baby at the breast! Book an appointment with me.
Most of the families that I support have babies that are two weeks old or younger. There's a lot going on: recovery from the birth, figuring out who this little person is, and of course, round-the-clock feeding. It's an intense time for everyone, and new parents want so badly to do everything right. They took the classes, read the books, bought the gear. They're feeding every 2-3 hours, tracking all of baby's meals and diapers on an app. Breastfeeding often happens in a chair with a nursing pillow using a position that a nurse or lactation consultant taught them at the hospital. If there are issues with milk supply or baby's ability to breastfeed, pumping and bottle-feeding sessions are thrown into the mix as well.
It often takes a few weeks to get feeding sorted out, and my role as a lactation consultant is to support families through this time. After an initial home visit to assess a family's needs and put together a short-term plan, I provide unlimited for two weeks as part of my service package. Parents can email, text, or call with questions and updates. I frequently do follow-up home visits to provide more hands-on help and do a weight check on baby. A lot of the families I see have multiple concerns around breastfeeding, so I encourage parents to address one or two issues at a time. I see very good results with families that get ongoing support.
I have also observed a common phenomenon: difficulty letting go of newborn breastfeeding practices. Particularly when parents have worked very hard to reach their breastfeeding goals, they can be reluctant to make changes that seemingly loosen their control around feeding. Those changes include feeding on cue, letting their baby sleep longer stretches, reducing pumping or bottle-feeding, trying new nursing positions, venturing out of the house. And it makes sense that parents would be hesitant to rock the boat, as they've probably had some very rough moments trying to feed their babies. They may know, logically, that they have the milk supply and a capable little nurser, but their past experiences give them pause. Can they really trust their bodies to make enough milk? Can they trust their babies to feed well at the breast? What does that even look like?
One amazing new mama that I recently supported told me that transitioning to exclusive breastfeeding was like jumping off a cliff. What an apt comparison! Even with the safety of the shining water below, taking the plunge is terrifying. I took this mama's hand in mine, and we jumped together.
You don't have to jump off that cliff alone! Book an appointment with me.
One lactation consultant's musings about milk.