Breastfeeding doesn’t always go the way we plan. There are gas pains, lack of cooperation, and lots of crying. Sometimes your child has colic. Sometimes you don’t know why they aren’t cooperating and your pediatrician says it’s normal. Before throwing in the towel try these tips.
Yes, your little one is crying. Yes, you feel the need to help him or her be happy and quietly go to sleep. Right now, however, you are frazzled and your nerves are raw from trying to get them to calm down for the past hour. So take a step back. After you have made sure they are burped, fed, and changed, take a five to ten minute break to regroup. It may be that your child will calm down because frazzled you has stepped away. Or it may be they will continue crying while you get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, or get a snack. Put your little one down for tummy time or in the baby swing. With a moment to breath you may think of a new way of approaching your unhappy baby that will bring a stop to the sadness.
We know what is good for our little ones even when our culture or society is ill prepared to work with us. Here are a few ways to help our communities embrace a better understanding of how important breastfeeding is to the moms living in them.
The Nursing Room
Most churches I have attended have a nursing room. So do some, but not all, day care centers. That’s about it on the list of places that provide a room for women to breastfeed in public, which is disturbing for two reasons. First, gone are the days when it wasn’t common knowledge that breastfeeding a child was the best option for a child’s health. Second, if so many people are truly offended by the sight of breastfeeding, you would think they would provide an out of sight place. This would be good for customers and clients and employees of establishments and be a great compromise for those who find breastfeeding unsightly.
Bring these ideas to local business, assuring them that you would frequent them more often if they would reach this compromise with you. It doesn’t even need to be a new room. It could be an old utility closet with a sign on the door and a rocking chair.
Have you ever tried to diaper a newborn while receiving aid from a toddler? It’s one of the most frustrating things to do. On one hand you want to encourage the helpful nature of your toddler. On the other hand you would rather not have the contents of the newborn’s diaper decorate your home’s carpet. Luckily, for us all, there are ways to nurture your little helper and keep your carpet refuse free.
Let your toddler help with snaps. The best way to allow this is the unsnapping of the diaper. This is because there is a pulling motion rather than a pushing motion. It’s not likely that, with your supervision, the toddler will fall on the baby. At the same time toddlers are fascinated with things that can open and close. This could also help the toddler with motor skills. The upside for you is as long as your little guy has a part to play he will most likely be fine letting you do the rest without trying to help more.
Have your toddler be your gopher. Have him help get the wipes, the Desitin, or an insert for the diaper. Make sure all the materials are close by and then, as you need an item, ask for them. Between eighteen months and two years of age a toddler should be able to carry out simple requests. It will take some time for them, so be patient.
I’m a huge advocate of cloth diapers. Really, I think they’re one of the Most Amazing Things Ever, Plus Our Ancestors Used Them, and yadda yadda. They’re cute and seem comfy and it’s kind of nice seeing them all lined up on a shelf.
Sure, I would say things like, “Of course everyone must use the diaper system that fits into their lifestyle,” but I won’t lie, when a family member discovered he had run out of disposable diapers for his son and refused my offer of a loaned cloth diaper with a, “Well, thanks, but we’re not into cloth, that’s kind of icky,” I felt VASTLY superior for a while. I mean, *I* got over the ick factor! There you are, polluting landfills with your son’s waste for the next several hundred years while I am responsibly using eco-friendly cloth…and accidentally clogging the toilets with disposable wipes, but never mind that!
Cloth vs disposable: One catches poop. So does the other.
While I was pregnant with my second child, we went camping with family. I dragged along a tote of cloth diapers because I simply refused to buy disposables for a three day trip. To be fair, my daughter often broke out in rashes when she was in synthetic diapers, so I liked putting her in 100% cotton. She was comfortable and rash-free that way—that was what worked for us.
Then, my son was born. You know how they say every kid is different. Well, I knew that. But I didn’t know that until I had my second child. While my daughter would happily sit in an overflowing diaper without making a peep, my son seemed highly distressed if he felt even a drop of liquid in his diaper. We quickly learned that when he cried, it usually wasn’t because he was hungry (like my daughter), it was because he wanted his diaper changed. The moment we changed him he went from loudly shrieking monster to sweet, cooing, baby-commercial baby.
“I use an Ameda Purely Yours with 25 millimeter flanges, but the white valves need to be replaced and it wouldn’t hurt to get a spare set of diaphragms as well.” If you haven’t clicked away from that mess of words already, and you are new to the world of breastpumps, you probably are wondering what on earth everything is! Since most people have had absolutely no reason to research breastpumps at any point in their lives before they had children, the lingo can be mysterious and confusing! Why are there tubes? What is a flange? Will I feel like a cow being milked? We will explore the basic parts of a breastpump below.
Maybe you’re currently breastfeeding, but need to go back to work. Maybe you’ve decided to be an exclusive pumper. Maybe you just want a backup stash of milk for a babysitter. Whatever the reason, you are in the market for a breastpump! Like many other baby-related items, you probably opened up Amazon.com in your browser and immediately felt overwhelmed by the number of brands and types of pumps available. What should you choose?
Manual pumps: Not for the weak-handed. Alternatively, a good substitute for those strength grip things that are always in the exercise section of the store, but no one ever buys.
These are the cheapest pumps on the market, and it can be tempting for the budget-minded family to just grab one of these. After all, electric pumps can run $300 or more and a manual pump tends to be in the $30-$40 range! Manual pumps are also simple pumps—you have the pump itself which screws onto the top of a baby bottle, and that’s it! They are small enough to toss in your bag and you needn’t worry about keeping track of a dozen small pieces. This also makes them simple to clean.
However, manual pumps are powered by you. Most modern manual pumps require you to squeeze a handle, which draws out the milk. You may need to do this for ten or fifteen minutes, which can grow tiring very quickly. You may have health issues that do not allow you to physically do this. You can also only pump one breast at a time, which can be good if you just need to empty one side because baby has just nursed on the other, or it can be bad if you’re in a hurry and need to empty both sides quickly. Many mothers, however, like having a manual pump stored away as a backup. If their electric pump fails, it’s better to have a manual pump than no pump at all!
Breastfeeding, while good for our children, can also be a nightmare. So can the after effects of breastfeeding – the dreaded burping session. If you have a child like mine you can spend more time with a very uncomfortable child that no matter how much you cajole can’t seem to get the gas to rise up out of their little tummy. Colic is never fun for mommy or baby, but getting upset only makes it worse.
Don’t despair! That will only make the little one feel even more uncomfortable and you feel like the horrible mother you’re not. Instead keep your sense of humor and play a few burping games to vent your steam.
Bring Disco Back
Normally I am not a fan of this genre of music, but I have found it to be critical for burping my child. We bounce that burp out to titles like “She’s a Burp House.” Just pick a song of your choice and just make up lyrics with the word burp in them. If rap is more up your alley try “Baby’s Got Burp” instead. The ridiculousness of it will keep you sane and calm and sometimes even helps you feel like you have some form of control over this whole process.
The Cheering Section
Some older siblings are not old enough to understand why the new family member is crying so much. While this may inspire love and concern the first month it will soon cause irritation early into the second month. The last thing you would like during this time is to hear a cry off between the toddler and the newborn. Instead explain to your new big brother or sister that burping is hard for a baby and we need to give them encouragement. And then have then cheer them on. Some toddlers will even show the baby how it’s done.
My first child is a very good brother. He likes to help by grabbing a clean diaper for me when I need them. He also likes to help me pick out his new sister’s clothes. As a new sibling, however, there is one thing that my sweet little one just can’t help me with. He can’t help me breastfeed his younger sister. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried. Here are a few things I have my toddler do while I am breastfeeding that don’t break that helpful spirit, but keep him out of my hair.
Stuffed Animal Feeding Time
There are several ways this idea can work. The first is to tell your toddler that it’s time for everyone to eat. Explain the mechanics of how mommies feed their babies. It doesn’t need to be a whole biology lesson, but enough information to know what you are doing. Have mommy and baby stuffed animals and as you feed you baby let your toddler help the mommy stuffed animal feed the baby stuffed animal. The other way I have seen toddlers use this skill is to “breastfeed” the stuffed animal themselves. This is okay even with little boys. Eventually they will grow up to be fathers and should have some opinion on how their child gets nutrients.
While I was in the hospital after having my child I received a great deal of advice. I was taught how to swaddle. I learned that most germs enter through a newborns mouth, nose, and eyes and to avoid letting that happen. Most of all I was taught how to breastfeed.
Not All Breasts Are Ideal For Breastfeeding
Not even the two on my own body are created equal. One has a regular nipple that is ideal for latching on. The other side is flat and a little inverted. As a result my baby prefers one side of me much more than the other side when it comes to nursing. In the situation I was told to offer the side my baby disliked first, while my little one was very hungry and thus not as picky. If that didn’t work (after a good half hour try) then I should nurse her on the other side and pump the side she didn’t eat from. This wasn’t to be an everyday happening, but would help me be more comfortable. The other piece of advice I got on this topic was to pinch my nipple until it stood out a little more and was (hopefully) easier to latch on to.
Don’t Let The Baby Win
This was the most direct piece of information given to me by one of my nurses. Don’t let the baby win. He proceeded to let me know that breastfeeding is the natural way of feeding my child as well as the best way. That doesn’t mean that my child is going to like it. Nursing isn’t something our little ones are born knowing how to do. Like mommy, they must learn to nurse and sometimes it can be rough. Don’t give up and don’t just give your child the easy bottle when you get discouraged.
Many years ago, breastfeeding was on its way “out.” Advances in the nutrition and development of commercial formulas meant that children who needed to be on formula, whatever the reason may be, were able to thrive on good nutrition. However, with these scientific breakthroughs, and due to an enormous number of factors that I won’t do into in depth here, the general American public came to see formula as “better” than breastmilk, and women who chose to breastfeed were seen as weird, perhaps even “backwards.”