I’ve asked Kristen LaValley to tell her story in this post about breastfeeding, and she has graciously accepted my invitation. She has a wonderful blog, When At Home, with many loyal followers, and has been a Nesting Days since she used it with her second baby. She is also helping me out with social media. Being the Chief Mother Officer of Nesting Days is a big job, and I appreciate her help tremendously! - Julie
When I was pregnant with my first son, I realize I knew zero about breastfeeding. The first person I’d ever really seen nurse a baby was my sister in law and it terrified me. So when we started reading all the baby books to get us “ready” for the baby (HA. Right. Thanks, books for teaching me so much.), I started to realize that nursing wasn’t as easy as I thought it was.
Book after book after book. I read everything. Nipple confusion, latch problems, let down problems, what to do when your milk supply dwindles, what to eat, where to sit in your house, something about cabbage and fennugreek and things that were just totally foreign to me. When Jonah was born and I asked the nurse if I should try to breastfeed him, she laughed at me. When I was having trouble feeding him, and he wasn’t latching on or eating, they threw a nipple shield at me. The nurse threw it on top of my chest and walked out of the room. My husband and I looked at each other totally confused and fumbled around trying to figure out what it was supposed to do.
So here I was, with this wealth of knowledge on how to breastfeed and I couldn’t do it. I fumbled. I fought. I cried. We struggled for 6 months and then I just gave up. The books weren’t helping me. In retrospect, I realize that instead of looking to books when we had a problem, I should’ve just been doing what felt natural. But I didn’t know what my instincts were, much less that I should trust them.
With my second baby, I used the Nesting Days newborn carrier. I enjoyed more skin-to-skin, and breastfeeding came more naturally. Breastfeeding isn’t something you learn so much, as it’s something you do, and I had learned to trust myself and my body. I had to let go of the ‘rules’ and learn to sit back and enjoy the endless hours of nursing. I knew this time they would end sooner than I wished.
As the creator of Nesting Days, Julie has done her research. Here are two resource references I thought would interest you, and we will be sharing many more in coming blogs.
The first is this story about premature babies at a remote hospital in Zimbabwe in 1994. It is the beautiful example of how simple and natural caring for babies should be. These premie babies were given 24/7 skin to skin care and the mamas beds were propped up at a 30 degree angle so they could rest and recover while holding their babies. This kept mama comfortable and baby (laying against mom’s chest) was in no danger of chin to chest compression or breathing inhibitions. The babies thrived without incubators and very little intravenous feedings. The mother was the incubator and her milk was the baby’s main source of nutrition.
The second is about “laid back nursing”, based on the work of social anthropologist, Susan Colson, who traveled the world observing how mothers in other cultures nursed their baby. Dr. Colson found that most reclined slightly, with their baby’s weight fully supported on their own bodies. She observed that this ‘laid back’ position provided greater comfort for the mother, more skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, and a more relaxed the baby, in contrast to sitting up with the baby tense as it tries to protect itself from falling through space.
Getting comfortable, leaning back, enjoying being skin-to-skin... if you’re having trouble breastfeeding, try leaning back. Save ‘leaning in’ for later. There’s plenty of time.