Breastfeeding: Sucking a Milkshake Through a Cocktail Straw

Liliana and Leanna“Apparently every strong, independent, fierce woman is totally broken down by breastfeeding.” – My best friend.

My best friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last year. It was her first baby. An hour and a half after giving birth the nurse woke her up. “Time to feed your baby,” she said.

“Oh, um, you probably don’t know this but I just gave birth,” my friend said, curling up under a hospital blanket, exhausted from labor.

“No, you have to feed the baby now. “

“I realize that but you can wake my husband. He is over there sleeping on the couch,” mom said.

“You are a mother now.”

Sucking

You must feed a newborn every 90 minutes.  I attended a breastfeeding seminar through Club MomMe. Club MomMe is a community organization hosting social, educational and wellness events community for moms, expectant parents and families in five cities: Chicago, Denver, Houston, Orange County (California) and Los Angeles. They host 6-10 events per month for any mom, dad, grandparent or caregiver. Each event features food, social time to meet other parents, gift bags and giveaways.

Elaine Skaggs is the owner of the South Bay Breast Feeding Support and Education Center in Torrance, CA.  She is also a lactation consultant who took time out of her week to educate expectant mothers about the trials of breast feeding.

“After your birth plan, you want to focus on getting the baby to grow,” she started.

We learned the breast ducts are the size of a hair. A baby sucking milk out of a mother’s breast is like sucking a milkshake through a cocktail straw.  Mothers often get frustrated and blame themselves for problems during breast feeding. “They survive us being new at this,” Elaine said. “Mothers tent to rate themselves entirely on the breast. You rate yourself at an A+ or F.” Challenges are normal.  Don’t get frustrated. You need to take a deep breath and let the milk come out. “Do not make the baby mad at the breast!”

A couple pointers for new and experienced moms:

-Pump faithfully every 3 hours. If you don’t breast feed or pump every 3 hours and your nipples aren’t stretched, those milk cells will die.

-Feeding takes about an hour. Feed in 10 minute increments between each breast.

-Nursing at the wrong angle can feel like “a cheese grater.” Avoid the rough part of the baby’s mouth behind the front teeth. There is a softy spot in the high palate of the baby’s mouth.

-Nurse baby at a relaxed position. No tugging, pulling or lifting. Let the baby’s chin rest comfortably on the chest.  Lean back and let gravity do its work. One bad feeding can injure your nipple. If something doesn’t feel right, unlatch the baby and start over.

-If your nipple gets hard or sore, apply a heating pad. If you are still at the hospital, a little secret is running a diaper under hot water. It works as a heating pad for a good 10 minutes.

-Stretching the nipples is EVERYTHING!

-The best and worst resource for a new mommy is Google. There is too much information. Buy one book you trust and stick to it.

Baby Suckling

The Pump

A breast pump is a mother’s best friend! Under ObamaCare, mothers are allowed a free breast pump to help get through this stage of raising a healthy baby. Breast pumps alone may cause hundreds of dollars. Due to the new provision, effective January 1st, 2013, mothers may order their own breast pump covered by the good ole’ United States Government. (Thank you, Obama!) One mother raised her hand in the room, “They will try to push the cheaper hand pumps on you. Don’t let them! Ask for the Medela.”

If baby is sleeping, pump. If you are at work, pump. That is easier said than done. My best friend takes her 15 minute breaks at work to hang out in a bathroom stall and pump. “The sound of the breast pumping is a whirring sound simultaneously with an air pump that sucks in and out. You know how you get air in your tire and when you first turn on the machine and it is loud and shocking- it’s like a smaller version of that. I have to hold the pumps so I am standing there topless, a million miles away from the door and praying the latch works,” she said. People will knock on the stall door to make sure she is ok, as she balances on a toilet, one hand holds up the pump and the other is pressed against the stall door.

“Breastfeeding is really hard. I understand why people don’t try, and more often, try and quit. It requires a lot of support. I was lucky to have the South Bay Breastfeeding Support Center to walk in and cry to. I have yet to hear someone who didn’t shed tears during the early part of learning. It’s emotional.  Your baby is depending on you for food and if you fail, they go back to the hospital (like mine did).  And also, it’s something you take for granted that your body will just be ABLE to do. I didn’t realize it was something that I had to learn and that my baby had to learn too. And with sleep deprivation and hormones … [Moms] AINT GOT TIME FOR ‘DAT!”

(It is a happy coincidence attending Elaine’s seminar from the South Bay Breastfeeding Support Center BEFORE having dirty martinis with my best friend a month later) The support group is $20 and Elaine is available to talk to any mother under any financial circumstance. Asking for help does not mean you are failing as a mom, it means you are trying to be the best one you can.

NewbornLiliana

The Sag

Elisabeth Dale, author of bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls, answered other questions that we all wonder but don’t want to say out loud because it might imply we are bad moms. “Does breast feeding make your boobs sag?”

“No one knows what keeps breasts up. They are magical, wonderful things. What we do know is extreme weight loss and gain, smoking and exercising without a proper bra do contribute to sagging breasts,” Elisabeth said. And just because your boobs get big, that doesn’t mean they will leave stretch marks.

Your Rights

Another important point she made: “IT IS YOUR LEGAL RIGHT TO BREASTFEED IN PUBLIC!”

Forty-five states allow women to breastfeed publicly. Three states (Wyoming, South Dakota and Michigan) exempt breast-feeding from public indecency. Two states do not protect a mother’s right to nurse her child in public, West Virginia and Idaho. Any mother who breast-feeds knows she cannot decide the time and the place for lactation and baby to work in sync with each other. It is vital that mothers and advocates band together to protect a mother’s right to pump or nurse when she needs to.

Public harassment has worsened in the last 5 years, according to Dale. April 18th, 2013, American Airlines wouldn’t allow a mother to breastfeed on a long flight, despite having the pump pre-approved upon making her reservation. As a result, her breasts were painfully engorged for over three hours. The airline later made a formal apology to the new mom.

On March 27th, another motherwas told she could not take her cooler, empty bottles and breast pump with her on-board. She was forced to empty out all of her breast milk to get through security only to re-pump in the public restroom inside the airport. Again, American Airlines later made a public apology.

If you are harassed, ask for a supervisor and know your rights. Below are two helpful links to help you get acquainted to protect you and your baby:
State Breastfeeding Laws
Traveling Formula Breast Milk and Juice

Rachel Pitzel-Reformed Attorney/ Los Angeles Founding MomMe/Real Life Mommy
Los Angeles Founding MomMe
rachel@clubmomme.com

Elaine Skaggs-Owner, CLC, CLE, CPD
South Bay Breastfeeding Support and Education Center

Elisabeth Dale
The Breast Life
e@TheBreastLife.com

 

Vita Lusty

Vita Lusty

Vita Lusty studied at Evergreen State College and later received her Master’s in Film Production at Chapman University. Currently, she is working on her second Master’s degree in Creative Writing at Antioch University Los Angeles. She is an actress, a dog-walker and rescues pit bulls. She loves classic rock, France, Hunter S. Thompson, and vegan food that looks and tastes like junk food. She lives in Los Angeles with her three dogs and very patient boyfriend.

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Vita Lusty

Author: Vita Lusty

Vita Lusty studied at Evergreen State College and later received her Master's in Film Production at Chapman University. Currently, she is working on her second Master's degree in Creative Writing at Antioch University Los Angeles. She is an actress, a dog-walker and rescues pit bulls. She loves classic rock, France, Hunter S. Thompson, and vegan food that looks and tastes like junk food. She lives in Los Angeles with her three dogs and very patient boyfriend.

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