Monday, April 19, 2010

Keeping Me Sane, Take Two, Part Two

New Category Alert: For Breastfeeding

First let me say that I think I'm uniquely positioned to talk about good breastfeeding prep and troubleshooting because I had that nightmarish experience with Will and have now established a wonderful rhythm with Finn. However, as I mentioned in a prior post, that rhythm took a LOT of hard work to establish, even in the months before he was born.

  • A prenatal lactation consult--if you're looking in the Boston area, Beth Sargent at Isis Maternity. Knowing she was on my team and knew me personally before Finn was even born gave me a feeling of preparedness.
  • A postnatal lactation consult--STAT. I visited Beth at Isis when Finn was 3 days old, and scheduled the visit directly after his first pediatrician's appointment so that if my doctor had been concerned about weight gain, Beth would have reassurances and strategies for me.
  • A supportive pediatrician. He might be supportive that you DON'T want to breastfeed, supportive that you do, or just your cheerleader in every way. Mine was non-dogmatically pro-breastfeeding, so when Finn's weight gain was a whole lot slower than Will's initially, he was completely unfazed. He never even mentioned the word formula, only suggesting that if it would make me feel better I could pump an extra bottle to top Finn off at night. However, just as importantly, he wasn't opposed to formula--he asked questions and supported me in my goals.
  • (FYI, topping Finn off at night has never really worked for us.)
  • A postpartum doula. Jen was helpful in every way, but she made herself available over the phone even before her scheduled weeks began, even before Finn's arrival, in fact. She laughed gently at me when I kept insisting that I had thrush because of completely made-up symptoms I was assigning myself. She told me about other women she'd known who had my experiences, referred me to websites, and all the while helped me run my household of two small kids.
  • Makeshift nursing bras. Basically, I cut out the underwire in my larger pregnancy-sized bras and voila! A nice supply of nursing bras. I never used the snap/panel trappings of the "real" (and usually expensive) nursing tops anyway--it's always been way easier to just pull everything up in one quick motion.
  • The Brest Friend and Boppy. Leah used to make fun of my pregnancy pillow, the Snoogle, but that was before she caught wind of my new nursing pillow, the My Brest Friend. Oh how I wish I were making that name up. And yet, it really was great in those first three or four weeks when I didn't know WHAT I was doing and Finn certainly had no clue and would just lie there until I shoved his head toward me at the right angle. After that first month, the Brest Friend was too cumbersome and now I use a Boppy when I can get to it, or I prop him on a pillow or a balled-up blanket or nothing at all.
  • Having someone teach me how to nurse in a carrier. If you use the Bjorn or an Ergo or a sling a lot, it's great to learn how to nurse in it. The Ergo's easiest for me because the sun flap that comes with it snaps over his head and there's a space on each side that allows me access if I need to position him a little bit. But it's enabled me to nurse him on walks or just without having to lurch him out of his cozy pouch, and that's been helpful.
  • Breastfeeding drop-in group (also at Isis, for me)--I only went once but in the weeks following I'd go in every Tuesday and weigh Finn on the same electronic scale, just to pacify my mind. This was a friend's suggestion, which leads me to:
  • A friend to mull things over/talk things out with; if you're lucky enough to know her, I highly recommend Bianica. We've even discussed how similar our lives are even though we are many miles apart. She always has reassuring things to say, but more importantly she has practical tips that WORK, like the weekly weigh-in suggestion. Having her as a sounding board has been invaluable.
For the Toddler:

  • Friends in the neighborhood. I've already buttered them up in many a post here, but I can't say enough good things about Will's playgroup friends and their parents. In this good weather, we've been spending mornings at the playground, which helps to...
  • ...wear out the children! I just bring Will outside (which he demands all the time anyway with his little lisp--he actually climbed on top of the ottoman the other day to unlock the door and chant Out-THIDE, Out-THIDE, Out-THIDE) and hurry him around the neighborhood or let him scale the playground structures. We both see our friends, we get a healthy dose of vitamin D, and he slept through diaper changes on two separate occasions last week because he was Just So Exhausted. Win!
  • My parents' house. It's a change of scenery, boasts a variety of novel toys and household items, and is a great bribery tool, as in, "As soon as you have your socks and shoes on, we can go to...Nan and Mamp's house!" This invariably leads to Will padding around the house pointing out things that belong to or remind him of Nan and Mamp, but it also eventually convinces him to stop kicking off his shoes and head down to the car.
  • Stuffed animals. They are suddenly very interesting to him, and he likes to kiss them and then pretend that they are kissing each other. (Especially "Soft Elmo" and regular Tickle Me "Elmo.")
  • Non-board books. I know! It's a whole new world! Recently he's been loving Dig, Where the Wild Things Are, and this noisemaking monstrosity his godmother got him for Christmas called Snappy Sounds or some nonsense. (Thanks, Auntie Lo!)
  • CDs in the car--we have been on a constant rotation of Sara Hickman's "Toddler," a Rockabye Baby compilation of rock songs turned lullaby (think harpsichord-meets-Guns-'n'-Roses. No, really), and Elmo's Sing-along. They keep me and Will sane while we endure Finn's ear-splitting screams of protest.
I'll finish this list up as soon as we sell our condo, move to our next house and...see you in 2011?


LWF said...

I'm sorry but both the names of the "Snoogle" and the "Breast Friend" are hilarious. If both of them helped you out, I'll accept their ridiculous names b/c that's how much I love you! XOXO

Bee said...

First off, you had me in tears! You are too sweet and you have truly become invaluable in my life as well. I am so happy to hear that my babble has actually helped you in some way and I couldnt be happier that everything is going so well in the breastfeeding department this time around! XOXO!!
PS - I highly recommend CD's by The Laurie Berkner Band. I actually find myself still listening to the CD as I pull into the parking lot at work (a whole 30 minutes) after I dropped Connor off at pre-school.