Making Milk

I breastfeed. Not only do I breastfeed, I breastfeed twins. In total, over the course of the last 7+ years as a mother I’ve been breastfeeding for over 50 months (and no, I’m not counting the twins separately.) For those (like me) with bad math skills, that is over four years. I’m currently feeding 18 month old twins. So, this tally could get higher. It’s the longest I’ve ever breastfed any of my four children and I’m learning new shit from it every day. It is also the hardest job I’ve had as a parent and the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever experienced.

Breastfeeding is natural but it’s also, for many, HARD AS HELL. Sadly our modern society does not support mothers or their right to breastfeed and though there are laws protecting those rights (in most of the USA and around the world) and the rights of working mothers to take pumping and or breastfeeding breaks at work, these are often completely ignored, or worse. What could be worse? How about being told you’d kill your baby if you fed them from your breasts (yup, happened to me), How about being told this by a doctor who was standing over you at 11pm less than 24 hours after a c-section  WHILE YOU WERE NURSING YOUR SON? (Yeah, still me) How about being told you were a sick individual, and probably a child molester for baring your breasts (the things that were made TO FEED YOUR CHILD) to your child? (yup, happened to me and about a million other mamas). How about being fired from your job because you “took too many breaks” while your co-workers took smoke breaks every half hour and no one batted an eyelash? (thankfully not me, but many, many women have experienced this.) The thing is, none of these comments were factual. None. And worse, they were harmful.

Also, quite gratefully I did not face opposition from my husband (he has been my #1 supporter) as many mothers have or my family or in laws (non of whom breastfed, actually.) They have all been AWESOME and for that I’m deeply blessed. But it’s still rough. I’ve suffered from mastitis, clogged ducts, poor latch, sore nipples, oversupply, undersupply and so much more. Has it been worth it? Yeah, it has. Not just ’cause I have literally saved my babies from a myriad of potential health problemsbeen able to bond with them after a traumatic c-section and NICU stay nearly erased that possibility and have watched them thrive on Mother Nature’s liquid gold, but also because I’ve learned SO MUCH and met so many awesome mamas who have taught me as well as learned from my mistakes/revelations and research.

I’ve become part of a community of women that are helping dispel the myths surrounding breastfeeding that have cropped up in the last 50 years (thanks in large part to the formula companies and well meaning – or not- undereducated medical staff attending births.) I’ve had many opportunities to share this info I’ve gleaned. Sometimes in person, sometimes on those forums, and I’m blogging about it, because as people we need support and as mothers we need it even more. We are nurturing the FUTURE, are we not?

Here are few of the best tips/tricks and ancient wisdom I’ve learned through thousands of hours of research, advice and trial and error! Feel free to pass it on!

Many women suffer from low supply or *think* they do because inexperienced people are telling them they are. So first off, here is a handy chart for the BRAND NEW mama to show you just how LITTLE your baby actually needs. And, for what it’s worth, your baby won’t even be ingesting mature milk until several days after birth. It will be ingesting collostrum from your breasts in tiny amounts every few hours if you are feeding on demand (which we are biologically geared for, both mom and baby) and this is all it needs!

Once your milk comes in, if you are having trouble keeping it up, here are a few tried and true tips for boosting that supply!

Skin to skin contact! Really! It is so important! Get topless and hold your baby in it’s diaper on your bare skin, this sends information to your body to help produce milk.

#2 – Equally Important!  – WATER – Without it there is NO milk;  dehydration will decrease your supply….Make sure you are well hydrated ( a half a gallon of water a day is not too much!) Get a water bottle already!

#3 NUTRITION IS KEY! EAT A TON of protein. Get at least 3,000 calories a day (really, it takes 300-500 more calories than normal to feed a baby every day).

#4 BE PATIENT! – If baby is under 6 months it is so challenging. There are growth spurts and teething and just the whole fourth trimester stuff…After about 6 months things even out and get easier.

#5 Be sure to feed on demand if at all possible, really! Babies, like us, know when they are hungry and will often get hungry before “dinner is ready” or after it’s long over. THEY ARE PEOPLE, FEED THEM WHEN THEY ARE HUNGRY!

#6  Get as much rest as possible. Easier said then done, but do as much as you can and by rest, I don’t mean 8 hours sleep, because that is probably going to be impossible most nights for awhile. But just take a break sometimes, let someone else hold the baby, have someone bring you dinner or just get a bath once a week, ok?

#7 DO NOT SUPPLEMENT if at all possible, If you do, and you still want to breastfeed, be sure to pump when your baby is being fed, as it can change your supply if you don’t. Formula is sometimes necessary (I’ve used it and I feel no shame in that), but it is a slippery slope. Formula is a breastfeeding woman’s nemesis and can seriously damage the breastfeeding relationship. If you  have supply issues and getting a Lactation consultant (see this link for great free support!WORLDWIDE LINK!) hasn’t helped and you really need to supplement please consider donor milk.

#7 – If all else fails….BUY SOME FENNEL SEEDS! Found in the spice aisle at any grocery store or health food store or Indian food market.

This is the first of a two-part series. Kait Moon was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, USA. When she was almost old she hightailed it to Europe where she was waylayed by a Frisian Bassist with a Ducati. She spent three years in the Netherlands with him, making babies and learning Dutch and they now reside in the Midwestern USA with their growing family. They recently added unexpected twins to the mix, bringing the kid total to four. It’s a wild ride, even without the Ducati. She blogs at The Imperfect Wife. She’ll be on the air this Friday at 9pm CST talking about boobs (mine and others) and birth (mine and others) Check it out (you can get video too!) on Mother Friday

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