|August 3, 2009||Posted by Mabel under Breastfeeding, Info, Parenthood|
A nursing pillow is a must – if you don’t want to have to deal with tons of cushions and pillows. I tried and found that it was just too…comfy, and oh-so-soft-better-for-sleeping. So Nil and I went out and bought ourselves the cheapest nursing pillow we could find here in Switzerland. It’s not like the one I had at the hospital which was bigger and a lot firmer (more beads and such) but it still does its job.
Nursing pillows are great for offering support to tired hands and such when you’re breastfeeding. As your baby grows, your arms will get tired easily from hold her/him in the right position. Sometimes it can cause a lot of stress on the ligaments and joints. Enter the nursing pillow. And one thing great about a nursing pillow is that you can use it as a maternity pillow, or just like a regular bolster to prop up your achy legs. Heck, I know some women who use it as a pillow for their babies although I’m not too sure how safe this is exactly.
Talking about breastfeeding positions, there are about three common ones out there – cradle, football and the side-lying. I was first introduced to the cradle position (tummy facing tummy, baby lying 180° across the belly) – which I understand to be the standard position – at the hospital despite having a c-sec. Usually the football position (tuck baby under arm at the side with the head facing the breasts) is recommended for those who have just gone through c-sec but I found the cradle to be quite comfortable and alright. I still have yet to experiment with the side-lying which allows mums to breastfeed lying down. Perhaps I should, one of these days. I was told to vary my breastfeeding positions in order to allow Eva to drain other parts of the breasts instead of just one part if I were to stick to just one breastfeeding position. Looking at it, I must be frank – I still prefer the cradle position as it allows me to check the latch-on. The football hold while great for keeping her slightly awake makes me feel a little uncomfy.
Anyway, I hope I don’t jinx my breastfeeding journey (so far) by saying that I think my boobs are finally beginning to regulate themselves. I started off with an overproductive right boob and after some cold compresses, ended up with an overproductive left boob. So another day of applying cold compresses and now, *keeps fingers crossed*, I have two boobs that are full when they need to be full and performing just beautifully. Still…it’s early days so…do pray that I don’t jinx myself, ya?
Some of you may wonder – how often and long are the feeds? In the beginning, when Eva was losing weight, I was told to feed her every two hours just to get some good old colostrum into her body and to stop further weight loss until my milk came in. Then just as I got discharged from the hospital, my milk came in – ohgawd, I still remember how it felt! I fed her every two hours and when the midwife came to visit the next day, she remarked that since Eva is putting on weight beautifully, I could cut back to 3 hours during the day and on demand at night. Bear in mind that I’m feeding her from both boobs and not just one.
When I casually asked how long I should feed her for, she remarked that 15 minutes per boob should be enough for her to get both foremilk and hindmilk. The max I should go for is 30 minutes per boob – any longer and it could be a variety of things, and they are mostly negatives – baby not latching on well, boob not producing enough milk and etc. Another strategy she suggested was to alternate boobs, meaning if I start with Boob A (finish it) and switch to Boob B (for dessert), for my next feed, I should start with Boob B and end with Boob A. And the pattern goes on. In the beginning, I had issues tracking which boob I ended with and such. I decided I had enough of guessing and proceeded to do something about it in the form of a marker. To be exact, I used a safety pin to mark which boob I ended with. Since then, no having to guess which is which!
So yeah, if Eva could have a motto…it would be “Life is like a boob full of milk!” And to imagine, I endeavour to continue this until she’s six months old! Woooo…challenging times ahead! XD
|July 30, 2009||Posted by Mabel under Breastfeeding, Info, Parenthood|
It’s hard work and well, there is so much I want to share about my breastfeeding journey so far. Gone are the days where I can sleep a full 8 hours without having to wake up in between.
Many people still have negative views and thoughts about breastfeeding. It is mostly fuel by ignorance and well, old school practices during the 70s when formula was the preferred choice. Many people here were surprised to learn that breastfeeding was not the norm in Malaysia during the 70s – people often think that in developing nations, breastfeeding would have been the natural choice since it’s cheaper and so forth. But no, formula was in because well, it was seen as better – Expensive AND better.
But now, we know better.
One of the reasons why I choose to breastfeed and breastfeed exclusively (I’ll explain the term later) is not just to save money but for my baby’s health as well. Breast milk contains all the necessary fats, proteins, vitamins, carbs and water on top of white blood cells and antibodies that a baby under six months requires, especially before they go for or complete for their vaccination programs. There is no need for a women who has no problems breastfeeding to supplement her baby’s diet with formula or water. Breast milk is made up of 80% plus water and if you’re feeding every two to three hours AND your baby is churning out at least three to four wet diapers, you’re giving him/her enough water. Also, breast milk is made of baby-friendly milk fats which are easily digested and passed out as soft stool instead of formula milk which can give some babies tummy issues or colic and constipation. Women who get ill during this period should continue to breastfeed (ask for breastfeeding-safe medications) as the antibodies their bodies churn out gets passed on to their babies. The old school belief that sick women should not breast feed for fear of passing their sickness to their babies is incorrect.
On the part of the mother, breastfeeding, while it takes a lot out of a women is a wonderful tool to help you get back into shape. While breastfeeding, the body churns out hormones like oxytocin which helps contracts the uterus back to its (nearly) pre-pregnancy size and shape – something that is crucial after a birth as the placenta which has weaved its way into the uterine blood vessels is now no longer there and thus the uterus must squeeze its blood vessels close to avoid bleed-outs. Also, the stimuli from suckling or nursing produces a natural (hormonal) relaxant for women, allowing them to relax and get that extra nap/rest that they need from staying up late to nurse. It also calms babies down (be warned not to offer your breasts/nipples as a pacifier though).
After nine days, I like to think that I’ve gotten into the groove of breastfeeding – having full breasts only to get Eva to be an efficient little pumper every 3 hours. A lot of women have numerous breastfeeding concerns – me notwithstanding, mind you. In the first couple of days, my biggest issue was no such much if I had enough milk but that my nipples were quite sore.
A proper latch-on is crucial and naturally, time. After a while, nipples will toughen out and of course, the initial nursing is always a bit tad uncomfy because of vigorous nursing but it should never hurt throughout the time a baby is on the breast. If so, it is a sign that something is wrong somewhere. To help with the sore nipples, I was given a tube of PureLan 100 by Medela. It is basically lanolin cream for the nipples and aids in the healing of sore & dry nipple tissue. God-set really because now I cannot survive without it!
Airing one’s girlfriends are important as well as wet nipples can promote bacterial and fungal growth as well as hinder the healing process. It’s important to air one’s nips after every feed and pad your nursing bras with CLEAN and DRY nursing pads to help with the chafing and healing. To date, I have already used up 1.5 boxes of nursing pads (30 pieces in a box). I find them to be excellent for leaks as well as giving my nipples that added comfort from chafing.
Comfortable nursing bras are extremely important. Bear in mind that once you start on the breastfeeding route, you will most probably be sleeping your nights away in a bra to avoid leaking all over yourself and the bed. Of course once in a while you can take the off but most of the time, you’ll be wearing them. So it’s important to get something that offers comfort as well as support. Your breasts will be full or large (when they aren’t full) so support is definitely wanted! I avoided getting wired nursing bras because I read they weren’t good for breast tissue and I now know why. When your breasts are full, the milk glands will nearly be bursting with milk and they can press up/out from the sides, making the nerves around the armpits and sides quite sore/tingling. With a regular non-wired, your milk glands are free to do just that but it’s another story with wired – which can lead to a whole host of problems. I bought two by accident and thus decided to remove the wires. I could still use them but they lack support so I went out and bought another two nursing bras and a nursing tank by Bravado. They just arrived today and so far, from what I’m experiencing, they are definitely perfect especially their basic nursing bra which is flexible in terms of sizes and such!!! The support is excellent as well! Hopefully I have enough since I don’t really stain them and all but I might just be tempted to get another few more pieces before I leave for Singapore…we’ll see.
Up next – on the nursing pillow, positions, and round the clock feeding.
|June 27, 2009||Posted by Mabel under Health & Fitness, Info, Pregnant Already|
The final class!!!
We talked mostly about post-partum things like diet, changes to lifestyle, baby-related care and finally breastfeeding.
Here are some tips/advice/new stuff:
- It is perfectly normal for babies to lose some weight in the first two weeks due to things like bowel movement, small quantities of breast milk and so forth. Nothing worrisome as baby would have spent the last trimester putting on enough fat to survive the first weeks. Mummies and caregivers like the in-laws should NOT take this as a sign that they are not feeding the baby enough. As long as babies go through a number of diaper changes each day, there is no need to worry.
- Breast milk can take a few days to come in and until it does, colostrum is all the baby needs. Remember that newborns have small tummies and don’t need to eat a lot in one sitting. Instead, they feed frequently but in small quantities. DO NOT rush out and start supplementing baby’s diet with formula or feed via the bottle as this may result in nipple confusion.
- Breast milk production depends on two things – demand and diet. The more frequently the baby feeds, the better it is as well as water intake is crucial. Mummies who intend on breastfeeding need to consume heaps of water throughout the day. One tip we got was to place a large glass of water (500ml) next to you and consume it after every feed.
- Babies need Vit K for blood clotting purposes and Vit D to bind calcium in the first few days/months. These two vitamins cannot be produced in breast milk and thus need to be provided as supplements. In Northern Hemisphere countries especially during winter, it can be difficult to obtain Vit D via sunlight. If you’re in “sun-filled” countries like the tropics, babies can be sun (by the window) for a few minutes each day but take care to apply some form of sunscreen as to not burn baby’s delicate skin.
- It is normal for baby to feed every two hours or so. Sometimes it’s for food, sometimes it’s for comfort sucking. It’s important for mums to NOT skip feeding or create their own schedule because it can lead to engorgement, blocked milk ducts, breast infection and also lower breast milk production. Breast milk is created upon demand and the more often the baby feeds, especially at night, the more milk the body will produce.
- No blankets, pillows and all that when baby sleeps at night to avoid SIDS and baby needs to be kept cool. A too-warm baby increases the risk of SIDS because the baby may go into deep sleep, get SIDS and not wake up. Ideal ambient temp for babies is anywhere from 20 to 24° so just a long sleeved top and pants with booties will do for nights.
- To avoid diaper rash, babies should be dried and bums sunned frequently plus no powders. Bums should be aired naked as often as possible in between diaper changes. For baby girls, the use of powders increases the risks of vagina infections. Diaper rash creams are better.
- Babies up to six months do not need to be feed water – it’s dangerous and besides, breast milk is already made up of 88% water. Also, babies should be feed breast milk exclusively for the first six months for health reasons. Breast milk contains the mother’s natural antibodies and these are passed onto the baby during breastfeeding.
- Mummy’s diet is important – mummies need to take in a lot of water, avoid alcohol and any other types of food that may cause allergies or colic in babies or worsen things like jaundice. If the baby is colicky from eating things like ginger, turmeric or whatever herbs, then mummy may have to stop or find an alternative strategy. Those preparing confinement dishes need to be aware that less salt and less oil is better. Also, mummies need to take in plenty of fruits and vegetables to help with bowel movement (constipation is not good because it further strains the perineum muscles).
|June 16, 2009||Posted by Mabel under Health & Fitness, Info, Pregnant Already|
Today, we talked mostly about preparation for birth (what to buy and such), why the existence of labour pains during birth and breathing techniques as well as tips for partners to help with the labour.
Here are some tips/advice/new stuff:
- Newborns have very sensitive skin so there is no need for soap and shampoo when bathing babies. In fact, bathing should only be done once the cord is dried and has fallen off. Just water will do fine for the first month or so as babies can develop allergies easily.
- At the hospital, the practice is to clean the cord with solution containing alcohol three to four times a day before covering with cotton wool and such. When baby leaves the hospital, the practice is to clean at least once or twice a day with the same solution (no creams and etc) until the cord dries up and falls off. Do not pull, tug or dig around the cord when cleaning – you could risk causing injuries or introducing bacteria and such.
- There is no need to buy breast pumps now IF you’re planning on BFing full-time. If you need to, then base your purchase on what you need – electric for those mums who will be off to work and still want to BF; manual for those who just want to express the extra to keep for reserve. Baby is still the best pump around especially in the first few weeks.
- Exhale and breath deeply during contractions but STOP when the contractions stop, otherwise you risk hyperventilating or getting all tired out before the second stage of labour or the birth itself. When contractions have stop, breath as per normal and start the exhaling & breathing deeply when contractions come again.
- Get your HB or birth partner to push down on the low back (at the tailbone) during contractions to help ease the pain and pressure. Also, when the contractions subside, get him/her to massage your back/shoulders/neck or even face (if you have been grimacing or your face is tensed). This is to help with relaxation, distract and offer you some relief from the pain.
- How long your mum was in labour with you will have an indirect impact on how long your labour (if the women in your family is notorious for long labours, you may have the same thing) is BUT it is not 100% guaranteed and it gradually “lessens” over a few generations (meaning if your great grandma had a short labour, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll have a short labour too).
- For those facing constipation, DRINK DRINK DRINK – even if you have water retention. You need to take over 1 liter of water to help with the constipation and don’t forget to eat lots of fruits like prunes, papaya, figs, etc.
- Buy as your baby grows. This includes furnishings and medical items. It’s okay to have a few things missing – there are not many things a newborn needs (just get the essentials – diapers, some clothes, a place for the baby to sleep (crib, moses basket AND NO BLANKETS, PILLOWS, TOYS, BUMPERS – just a mattress) – and the rest can be bought as you move on like a bathtub – newborns don’t need a bathtub coz your baby won’t be able to bath for the first few days/weeks due to the cord still being attached).
|June 16, 2009||Posted by Mabel under Health & Fitness, Info, Pregnant Already|
At my antenatal class last week, we discussed the various positions for labour, the use of epidural & other forms of pain relief and finally, the issue of episotomy.
Over here, they don’t practice performed episotomy on women for a number of reasons – two of them being 1) they don’t heal fast and 2) they don’t aid in delivery at all. Instead, the midwives here prefer to let the tear occur naturally because it heals faster, etc, etc.
There are ways to minimise the tearing (and even prevent it) and it’s called a perineal massage.
As translated from the info I got from the midwife at my antenatal class:
If you wish to prepare your perineum for birth, we recommend that you start the perineal massage around your 36th week, every day for around 5 minutes.
What you need
You will need to use wheat germ oil or any natural vegetable oil, preferable cold pressed (not for cooking la) and rich in Vit E and F (essential to ensure and improve tissue elasticity). Linseed oil is a good choice.
There is an oil in the market specially made for this massage and manufacted by Weleda (refer to product link here – in French, unfortunately).
- Wash your hands carefully with soap. Scrub under the nails and up till the wrists.
- Sit yourself down somewhere and make sure that your back is supported with pillows. Lean back.
- Rub your fingers well with oil; put the thumb in the vagina and massaged the region between the opening of the vagina and anus with the forefinger.
- Then, with the thumb, still in the vagina, exert some pressure downward toward the rectum slowly.
- While still exerting pressure, slide your thumb/finger along the vaginal walls, along muscles of the vagina and the perineum. Repeat this a few times.
- You may feel muscle tension in the beginning, but with time and practice, the tissue will loosen gradually.
- Be careful to relax your muscles and breath out when you exert pressure.
- To end, massage the labia minora and majora as well (big and small “lips” – opening of the vagina la).
- As you go on with the massage (after a few times), gradually increase the pressure (widening the vaginal opening) until you start to experience tingling in the perineum. You will recognize this tingling feeling at the time of labour when the perineum extends around the head of your newborn child.
|June 16, 2009||Posted by Mabel under Health & Fitness, Info, Pregnant Already|
Yesterday’s class covered mostly the various positions for labour, the use of epidural & other forms of pain relief and finally, the issue of episotomy.
Point of interest for you ladies:
1) The best position for birth is actually squatting or sitting down because gravity will help aid in the delivery. The traditional method of lying back with your legs up is no longer in vogue here because it actually lengthens the labour process plus tires out the mummy (you have to push downwards and then upwards so your baby can crown effectively).
2) Water births are only possible if you’re not taking the epidural because the epidural here involves leaving a catheter/IV line in the spine. (Logical la…otherwise fluid will seep into the spine.)
3) You can eat and drink throughout the labour if you wish but nothing heavy – foods with high fibre or complex carbs are recommended like muesli bars and so forth. You’ll need this especially after labour because of the energy you’ll use up during the labour process itself.
4) Start psycho-ing yourself into thinking that decency is non-existent in the labour room. You will pee and crap yourself during labour even though you’ve had an enema. IT IS NORMAL and the midwives/nurses have seen it all. (This is true – I have had lots of friends tell me that it has happened to them before.) Don’t worry about sanitation because they line the floor and apparatuses with stuff to catch your mess. Concentrate on what’s important – your baby – and not your image.
5) Fathers, do know that during your labour, your partner is capable of being the nastiest woman alive on this planet. Again, don’t begrudge her if she snaps at you and/or throws you out of the room. And don’t feel ashamed about it. Again, the midwives are used to it and well, your partner is in pain – it’s understandable that she’s not behaving rationally. Don’t take it personal.
6) Contrary to popular belief and previous studies that performed episotomies aid in labour and heal faster, the docs here DO NOT conduct episotomies – they prefer to let the tear occur naturally (of course closely monitored la). In fact, studies in Switzerland have showed that performed episotomies do not help aid in labour and take longer to heal. There are ways to minimise the tearing (and even prevent it). It’s called a perineal massage (post available here). It’s easy, safe and you can start from Week 36 onwards and according to the midwife, it has yielded pretty good results from almost everyone who attended her previous classes.