The Ergonomics of Postpartum Recovery: Nursing Support

Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, our posture is a factor. You have spent the last nine months supporting a completely different center of gravity, so our tendency to slouch is much greater now. There is an abundance of accessories on the market that you can get to help prop baby up closer to you. More specifically for breastfeeding people a handful of ways you can hold your baby while nursing. A newborn eats a lot, so you will find yourself seated many hours a day feeding your baby. Consider the state of your posture and set up a functional space to support you and your baby. 

 

Start with a decent chair, one with motion. A rocking chair or a glider are the common buy these days. They double as support during the feed, and then can facilitate soothing motion to help calm baby. The exercise ball you may have purchased prior to having baby. This encourages great posture, and is a great tool in soothing baby. The ball does all the work for you, rather than having to bounce your tired body. 

Start with a decent chair, one with motion. A rocking chair or a glider are the common buy these days. They double as support during the feed, and then can facilitate soothing motion to help calm baby. The exercise ball you may have purchased prior to having baby. This encourages great posture, and is a great tool in soothing baby. The ball does all the work for you, rather than having to bounce your tired body. 

A nursing pillow will help prop baby closer to you. These all can be used for both breast and bottle feeding. The Brestfriend has a clasp that you can adjust at any point on your torso, it also has a little pocket you can fit a water bottle, a pacifier, a nipple shield, really anything you have found helpful in your feeds. I included the Hiccapop because it is an awesome edition to propping baby higher, I personally use it on my lap under baby for bottle feeds. It allows for me to sit up straight and props up baby on an angle for feeds. This is really for pregnancy prior to baby's arrival, but I recommend as another full circle tool for both parent and baby. 

A nursing pillow will help prop baby closer to you. These all can be used for both breast and bottle feeding. The Brestfriend has a clasp that you can adjust at any point on your torso, it also has a little pocket you can fit a water bottle, a pacifier, a nipple shield, really anything you have found helpful in your feeds. I included the Hiccapop because it is an awesome edition to propping baby higher, I personally use it on my lap under baby for bottle feeds. It allows for me to sit up straight and props up baby on an angle for feeds. This is really for pregnancy prior to baby's arrival, but I recommend as another full circle tool for both parent and baby. 

Now for nursing positions. These positions above will be the more common holds taught immediately after baby's arrival. The football hold I recommend to larger breasted individuals, or with nipples that angle outwards. Breastfeeding will bring a whole host of new things to understand, and one of those things is the shape and placement of your nipples and how to best facilitate a feed with them.

Now for nursing positions. These positions above will be the more common holds taught immediately after baby's arrival. The football hold I recommend to larger breasted individuals, or with nipples that angle outwards. Breastfeeding will bring a whole host of new things to understand, and one of those things is the shape and placement of your nipples and how to best facilitate a feed with them.

These are some of the more advanced positions for nursing. I recommend the side lying position for parents that are comfortable with co-sleeping. It's a great night time nursing position, as it requires less effort in moving around. The laid back position I recommend to individuals with fast and heavy let down. When a let down is heavy it can cause some discomfort and frustration in feeding to baby. The laid back helps lesson the force of the let down and allows for baby to work the milk out at its own pace.  That twin hold is wonderful once mastered. Twins require an extra set of hands, so a helpful partner is essential in this position. Your nursing staff should be an excellent resource for you in postpartum recovery, but if you still feel like you need help, check out my blog series on   The Importance of Breastfeeding Support.

These are some of the more advanced positions for nursing. I recommend the side lying position for parents that are comfortable with co-sleeping. It's a great night time nursing position, as it requires less effort in moving around. The laid back position I recommend to individuals with fast and heavy let down. When a let down is heavy it can cause some discomfort and frustration in feeding to baby. The laid back helps lesson the force of the let down and allows for baby to work the milk out at its own pace.  That twin hold is wonderful once mastered. Twins require an extra set of hands, so a helpful partner is essential in this position. Your nursing staff should be an excellent resource for you in postpartum recovery, but if you still feel like you need help, check out my blog series on The Importance of Breastfeeding Support.

When it comes down to it, fed is best. There is nothing more natural than a baby communicating it's needs and receiving it. How you choose to nourish your little one is completely up to you, and you should never justify that to anyone.

Next blog I will present the different styles of baby carriers on the market, and how to choose what is best for you. I will also include some  helpful soothing techniques for baby.

Weaning Baby pt. 2 Bottle Feeding

Last week we discussed exclusive breastfeeding while working a full time job, and the challenges that can present with this style of care. What about our moms on medications unsafe for breastfeeding, or moms fed up with breastfeeding all together? Since we are eliminating the breast completely, you will no longer need to use a pump. Pumping will only encourage your body to produce more breast milk. Instead of pumping, you will want to hand express the milk until you feel more comfortable. When done as needed, this will significantly reduce the chance of engorgement, and will not cause any more milk production. Eventually you will be able to eliminate hand expressions all together. We will be addressing the two major decisions made with bottle feeding; what kind of bottle should i give my baby, and what kind of formula is best for my baby?

The best advice I can give parents when starting out, is buy 3 different types of bottles in the beginning. If you're still breastfeeding, pump for one feeding a day, and test out each bottle on your baby. They will tell you what they like. I want to be clear - start testing bottles and nipples only if you plan to bottle feed. It is best to stick to exclusive breastfeeding or exclusive bottle feeding within the first few weeks of development, so as to avoid nipple confusion.  

We as a generation are fortunate to have all the resources we do for such a time in our lives, but like many things that have been fine tuned over time, the over-abundance of choices can be very overwhelming. Lets talk about some of the details to consider when choosing a bottle for your baby. As of 2012 BPA (Besphonal-A) a chemical that is said to create hormone-like substances was banned from the manufacturing of plastic bottles. Most of the bottle companies were producing products without BPA long before the ban, but with this is mind it is safe to say you shouldn't just use any old bottle lying around. With these developments the option between plastic and glass bottles has surfaced. Consider your activity level as a mom, traveling with glass can be risky. For one, it is gonna be the heavier option and can potentially break. Lets not forget your budget, glass bottles will certainly be a more expensive purchase. On a positive note, by choosing glass you are narrowing down your options a great deal, and they also last a lot longer than your traditional plastic bottle.  

Now lets address nipples. Nipples are often a source of confusion for parents; You have slow flow, fast flow, orthodontic, traditional (bell shaped), or the latest on the market flat topped. These will vary with the manufacturers. They are produced in both latex and silicone, so you will want to consider any potential allergens you or partner have when deciding. NUK and Gerber produce the orthodontic, these nipples are said to be better for baby's teeth as the flat part rests on baby's tongue. The Bell shaped are said to be best for babies that both breast and bottle feed. It said to mimic the breast and reduce nipple confusion. The flat topped are the trendiest on the market currently being produced on most every new bottle, however the most popular bottles (tommee tippee, Comotomo, and Adiri) are still producing with the traditional bell shaped nipples. As for flow, this is often based on the child's development age. A newborn will require a slow flow as they are still learning how to feed. As the child develops over time you will notice cues that baby is not getting what they need, and you will want to consider the nipple flow when making changes as baby matures.

Just when you thought you were finished summing up all your options, we now will briefly address formulas. In this case you will want to seek out a formula that baby best responds to. One should watch baby closely after feedings and make sure they are comfortable and not having any issues digesting. This can be overwhelming to some, as not all babies respond to formulas the same way. Baby should seem rested, full, and keep the formula down post feed. Some babies spit up.- they just do. What we want to avoid are spit ups that are several ounces, as this can lead to acid reflux, discomfort, and lack of weight gain. Formula's are tough to nail down and are often chosen through trial and error. I would recommend doing your own research on what is available and most comparable to what you feel most comfortable feeding your baby. The marketing of formula's will seem focused on a few different brands (and while a topic for another day), this can make your decision making process a bit difficult. I urge you to search outside of the box, and ask your community how they made their decision. 

As you can see, there are prominent challenges for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding, and we are truly only scratching the surface on this topic. Try and practice patience with this process. Your baby is an ever evolving creature and this is just the first of many changes they will endure. 

Next week we take a look at weaning with solid foods, and choosing food for baby.  I will also be listing my direct resources for this months topic!

Weaning Your Baby pt. 1

Since we kicked off this month with World Breastfeeding Week, I thought we should expand on how breastfeeding looks in the later postpartum months. These next few weeks will include topics on weaning baby, working and breastfeeding, as well as storing breast milk. These are things many don’t really even consider, even after the immediate arrival of their new little one(s).

Weaning a baby from the breast is a mother’s personal decision. I know I stress this in almost every blog I have posted, but mothers often allow the pressures of other people’s opinions to shape their choices for their own baby. It is important for every mother to know that she has the right to make every decision for her baby (within reason, of course, and in times of potential health risks). I also would like to point out that this decision (while it should be discussed with your partner) is solely up to mom, as it is her body.

There are various reasons why babies are weaned off the breast. The most common instance is the six-month mark, when it is recommended that you introduce solids. This process can take place earlier for mamas who have to take meds which are not safe for breastfeeding. Other moms may have to return to a full time job, and some mamas just don’t feel comfortable enough doing it, and have found more joy in bottle feeding.  

How does this process look in the earlier stages of infancy? Starting to wean this early can often seem very tedious. However, it is important that you remain as patient as you can with this change. Baby will often challenge anything unfamiliar to them, especially a substitute to their favorite thing ever.

We will start by discussing the process for mamas that have to go back to work and want to continue giving baby breast milk. You will want to start preparing for this juncture at least 4 weeks out, maybe more (if you can). In order to increase supply and begin storing breast milk, try pumping once each morning. The morning is a prime time to pump, as that is when you have the most milk. The following week, start by replacing baby’s least favorite feed with a bottle. If baby refuses the bottle, it’s likely they can sense “their boobs” nearby. See if dad or grandma (etc.) will take them and try feeding. You will also want to replace that feeding with a pump session, this will help maintain your milk supply for baby, and will help build up your storage supply in the freezer. Your goal is to have baby used to exclusive bottle feeds in the afternoons while you’re away. You will have to work out a pumping schedule with your workplace in order to continue offering baby breast milk exclusively. This is very common in this day and age, and shouldn’t be an issue. One thing to keep in mind while pumping is where you are doing it. Try to arrange your pump session in a place that you are most comfortable. It is important that you remain relaxed during pumps in order to be as efficient as possible with your milk production. In addition to a pump schedule, you will also want to work out a system for storing the milk until you get home. Most, if not all, offices have access to a freezer, I recommend freezing your supply and labeling it at work, then toting it home in a mini cooler so it doesn’t thaw. Remember to date and initial your breast milk supply so as to not confuse it with another mama’s in the office. Any daycare/nanny/partner should have complete access to your breast milk through the frozen supply you will have built up by pumping instead of feeding. If it’s not too confusing for baby, you could keep your nightly feeds together on the breast and continue to use these moments as incentives for baby as they mature.

Next week we will discuss weaning baby off breastfeeding as well as breast milk, how to assess the right formula for baby, and avoiding engorgement and clogged ducts in the process.