Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Breast Feeding: One Week Later

Wow! All of these blog posts about breast feeding (post 1, post 2, and post 3), and now I can finally post about some real hands-on experience!


All in all, it was what I expected. Hard. I had done my research, but it seemed that baby Max hadn't been reading the same books I had. It took us some time to get the hang of it.


I was able to start skin-to-skin an hour after Max was born, the delay of course was related to my c-section. A lactation consultant was there, and helped us get a good latch. He nursed for a little while, and again a couple of hours later. During his second feeding, he actually used his arms to push himself away from my breast, and turned his head! This was 3 hours after he was born! Scary how strong he was already.


The feedings were tough to get started. I wasn't able to get him latched on my own. I would try for a few minutes, and I would ask for help once he was wailing and upset. I wanted to learn to do it on my own, but it wasn't worth getting us both worked up. The nurses at our hospital were AWESOME and helped me get him latched each time I asked for help. They were so great with getting him on. It seemed that I just wasn't willing to be as rough with him, they would grab his head and my breast, and just shove it deep into his mouth. Of course they weren't hurting him, but it still wasn't something I could bring myself to do.


His crying killed me. My husband and I would notice him rooting, and try to get him latched as soon as I could. We would fumble around for the latch for maybe three minutes before he would start getting really fussy and crying. That's when I would usually call for help. Once he started crying, there was just no hope in me getting him on by myself. My husband would help calm him down, and then bring him back to me. That sometimes helped. We always knew the nurses were there as a back-up plan.


After the second day, I would ask the nurse to come back and help me before he would get to the point of crying. I wanted to try and learn before he was all worked up. This helped, and on the third and fourth day I could get him latched on my own a few times (although I still needed help 75% of the time). I tried to learn from each nurse that helped us, and of course the lactation consultant. She was great, and gave me tips to help me learn.


I was told to pump to help with the "size issue" and they brought me a pump. When we had trouble getting him to latch, the LC put her finger in his mouth to suck, and use a syringe in the side of his mouth to give him some milk. This was teaching him that sucking would give him milk, which was better than just giving him the milk in a syringe alone. This worked very well with him, and it brought my concerns down a bit. I knew that I had this as a back-up plan.


On the last night of our stay, Max and I were having trouble getting started. I wanted to figure it out without help, but we just couldn't do it. I was getting so frustrated and he was crying, it was tearing me up inside. I told my husband that I wanted to use the syringe to get him started and calm him down a bit. My husband said, "No, try it again. You guys can do this." I got cranky about this, but I did it anyway. You know what? We did it right away! It worked! I'm so glad that my husband pushed me in my moment of weakness, it helped me realize that we could do it. That I shouldn't give up. It really changed my mentality on the whole situation. I love him for that (and so much more), even though it initially made me want to punch him in the throat (love you, Sean!).


Most of the problem was that I had to hold my breast a certain way, I was told that it was too large to have him grab onto himself (which later I noticed in all of the breast feeding pictures I have seen in the past, duh!).  For whatever reason, this hadn't automatically clicked in my head. Once it was explained, I got the hang of it.


I hadn't wanted a c-section (see previous posts here and here for more on that), but for breast feeding it probably helped us in the end. Having an extra day at the hospital to learn from the LC and nurses was great. I wasn't a pro by the time I left, but I wasn't scared anymore. We (pretty much) knew how to do it, and Max had the hang of it for the most part. We just needed to keep practicing.


The best part? As soon as we got home, it was EASY. Most of the time he is latched on within five, yes five, seconds. The worst so far was maybe 30 seconds, which was when he had woken up from a long nap and was super hungry and fussy. 30 seconds? I'll take it! Easy! My energy changed when I got home. I was in MY environment, and it made all of the difference. i'm even pumping up a stash and storing it (check out my storage system here). I'm loving breast feeding, I really am. My nipples hurt like hell, and the bleeding/cracking isn't fun. But you know what? These are the best moments of my life. I'm loving every second of it, even the painful ones.


The moral of the story: Don't give up, and ask for help when you need it!


If you're interested in following my journey into motherhood, you can find me on Twitter @DawnMarieMcG and I look forward to seeing you online!
You have stumbled upon a blog post participating in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt 2012! The more participating blog posts you read, the better your chances of winning the grand prize. If you're interested in reading blogs from parents who do have experience in breast feeding, please take a look! Here are a few you should peek at: My Mummys PenniesLife Happens So SmileLife Love Lollipops and Radical Ramblings. Also, check out 
BoobieMilk – Nursing Bras, Sleep Bras and Nursing Vests from Emma-Jane, Carriwell and Hotmilk.  Online sales and also Free In-home Fittings in Kent.




Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.  Please complete the following Rafflecopter to enter the competition for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Grand Prize.





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Thursday, June 21, 2012

One Week Ago... My Life Changed Forever

One week ago, our baby Max was born. I am still completely blown away that this is my reality. I keep catching myself looking at him in amazement. Not believing that he is really here. That he is mine. That I am so blessed. That he is that adorable!






Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Breast Milk Storage System

I have created a storage system for my breast milk, to keep in the freezer. This is a pretty simple idea, but it was fun to apply my engineering degree to motherhood. I created a gravity-fed kanban system for storing my breast milk!!


First I had to find a cardboard box with the correct dimensions (5" x 8" x 11"). This was the hardest part (note: yes, we love Wachusett Blueberry beer). I also filled a breast milk storage bag with water, and froze it so I would have an accurate example of shape and size.  



1. Tape the box so that the top (which will now be the side) wouldn't open easily. I took the opportunity to label the box, to avoid confusion when guests come over.


2. Cut the side off (which will now be the top) for dropping bags of milk in. 


3. Cut a piece rectangle (1 1/2" x 5") out of the end of the side (which will now be the bottom of the front side) for pulling bags out. 


4. Ta-da! Free, cheap, and easy breast milk storage system!! Here it is, where it will come in quite handy.


Now the "why" for this system. I wanted to follow the rule of "first-in-first-out" which means that you would essentially use the oldest bag of milk first. When putting a fresh bag of milk in the box, I will be dropping it in the top. That would leave the freshest milk on top, to freeze flat on top of the others. When needing a bag of milk for feeding baby Max, we would pull a bag out of the piece at the bottom. This bag would be the oldest of the bunch. Only one bag would come out at a time, which is why the piece is so slow. 

Many people may just have a Tupperware container that they may put their bags in, and do the FIFO (first-in-first-out) system. That works for plenty of people. I just like the gravity fed system, so that I don't have to move them around manually all of the time. Oh, and I'm cheap. So the sooner I can close the freezer door, the better! 

What do you think? Do you have a better system? I'm always looking for ways to improve and make things easier! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Breast Feeding - Where to Turn

I've heard many of times about how difficult breast feeding can be. Many mothers struggle for days, weeks, even months in their quest to breast feed their babies. Unfortunately it may be too much of a struggle to continue. Sometimes it is not feasible for the mother to keep on breast feeding. Some may eventually exclusively pump, or go to formula to feed their babies. Some mothers don't choose to breast feed from the very beginning. Others want to breast feed more than anything, but just can't make it work because of a lack of support. 


I think it helps to know up front that it may be a challenge for a mother and baby to learn the ropes of breast feeding. I also think it helps to know ahead of time that it may be painful at times as well. I've heard stories from women that assumed it would be easy, and had no idea that it would ever hurt. These are the women that are sometimes stopped dead in their tracks when it becomes challenging or painful to breast feed. I feel bad speaking to women that didn't know about what they were getting into, and I hope that more women learn about breast feeding before they start.


My motto is usually "prepare for the worst, but hope for the best." I had heard numerous times that breast feeding was "easy" and "natural" and that I would have no problems. I also heard about difficulties. I figured I would hope it would be easy for myself and our baby, but I wanted to learn about what to do if it wasn't so easy for us. 


My husband and I went to a breast feeding class. It was informative, and helpful. I had heard that having your support system attend the class is helpful, so that they understand the difficulties later. I didn't want to be a sobbing mess over a crying baby and have my husband looking at me like I was insane. We heard lots of explanation about what my body will be going through when producing milk, and it really helped us understand. There were also plenty of printed materials for us to take home, and use in the future. I happily added those to our Baby Binder.


I would also recommend that struggling mothers speak to mothers that have gone through it. Mothers that have had a baby recently may be the most helpful for asking questions, as their memories might be a lot more fresh. If you don't have any women in your life that have experience with this, you could go online for help.  


Facebook has many breast feeding support groups that you can join, where women ask questions and offer support. These are women that you don't know in real life, so it may be easier for you to ask uncomfortable questions. It may also feel less awkward to ask those questions that you think are "stupid" questions, because you aren't face to face. You could also "like" Kelly Mom on Facebook, where links to articles will be posted and women will converse back and forth. 


The Kelly Mom website is my favorite. There are so many helpful articles to read through, you can really educate yourself well with this website. You may have heard of the La Leche League organization. The La Leche League website is also very helpful. There are many articles on this site, as well as a great forum where you can speak with other mothers to get advice. This site may also help you find a Lactation Consultant in your area. 


Working with a Lactation Consultant may be your best bet in the long run. You may even be lucky enough to have one work with you while you're still in the hospital. The earlier you work with a LC, the better off you may be. Having someone working with you in a hands-on manner can take a lot of the uncertainty out of your mind, and you know that they are an expert with breast feeding. What could be better? Check with your hospital about this ahead of time, so that you know what to expect. 


Overall, don't be afraid to ask for help! You are not alone. You are not the only woman struggling with this. Reach out. Both you and your baby will be better off. 




If you're interested in following my breast feeding journey, you can find me on Twitter @DawnMarieMcG and I look forward to seeing you online!

You have stumbled upon a blog post participating in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt 2012! The more participating blog posts you read, the better your chances of winning the grand prize. If you're interested in reading blogs from parents who do have experience in breast feeding, please take a look! Here are a few you should peek at: Really RachelfipeacockCircus Queen, and The Secret Life of Kate. Also, check out School of BabywearingWe're a social enterprise promoting babywearing & running accredited babywearing training as well as publishing free resources.  We're very keen to promote babywearing as a way of supporting breastfeeding - both by keeping baby close & being able to see their feeding cues & by offering additional discretion/hands free support.




Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.  Please complete the following Rafflecopter to enter the competition for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Grand Prize.


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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tips for Breast Feeding

Now I need to be honest, I have never breast fed. I'm still pregnant with my first child. I thought I would have had my baby by now (my due date was a week ago today) and would have some personal experience before writing this. I am still waiting to meet my little bundle of joy, so I can't share any testimonials.


However, I have read a lot. I have talked to plenty of women. Here are the tips that I have heard over and over:
1. Be patient
2. Don't give up


There are plenty of tips that an experienced mother could give you. I will eventually have some to share as well. I don't want to speak for others though, so I will leave you with those two main tips. Those two tips are what I plan to hold onto during the difficult times, while my baby and I learn the ropes.


What are your tips? What advice do you have for a new mother? I'm always looking to learn!


If you're interested in following my breast feeding journey, you can find me on Twitter @DawnMarieMcG and I look forward to seeing you online!


You have stumbled upon a blog post participating in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt 2012! The more participating blog posts you read, the better your chances of winning the grand prize. If you're interested in reading blogs from parents who do have experience in breast feeding, please take a look! Here are a few you should peek at: mixed bag of all sortsedspireBreastfeeding in England, and Dispelling Breastfeeing Myths. Also, please check out one of the sponsors, Boobie Milk. Boobie Milk -  Nursing Bras, Sleep Bras and Nursing Vests from Emma-Jane, Carriwell and Hotmilk.  Online sales and also Free In-home Fittings in Kent.




Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.  Please complete the following Rafflecopter to enter the competition for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Grand Prize.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

40w5d Appointment

Well the baby has decided that he or she is still very comfortable in there. We will have to wait a little longer to meet our bundle of joy!


At our 35 week appointment, we had what should have been our last ultrasound. That ultrasound found that the baby was in the 65th percentile for weight, and would be a little over 8 pounds at 40 weeks. We also found out that the baby's head was down. These were both great things to hear, because I was looking forward to the natural birth I had previously blogged about here (baby's head down really helps with the chances of that) and my OB was confident that I could deliver a baby up to 9 pounds. 


Because we went overdue, we were scheduled for a NST and ultrasound today. This is normal for pregnancies that go late, so we weren't alarmed. The NST was good, it was actually fun for us to listen to the baby's heart beat. We were having fun watching my belly move as the baby squirmed, and hearing his/her heartbeat change with the movement. The NST showed that the baby was perfectly fine. The ultrasound went well also, we got to see our baby inside one more time! We saw that the baby's head was still down, and that everything was functioning well. Great news, and we felt happy to hear and see the baby one more time. 


After a few minutes in the waiting room, we went in for the appointment with the OB. She started the conversation with, "Well this baby is bigger than a bread box." I asked if the baby was too big for me to deliver, and that's when we got the news. The ultrasound calculated that the baby was already 9 lbs 9 oz. If we wanted to wait until the next week for me to go into labor, the baby would be even bigger. The blood drained from my face, and she invited us to her office. 


In her office, she explained that I needed to have a c-section. The reason why the baby wouldn't stay "down" was that he/she is too big. By the end of each day I was able to feel the baby was VERY low, but in the morning the baby would be up high again. The size is the reason behind that, the baby's head just wouldn't engage. My cervix wasn't getting ready. My body just wasn't going to be able to do it. 


I started crying. I couldn't help it. My hormones wouldn't let me stop crying either. I tried to listen, and take in everything, but it was hard. She explained the dangers involved if I tried to have the natural birth that I/we wanted. She made sure to let us know that it was up to us, but she wanted us to know the risks. The baby was too big. I could try to deliver naturally, and the baby might just not come out after hours and hours of trying, and a c-section would be required anyway. Or the baby could get its head through, but get stuck at the shoulders. The baby being stuck that way could have serious long-term effects due to starving the baby of oxygen. I can't even think about that right now. The baby's shoulder(s) could get stuck and there are all kinds of scary things related to that as well. There are other reasons too, but you get the point. 


I've been crying all day. I can't stop. Poor Sean doesn't know what to do to calm me down. Nothing can. I wanted to give my baby the perfect birth. I wanted my body to deliver our baby, the way it should. I didn't want my baby to have any drugs in his/her system. I wanted to GIVE BIRTH to my baby, not have my baby cut out of me. I feel like something huge is being taken from me, something that I should be able to do. I don't know why this is killing me right now, but it is. 


I'm not going to try the have natural birth that I had dreamt of (you can read my thoughts here if you're interested). I'm doing what's best for my baby. I could never forgive myself if anything bad happened to my baby because I wanted to have a natural birth. The baby's health is my first priority, and I will do whatever is necessary. I'm done with feeling bad for myself. I've made my decision. I can be sad, but it won't change anything. We have our c-section scheduled for next Thursday, and we will finally have our little baby! 


As we drove home from the appointment, I turned to my husband and smiled through my tears. I said, "Next Thursday is Flag Day" and we knew it was fate. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why I Want to Breast Feed

There are so many reasons. The health of my child is my primary concern. There is no judgment here if you have not chosen to take the breast feeding path, but I would like to explain my reasons. 

I want to breast feed because it is natural. That is how we have evolved to feed our young. I want that closeness with my baby, and to have the natural milk cycle take place in my body (the production of oxytocin and prolactin). 

I have learned some interesting information about breast feeding:
  • There is a reduction in infant mortality. 
  • It will improve the baby's immune system and vision
  • Breast fed (exclusively for the first 6 months) babies test 11 IQ points higher than formula fed babies
  • Breast fed babies generally have "healthier" bowel movements (less diarrhea and constipation)
  • As children, breast fed babies have less allergies, respiratory illness (important for an asthmatic like myself), sickness, cavities, etc
  • The bowel movements of breast fed babies have a less offensive odor (admit it, this is a nice perk!)
  • Mothers who breast feed will burn about 500 more calories a day to produce milk
  • Breast feeding encourages the mother's uterus to contract faster (painful, but helpful)
  • A decrease in postpartum bleeding
  • A lower risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer for the mother 
I am really looking forward to breast feeding. From research and conversations with mothers that have experience with breast feeding, I know it may not be easy. I can't lie, I am worried about how difficult breast feeding will be for me. I hope that my baby and I can get the hang of it quickly, and get started on the right foot. For this reason (and others), we are planning to spend the first hour after birth skin-to-skin and initiating breast feeding. We are also planning to spend the first two weeks at home alone as a family of three. We want to establish our new family bond, and for the baby and I to really get the hang of breast feeding and our new life. 

Although I am looking forward to the bonding that comes with breast feeding, I also plan to share this experience with my husband. Our plan is to start pumping as soon as possible, and my husband will be able to feed our baby as well. We don't plan to introduce a bottle to our baby until about 3 weeks of age (to avoid nipple confusion), but he will definitely be part of it all!  


If you're interested in following my breast feeding journey, you can find me on Twitter @DawnMarieMcG and I look forward to seeing you online!

Sources of information: 
My heart & instincts
"The Breastfeeding Book" Little, Brown and Company
"Undersize Infants Score Higher on IQ Tests IF Breastfed Exclusively" National Institutes of Health
"Little Known Benefits of Breastfeeding" www.askdrsears.com
"Breastfeeding Benefits" University of Michigan Health System
"Milk, Money and Madness - The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding" Bergin & Garvey


You have stumbled upon a blog post participating in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt 2012! The more participating blog posts you read, the better your chances of winning the grand prize. If you're interested in reading other blogs from parents who believe in breast feeding, please take a look! Here are a few you should peek at: Mummy ConstantmummyisagadgetgeekBreastfeeding in England, and mixed bag of all sorts. Also, you can check out Monkey Mama Necklaces - Beautiful, baby safe, yet grown up necklaces created from ethically traded, non-toxic handmade resin beads.  They are designed to appeal to a mama's aesthetic and a nursling's twiddly fingers.


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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.  Please complete the following Rafflecopter to enter the competition for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Grand Prize.


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