Thursday, August 15, 2013

"worst of times, breast of times ..."

There are various things I wish someone had told me about having babies. I had lots of 'you should's and generalities spouted at me. But very little specific information.

Here are some of the things I was never told about breastfeeding, as a single topic:

1. Colostrum, that magic stuff your breasts produce as soon as the child is born, comes in tiny amounts and is clear gold in colour. We had one twin in intensive care for 5 days and Jon had to pump this stuff out of my boobs to take up to him. We would get maybe 10 drops total for half an hour's effort.
2. People talk about your milk 'coming in' about 2-4 days after the birth. This feels like a sudden inflation, your breasts like hot water balloons filling to bursting. It isn't comfortable. But it passes quick.
3. Breastfeeding is physically demanding, and not just tiring because it keeps you up at night. I am eating like never before.
4. There is no set amount of milk that your body knows to produce. It's a game of supply and demand: babies wanting to eat more and your body catching up; your body producing in anticipation of demand and babies catching up. It's hard. Most of the time you don't know what's going on, whether babies are hungry, why your breasts are leaking everywhere, what you should do about it, etc.
5. Engorgement happens and is terrifying but it is very likely to pass. Essentially, a boob overfills and becomes rock hard and swollen - significantly bigger than the other side - and very sore to breastfeed on. It's often lumpy where you have blocked milk ducts. The advice I was given when it first happened to me (and sent me into absolute terror in the middle of the night) was to rest, take a long hot shower and rub hot flannels over it. Also, massage it when baby was eating. Within 24 hours, it had gone.
6. I am convinced that engorgement, blocked ducts, low milk supply, etc happen to me when I haven't eaten or rested enough. SCOFF! NAP!
7. Breastfeeding is an all-consuming task. It is not just one of the chores you fit into your day of baby care. It is the focus of your life. Other people will most likely not understand this. Do not be afraid of that misunderstanding as you press on with the task in hand ...

Will add more if I think of more!

No comments: