Setting Breastfeeding Goals

By Vicki Twomey, CLC

You have made the choice to breastfeed your baby. Congratulations! Like most moms you are probably scouring the internet and your baby books trying to figure out what you need to do and how to set yourself and your little one up for success. One phrase you may keep coming across is “breastfeeding goals”.  Why should you set breastfeeding goals? What are the most important things to keep in mind? Who should be involved in setting your goals?

Why should you set breastfeeding goals?

Setting a goal is simply deciding you want to do something! If you do not set a goal then you do not know what outcome you are looking for. A goals should be specific and positive. You could say, “I want to breastfeed” but that is not a goal, it is a desire. A goal would be “I want to breastfeed for at least 2 months.”  The more specific you are the better chance you have of reaching your goal! Next be positive! Rather than saying “I do not want to give my baby formula for the first two months” your positive goal would be “I want to exclusively give my baby breastmilk for the first two months.” Do you see the difference? One is what you do not want to do, the other is what you want to do!

What are the most important things to keep in mind?

It is important for goals to be realistic! If you set unrealistic goals you are more likely to not meet them. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. (1)  It may seem like a very big goal, but you can do it!  You can start with one week, or one month and go from there. Remember to celebrate each goal you reach, and if that is weekly, yay for you! More goals = more celebrations!

With that in mind, consider setting your first goal to breastfeed in the first few hours after your baby is born. Talk to your healthcare professional about skin-to-skin for the first hour after birth. Dr Jack Newman says that babies that experience skin-to-skin contact for the first hour “are more likely to latch on without any help and they are more likely to latch on well, especially if the mother did not receive medication during the labour or birth.” (2)

Who should be involved in setting your goals?

Everyone! Well, maybe not your grocer or nail person. But many people can and should be involved! Start with your partner, explain to him/her why breastfeeding is important and get their buy in! Next talk to your healthcare professionals. Let them know that you plan on breastfeeding, request skin-to-skin immediately after birth, ask them to write in your baby’s chart no formula preferred, request to see a lactation consultant, and most importantly ask your partner to speak for you when you are unable to.

Next you need your family and friends to be supportive of your journey, have them celebrate with you when you reach your goals!  Ask for their understanding when things take longer than expected, keep them aware that you may not be as available during the first month or so when you and your little one are finding your groove!  

Lastly, if you plan on going back to work and breastfeed you will need your boss/company to support you with pumping breaks, a private place to pump and a way for you to store your pumped milk!

As you can see, it takes a village and with your village you got this mama!

(1) http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/exclusive_breastfeeding/en/

(2) http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=com_content&id=82:the-importance-of-skin-to-skin-contact-&Itemid=17

 Vicki Twomey

 

Vicki is an Ameda’s Digital Marketing Manager and a CLC!  She is what you would call a jack of all trades master of none! In her past life she has worked in corporate America, non-profit, healthcare and adoption. One theme throughout her life has been a strong focus on women’s issues and that is her passion.

 

Is Exclusively Pumping Breastfeeding?

By Kimberly Grotto

When I was pregnant with my first child, it was important to me—and everyone else in the world, it seemed—to decide how I wanted to feed my son. The first thing I considered was breastfeeding, but off the bat I wasn’t sure it was for me. Providing breast milk was important but I was unsure and insecure about committing to the delivery process. It felt overwhelming to be the only food source, required to be responsible and present for each and every feeding. I also planned to return to work, so I knew a breast pump would enter the relationship at some point (but when, and how? And would there be bottle rejection or nipple confusion?). It was important to me that my husband could participate in feedings, both for bonding purposes as well as my sanity at 3 am. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, the idea of feeding a baby from my breasts didn’t give me the warm and fuzzies, it just flat-out weirded me out.

Like many first-time-moms-to-be, I sought advice from those who came before me. It wasn’t hard to find moms who exclusively breastfed or those who moved on to formula rather quickly. I heard many stories from working moms who enjoyed breastfeeding in the morning and at night with pumping sessions throughout the day. But none really felt right. I finally struck gold when I confided my fears and desires to my older sister. When she shared her choices and experiences with me, I realized for the first time there was another option, and one that was the answer for me: exclusively pumping.

Exclusively pumping is a feeding method that I don’t think is talked about enough. (To be fair, technology has only afforded moms this option fairly recently.) From personal experience, it also seems to inexplicably confuse the world. On one hand, the baby is receiving breast milk (yay!). On the other hand, it’s coming from a bottle (boo!). So where does it fit into the breastfeeding conversation? Unfortunately, I think because people don’t really understand it and because the “breast is best!” mantra is so ingrained, it’s often ignored or worse, dismissed.

For me, pumping and bottle-feeding empowered me to provide my baby with all the goodies and antibodies that breast milk offers but with the freedom to be present for feedings or not. I loved that anyone in my baby’s life was able to feed him—not just because it gave me a break (I could leave the house for more than 2 hours at a time and not be home for bedtime!), but because it also allowed others to experience a different dimension of bonding with him. There are other benefits, too: I knew how much he ate and if he was still hungry, there was always more to give him. I never had to live with him hanging on my boob every hour for 24 hours straight. And because my body learned to respond to the pump rather than his cries, I never experienced one of those embarrassing leaks—a godsend considering some of the professional situations I am in!

As with any feeding method, exclusively pumping is not without its challenges. It’s so important to be disciplined with a pumping schedule and with a busy career, making time some days can be difficult. Just as difficult can be finding a private place to pump. Since I’m not one to whip ‘em out in public, I’ve pumped in some interesting locations: cars, closets, a Cracker Barrel bathroom…you name it, I’ve probably done it. If you don’t make the time or find a place, it can get really painful really fast, leading to engorgement and sometimes clogged milk ducts. And, at least in my experience, it is true that a baby sucks out a clogged milk duct much better and faster than a pump ever can. There’s absolutely some double work involved with this method, but on the other hand, I only pump four times most days. In my opinion, though, one of the worst things about exclusively pumping is all. the. bottles. Washing those bottles and all their parts every night feels like a punishment that will never end. Until, as with most things baby-related, one day it does.

I’m on my second go-round now, with a new 4-month-old.  I considered feeding from the breast more often with this one and, after about a month of feeding here and there, I settled back into the exclusively pumping routine. I’ve learned many helpful things along the way, like the first thing you should do is get yourself a double breast pump and a hands-free pumping bra because you’re nothing without it. Also, when you’re driving and really need a ½ cup of hot water to warm a bottle, go straight to a McDonald’s drive-thru. They’ll give you one for free. In the airport, Starbucks will not only give you hot water, they’ll also give you a baggie of ice to keep your pumped milk cold if you, say, forgot an ice pack for your eight-hour estimated travel time. It’s also critical to get a travel battery for those times when you can’t find an outlet. Most importantly, though, relax and have confidence in the decision that exclusively pumping is the right choice for you and, like most things mom-related, you’ll figure out how to make it work for you and your family along the way.

 

BIO

Kim lives in the Chicago, IL area with her husband Justin and their two sons, Will and AJ. She is a marketing consultant and business owner who prides herself on being honest with anyone who asks about the truths of pregnancy and motherhood as she knows it.  

Breastfeeding twins and how to handle the pressure to wean

By Meredith from Twin Talk

Twins Breastfeeding Success Story

And you thought one was hard… read about Twin Talk’s journey through breastfeeding twins and the pressures she felt when it was “time to stop” breastfeeding.

When you’ve taken dozens of pregnancy tests, only to look at them five minutes later and feel complete despair, seeing two pink lines is so special. What I didn’t realize in that perfect moment is it wouldn’t be the only time I’d see two tiny objects right next to one another.

A few weeks later, Michael and I went in for our first ultrasound filled with excitement and anxiety. I remember watching the screen, silently praying we’d see a tiny flicker of a heartbeat along with reassuring words from the technician. Instead, we heard her quietly laugh as she told us we were having twins. The room was so silent, so still. And then I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes and blurted, “You need to find a new job.” I’ve always been great at ruining sweet moments.

I had a wonderful pregnancy, filled with minimal morning sickness and little discomfort. I knew this would be my only pregnancy so I treasured the early morning kicks and jabs. I even laughed at the terrified looks I received from strangers – my belly was, after all, enormous.

When you’re pregnant with twins, the breastfeeding questions change from “Will you?” to “How will you?” Most women assumed I wouldn’t even try breastfeeding twins. They casually brought up supplementing with formula, difficult nights with two hungry babies, and vitamins I could take to help my supply. It was hard not to get discouraged before I even began. But I was determined. Every time someone told me I couldn’t, I told myself I would.

Jude and Sloane arrived on October 30, via scheduled C-section. They were healthy, happy babies. I breastfed the twins in the hospital and was fortunate enough to have one baby who was a natural from day one. My daughter, however, had a much harder time. I had two lactation consultants who never gave up on me, and therefore I never gave up on myself. Every time it was time to eat, my husband grabbed seven pillows to place all around me for added support.

The first few weeks at home were hard, filled with tears from everyone.  I went through the same struggles as most new moms. I wanted to quit. I didn’t. Sloane struggled and I’m sure she wanted to quit. She didn’t. Michael woke up every single feeding and made sure all three of us were comfortable.  Often, we’d be sitting on our bed, bleary-eyed from exhaustion, each burping a baby. I will never forget those nights. It was such a defining moment for both of us – we were in this together.

Finally, what I once considered excruciating work became second nature.  I nursed them at the same time until they turned three months and were too big for my nursing pillow. I felt like the majority of my day was spent breastfeeding and in the beginning that was pretty accurate. But I’ll never forget getting rid of the pillow and nursing them one at a time. I finally understood what people meant when they said it was such a bonding experience. I remember holding each baby and not wanting to let them go.

When you watch your children grow — watch them flourish — and it’s because your body was able to provide them that nourishment… it’s incredible. I thanked God every day for letting me be a part of it all.

I was blessed to breastfeed my babies for 15 months. What I find so strange is you receive encouragement and praise from everyone… until your babies turn one. Suddenly, what is so incredible becomes weird. I saw every raised eyebrow. I recognized every side-glance. I felt every pause. And little by little, it broke me. The girl who didn’t have an issue nursing in public suddenly started hiding, again.

I constantly made excuses as to why I was still nursing. I told people I would stop breastfeeding by a certain date and when that date passed and I continued to nurse, I felt guilty. And in typical fashion, I poked fun at myself for still breastfeeding. I made a joke out of the most precious gift I have ever been given.

Now, when women mention they’re ready to wean their child, I encourage them to go one more month. Just one. Just to make sure their reason to stop breastfeeding has everything to do with them and nothing to do with anyone else.

After I’d completely weaned Jude and Sloane, I went through several months of sadness. I missed the beautiful moments no one else would ever experience. I missed them falling asleep while nursing as I held their warm bodies close to mine. I missed counting their rolls and using my finger to softly draw their faces in the crook of my arm.

There were so many firsts and lasts in those 15 months. This was, without a doubt, the hardest last I’d encountered.

It was also the sweetest.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Meredith is a photographer and blogger living near Dallas with her husband and twin toddler children, Jude and Sloane. In her free time, she loves fashion, planning trips, and writing about her twins. Learn more about her pregnancy, twin birth stories, breastfeeding, and more on her blog, Twin Talk.