The Breastfeeding Challenge…
Are You Up to It?
5 Things I Wish I’d Known
(Published in Family Flavours, August 2013)
|Me nursing baby Shareef|
Of all the things that stressed me out about having a baby, breastfeeding was the most difficult, the most emotional, the most taxing and the most complicated. It seems like such a simple and natural thing, but it is not.
All those sleepless nights and the tears I cried. I was sore and tired all the time. With the baby wanting to nurse every two hours, it seemed as though that’s all I was doing. I felt like a failure when I struggled with breastfeeding and felt guilty when I thought of giving up.
I knew of the nutritional superiority of breast milk, the kilos I would shed faster if I breastfed and the blissful bonding experience I would have with my baby at my breast. But here’s what they don’t tell you about breastfeeding:
1. It hurts.
At first, every time your baby latches on, you’ll clench your teeth and squeal in pain. Plus, during the first few days to weeks after delivery, you’ll feel strong cramps in your uterus when you breastfeed.
The good news: Every time you breastfeed, your uterus contracts so it can return to its normal size. Also, your nipples will eventually ‘toughen up’ and there are things you can do to ease the pain until then, such as using special ointments and making sure your baby is latching on to both the nipple and the areola.
2. Your baby will want to nurse practically around the clock.
They say nursing burns calories and suggest you sleep when the baby sleeps, but what they don’t tell you is that you’ll be so busy nursing every two hours that you’ll hardly find the time to eat, sleep or even take a shower! Oh, and what about the demands of your other children?
The good news: Although no one else can breastfeed for you, you’ll need as much family support as possible. Get your spouse and other family members to take care of your other children and help out with household chores and errands so you can rest. Your spouse should be involved as much as possible – have him burp and change the baby.
3. Breastfeeding affects the way your breasts look.
While you may like the idea of getting larger breasts during pregnancy, what you may not realise is that, thanks to the hormone prolactin, which stimulates the mammary glands to produce milk, breasts can grow even bigger and more tender after giving birth, says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Efteem Azar. He further explains that breast size is no indication of how much milk you’ll produce.
The good news: In the weeks after giving birth, your breasts should return to roughly the size they were during pregnancy until you stop breastfeeding. When you return to your pregnancy weight, your breasts will probably return to their original size too. Some women find that one breast returns to its pre-pregnancy size while the other stays larger, droops or flattens more. Some end up with both breasts a full cup size smaller or larger after breastfeeding. Whatever the case, learn to love the body that nourished your baby – no matter what its shape or size.
4. Sex may be difficult to come by.
According to Azar, breastfeeding affects a mother’s hormone levels and menstrual cycle. So not only are you overly tired all the time, but you may also view your spouse’s advances with a degree of contempt!
The good news: You’ll start getting your sexual desire back within a couple of months of having a baby. The decreased muscle tone in the vagina, which might reduce pleasurable friction during sex and influence arousal, is also usually temporary. Be sure to take advantage of babysitters so that you can steal a few moments for yourselves.
5. Everybody will give you their personal opinion about breastfeeding.
You’ll hear more than your share about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, with both sides quick to pass judgement on the other. These comments can be very unsupportive and even contribute to feelings of inadequacy. The good news: Regardless of whether or not you’re breastfeeding, give yourself a break and know that you are giving your child the best start in life. If you can take on the breastfeeding challenge, you can handle almost any inconvenience that life throws at you. And there are a lot of them once you become a parent!
Overcoming Those Breastfeeding In Public Jitters
Does the thought of breastfeeding in public make
you nervous, intimidated or self-conscious? I certainly felt this way after giving birth to my second son four months ago. Like me, many women deal with fears and anxieties related to breastfeeding in public. Here’s what helped me make nursing in public stress-free.
Wear something easy to breastfeed in.
Maternity stores have an attractive range of nursing
tops, practical nursing bras and even tank tops with
built-in bras to wear under your clothes. Just lift your
outer shirt up and unhook the fastener of the nursing
tank top or bra. The undershirt can stay tucked in so
that you don’t have to expose your breast or stomach.
Don’t assume that people are staring at you
Most people stare in admiration or out of sheer
curiosity. Just smile and go about your business. You
have nothing to be ashamed of and your confidence
will deflect most spectators. For those who may
disapprove of your choice to breastfeed in public,
remember that it’s their problem, not yours. Putting
yourself and your baby first should be reassuring
enough. If you’re still embarrassed, just look at your
baby when nursing – nothing brings more peace than
looking at your newborn and seeing how happy and
content he is.
Use a nursing cover.
Because nursing covers provide full, easy coverage,
you’ll quickly find that they’re one of the first things
you won’t want to leave home without. I found nursing covers at maternity stores in Jordan for about JD50, which is rather steep. Although I was tempted to buy one, I decided that I might be able to make one myself.
What you'll need
1.5 m lightweight cotton fabric
2 x .5cm metal rings shaped like D's
Light to medium weight fusible interfacing
35 cm stiff spiral bonding
Heavy duty needle for your machine
To make the straps
1. Cut two pieces for the straps: one should be 15 cm x 12 cm and the other should be 65 cm x 12 cm.
2. For the long one, fold the long strap in half lenghwise with the wrong side out. From the fold, mark 4 cm on one end and 6 cm at the other end. Draw a long line connecting these two marks and cut along that line.
3. Trace and cut matching strips of interfacing for the two straps. Iron these on.
4. Refold the long strap with the right sides together. On the shorter end, mark and cut a curve on the unfolded corner.
5. Fold under the shortest edge of the smaller strap.
6. Refold the straps in half lengthwise with the right sides together and sew down the long edge. Turn both straps right side out and press flat with the seam running down the middle. Top stitch both straps ½ cm all the way around.
7. Fold the finished edge of the smaller strap over the flat side of both D-rings. Sew this edge down.
For the main cover
1. Fold the hem ½ cm all the way around and iron it. On the two sides and bottom, fold ½ cm again and iron. The long top edge should be folded a second time wide enough to fit the boning) and iron.
2. Sew around the two sides and bottom of the cover body.
3. Align the centre of the boning to the centre of the top edge of the body (lined up with the second fold). Place the unfinished edges of straps on either side of (and overlapping) the wire. If you’re right-handed, have the short strap with the rings on the right, making it easier to adjust. Make sure that the boning curves away from you so you can see your baby.
4. Using a heavy-duty needle, pin down and sew along the bottom edge of the folded hem.
5. Flip the straps up (overlapping the hem) and sew again, this time along the top edge of the hem.
6. Thread the long strap through the rings.