29 Apr 2014

Breastfeeding Made Easy

Breastfeeding hasn't been as smooth as I would like this time. In fact at one point I thought I might not be able to carry on. Now don't get me wrong, I know people have it way worse than I was dealing with, I didn't have bleeding nipples or anything that awful! It's about personal perception though isn't it?   Dealing with it being hard and the whole two children thing, it just felt like it would push me over the edge.

I just seemed to have an over abundant production which Judah couldn't cope with. He would sound like he was drowning, then would fuss around and not latch on properly. I did some research for how to deal with it, then decided to ignore all the advice! It felt like Judah wasn't draining my breast properly, so when I got the 'let down' sensation it was excrutiating. I decided to get a little bit of milk expressed (which will stimulate milk production) then bottle feed expressed milk over the weekend. Expressing just felt like it drained me better. Thomas got to feed him too which was nice for him and it did really help. On the Monday it was much less painful but by the Friday it was painful again. I did only have to do it for a few weeks though. Now we both seem to have got that hang of things, he isn't feeding quite as often (and boy did he want to feed a lot before) and I don't feel the 'let down' sensation any more. Only problem is now, I used to read to Noah when I was feeding, but I can't anymore because Judah stops to listen! 

So when I received and email from Pinter and Martin Publishers asking me to review Breastfeeding Made Easy by Carlos Gonzales, it was perfect timing. I love reading, but I have to admit to not utilising books for information. I use google a lot, then you get a lot of opinions and different theories. Picking between fact and opinion is a skill though, and sometimes you only get snippets of information instead of the whole picture. This book has been a real eye opener for me, I have really enjoyed having all the statistics backing up the information.

Gonzales is a real advocate for feeding on demand, something which just came naturally to me. I didn't spend lots of time reading about routines and schedules, Thomas and I don't have routines for anything we prefer to be more spontaneous than that, so why should our babies?! Gonzales has a stronger stand point on the issue:

"Amazing isn't it, the way zoologists and vets allow mothers and babies to do what they want, and then they decide that this is normal. It would never occur to them to write in a book: 'Female giraffes must feed their young for twelve minutes every five hours', and then try to persuade mother giraffes to conform. This only happens in the human species."

I think that quote is brilliant! He also discusses the differences between all sorts of cultures around the world; !Kung or bush people of the Kalahari nurse approximately six times an hour during the day, but each feed only lasts 90 seconds. Babies survive on all different schedules, and mothers tend to do what is normal in their culture.

The problem is in our culture babies are expected to have at least 3 hours in between feeds, when breastfeeding you have no way of knowing how much your baby has taken, so how can you say your baby won't be hungry again for another 3 hours? In our culture mothers are more likely to leave the baby to cry for a long time because they 'can't possibly be hungry yet'! I can't bear to let my baby cry so I feed him when he needs it. They aren't usually long feeds and he is a very happy kid in between!

Gonzales also takes a big issue with everyone else trying to butt in! His constant reference to a 'mother in law' giving bad advice, judging or saying 'I told you so' is kind of comical! He is right though, it is hard to persevere with something that is hard when everyone else has an opinion on it that isn't necessarily helpful! I know I am strong willed and trust my instincts (which I think is why I find labour kind of easy) but I know plenty of women who would be worried a lot by other people telling them to change their ways.

Reading about how the breast actually works is really interesting, but also how the stories and advice people give can literally be disproved by the anatomy and physiology. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is having difficulties, I think you would be much more likely to persevere and not turn to the bottle when you see that science is on your side!

My one main criticism of this book is at the beginning of chapter four; Gonzales says that people who have had a cesarian under general anaesthetic statistically feed for a shorter time. I think this is quite unhelpful, especially when he is talking about how mothers can be negatively affected by what other people say. If a mother has to have general anaesthetic that is fairly major, there is not likely to be any element of choice in the matter. So why tell someone she is more likely to struggle because of something she could have done nothing about! Just leave that bit out!

So back to my troubles. Gonzales says the symptoms of incorrect positioning are:

  1. Hollow cheeks
  2. Sore or cracked nipples
  3. Long feeds, staying latched on the breast
  4. He is still hungry
  5. Frequent nursing
  6. Full breasts, breast engorgement, mastitis
  7. Fast milk ejection reflex
  8. Vomiting and regurgitation
  9. Diarrhoea
  10. Crying and colic
I would say I was dealing with numbers 2,3,4,5,7and 8. So there it is, my positioning wasn't great! There are really good pictures in the book showing good positioning. 

Later chapters of discuss weaning, going back to work and illnesses in the mother and baby. These are obviously more things to dip into as you need, and I will definitely read the weaning chapter before we embark on that adventure again! 

Breastfeeding made Easy is available from Pinter and Martin and they currently have an offer on. This would be a good gift for mums to be that are planning to breastfeed. 

*I was kindly sent this book for the purpose of the review but all the opinions are honest and my own.


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