Re: Not sure about doc's advice
I hope you'll be taking your baby to a different pediatrician from the one your SIL uses. That guy sounds pretty ignorant when it comes to breastfeeding!
Yes, the best thing you can do to ensure breastfeeding success is to be ready to nurse on demand, even if that means nursing very frequently or for long time periods. With a newborn, you want to nurse on demand, or at least 10-12 times a day if the baby is sleepy, jaundiced, non-demanding, or having trouble regaining birthweight. You don't want to limit time at the breast, except in very special circumstances (e.g. very premature or sick baby who burns too many calories trying to nurse while not taking enough in).
I know it can be very anxiety-producing to see someone you like and respect making serious breastfeeding missteps. But don't let yourself fall not the trap of "my SIL can't breastfeed, therefore it's going to be hard for me, too." She got bad advice and made some misinformed choices (listening to bad advice, switching to EP when there was no reason to do so), but that doesn't mean you're going to experience the same or similar issues.
Things you can do to make sure breastfeeding goes well:
- Stock your fridge with frozen meals.
- Have the best possible birth. Breastfeeding is easier when mom is healthy and strong after birth. Consider your birth options carefully, make a birth plan, and discuss your plan with your caregiver.
- Avoid induction of labor unless medically necessary. Induced births tend to be more difficult and are more likely to necessitate additional interventions (e.g. episiotomy, vacuum or forceps delivery, c-section) than spontaneous births. Please note that suspected large baby, having your preferred doc or midwife be in town for the birth, or trying to avoid a holiday weekend are NOT good reasons to induce, although they are common ones.
- Read up on your pain relief options. All medical pain relief carries risks. For example, narcotic pain releivers can cause a baby to be born sleepy and unwilling to nurse, and epidurals can cause a fever in mom that will result in a NICU stay for the baby. This is not to say "You must not use medical pain relief!", rather, it is to say "Know your options, and weigh the risk vs. benefit for yourself."
- Assuming baby is born healthy and strong, have him or her delivered immediately onto your bare chest, wearing just a hat and a little blanket over his/her back. Babies warm up best when skin-to-skin with mom, and most will nurse or at least attempt to nurse within a few minutes of birth. Don't skip that first nursing opportunity!
- Delay all routine newborn procedures until the baby has had a chance for skin-to-skin warming, nursing, and bonding. There's nothing urgent about getting the baby weighed, measured, footprinted, bathed, or having eye ointment or the vitamin K or Hep B injections. All those routine procedures can wait for at least an hour.
- Room in with your baby. You'll learn his/her nursing cues faster, you will be able to nurse before the baby gets really hungry (babies who are hungry enough that they are crying are sometimes too frantic to latch well), and there will be less chance of a "helpful" staff member slipping your baby a bottle of formula or a pacifier.
- If you send your baby to the nursery, make a sign for his/her bassinet that says "I am a breastfed baby. No bottles or pacifiers, please! Bring me to my mom every time I cry, or every 2 hours if I don't."
- Avoid artificial nipples (bottles, pacifiers) for several weeks following birth. Babies suck differently on artificial nipples than they do on the breast, and that difference can impact a baby's latching ability.
- Don't supplement with formula "just until your milk comes in," unless of course there is a medical necessity to supplement. Every time a baby gets a supplemental feeding, and the baby skips a nursing session or just stretches out the time in between feedings, the mom's body misses the cue the baby would have given by nursing. Supplementing can delay the onset of milk production and reduce milk supply.
- Nurse on demand, or at least 10-12 times a day.
- If you are having a boy and plan to have him circumcised, consider waiting a week or more before having the procedure done. Pain from a circumcision can impact nursing.
- Surround yourself with helpful and supportive friends and family members. They should cook your meals, wash your laundry, take care of your older child, hold the baby so you can nap or shower, walk your dog, purchase take-out meals, sweep your floor, bring you water and snacks, change the baby's diapers, etc. They should not suggest that you go and pump so they can give a bottle, or tell you how hard nursing is, or weigh you down with doubts and insecurities.
- Acept that the first couple months with the baby are going to be chaotic and messy. But don't worry, no-one ever died from a dirty floor!
Finally, this is a totally random tip which has nothing to do with breastfeeding, but it's a good one: bring a bottle of olive oil to the hospital and oil your baby's bottom between diaper changes. That sticky meconium poop will slide right off!
Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"