Saturday, August 21, 2010

Helping a Fellow BFing Mom...

Photo Credit ~
On Monday, I got a text message in the early afternoon saying that ~T~ with was having a hard time with BFing and could I help her out??? I had never met ~T~ and normally you would think it would be weird to go and help someone you don't know with something so personal. But, as soon as I got that text message I wanted to go and help her. I felt compelled to help.

In my New Moms' Group we were talking about BFing and how hard it is in the beginning. Someone mentioned that in villages in underdeveloped countries, moms with older babies would go to visit the new moms and show them how to BF. They did this by giving the new mom an older baby to practice nursing with, so that she would learn how to do it.  In turn the experienced mom would then nurse the newborn to teach the newborn how to nurse properly. I know that sounds quite odd, a little crazy, and some might say gross. You have to remember, in those areas if the mothers are unable to nurse, the babies may not survive. They don't have readily available formula. So really it's a very beautiful thing that they are willing to help each other care for their babies. That is not what we were going to do, but I wanted to be a support and to help her in anyway I could. After all, someone did that for me. A good friend ~J~ came over with her 7 month old daughter a day or two after I got home from the hospital. She helped me with positioning, getting the baby to latch properly, and most of all she was very supportive!

I instantly remember how just under four months ago I was in her shoes. Just home from the hospital, unable to walk normally, uncomfortable, in pain, sleep deprived, with a revolving door of visitors, who want to see this new little life, and all you want to do is hide in bed with heating pads and ice packs for the many sore body parts... Then there is this little person, beautiful, helpless, completely dependent on you for all their basic needs. Here you are completely lost about how to do something that seems so natural, feeding your child from your own body. Really! Our bodies were made to do it! It should be so easy! But in reality it's the most awkward, stressful, uncomfortable, hard, and at times painful thing you will do for the benefit of another person. Despite these negative things, the desire to BF your child is so strong that women will deal with bloody, cracked nipples (the nurses called it Strawberry Milk when I had to pump at the hospital), engorgement (talk about rock hard boobs, that if anything including your own arm brushes over them causes shooting pain right through you whole body!) and not to mention that some women get blocked ducts that can lead to mastitis, and infection such as thrush. Yet we still do it! And we are happy to provide this life giving "liquid gold" to our little ones. Go BFing Moms everywhere!

OK... back to ~T~ she just had a beautiful baby boy a few days ago and was having a hard time with BFing, like most new moms do! She was feeling the stress of it all, new baby, visitors, pain, hormones, and everything else that comes along with having a new baby. I tried to remember what things the nurses did for me and what ~J~ did for me to help make it easier. Here are the steps that helped me the most, when first learning how to BF. I hoped they helped ~T~! (I think they did.  I have been getting text message updates about  how good "Boobie Time" is going! Great Job ~T~) 
  1. Select your BFing spot . It should be a comfy spot with a place to put your feet up and it should have a small table or area to put things on like a TV tray.
  2. Get everything you need and somethings you might not think you need and place them within reach of your BFing area. A bottle or two of water, your cell phone / home phone (it will always rings as soon as you sit down), TV remote (you might wish you had once you are sitting), a book or magazine (you might be there awhile), Boppy Pillow or My Brest Friend, three to four small receiving blankets folded and rolled, and a burp cloth (for a leaky boobies and any spit-up), to name a few... If you have other must have items when BFing please list them in the comment section.  I would love to hear them.
  3. Place the Baby next to you if someone is not there to hand you the baby.
  4. Sit and get nice and comfy in your area. Make sure you are sitting all the way back. Sometime a pillow for your back is needed. I think this is one of the most important things because if you don't get comfortable first it's harder to move around after. 
  5. It's easiest to learn to BF with no shirt or bra on. So go ahead, strip, and be topless.
  6. Sit back and take your BFing pillow and place it around your waist nice and close to your body and put your feet up for extra support.
  7. Have someone hand you the baby if possible, if not reach for them and make sure to get comfy again.
  8.   Football - Right Breast / Baby in Right Hand or Left Breast / Baby in Left Hand
    1. You want to take the baby and tuck them into your arm, so their feet and legs are laying under your armpit. Your forearm should be supporting their back while their head is in the palm of your hand, with your thumb and index finger holding their head right behind each of their ears.  This way you have nice control of their whole body.
    2. With the other hand cup underneath your breast  with your thumb and index finger compressing the area just outside of the Areola (think of it as if you were eating a big club sandwich.  You need to squish it to fit it in your mouth. This is what you are trying to do for your munchkin). Remember it's called BFing, not nipple feeding, so there needs to be good amount of tissue going in their mouth.
    3. When your baby opens wide bring them to your breast. You almost want to plop them on your breast. Don't bring your breast to them. Remember baby to the breast!
    4. Listen for the 'suck, suck, swallow pattern' and watch for a drop and pause in their chin to know if they are swallowing. If it's not a good latch try again. 
    5. Once it is a good latch take the rolled receiving blankets and tuck them under the back of their head for support and around your arm.  If you can, have your partner do this for you, point to the areas that need support and have them stuff a rolled blanket there, until you are nice and comfy.
  9. Cross-Cradle - Left Breast / Baby in Right Hand or Right Breast / Baby in Left Hand
    1. You want to take the baby and lay them onto your forearm. Their feet should be laying on each side of your arm and their crotch resting in the crease of your arm. Your forearm should be supporting their back and their head resting the palm of your hand with your thumb and index finger holding their head right behind each of their ears.  This way you have nice control of their whole body.
    2. Follow the rest from number two above. 
So that's my take on BFing 101!
One thing I would like to add, is if you have any doubts or concerns about your latch or if your baby is not eating enough call your pediatrician right away. You can go in anytime for a weight check for the baby and if needed they can refer you to a midwife, nurse, or lactation consultant to help correct any problem that you might be having.

And  ~T~ and Baby are doing great! He was almost up to his birth weight at 6 days old!

Next Post... Favorite Breastfeeding Book and Websites


  1. Lani~ I think of you everyday! You are an amazing Mom, a genuine soul! Love T :-)

  2. What great advice, I'm so glad you were available to help a new mother out. I am thankful I had my mother available, who had breastfed us kids, for advice. You are right, breastfeeding isn't easy, but it sure is worth it! :)

  3. Great advice! That's so nice that you were able to help another mama.

  4. This is so fantastic! And I love how they used to do it with an experienced mom nursing the newborn, and the new mom nursing the older baby. That seems like it would be so helpful for the learning! (however, I do understand how people could be squeamish about it) I just wanted to add something for the list of things to have by your nursing spot. Snacks! Something easy to eat with one hand, like fruit or granola bars. I liked fruit because then I wasn't dealing with crumbs all over babe. :)

  5. That's great that were able to help another mama!

    I love the story you shared about the experienced mamas helping the new mamas in the village. Makes sense to me! :) Just seeing other mamas breastfeeding was a great education for me. I was lucky to attend a drop-in moms' group for babies newborn to 12 weeks old. It was fab to check out all those mamas and how and what they did. I learned so much, and felt so much better knowing I was not alone.


Thanks for commenting!