"And yes, while it might not start out feeling very natural, with time, for most mothers, it becomes beautiful. Although perseverance can seem an anomaly in this fast-paced world, you'll never hear a woman still breastfeeding past six months complain about how hard it is."
Megan Nicol Reed : "The Agony and the Ecstasy". Sunday Star-Times April 3 2011.
As the quote above from Megan Nicol Reed, says, starting breastfeeding with your newborn baby, is a wonder and art.
This is the fourth and final part in the series on Breastfeeding, and I return to sharing Margaret McGlashan's knowledge with you.
6. Give us a simple run-down on how a mum should prepares herself before the birth if she wants to breastfeed her baby.
Mums need a good diet - good food and good drink.
Both mum and baby do best if mum has a good mindset in preparation for a natural delivery. Before your baby arrives get your house organized and in order then you will be able to give attention to your baby.
Don't fall into the trap of doing too much intellectual planning and preparation for the birth, this only leads to you 'labouring intellectually' or as the book says. Mums approaching birth in this manner don't have the success, freedom, confidence or satisfaction that mothers have who turn into the situation, following their instincts - the lead or cues their own body gives.
Being able to breastfeed is one of the natural functions of a mother's body
~ her body is able to conceive the baby on its own
~ her body is able to 'grow' the baby on its own
~ her body is able to birth the baby on its own
~ her body is able to feed the baby on its own.
7. Can you talk us through how you teach mums to breastfeed, from the start?
At a good birth once your baby is born, it will be put onto your chest or abdomen - this is called skin-to-skin and this close contact helps your baby adjust to its new life outside you. Staying skin-to-skin, even up to two hours, is good for giving warmth to the baby and reassuring them you are close.
In the first 3 - 4 minutes after birth the hormone oxytocin is released within the mother's body. This is a natural process that the body performs. Oxytocin helps the placenta to separate and triggers a mum's breast milk to come in over the following days. For this hormone to be successfully released in this small window of time, there needs to be quietness as the baby births and over the following minutes until the placenta is also birthed. Birth is not over until the placenta is born. Noise, along with with drug induced births, suppress the release of oxytocin. These two factors are contributors to postnatal depression in mothers. (Possibly more in a later post).
To understand the importance of quietness at the time of birth I want you to think of when you are in the moment of intimate sex with your partner. If someone suddenly rushes into the room, phone bleeping, asking if you want takeaways, your sexual experience is ruined. This is the effect of noise, conversations, mobiles bleeping... in the birthing room - it interrupts the moment and shuts down oxytocin release. As parents, medical professionals or friends, we are present at the birth to support the mum and the baby, not to direct them. So, allow nature to do its 'thing'.
From the skin-to-skin position, babies often wriggle around to latch themselves onto the breast, instinctively. If the birth has been natural, the baby with inbuilt alertness, will find your nipple and position itself and latch on to the breast correctly.
If you are not sure if you are 'doing it right', this is what you looking for
~ baby's chest is against your chest
~ their ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line
~ your baby's chin should be under your breast, his nose will be free to breath above the nipple
or if baby is in a position as in the photo, their chin will be on the right of your breast and
their nose will be on the left.
~ then their mouth will open with their lips flanged back.
~ pop your nipple into the open mouth if needed
~ if your baby has correctly latched on there will be no areola showing below baby's bottom lip
~ your nipple should go right to the back of your baby's mouth - this is called a deep latch
~ when first latched on the baby will make several rapid sucks, then settle down to a regular
rhythm of suck, swallow, breathe, suck, swallow, breathe
~ the baby's lower jaw makes big movements right up to their ear and this makes the baby
appear to have a 'double chin'
~ let the baby feed as long as they want as this keeps your breasts drained as well as
establishing you milk supply and satisfying the baby's hunger.
~ in the first few days 'cluster feeds' are normal - possibly 10 - 12 daily. This is not spoiling the
baby. Relax and enjoy your baby, allowing unlimited access to feed
~ you will know your baby is receiving enough milk if -
# they are alert, bright-eyed, active and contented.
# they have a moist mouth.
# they have soaking wet nappies and regular bowl motions.
# they are growing and gaining weight each month.
8. What things have you found discourage mothers from breastfeeding?
Well, I have rarely had a bottle-feeding mum.
Some mums who want to return to work think they don't have time to breastfeed, but a breastfeeding specialist can help them with this, or a group such as the La Leche League.
Mothers who have bad health or bad eating habits can have trouble breastfeeding.
Mums can be pressured to stop breastfeeding by their peers who may not be mothers themselves and even a young mum's own mother can discourage her from starting or continuing to breastfeed.
Occasionally a mother may not have breast tissue to breastfeed, or she may have inverted nipples.
A baby can be tongue tired or have tongue abnormalities. The incidents of this are increasing, but with specialist help, can be solved.
9. As a midwife, what do you think of Montana State University's findings - that breastfeeding mothers are seen by the public as less competent than bottle-feeding mothers?
I don't think this question is worth an answer. Every woman is intelligent within their own right. The fact that breastfeeding mums want to care for their baby in the best way possible, shows they are intelligent and competent. The fact is they are giving their baby perfect nutrition.
10. Do you think the solution to right this wrong attitude toward breastfeeding mums, is for more breastfeeding mums in prominent positions, to lead the way in speaking out? Or do you think there is another way?
Well, to start with it would help if there was no advertising of breast milk substitutes in the health care system, no samples given to mothers or pregnant women, or health workers.
But the best way to bring change is through television advertising, through the promotion of mums of different ethnicities, breastfeeding. This is a real way, real education which will affect the public's thinking. New Zealand TV is ahead of the UK and Australia in these areas, leading the way in its promotion, for example, of Maori mothers being encouraged to breastfeed. New Zealand has good educators and good hospital initiatives.
THANK YOU Margaret. Margaret McGlashan is a part of the team at the Helensville Birthing Unit in the outer Auckland area. This unit is one of New Zealand's top Baby Friendly Hospitals.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ focus your mind on the fact that by breastfeeding your baby, you are giving lifetime benefits to them. Happy feeding.