The La Leche League is a really wonderful group for supporting breastfeeding mothers. Peter and I attended a local meeting on a very cold night a couple of months before Owen was born. We were the only attendees there that night with three leaders. Needless to say, we got lots of helpful advises and encouragements. Everyone there was friendly, chatty and eager to help in everyway on just about anything. Like many other newbies, I too thought breastfeeding should just come naturally. However, I became more engaged in learning about breastfeeding after hearing others who have struggled with it. While it is true that breastfeeding is as natural as it gets, there is no reason to not to take it seriously and be as prepared as possible. It was on the LLL leaders’ recommendation that I later read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and attended a breastfeeding class. Peter and I also listed to a number of podcasts on the subject to be thoroughly familiar with signs of tongue-tie and lip-tie in newborns, and clogged milk ducts and mastitis. On a friend’s recommendation, I’ve even started taking sunflower lecithin to keep my milk ducts healthy. While I can’t think of any obvious issues with breastfeeding Owen at the moment, I thought it would be good for us to get out and meet some likeminded people through LLL now that Owen is finally here!
We went to an informal La Leche League meetup at a local Starbucks this afternoon. A few moms occupied a cozy corner of the café along with a LLL leader we had met previously. One thing I noticed is that once people start going to LLL meetings they don’t stop, even long after their kids are done breastfeeding and off to college! Just about all of the leaders start up as new moms. Half of the attendees are usually moms who have been attending meetings for years and are just there to socialize and support newer members. This afternoon was no different. The more experienced mom ran the meet up for the most part. She chatted with us casually and was impressed that we’re up and about with a three week newborn. “Isn’t this the time when new moms are at home crying?” she half joked. While I have done my share of crying in the last few days, I do manage to get myself together for an outing every now and then.
She then asked if we had encountered any issues or have any questions. Of course, we had none. But in order to keep the conversation going, I touched upon the top two hits for all breastfeeding new moms: 1- is my baby getting enough, and 2- am I producing enough? I mentioned that since Owen is latched constantly, it is difficult to tell when he is actually nursing, especially when it’s not always possible to hear him swallow. The lady smiled and said, “you’re doing exactly the right thing. Newborn like to be close to you and stay on your breast. They are used to hearing your heartbeat in the womb. It’s the best thing for them as long as you don’t have a problem with it. It’s not easy to hear them swallow and it’s not realistic to expect they do that whenever they are latched. He’s eating enough if he is putting on the right amount of weight and producing poop diapers.” I nodded my head and responded like an eager school girl, “yes, he is producing at least 5 poop and pee diapers a day, we have been keeping track on an app.”
I then said, “I heard that people say I must empty my breast during each feeding to stimulate more milk production. But I don’t feel like my breasts are being emptied when I nurse Owen. It seems as though I can always hand express more milk. I’m concerned since I’m still establishing my supply at this point so I want to make sure I’m doing the proper thing to build up my supply.” With a kind and relaxed look on her face she said “that’s a myth. There is a natural ebb and flow to how your breasts feel. They are fuller, even engorged, in the morning and less so in the evening. It’s unrealistic to expect your breasts to be full all of the time and they are never completely empty. What stimulate milk production is frequent nursing and you’re already doing that. Just nurse your baby whenever he want without keeping a schedule. I don’t know many babies who are on a schedule. They say it’s ‘nursing on demand’ but I like to call it ‘nursing on cue.’ Demand is such a strong word. Babies are not demanding. They are just letting you know when they’re hungry or want to be near you.”
Her voice was calm. Her words are experienced. Everything she said felt reassuring. You can tell she has seen this before. It is obvious that she had uttered the same words to countless moms in need of support. Being a new mom can be an isolating and paranoiac experience. No matter how prepared you are and how well things are going you never stop questioning if you’re indeed doing the right thing or the “best’ thing for your baby. To some extent it is a good mentality to have so long as it is in the form of a motivating force that propels your forward, to do more and try more. Unfortunately, too much self-doubt is detrimental, especially during such a vulnerable and uncertain time as new parenthood. To keep a good mental health, it is crucial for new moms to tap into local groups for support, reassurance, or just some much needed socialization. I sure am glad that we went to the meeting this afternoon. It was lovely to chat with moms and hearing other people’s challenges made me even more appreciative of how fortunate we have it.
On the way back I can’t help but to get caught up on the phrase “as long as you’re ok with it” in terms of holding my baby and have him constantly latched on. Of course I’m ok it, I thought, why wouldn’t I? Then I remembered a discussion on “touched-out” from our previous LLL meeting. Apparently there is a thing as getting too much touching from your baby to a point of being “touched-out.”. Whatever that is, I’m not nearly there yet. My absolute favorite thing is to hold Owen skin-to-skin while having his legs wrapped in my fluffy bathrobe. How can I possibly say no to that little face? Frankly I could hold him for an eternity! Although I don’t think Peter could tolerate it for much longer since he has to wait on me hand and foot. I’m fortunate to have the best support of all from my husband.