As an expectant or new parent, it’s easy to feel that other people know more, are the experts, have more experience. “It’s our first baby, so we really don’t know anything” I often hear. Yet, I would like to validate how much you really do know.
By your sixth month of pregnancy, you’ve already spent 3,552 waking and sleeping hours with your baby. You know the active moments; feel growth spurts and changes in position. As an adult, you have lived with yourself for decades already. You know what things make you laugh or growl and you feel your body change with your baby.
So much of learning about breastfeeding is knowing what feels right. That’s why I often review Five Signs of Effective Feeding. These are two things a mother can see/feel in her body and three things she can see in her baby. It’s not a chart or technique, it’s what you can see and feel.
For the breastfeeding parent:
1. When breastfeeding, you are comfortable. No nipple pain, no achy back or stuck position.
2. Before feeding, your breasts feel fuller/heavier. After feeding, you can feel your breasts are softer. That milk got into the baby’s belly.
For the breastfeeding baby:
3. When a baby has fed well, their hands are open, their arms are relaxed. They are content after about 15-20 minutes.
4. You see your baby’s jaw moving and pausing regularly for a suck suck swallow, breathe, suck suck swallow, breathe rhythm.
5. Your baby soils enough diapers every day: pees and stools. In the first week, one pee and one stool per day of life. (for example, Day 3 of Life: 3 pees, 3 stools).
As you learn about yourself and your new baby, how you feel, physically and emotionally, is important information. Develop your trust in what your body tells you.
1. Make space every day for 10 minutes to breathe deeply, stretch or just sit calmly.
Make this a habit, once a day. No equipment or set up. Simply get more oxygen to your brain and muscles. Walk and breathe, sing, move and breathe…do this even while you are brushing your teeth. Ten minutes each day to help with focus and calm.
2. Use that calm spirit.
When confronted with a challenge or problem, first ask “What is working here?” That way, you start from a position of calm and strength.
Then look things in the eye and be honest. “I feel……” How you feel is valid information and helps you figure your next steps.
A lot of what you are learning in this new experience comes from what you feel. You’re the one with this baby and this experience, it’s important to trust what your body tells you. Then find the people who will listen to you and help you with the next steps.
c. Robin Snyder-Drummond 2009, 2023