Friday, September 23, 2011

Breastfeeding, Inducement, Natural Childbirth, & Baby's sleeping through the night

*Disclaimer: I am not a professional, a doctor, or an expert in any of these areas. These are just my experiences and beliefs.


Let me first say, YOU CAN DO IT. Anyone can breastfeed. Being mentally prepared is so important to overcome the hardships that come along with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding my first son Shane was HARD. I read all about it, I felt prepared, determined, and ready to not let anyone pressure me into giving him formula. It was on our birth plan, "NO Formula, please do not offer." I'm pretty sure they brought us some anyways.
Nothing went right, he wouldn't latch on properly, he was crying, he was hungry, I wasn't producing much. I used the lactation consultants to my advantage and had them help me as much as I could. The nurses were concerned because he wasn't pooping enough, and I wasn't feeding him enough (according to the nurses).

Thank God for an angel lactation consultant that saw my pain (physical, bleeding pain) and recommended a Nipple Shield. I highly highly recommend any first time pregnant mom's to have this $7 product in their hospital bag just in case the don't get a "natural nurser".

The nipple shield made it possible for me to nurse my son. It still hurt a little, only because I was already so sore, but I healed and got tougher, and my milk came in, and I could nurse him forever.....only the goal was to eventually get him off the nipple shield.

So I worked hard at that, but it took 6 weeks for us to finally get the hang of it with out the shield. We finally did and it was blissful. I nursed him for a good 9 months. I got pregnant with our 2nd son Cody when Shane was 6 months old, and nursing while pregnant is TOUGH. I stuck it out 3 months, but finally had to stop.
I had introduced formula into Shane's diet a few months before because he was always on the slender side. One formula bottle a day helped him to be totally satisfied. This made me feel like a breastfeeding faliure at first. I have an idea as to why I didn't have as much milk with Shane as I did with Cody, but I can't be for sure (I will discuss this reason later). I eventually realized, that NOT giving Shane the one bottle a day, would have been more of a failure than being stubborn and refusing to give it to him even though he needed it.

When Cody came I knew I could breastfeed him. I had the shield in my bag just in case though. And what do you know, he too was "not a natural nurser" (I'm convinced no baby is, it takes mom and baby to learn the grove). Cody was jaundice pretty bad, so on my own decision, I decided to nurse him with the shield, and give him formula (the more he poops the quicker he heals). I pumped on the times he had a bottle, which also helped my milk to come in better.

Once we were clear to leave the hospital, I was determined to only nurse him. Lucky for me (and not so lucky at times) he decided all on his own he would not take a bottle. He never took one again. I was able to get him off the shield and on too my bare breast by 3 weeks old. Much easier, I had much more milk with Cody, and he was good and chubby to show it. I was one proud breastfeeding Mama.

12 months came and I was still nursing him all the time, with food of course. Cody was very bonded to me and to breastfeeding, I loved it as well. My goal was to nurse him for 18 months. 18 months came and he was still nursing 3 times a day, eating all solids and drinking from a sippy. He was a stinker to wean. Finally at 21 months, my Mom stayed with our boys for 4 days, and I told her and my husband, that was it, no more boob for him. And it was. My mom said he was fine, and when I got home he tried a little, but not much.

I LOVED breastfeeding my boys, and know I will again with this baby. I just love knowing they are eating the exact thing they should be, and getting all the healthy benefits from it. The bond from it as well is so amazing. One thing I really loved is, when I felt overwhelmed by too many people swooning over the baby, I could take him, and feed him in private, and NO ONE else could.

My Mom breastfed my sister for 6 months. She tried for 3 weeks to nurse me, but with no help from doctors or lactation consultants, and at the time breastfeeding really wasn't encouraged, she finally had to give me formula. She was in pain, and I wasn't getting enough since I wouldn't latch properly.

My sister does not have asthma, as I do. She does not have allergies, as I do. She was always very healthy and didn't have many sicknesses, as I did as a little girl. Asthma is hereditary but studies show breastfeeding helps with Asthma and allergies, as well as a ton of other health benefits.
It's in no way my mom's fault either! Like I said, it's hereditary and my Mom has asthma and allergies. But one of the main reasons I wanted to nurse my boys was too maybe, hopefully, prevent them from having one or both health issues like I do. So far so good with my boys being Asthma and allergy free! But again, could be their Daddy's amazing genes of steel that helped that. I also know of one Mom that nursed her daughter for 18 months and her daughter has bad allergies. So again, research says it helps, but genes also play a roll.

This is something I actually have the option to consider for the first time. With my boys, I had Kaiser. They would NOT induce you unless medically needed, or were over a week late. Fine with me, I really wanted to go into labor on my own anyways.

Shane was due February 5, 2008. I was very anxious for him to come out, since I had gained 66 pounds, I was extremely swollen and uncomfortable, and I wanted to meet our precious new baby. I had read about inducement naturally. Walking: did lots of that. Spicy foods: tried it. My good friend mentioned Castro Oil. I tried a tiny amount, in a cup of root beer at about 7:00pm. Late that night I got some mild contractions. I didn't want to go in unless I knew for sure, so we prayed for wisdom, and right after that my water broke. Then came full blown labor. It wasn't intolerable though. We were so excited. And I'm not totally convinced it was the Castro Oil that induced the labor, since my water broke.

Triage was relatively quick, then I got into our room. We had read "The Bradly Method" and were going to try to stay pain-med free for as long as possible. Our doctor said since my water had broken I needed Pitocin. (Something I know now isn't always true, it had only been a about 6 hours). I got an epidural, because they recommended not trying Pitocin naturally. I quickly realized why. I went from 4cm to 10 in one hour! I could still feel very much pain and pressure, but it was tolerable. 25 minuets of pushing and Shane was out. I loved his birth experience, and thought it was much easier than I had thought. Shane was born at 11:11am on Feb 6, 2008.

Cody was due April 30, 2009. I began walking, taking castro oil (only small amounts) and even got my membranes striped (twice) at about 39 weeks. Well, Cody didn't want to come out. Nope. Striping of membranes caused false labor and landed us in labor and delivery, then sent home. My Mom came, stayed for a week and had to go home. Then came BACK when they finally gave me an inducement date of May 9. My mom kept telling me, "You will go into labor the night before you are scheduled to be induced." Well, she was right! Middle of the night, early am, I got up to pee and my water broke.

We got ready, I took a quick shower, then we got in the car and drove to the hospital. Took us about 45 minuets to get to the hospital from the time my water broke. By the time I was sitting in the car, I was in full blown labor. I mean PAINFUL labor.

Once in triage they tried to tell my my water didn't break yet (the bag had flipped over so they could not tell) and wanted to send me home even though I was at 4cm. Thankfully the nurse could see how strong and fast contractions were and kept me there. I was in triage for a tortuous 2+ hours while nurses laughed and sang and talked outside my curtain. I was in extreme pain. Thankfully I remembered all my relaxation techniques we read from "The Bradly Method". The nurse was so impressed by how quiet I was during these MONDO back to back (I'm talking 60 sec contractions with 20-30 second breaks in between). She kept showing me the size of them on her monitor. I just wanted in my room!!! Finally got into our room, and when they asked if I wanted an epidural I said yes with out much thought. I was in so much pain. If I would have known I only had an hour left total I would have passed.

An hour later, and 3, yes THREE minuets of pushing, and Cody popped out. (No taring at all either). The doctor literally almost didn't make it. I had to try to hold Cody in for like 10-15 minuets.

Because Cody came in about 4-5 hours, and I didn't need any pitocin to progress, I am worried this delivery will be even faster. They say each one is faster by half! With us living 40 minuets from the hospital (that is just drive time), I liked the idea of being induced.

Until I read about it some more...Things such as: Inducement can make labor very long. Some cases 24-36 hours! I have a friend that worked in a hospital that said once in a while a woman actually went home after hours of being at hospital during induction.
It can often lead to C-Section. I read this reason is because the baby is not ready, there for not fully co-operating, then leads to fetal distress and C-Section. (This is the LAST thing I want. I mean, half marathon training starts promptly after 6 week check up!) And of course, things like, waiting for baby to come on his own is so much better. One of the articles is here.

I am not decided on one way or the other yet. But I am thinking, with all the knowledge I have read, I'd rather just wait for him to come on his own. After Cody came 9 days late, and trying everything except pitocin, he had a heart murmur. I was so glad he didn't come two weeks early like I wanted him too, maybe he needed that extra time for his heart.

I am not saying, "I will not be induced!" because if my midwife really thinks I should be, than I will. Also, being very late is very hard, and you might just give in at that point. I am praying he will come in his time, and be healthy and labor will be smooth and blissful.

Natural Childbirth
Now this is a topic I am really researching and praying about. Labor with Shane was painful, but it was doable. Cody's birth was extreme pain, mostly because I got no relief in between contractions. But it was fast, and I could have held out an hour longer had I known it would only be another hour.

This goes in hand with NOT being induced. If you need to be induced, it's very difficult to do labor naturally.

Right now, if things go as I would like them too, I would go into labor Dec 1, have a quick, yet manageable pain, natural labor. We all know things don't always go as planned! So no hopes up here!!!

I have read benefits and spoke with friends who have had natural (some even home births) and they swear they will never have an epidural again. Recovery is suppose to be that much easier, baby is suppose to be so much more alert and ready to breastfeed, and you have control over your labor more so than with an epidural. You can walk around, use a birth ball, take a shower, use the rest room, be IV free, ect. Also epidurals sometimes slow labor down. Being confined to the bed does not help much with progression in labor, which is why often times doctors order pitocin.

This is a fact. Many doctors schedule inductions, encourage pitocin and epidurals so the baby will come quicker, keeping their schedule free from late nights and weekends. How do I know this? At 24 weeks I went in to labor and delievery for continuous contractions. It was a Sunday and it was empty. The nurse told me, most doctors schedule inductions during the week to keep their weekends free. Wow. Is that so wrong or what? How do you feel about that?

I'm not sure. I know I am still debating on whether to take up their offer to be induced, but I kind of get mad that they take so many babies from the womb before they come on their own. Ya know? Makes me not want to be induced at all, unless it's medically necessary.

Like I said, I am leaning on going in to this birth, with him coming on his own, and not having pain meds. BUT. I will not deny them if the medical team truly advises me to do so. Same with induction. I have to trust that they care about myself and my baby's well being. I KNOW what I want, but I am open to what I may need during birth, which might be different than what I think right now. Here's an article I found helpful.

Plus, going pain-med free would definitely give me the confidence that I CAN run a marathon in 2012. Right? ;-D

Baby Sleeping Through the Night
K. This is a HIGHLY con-traversal subject. Some people are SO against putting their babies on any kind of sleep schedule. And here's why.
1. People believe babies are born good sleepers or not.
2. People are against scheduling baby because they believe it is a form of starvation. (so not true..but people say that.)
3. People believe in co-sleeping, nursing to sleep, and nursing whenever the baby makes a peep is best for the baby.

On the other extreme, people who are FOR sleep training/ baby schedules, can be way to strict, which therefore causes the first group of people to argue with these methods. Example of too extreme baby scheduling..
1. Not feeding baby even when baby is clearly hungry due to sticking to the schedule.
2. Trying to stretch baby's feedings to the max for convenience of parents schedule.
3. Mother not having a sufficient milk supply due to sticking to strict schedule, and refusing to give baby formula, therefor baby is underweight and not thriving. ** (this is the most common argument).

I am somewhere right smack dab in the middle of those two groups. When I was pregnant with my first son, I read the book Babywise. Which is a book on how to train your child to sleep through the night starting at about 8 weeks old. It's based on this method: baby eats, baby has wake time, baby is put down to sleep [awake!!]. By putting the baby to bed while still awake, he/she learns how to fall asleep on his own. Not depending on mom's breast, a swing, a bottle, rocking, ect. Does that sound a little extreme?? It did to me at first, until it worked wonders with my first son. Yes, they cry for the first few days. It doesn't last long though, and the benefits of you being able to walk into their nursery, sing them a song lay them in bed and walk out, knowing they will sleep for the night is A M A Z I N G.

I got so many compliments on how Shane would sleep for his nap with no fuss [not every single time he wasn't perfect, if we had company or were at someones house it was a bit more difficult of course], he would sleep 13-15 hours at night (no joke!!) around age one. If we were out and about, a lot of time he would fall asleep at his regular nap time.

But here's the thing I had with milk wasn't overflowing like it was with Cody. I was not a total stickler to the schedule. I generally fed him about every 2-2.5 hours. If he seemed hungry earlier, I would nurse him. But I tried my best to stick with the schedule, or at least eat,wake,sleep routine, but feeding him always was number one priority. I am not sure if it was, the shield, and/or my milk just wasn't super plentiful (I also didn't know the benefits of pumping) or that he just wasn't a huge eater. I don't think it was the schedule because I did feed him so often and I would feed him before 2 hours if needed. He has always been slender. I did have to give him a bottle a night. Which again, is ok! Every baby is different. If I could go back, I would know to pump right after he was done eating to increase milk supply.

When Cody came, I wanted to focus solely on nursing him, not worry about the schedule, just making a plump breastfeeding baby. I produced massive amounts of milk. Why so much more than with Shane? Maybe because I learned to pump to increase supply when Cody was a newborn, maybe because Cody was a big boy and could eat a lot more (true then, true now..he eats more than his big brother). Here's what happened with Cody.

Cody wouldn't fall asleep with out nursing, he would wake up as I put him in the crib, than we had to start all over. He wanted to sleep with me every night, and did most of the time. I was tried, stressed, frazzled, and he was tired from not getting a full nights sleep and proper naps. Every time he cried I fed him, even though I knew better. I thought it was too late, I missed the boat to get him on a schedule.

I was wrong about that though! It's never too late. I referred back to Babywise, and read the chapter, "Principals for starting late". It was harder, but at 13 months old I finally put my foot down. My husband and I were tired of him sleeping with us every night. It took a good week to get him to take regular naps and fall asleep at night on his own. Now Cody (2) and Shane (3) both sleep at least 12 hours a night and rarely wake up. Cody still naps, Shane is growing out of it a little, but when he does, it's a good 3 hour long nap. Shane is an amazing sleeper. They are both healthy, rested, and so am I.

I am not going to pretend doing any kind of schedule with a baby is easy. It's very hard, but it's easier than 13 months of tip toeing out of a room after you nursed your baby to sleep, just for him to notice and wake up screaming. I have done it both ways, and I with out a doubt will do Babywise with this baby.
You really don't start right away. You focus on breastfeeding and getting adjusted, then start slow. One thing through out the book is this: "If your baby is hungry FEED THEM. But not every cry is an 'I'm hungry' cry." Truth is,we often feed a baby who actually has gas, and that is not the answer. Knowing why your baby is crying is extremely tricky. But feeding them 1 oz here, they fall asleep for 10 minuets, wake up, cry, eat another 1 oz, fall asleep maybe 20 mins, and so on, all day long is NOT healthy.
Baby never gets a full tummy, nor does the baby get a deep REM sleep. It's a tricky thing, but it's totally possible and very helpful for the rest of their lives.

I highly recommend this book. I know's ALL about balance. Adjust the schedule to feed them more often if they are hungry a lot. The key is to feed them, keep them a wake for a bit (I'm talking 10-15 mins, depending on age), then put them down. It's this continuous cycle that helps them learn to sleep through the night. I have had MANY friends be very successful at this while nursing and never had to give their baby formula. Like I said, I am not sure why Shane needed a bottle a night, but it didn't hurt anything to give it to him, it actually helped him and he still got a full day of breast milk.

Again, these are my experiences, and opinions, not meant to replace any say of a doctor or professional. It's ok if you feel different!!

Do you have a way you trained your child to sleep? What is it? Where you induced? Did you breastfeed or plan too? Have you ever had a natural birth? How was it?

Love, The Curvy Housewife


Becca said...

I have to agree with the putting the baby to sleep thing. I always put her down awake after she ate at about the same times everyday. (I was flexible babies will be babies after all.)Julia slept through the "night" (meaning if I put her down at midnight she would sleep for 5 hours at a time) at 3-4 weeks. She still sleeps great and if it's bedtime sometimes she tries to put herself to bed!

Kendra said...

I agree with most of the above things you are saying. I have every intention of natural childbirth this time around. I've had pretty fast labors, and my epidurals have never truly worked anyway. I usually get about 20 minutes of relief, and then the contractions are back full force. Three times. So this time I'm not even going to try.

As far as being induced is concerned, it's super tempting to me this time, but only because my due date is Christmas Eve, and I really don't want to disappoint my other kids by being absent on Christmas Day. I missed last Christmas because I had to work, and it was really hard. I was given the option to induce 12/22 so that I could have the baby and be home before Christmas, but I'm still really praying about that decision.

My babies have all slept through the night somewhere between 6 and 9 weeks, but not because of any kind of scheduling by me. My first started sleeping 12-13 hours all by herself at 6 weeks, and then the others just kind of did what she did because that was our routine. I always put my babies down awake, and they are awesome at soothing themselves. For the most part, I have no complaints about night time sleep in my house.

Breastfeeding is another story. Not everyone can breastfeed. I tried my heart out with all 3 kids to nurse, and I have some kind of major supply issue. I've worked with lactation consultants, been on medication, taken herbs, changed my diet, pumped like nobodys business, and have never, ever had enough milk to sustain a child. I know that the common thinking these days is that anyone can do it with enough effort, but after 2-3 weeks of painstakingly attempting to nurse my babies, I have never been able to do it. My babies have all been formula fed after the initial 2-3 weeks and are primarily healthy. My littlest does have to be on nebulizer treatments if he gets a respiratory infection, but other than that, they stay pretty healthy most of the time. And the days of not being able to nurse babies did not just start now, in the days of formula, as some may think. Wet nurses have been around for a really, really long time, and most likely for situations just like mine.

Thanks for posting this, and sorry if my comment got super long winded! You sparked a conversation point with me, obviously...

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