What You SHOULDN’T Expect From Breastfeeding

I was debating whether to put this under the ‘Milk Milk Milk’ section or under the ‘You and Your Body’ section, but finally decided on the latter. This has much more to do with protecting your body from the possible long term effects of breastfeeding than on milk production. Read on ladies!

Prolapsed Nipples.
Yep, that’s right. Prolapsed nipples. Over time, the nipples naturally change in shape slightly to adapt to continued breastfeeding. However, you don’t want your nipples to change in shape more than they have to. So ladies, always make a conscious effort to keep baby’s mouth on par with the nipple level when feeding and ensure a good latch. It’s so easy to forget this (especially when you’re tired, and it’s another night feeding), but doing so will prevent baby from pulling on the nipple and cause the nipple to gradually sag or droop a little over time due to the pressure from baby’s mouth and weight of baby’s body. Baby will get increasingly heavier too, so make baby adjust to you, not the other way around!

Lower Back Pain.
It’s very easy to get lower back pain from sitting prolonged periods in certain breastfeeding positions trying to breastfeed baby, and doing this multiple times a day. So it’s very important to get a good breastfeeding pillow and a comfy breastfeeding chair with pillows to support your back. And of course, elevate, elevate! Bring baby to your breast level and don’t try to bend over to meet baby’s mouth instead. If you need to, you can use another pillow on top of a breastfeeding pillow to support baby’s body and head. This will help bring baby up more to ‘breast-level’ while feeding. This will help your posture too. Also, keep stretching! A daily simple stretch routine (5-10 minutes) can really keep backaches from getting worse and soothe those strained lower back muscles at the end of the day!

Becoming a Hunchback of Notre-Dame (or Godzilla…).
When my baby turned 9 months old, I happened to look in the mirror and was horrified that I had turned into a kind of ‘Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ with my shoulders hunched over and my shoulder blades sticking out. Either that or I had become like Godzilla with the stooping small rounded shoulders. I had unknowingly let my posture go to the wayside over all these months because of my focus on taking care of baby. Of course breastfeeding made matters worse, because often in my efforts to maintain a good latch while baby breastfed, I wasn’t sitting straight with a good posture. Even my husband noticed (and he doesn’t even usually notice when I have a haircut)! So when breastfeeding, get yourself into a comfortable position first before latching baby on, and try to keep sitting tall and straight. If you find yourself hunching over or in an uncomfortable position, then detach baby and re-latch baby on, or try a different breastfeeding position. And as you go throughout your day, remember what your mother told you all along, “Stand up tall and straight, and keep your shoulders back!” Or like in the film Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullocks was told by the beauty pageant consultant to, “Keep your chin parallel to the floor!”

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A New Breastfeeding Position: the “Bear Hug”

You’ve already heard or may have tried these common breastfeeding positions: Cross-Cradle Hold, Cradle Hold, Football Hold and Side-Lying Hold. I’ve tried all of them. But I ended up having to invent a new position basically out of necessity. I call this the “Frontal Hold” (or more affectionately known as the “Bear Hug”) position.

Why? First, I found I was getting milk lumps more easily on the right side from the traditional cradle hold, though the football hold position did help some. I also got tired of backaches from slouching and hunching over with the cross cradle and other positions. The side-lying position didn’t work as well for baby and I. Lastly, I was going to travel back to the States when baby was 4 months old, so needed a breastfeeding position that would work in the cramped quarters of an airplane seat using a breastfeeding cape.

Here’s how to do it (works best with the Brest Friend breastfeeding pillow):

  1. Sit up tall and straight, making sure you are comfortable with pillows behind you if needed.
  2. Put baby facing you between you and the breastfeeding pillow.
  3. Adjust baby’s legs so that they straddle around your waist.
  4. Use one hand to support baby’s head and neck (make sure baby’s back is straight) at a slight angle with baby’s mouth on par or level with nipple.
  5. Your other hand can be on the breast you are offering, when you bring baby’s head and mouth towards the nipple.

To help ensure a good latch, make sure the nipple goes far into the back of the baby’s mouth. Once latched on, baby should be able to suck comfortably this way. However, make sure to burp baby well in between or afterwards, as I have found that my baby often takes in a bit more air this way as a result.

If you are using the Brest Friend breastfeeding pillow, you can clip the two parts of the pillow together and pull the belt tight enough, so that the pillow holds the baby more snugly to your body. You can also angle or tilt the pillow so it supports the baby’s back better.

I started to use this new position when my baby was 3-4 months of age. This position became easier as baby started to sit up better unsupported, and as the football position got more difficult (baby’s body was longer and needed more pillows to support her body on the chair’s armrest). It came in so handy on the airplane too and prevented a lot of lower backaches! I still switch around positions during a breastfeeding session, but have used this “bear hug” position regularly for many months. I’ll have to stop using this breastfeeding position soon though, as she’s finally getting too big and sitting ‘too tall’ to latch and feed properly!