July 3rd 2018
(Four weeks ago, in the afternoon of June 5th, on a warm and sunny day, our daughter Sami was born. She was made from dancing lights and comet dust and has the cutest little pixy ears that match her creation. We are in awe of her, and the utter magic of existence.)
No matter how many children you already have running around, the childbed period seems to be soaked in start-up newness. There’s the getting used to a new soul, a new routine and a new family balance. And, if you choose to breastfeed, that needs to get rolling too.
And no matter how natural breastfeeding is, getting started with it does take a fair bit of dedicated time, knowledge and practice. With Lou, our first, I thought it would be a matter of putting my nipple in her mouth and go. Boy, was I mistaken.
I wasn’t aware of the fact that my breasts needed time to get the production of milk going. I did not know breasts do not immediately supply an overflowing amount of liquids. I wasn’t aware of the fact that you need to have your baby latch on in a specific way, which is a bit more sophisticated than ‘sticking your nipple in’. I had no idea about engorgement, pumping, cluster feeding and abrasions. Actually, this collection of frustration causing challenges is the reason why some women choose to give up on breastfeeding altogether. Knowing (we all go through) this, and it is very very temporary, can help you hang in there. The start really is the most difficult part. Don’t give up, give yourself and your baby time and don’t be afraid to get (professional) help. Before you know it you, your body and your babe will be attuned. And breastfeeding will feel as natural as you initially thought it would be.
Abrasions happen mostly in the first week(s) of breastfeeding. Abrasions are cracked nipples, often times to the point of bleeding. No need to explain to you how terribly painful this can be. Since your baby will be feeding every 2-3 hours the tissue gets ‘irritated’ again and again. With Sami, our second, I experienced abrasions during the first week of childbed, a few days after I started feeding. I initiated the below routine immediately and healed them within a day or two. I healed them quickly but prevention really is prefered. Hence this post, describing to you how to prevent, or heal, these tiny but treacherous troubles.
Wishing you a beautiful time nourishing your little one,
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PREVENTING AND HEALING ABRASIONS,
also known as cracked nipples.
1.LEARN ABOUT LATCH ON.
A childbed nurse (we call them ‘kraamverzorgenden’ in The Netherlands) can help you and your baby learn how to latch on properly. But you can also hire a specialist named a lactation consultant. If you choose to hire someone, I advise you to do this asap, in the week following birth. If you learn proper latch on (to begin with) you set yourself and your baby up for joyful feeding and a beautifully connected breastfeeding experience. I have personally found that the childbed week(s) are so intense, there is hardly any space for learning through books. That’s why I advise the guidance from an actual person, a LIVE expert. This gives you peace and clarity. Both very welcome during these sacred and shaky times.
2.COCONUT OIL NIPPLE RUB.
Choose organic virgin coconut oil and apply (a drop of) the oil to each nipple, directly after feeding. Coconut oil helps heal and nourish the skin tissue and, because of its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, prevents infections.
Healing wool is 100% organic sheepswool with a high lanolin fat content. Lanolin works protective and nurturing and has skin healing properties. Healing wool can be used for your nipples as well as your babies diaper rash or healing belly button. Place a piece of healing wool over your oiled nipples. This will also protect your bra and clothing from getting oil stained. You may cover the healing wool with an (organic cotton) nursing pad, but I advise you to not use silicon ones. The nursing pads made from silicon will keep your nipples moist. This way your nipples can’t ‘breathe’, which will make it harder for them to heal.
Free your nipples. Air them (discretely ; ) whenever possible.
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