Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ample Endowments...and Nursing

When I chose to breastfeed, a decision that I made as soon as my test showed a + sign during my first pregnancy, I wanted to be completely informed on the subject, knowing that I wanted my baby to be an exclusively nursed, around the clock feeder. S was very encouraging of this, and joined me during meetings with my lactation consultants when his work schedule allowed.  Right after baby was born, we met with a lactation specialist named Christy, who was open, supportive, encouraging, and really funny.

I had to nurse the baby while she was there to advise and assist, and as soon as my breasts were bared, Christy took a step back and said, "Oh, my! Don't YOU have wonderful equipment--your breasts were made for nursing."

We laughed, and after Christy assisted with baby's latch, she said, "I think we need to fix you up with a nursing ring."

I had envisioned cuddling baby against me in a cradle hold while he nursed, but the reality was, I was a bit TOO endowed to do so comfortably. Because I wasn't a fan of the Boppy pillow, Christy introduced me to a variety of nursing positions, including the football hold and reclining side by side, that worked perfectly for us. I was still able to keep baby very close to me and stroke his little head while making the feeding process easy and relaxed. (A tense and frustrated mother makes for a non-lactating mother and THAT makes for a tense and frustrated baby--never a good combination!)

The truth is, nursing can be quite challenging for the larger-breasted woman (even in an ANR). It is a myth that larger breasts produce more milk than smaller breasts. It IS a reality, however, that there is A LOT of breast available (and left over), as your partner nurses, but the same basic "amount" of breast is needed to sustain, regardless of size. This is why the proper latch, correct suckling, and position is so important in an ANR when both partners wish to induce lactation.

You would think it would be easier to nurse a grown man than it is to feed a newborn, wouldn't you? After all, S is extremely dependent; he can arrange my breast to his liking and knows to lift and support it if necessary, but that isn't always practical, especially if the nursing partner suffers neck and back pain (as S does, due to a work-related injury). And it isn't always comfortable for the nursing woman, either, and above all, HER comfort is of the utmost importance! This is about BOTH of you; it is a partnership in every aspect.

In our particular case, we have found that side by side reclining with the aid of a pillow beneath my shoulder is a wonderful position that works well for us. It is soothing and relaxing and it allows me the ability to stroke and caress S' head and back as he feeds.

But there are moments when I prefer NOT to lie down, and would rather sit up and cradle him in my arms; to be able to nurse comfortably in this way, we rely on a "propping" technique that we learned from Christy nearly 14 years ago.

If you need or wish for greater support during nursing sessions, it is really beneficial to use a hand towel or receiving blanket as leverage. Fold the towel or blanket (what I prefer because it is soft and there is more material to work with) lengthwise and then roll it into a rope. Lift your breast high and place the blanket beneath and behind it, bracing it firmly against the wall of the breast. (You can find the breast wall by sliding your hand beneath your breast and gently pushing; it is at the base of the breast and feels a bit hard and muscular, above the ribs) If braced properly, you will be able to allow your breast to fall naturally, and it will lift it beautifully, offering a lot of freedom. This works especially well for us during the nights when S nurses to sleep. He can fully relax without manual support, and rather than hold the breast for him, my hands are free to roam, which is SO nice! I revel in the feel of his skin and hair. When his feeding is complete, his mouth will either fall naturally away from the breast or I can gently detach him.

There is no right or wrong way to nurse your partner--there are only comfortable positions and finding the one that works for you! All breasts are BEAUTIFUL--and so are loving and committed ANRs!

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