Saturday, January 22, 2011

Having A Baby {lack of sleep jokes aside}

I've been thinking a lot about this post...actually even started writing it a couple of times, but always kinda lost my train of thought on the subject. Maybe I was exhausted. Maybe I wasn't feeling inspired. Maybe I didn't feel like sharing just yet.

So why the sudden change of heart? Yesterday a friend asked for advice on pregnancy and postpartum. Me, she asked ME for advice! Now, I realize that I am no expert on the subject, but the last 2 months have been an intense crash course in I feel OK about putting my two cents in. But still, I feel like such a novice that it's amazing that anyone would want my advice. Although if you don't have a baby yet, aren't pregnant, or are just dreaming of kids...I am one up on 'ya! So here are some thoughts on the subject.

You always hear people talk about the beauty of pregnancy and the wonder of birth, but you don't hear much on the topic of postpartum. Even if you are told of all the difficulties that come with being pregnant and the pain of giving birth, there still isn't much talk about postpartum. WHY???

I've concluded that this is some unconscious way women ensure the continuation of our species. If the thought of being pregnant and giving birth makes you nervous and even a little hesitant, the truth about postpartum will scare the daylights out of you. As a friend, new momma, and fellow blogger M put it, "Pregnancy is a breeze...Labor is a dream...Postpartum is no joke. It will knock you on your...never mind." I don't want to scare anyone, but she is right.

The sleep deprivation people talk about is definitely hard; but harder yet is how the sleep deprivation amplifies all the other issues people don't mention. So here goes. This is where I begin talking about breastfeeding, and for some of you, it may be a little TMI. You've been warned.

Before I start. here are some pretty pictures so you don't accidentally read anything that will scar you for life.

OK, so you are still reading. But at your own risk, don't blame me if you are grossed out.

Breastfeeding hurts. A LOT. "Exquisite pain" as my suegra puts it.

You will NOT look like this when you start:

Instead you will be screaming, crying, and wanting to pull your hair out. And if you are one of the rare women who is a personification of the above photo from the get go, then you have been truly blessed.

Things you should know [because it could happen to you]:

1. You need to make sure baby is latching on properly. The best would be for a lactation expert at the hospital to show you how it should be done before you go home. This will ensure you and baby are doing it "right" from the beginning, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it will be painless. It will will just be painful for less time probably. There is also the La Leche League website with tips or you can visit your local LLL, but honestly Thank the Lord for YouTube. You don't have to worry about taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and looking presentable in front of someone. Search for breastfeeding videos and TA-DAAA! Free lesson on your laptop in the privacy of your bedroom.

2. When you start breastfeeding, your body doesn't really know how much milk to produce because baby hasn't made it clear how much s/he's going to be eating. So instead of falling short, it overproduces and your boobs get so full, I swear they feel like they are going to explode. Your little one may not be able to empty them at the beginning and you'll end up with lumps [or milk balls, as I call them] in your boobs. Just go stand in the shower under hot water. It will start flowing. Sweet relief.

3. Some breastfeeding advice goes only so far as mentioning the possibility of sore nipples. SORE nipples are very different from CRACKED nipples. with actual wounds. that bleed. and re-open. every feeding. [OK, they don't bleed every feeding; just the first time. Thank God, 'cause you don't want to see a trickle of blood running down your baby's cheek at each feeding, once is enough to freak you out!]. None of the books I read or websites I looked at mentioned even the mere possibility of this happening, but yet almost every mother I've spoken to, including my own, knew this would happen. HA! There's the catch, no one tells you. And then when it does happen, everyone is sympathetic because they know what it feels like. Again, I think this convenient memory lapse is somehow connected to the continuation of procreation. If we had such vivid memories, I wonder how many women would have their second, third, fourth, fifth...eleventh child...and breastfeed. {sigh}

What to do if this happens to you? The best advice I got from another mommy R was AIR-DRY. All day. All night. If you can sit out in the sun for about 5-10 minutes a day, even better. This is your chance to make like a German tourist on a Mallorcan beach. Sans Mallorca unfortunately. Seriously though, this works wonders and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of support from your husband by prancing around topless 24/7. [If you do have to cover up, make sure your nipples are completely dry – use your hairdryer on a low setting] They say your boobs will never be the same after breastfeeding. Neither will your nipples. Not in a bad way though, so don't get scared! They'll just be...different.

There are lots of other issues new moms face in the early weeks; mastitis, wacky hormones and even depression, and pain from vaginal or Cesarean deliveries to mention a few. I just chose to shed a bit of light on breastfeeding because I found it to be the most doesn't come naturally: you have to learn how to do it right; it will hurt, but the pain will ease. Give it 6 weeks and I promise you will start to enjoy it! You will forget (like our mothers did!) how much you suffered and it will be all worth it. Your baby will thank you for your yummy nutritious milk.

You can do it, good luck!

*Some useful information if you are a new mom or are expecting in Mexico City*
- Local La Leche League Groups
Cepapar: read my post about courses offered by Cepapar.
Hospital Santa Teresa (Medica Sur Lomas): more to come on this hospital, but if you need lactation support, contact one of their experts, Graciela Hess (0445554171297). They also have free group support on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 10am.

**this is my experience and my advice is based on what worked for me, and hopefully it does for you too; but you should still listen to what your doctor tells you to do. None of what I mention here is meant to replace your doctor's orders.**


  1. :)
    I'm so happy it's going better...keep up the advice. You're pretty good (and funny) at it! If its any consolation I looked at the pictures of you at Thanksgiving and thought: "She looks gorgeous. What a jerk."
    Here's to you and motherhood. Perhaps you and I should join forces and teach a online postpartum course...then again- we don't want to alarm anyone.

  2. Just found your blog. So, so true about postpartum not being talked about. I know I've repressed it. But now I'm pregnant with #2 and yikes! Thinking about it again . . . [shudder] . . . thanks for bringing up the topic. [shudder again]

    It's so much scarier this time, now that I know what I'm getting myself into! ;)

  3. Love love love this post! I have breastfed three daughters now for a total of 52 months so I like to think I'm finally an expert on something; breastfeeding that is, not parenting, lol. I found that all the pain and trouble I had with the first child did not repeat itself with the subsequent children even though they were 9 and 14 years later. The drawback is that my breasts are no longer areas of arousal, they are more for childrearing purposes so perhaps too much of a good thing can have its flaws, lol.