It was in the middle of the night when a very authoritative nurse ordered me to the nursing room of the private hospital. She commanded me to bring my baby and my watch.
I could tell this nurse was upset about something I did, and while I grabbed my baby and watch, I tried to figure out what I had done wrong! I was a 25 year old and mother to a 24 hour old baby boy. All I knew about babies was what our sweet ante-natal nurse taught us over 12 weeks in the antenatal classes once a week. Taking care of the newborn was only a small part of her teaching. What could possibly have made this nurse so mad to order me out of bed that time of the night? I realized my baby was crying more the last few hours, but was it something I did wrong?
As I walked into the nursing room with the bright lights and upright chairs, my eyes met with another first time, young mother and her baby (and her watch!). The nurse was impatiently waiting for me to sit down. She didn’t beat around the bush and started scolding us because we didn’t know ‘anything’ about breastfeeding a baby and she will not let us go back to bed, until we knew how to breastfeed our babies!
She ordered us to put our watches next to us, were we could clearly see it and to put our babies on our breasts. The next 10 minutes she ‘showed’ us how to latch our babies and hold them. Keep in mind we sat in these upright chairs, no pillows for comfort and we gave birth 24 hours ago! When she was happy that we now had the ‘know how’ of how to latch our babies, she started explaining why we can ‘never’ breastfeed out babies without keeping an eye on a watch! We had to give the one breast for 5min then the other breast for 5min. Then we have to wind baby and then baby is satisfied and don’t get any more milk until at least three hours later. Only then she revealed the reason why she was so upset with us. We, inexperienced mothers (hello, this is my first baby, I’m supposed to be inexperienced!) apparently overfed our babies by keeping them on our breast for hours!!
In the 17 months I breastfed CJ and the 21 months I fed Heidi-Mari, I had many hardships in breastfeeding the way the nurse taught me! When CJ was 15 months old he became very ill. He would get continual respiratory infections and he would run a constant temperature. Due to the respiratory infections he got a blocked nose and eventually weaned himself because he couldn’t breath through his nose while being breastfed. Heidi-Mari, for no apparent reason, weaned herself at 21 months.
Then I had Josua and the most wonderful midwife. She came to home visit me every day after Josua’s birth, for 5 days. She would run me a hot bath with rooibos tea in the water, made me a fruit salad, took my new born baby and let me relax in the bath for at least half an hour! She would change Josua’s nappy and at the same time let Heidi-Mari, then 3 years old, change her baby doll’s nappy too, making her feel so special! Wasn’t she an angel?
With her first visit she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw me almost fanatically checking the clock while breastfeeding Josua. In her calm, confident way she explained and demonstrated another way of breastfeeding. That day marked a radical turning point in my breastfeeding. I had no more hardships with breastfeeding. My babies weren’t crying of hunger any more. They weren’t overfed any more. I could even tandem feed Andrew and David in 2006, with more than enough milk for both babies!
There are two main principles with this way of breastfeeding.
One - feeding on demand.
Two - feed baby on one breast at a time.
No timing and checking the clock, alternating baby from one breast to the other, every 5 minutes per feeding and then leaving baby to cry until it is “time” to feed again three to four hours later!
To make this clear I’m going to explain it by hand of a time schedule:
Lets say my baby has his first feeding of the day around 7am, I will give him the right breast to drink. I will allow him to drink as long as he desires on this breast alone. At some stage he will either fall asleep on the breast or have enough and stop drinking, or he will empty the breast and just dummy for comfort. If, in the next two hours, until 9am, he is hungry or restless and need comfort or have the need to suck, showing it by sucking on his fingers, I will still give him the right breast. And no, I don’t use a pacifier. The breast is my baby’s pacifier.
After about two hours, around 9am, it will be the left breast’s turn to feed on or comfort my baby. Again I will only give the one breast and it will be until more or less,11am.
If baby falls asleep on the right breast, in the time slot of 7am to 9am and sleeps for longer than two hours and didn’t ask for the breast - I will just give the left breast when he wakes up and keep giving the left breast for the next 2 hours as he needs it.
If you understand this concept, you won’t need to check the clock for two hour intervals, you will just remember to give one breast at a time for more or less two hours at a time.
What are the benefits for this way of breastfeeding?
My baby receives ‘after milk’ which properly nourishes my baby. No hungry baby, due to ‘weak’ milk.
Let me explain: When I give the one breast for 5 or 7 minutes and then the other, baby only get the ‘watery milk’, which is almost like sugar water with the purpose to ‘soothe his thirst’. This is often considered the ‘weak’ milk, by clinic nurses, and they use this as the reason to motivate mothers to add ‘stronger’ man made formula milk! It is only AFTER 5 minutes, especially in babies who are ‘lazy’ and don’t drink very aggressively, that the ‘after milk’ comes in, which contains all the rich nutrition to satisfy my baby. If baby drinks only 5 minutes, he does not receive this ‘after-milk’ and will be hungry within half an hour again.
My baby doesn’t get overfed.
Some babies need a lot of sucking for comfort. They want to be on the breast the whole day! These babies just have a higher emotional need and God intend the breast to fill that need. But if I give this baby two full breasts every half an hour, baby will get overfed, resulting in cramps and winds and reflux. When you allow your baby to feed on one breast for two hours, he will empty the breast, fill his tummy and then he can suck on the breast, satisfying his emotional need for as long as he needs to. If he does get hungry again after two hours, a full breast awaits him to feed on.
My baby’s emotional needs are fulfilled by sucking on the breast. No need for a pacifier.
Since the breast is fully stimulated and emptied, it WILL produce enough milk for baby’s needs. Taken in account that you need to drink at least 3 - 4 liters of water, take a good multi vitamin and Omega 3 supplement (I’ll write more about this in part two).
This way of breastfeeding results in my newborn baby being on the breast almost 24hours a day. But that is how God intended it. This way you can bond with your baby and it will be more difficult to ‘just go on with your life’ after having had your baby.
Michael is now 4 weeks old, I’m enjoying every minute with him on the coach in my arms on the breast! And when I need to tend to the household, I put him in the Ergo (I will write more about that in a posting to come soon: Coping with a Newborn Baby) and he can still be fed while my hands are free.
The modern feministic society don’t promote 24 hour nurturing of babies. They encourage you to bottle feed, leave your baby at a day mother and ‘get your life back’! Dear mother, you as a Mother are created in the image of God, His image of a Nurturing Mother.
Whenever we see the name, Almighty, it is the Hebrew word, El Shaddai. A breakdown of this word is as follows:
EL - the powerful, mighty, eternal God.
SHADDAI - comes from the root word, ‘shad’ which is the Hebrew word for breast. It literally means ‘the breasted one.’
This is a picture of God Himself as a nursing mother - One who longs to comfort us, protect us, nurture us and gather us in His arms. In El Shaddai, we see the self-sacrificing love of God, giving and pouring Himself out for others. As God sacrificed and gave His very best, His only Son, so we show forth His mother heart when we serve and give sacrificially.
God intended women to be nurturers in the home and nurturers in society. We are little ‘shads’, chosen to reveal God’s mother heart to the world. We were born for this purpose. It is our destiny! As we embrace motherhood, we fulfill our true function as women.
God gave breasts not only for the beauty of a woman’s body, but for a specific function. To nourish babies! When we breastfeed, we embrace our womanhood and the way God so intricately and wondrously designed our bodies.
Many will tell you, you’re spoiling your baby if you feed him whenever he wants a feed. Well what is God’s way of breastfeeding? Do you know every answer is in the Word of God? In Isaiah 66:10-13 God talks about Jerusalem and likens her to a nursing mother. When we read this passage we see God’s understanding of a nursing mother.
“That you may feed and be satisfied with the consolations of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. For thus saith the Lord, ‘behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then you shall feed; on her sides shall you be carried, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Did you notice the words: “satisfy, console, delight, comfort?” We see here that nursing is not an alternative way to feed a baby, e.g. bottle feeding versus breastfeeding. No, it is total mothering to meet every need of the child. So the breast is used, not just to satisfy hunger, but also to satisfy, delight, console and comfort.
Over the years I’ve also made peace with my babies not sleeping through the night at six weeks of age! I just don’t have such ‘good’ babies. In 1Thessalonians 1:7-9 Paul, when describing himself as a nursing mother toward the Thessalonians’ new Christians, talks about ‘labouring night and day.” Night feeding isn’t so bad for me, especially since I don’t use a cot, but take my baby to bed with me. When they become to big to sleep in our bed, we just transfer them to a mattress next to our bed on the floor.
With CJ we had a cot. At night I would sit with him in a chair, breastfeeding him for his two 5 min intervals, wind him and put him back into his cot. He would comfortably sleep in my arms while feeding and then woke up when I put him down in the cot. I too, would often fight through the feeding, trying to stay awake, and desperately longing to go back to bed. When Heidi-Mari was born, she was a colic baby. She would cry for hours. It was such a relief every time she fell asleep on my breast. Then to put her in her cot without her waking up, was almost impossible. So I made a plan. I took a mattress and put it on the floor, I put a lot of pillows around the mattress to make sure she won’t roll off the mattress. I would then lay next to her, while feeding her. When she fell asleep, I would just roll off the mattress, making sure I didn’t disturb her sleep and she would keep on sleeping! With Josua we lived in a very small two bedroom house and there wasn’t space for the cot so we tried the mattress on the floor again. This time it was so easy. With the new way of breastfeeding, I could just lay down next to my baby when he needed a feeding and fall asleep, while he fed until he had enough. If sometime during the night, I woke up and saw he had enough I could go back to our bed. I could get enough sleep even though I had a baby that didn’t sleep through at 6 weeks!
Since then we always have a mattress in our room when having a newborn baby. We only move the baby into his/her own room around 7 to 9 months old.
Dear mother, this is my way of breastfeeding with some extra tips that works for me. I want to encourage you to do what is best and what works best for you and your baby. But don’t deny your baby the breast only because society is against it, or because you’re trying to do breastfeeding the unnatural way!
Lots of love
PS: Parts of this posting was inspired by Nancy Campbell’s book The Power of Motherhood.
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