Kristen LaValley had so much difficulty breastfeeding her first child that she eventually gave up. I asked her to tell her story of how she listened to her instincts, went skin-to-skin, and used the Nesting Days carrier to successfully nurse her second child.
—Julie Arvan, Founder, Nesting Days
When I was pregnant with my first son, I realized I knew zero about breastfeeding. The first person I’d ever really seen nurse a baby was my sister-in-law and it terrified me. So when we started reading all the baby books to get us “ready” for the baby (HA. Right. Thanks, books for teaching me so much), I started to realize that nursing wasn’t as easy as I thought it was.
Book after book after book. I read everything. Nipple confusion, latch problems, let down problems, what to do when your milk supply dwindles, what to eat, where to sit in your house, something about cabbage and fenugreek and things that were just totally foreign to me. When Jonah was born and I asked the nurse if I should try to breastfeed him, she laughed at me. When I was having trouble feeding him, and he wasn’t latching on or eating, they threw a nipple shield at me. The nurse tossed it on top of my chest and walked out of the room. My husband and I looked at each other totally confused and fumbled around trying to figure out what it was supposed to do.
So here I was, with this wealth of knowledge on how to breastfeed and I couldn’t do it. I fumbled. I fought. I cried. We struggled for 6 months and then I just gave up. The books weren’t helping me. In retrospect, I realize that instead of looking to books when we had a problem, I should’ve just been doing what felt natural. But I didn’t know what my instincts were, much less that I should trust them.
With my second baby, I used the Nesting Days newborn carrier. I enjoyed more skin-to-skin, and breastfeeding came more naturally. Breastfeeding isn’t something you learn so much as something you do, and I learned to trust myself and my body. I had to let go of the ‘rules’ and learn to sit back and enjoy the endless hours of nursing. I knew this time they would end sooner than I wished.
Get comfortable, and enjoy being skin-to-skin. Here are a few tips on how Nesting Days can help you nurse naturally.
- for maximum skin-to-skin contact, the caregiver’s chest
should be exposed and baby clothed only in a diaper
- most first-time mothers like lowering one or both wings to nurse
- keep baby belly-to-belly against your body
- try shifting baby’s bum and legs to the side—experiment a little!]
- return baby to mid-line after nursing, and position baby
so nose and mouth are not pressed against your chest
(see baby ergonomics and safety warnings)
- keep baby mid-line above the breast bone and heart-to-heart
- legs should remain in a flexed, squat position
and back supported in a C-curve
- head is turned to the side, chin tilted up, ‘wings’ supporting
head and neck, shoulder loops adjusted to keep baby’s face visible
For NICU Babies
Skin-to-skin is great for NICU babies. Let your NICU team know that you’d like to hold your baby skin-to-skin, as soon as it is safe. They might not be familiar with Nesting Days, but they do know the importance of skin-to-skin!