Serving some brand new mamas in the past weeks has left me wanting to remind everyone about support. Not for the baby, most people hold a baby far more securely than actually needed. (Holding a baby’s head is so overstated. Seen any babies with broken necks recently?) I actually think more support is needed for the mother (or anyone holding the baby for long periods of time).
Over the period of several days I assisted a single mother, a bottle feeding mama with a super fussy baby, and a new mother of twins who is waiting for her milk to come in. All of them had this in common; they weren’t positioning themselves comfortably as they were struggling to feed and care for their babies.
The breastfeeding mother was leaning far over her baby and not resting ‘in’ the couch with some support pillows. With some small adjustments, she had the lovely look of peace that those early breastfeeding moments allow, without the pain in her low back. The bottle feeding mother wasn’t positing herself at all, thinking that bottle feeding wasn’t worth setting up pillows and burpcloths for (we fixed that quickly). The twin mama did a great job with pillows, but she didn’t quite have her heels on the floor while she was trying to pump every drop of her milk for her tiny new babies.
All these things make me think; build from the bottom up. If the heels are securely on the floor, then the weight can be shifted to them and the low back can rest. If the mom is supported by enough pillows, she can relax and focus completly on her baby without feeling the weight of holding both her body and her baby ‘up’ all the time.
The same applies to positioning at the breast or bottle. If you have some pillows, use them. If you have some blankets, roll them up and support your wrists so you can love and touch your baby without having to use your hands to make ‘the claw’ that often hurts those sensitive wrists.
I have a link that can help a little with the look of positioning. http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/assets/articles/Colson%202005%20PM%208%2010%2024-27.pdf Suzanne Colson provides some interesting research on positioning both for mother and baby. I really like the visuals, but of course there are hundreds of ways to feed a baby comfortably, so come up with your own visual for success.
Just remember to keep your heels supported (building from the bottom up!) whether this is on a footstool or on the floor. Use the pillows you have, pad things with blankets, etc. Make your job as relaxing as possible. If you are going to spend 5-8 hours a day feeding your baby (more for twins!) you might as well take care of yourself too!