As far as I'm concerned the real pain and discomfort associated with the arrival of a baby, started when I tried to breastfeed.
As a 1st time Mum you only have your instinct and the miriad of advice thrown at you by well meaning friends and family to draw from... oh yes and the advice from healthcare professionals that changes as each new shift starts. We all start with the one goal - to do the abolute best for our child, regardless of what it takes or how difficult and daunting it feels to achieve that goal. I was no different - so 5 minutes after he was born Fletch was on the breast wolfing down his first mouthfuls...... well that's what I thought he was doing!
I was later to discover he was actually making it his little life's mission to remove my nipples one layer of skin at a time!
I left hospital 2hrs after Fletch was born and went to a birthing clinic, where I ate and slept well and was given the all clear to go home the next morning literally 24hrs after he was born - Fletch was sleeping for 4 hours like clock work, attaching to the breast, weeing and pooing as designed.
By the end of the first 24hours at home Fletch was getting hungry as my milk hadn't come in and I was running out of colustrum. My nipples were raw from following the well intentioned advice from the lactation consultant "just keep putting him on dear it'll get better".
By then end of the first 48hrs at home he was really hungry and letting everyone within a 25km radius know about it. During that time Fletch had choked up a yukky glob that on closer inspection I realised was the scap off my left nipple - "just keep putting him on dear...." So I did - every time I put him on my left breast I was tensing before he latched in anticipation of the pain. It was at about this stage that I thought breastfeeding was the punishment for an easy birth.... can you get an epidural to help with feeding???
Physically I was feeling fine - emotionally I was starting to feel like a complete failure because I couldn't feed my baby.
I had been given every piece of well meaning advice from every concieveable source - the problem was each piece of new advice given seemed to conflict with the previous peice of advice given....
At this point I was wondering why was it I needed to pay to get a licence to have a dog or sit through 10 lessons and a written exam to get a licence to drive a car but not one scrap of proof was required to prove I was ready to take my son home from hospital? I obtained this gorgeous but clearly unhappy offspring without a written exam, without proof I knew what I was doing or that I was properly skilled to "drive" him safely..... Fletch came without a glovebox and certainly without a manual in the non exsistant glovebox!
A very dear friend, nurse and mother of 4 came to visit on day 3.... she listened to him wail and said he's hungry - at which point I sobbed. She had guessed from the sound of his cry when we spoke earlier on the phone..... she boiled up water, produced a bottle and formula, fed him 20ml - at which point he promptly fell asleep and she said "right - let's get this breastfeeding sorted!".
The upshot of it all was that although Fletch was latching beautifully I was not producing milk. I was sitting badly, I was tense and I am sure my fears and concerns about trying to produce milk were all working against me.
Most women will tell you that to feed comfortably they will use cusions, pillows, the arm rest of the couch almost anything to support the arm that is holding the baby while they are feeding at the breast. What most of us don't realise is that while we are doing this we are sitting with exceptionally poor posture.
Poor posture puts tremendous strain on the muscles in your neck, back and shoulders.
We all know you should sit straight all the time, but hours in front of a computer or just to be comfortable in front of the telly teaches us to lean forward and hunch our shoulders. Add to this the weight of the baby and the added weight of full breasts and we are virtually bent over.
The other end of the spectrum has us holding the baby up to the breast and taking the baby's weight for ten to thirty minutes on one, then the other arm. When you consider that we need to do this 6 to 8 (PLUS) times a day and the pain and discomfort that results from muscle tension, is it really any wonder we complain, give up and feel that breastfeeding just isn't the comfortable, natural experience it is proported to be.
After meeting a wonderful physiotherapists and the hours of discussion that resulted I learned that it was my posture not the breatsfeeding was what was causing the horrendous burning pain in my neck and shoulders.
The ZOOPILLOW was created to support feeding mothers. It fits around your waist creating a support for baby that holds him to exactly the right breast height. It supports your arms and eliminates the need to take any of the baby's weight while they are at the breast. It allows you to sit comfortably, shoulders relaxed and spine straight... in essense you are cradling baby to your breast instead of taking the baby's weight in your arms or lifting a shoulder and creating the muscle tension that incorrect posture causes.
Within 2 feeds with the first prototype of Zoo pillow I had learned to relax, the burning pain in my shoulders was gone and importantly Fletch was not picking up on my tension and fear - he was relaxed in himself and feeding well. My milk, while not over abundant (I was never one of those lucky women who could hit the wall from a seated position on the couch if the breast pad was not on quickly enough) had come in once I relaxed and was now flowing well.
Happy Mum and happy baby :-)
So to be really clear, the Zoopillow is designed to support MUM while feeding, it eliminates any stress or strain on your neck, back or shoulders while feeding and it promotes correct feeding posture. I personally found it helped with milk flow and have been told by many many other Mum's that it also assisted them in this regard.
Because of the shape of a Zoopillow it can also be used as a sitting support and tummy time support for your baby as they grow and develop. The Zoopillow also has a waterproof inner and a removable and washable cover if you should be lucky enough to have so much milk that there is an overflow at the end of a feed or if you are lucky enough to have a 'chucky' baby like Fletcher was.
The Zoopillow is now used by many maternity hospitals, NICU wards and birthing units in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The Zoopillow is also available for sale through the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Multiple Birth Association and baby retail stores throughout the country. For more information you are welcome to visit my website http://www.zoopillow.com/ or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy COMFORTABLE feeding to you all.