I know you’ve heard it. Breast is Best. Breastfeeding is natural. Breastmilk is the perfect food for baby. Breastfeeding is easy. Wait right there. Best? Definitely. Natural? Yes. Perfect food? Absolutely. Easy? Notsomuch.
I’ll admit it; after nursing three babies I think breastfeeding is way easier than schlepping bottles and formula and all sorts of feeding paraphernalia around. And you don’t have to look far to know that the nutrition and other benefits are superior. But at first? Hmmm, easy is not a word I would have used to describe the early nursing experience with any of my babies!
***This post is all about breastfeeding tips for a normal breastfeeding relationship. Some of you have had or will have much more serious struggles (thrush, mastitis, etc.) that we’ll address later in the week.***
As for my own personal experience, I put all three of my babies to breast immediately after they were born. As in, within minutes of their birth. Before they were weighed, cleaned up, and “tested”, we took full advantage of that special “alert period” for our first nursing and bonding experience. I firmly believe that getting that early latch figured out (as much as possible) before mama’s milk comes in is a great help!
My milk didn’t come in for three days with my first baby. Fortunately, I knew about colostrum and I knew that my baby’s stomach was the size of a walnut. A walnut, people! Don’t stress about baby being hungry and start supplementing with formula when your milk doesn’t come in right away. Latch that baby on any time she is willing. The colostrum is all she needs until your milk comes in.
The night of day three I was in tears. Bawling, actually, (and laughing, too — oh, the hormones!) because all of a sudden my poor baby’s mouth was bouncing off of my (ahem) newly softball-sized (and just as hard as) breasts. Milk’s in, mom! I was scared to death to pump because of the whole supply and demand thing (didn’t want to create even more milk!), but I could not relax. She could not relax. We were stressing! That was a rough night!
Looking back, I should have tried harder with the pump, just enough to take the edge off. We both could have relaxed a bit.
Breastfeeding was painful (I cried) for three weeks. It was uncomfortable for a good six weeks. After that? Smooth sailing (for the most part). Stick with it!
A few other tricks I know to be true (in most situations):
- Supply and demand is the name of the game. Your baby (in most circumstances) will not go hungry! God made your body to create the perfect amount of milk for your baby. Baby eats more = you produce more. If baby is fussy (in the early days) try putting her to the breast. Yes, again. The “need to suck” is just as if not more powerful than the “need to eat” at this point.
- Pumping is not as effective as breastfeeding. I went back to teaching part-time when my first-born was 12-13 weeks old, and needed to pump for her morning feeding. The only way I was able to get a decent amount of milk to pump was if I pumped on one side while nursing her on the other side, at the same time. That’s talent, people. I did what I had to do. All that to say, if you are exclusively pumping (and not letting baby do her job) you will most likely dry up in time. *** More on that later.***
- You can modestly breastfeed in public. We’re an on the go family, and I have never once given any of my babies a bottle. If mama’s available, mama’s milk is available. I have a super-awesome “nursing poncho” that was made for me. It slips over my head and covers everything. I guarantee you that when I’m nursing at ballgames or church or wherever, I’m much more modest than some of the ladies in their regular ballgame or church attire!
- Schedule schmedule. Don’t stress about time between feedings. Don’t stress about how long baby nurses on each side. Two of my babies were fairly efficient. One? Notsomuch. Yes, there will be days (weeks?!) that all you ever do is nurse the baby. That’s okay! In the grand scheme of things, it’s a short season.
- Seek advice/help/encouragement from moms who have successfully breastfed their babies! I was fortunate enough to have close family to look to in those early days. Without their support (and my sheer iron will) my experience could have been much different. If you want a successful breastfeeding relationship, don’t listen to your friends and family who didn’t make it work.
Any other common tips that I would address can all be found in the following three posts from a few of my mom friends who have been there, done that. Please click through and see what they have to say! Different tricks are going to work for different nursing relationships.
…Nursing With Other Kids Around. Having a second child rocked my world. The hardest part of all was not having a quiet time in which to nurse. Lydia wanted to be entertained the entire time. Although I’m pretty super, it’s hard playing Candy Land while nursing a newborn. I finally got into the groove of preparing activities for my toddler while I nursed. And she finally got a clue about quiet and the necessity of this time. Here’s a vlog I did called Entertaining a Toddler While Nursing a Newborn….
Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms - (Including resources for increasing milk supply.)
…Nursing Tanks and Nipple Shields: I bought my nursing tanks at Target. I love them! They make b-feeding more comfortable and modest. Nipple shields are wonderful to help newborns if they are struggling with latching on. Also, the shields help with ouchies, if you know what I mean. My fabulous lactation consultant suggested that I use a syringe with (baby) sugar water to “tempt” the baby to latch. It really helped!…
Breastfeeding Advice from a mom who is in her eighth year of breastfeeding!
…Expect times when it seems the baby wants to nurse constantly. This is a sign of a growth spurt and she is signaling your body to make more milk. Soon your production will catch up with her demand and she won’t need to nurse as often…
…Drink plenty of water…
***If you have specific questions or concerns after reading their posts, please do not hesitate to contact me. If I don’t have the answers, I will put you in contact with someone who does. I’m passionate about this, and want every mama to enjoy breastfeeding as much as possible!***
Did we miss anything? What are your best breastfeeding tips and tricks?
Linked to Works for Me Wednesday.