As I was reading Madeline’s post about her trouble with breastfeeding, it occurred to me that while I am very far from being an expert in this category, I have successfully breastfed two babies, so perhaps I could offer some helpful advice. Breastfeeding seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world, but in fact, unless you have the right information, it can be perilously difficult.
I have had many friends who had major problems and were unable to sustain breastfeeding for longer than a few months, which is great (any amount of time is great), unless you really want to go longer. With the right help and advice, breastfeeding can work (for most people, but not all). I think the two most difficult things about breastfeeding are:
1. Assuming it will be totally natural and easy and
2. Not knowing or understanding the science behind it.
Hopefully, if you can heed the following advice, you, too, can live with a little person attached to your boobs for longer than you ever imagined possible.
Here goes: My Tips For Successful Breastfeeding
1. Feed Your Baby. Sounds obvious, no? It’s slightly more complicated than that. Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand, so the more your baby eats, the more milk you will make. In the first SIX WEEKS, don’t watch the clock, don’t assume your baby can’t possibly be hungry again. Just put the baby on the boob. Feeding your baby at least 8-12 times a day is recommended for the first couple of months. This doesn’t mean eight times a day, it means eight to twelve. Eight every day will not produce enough. If you’re taking Fenugreek and pounding oatmeal, but still only feeding 8 times a day, you won’t produce any more milk.
2. Be around your baby as much as possible. You and your baby have some major bonding to do. This bonding will make more milk!! When you are around your baby, you have more opportunities to feed and thus make more milk. Hormones are flowing, so will the milk!
3. Don’t bother putting on a shirt for the first two weeks.
4. Because you will be doing so much feeding and bonding, make other people do EVERYTHING else. Don’t even think about cooking or cleaning. My husband even fed me several times while I was feeding the baby. It’s too bad he couldn’t also take a shower for me.
5. If you are planning to get a baby nurse, don’t, at least until nursing is fully established. (Again, I say six weeks) Night nurses will take your baby which is definitely helpful for getting rest, but it doesn’t help you to make milk. Plus, you’ll still have to get up to pump, so what’s the point? Wouldn’t you rather be with your baby than hooked up to a machine at 3am?
6. Make sure you and the baby have a good latch. This will make all the difference in terms of comfort. Nursing does not have to be enormously painful. I will mention that for me, it definitely hurt for about 6 weeks both times, but after that it was fine.
7. To make #6 happen, I highly recommend either using a good lactation consultant or a doula who is also a lactation specialist. The latter is less expensive, but can be equally as good (sometimes better). A good specialist/consultant will also be able to see if your baby has issues like a short frenulum, or if you have issues, like a plugged duct, or mastitis or flat nipples, all of which can be solved so breastfeeding can continue as normal.
8. Avoid pumping for the first two weeks if you can, unless you can’t be around your baby. Feed your baby instead of pumping.
9. Wait two weeks before you give your baby a bottle. Some say there is no such thing as nipple confusion, but I say why chance it? It’s only two weeks, it will be there before you know it. Plus this will give you more opportunities to bond with your baby.
10. Read the breastfeeding chapter of From The Hips. Yes, my sister wrote it, but all bias aside, it’s really useful information for moms who want to nurse.
12. Bookmark this site (and read it) www.kellymom.com
13. Hang out with other nursing mamas.
14. Don’t listen to your mother-in-law (unless she nursed her kids, too).
15. Don’t panic, hang in there, it will all work out!
Photo: Daquella Manera/Flickr
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