I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m just here to cheer you on, because breastfeeding?
It’s HARD. And it’s okay to say that it’s hard, and to talk about it — heck, even kvetch about it. Breastfeeding isn’t all sunshine and roses for everyone, wherein the liquid gold flows as it should, pain-free and automatic.
I’ve written about it before and talked about my challenges, here and here and here. With the hope that my honesty about it all would be at least of some small comfort if not used as a resource for the less experienced.
I especially want(ed) to reach the less experienced whom all of a sudden find themselves smack dab in the center of raging hormones, a screaming baby, cracked, raw and bleeding nipples and a bruised and battered soul over it all. Because that was me.
I was left wondering just where in the hell that picture of sublime tranquility went. The one with the mother with her babe latched to her breast, whilst she gazed lovingly down at her sweet angel.
The most important thing I’ve learned along the way …
When you get home with your new baby, taking care of yourself is JUST as important to taking care of your babe.
Here’s my list of things that will make it easier, if not joyous (it’s in the simple things).
This should be nothing new, but it’s toppers on my list. Drink water. Lots of it. Like, all the time. I kept, and still keep, glasses of water all over the house. Not only does it quench your thirst, (nursing = thirstyallthetime) but it helps to increase milk production. It’s a dang fine mood stabilizer too.
2. Create a Bed of Cocoon-y Bliss
You know – a far-out and groovy place to be. Think pillows of various sizes. Your boppy of choice. A luxurious duvet. Anything and everything that promotes comfort. A laptop table for meals (and for me, writing). One of those bed-chairs. The kind with arms, with a little cup holder for your tea or water and a nice curved back for full support, especially on your lower lumbar — where you really need it.
3. Snack Station
Have your bedside table, or a basket next to your bed, fully stocked and loaded. With healthy snacks and some treats, too. I favoured granola bars, fruit, almonds, rice crisps, and chocolate. I also made sure the fridge was fully loaded with energy food and had (still have), a green smoothie everyday.
If you don’t have a doula (because they do this), then hire a therapist to come to your home. or rather — your partner should hire one to come over. A few times. The benefits of massage are plentiful, especially after having given birth, when our bodies need as much tender touch and healing regeneration as possible.
5. Sleep When Baby Sleeps
I know, easier said than done. But really? During the 6 or so weeks of post-partum? The world will not come crashing down if you just breathe. And sleep. When the baby does. You are increasing your chances for higher milk production, de-creasing your stress levels and increasing your energy and general well-being/mood. It’s really a no-brainer and as such, why do so many new mothers struggle with this one? myself included.
As much as possible. Countless studies have been done to prove how beneficial to breastfeeding (and bonding) skin-to-skin contact is.
7. Don’t Be Shy
About any of it — taking out your boobs, about asking for help or hiring it. Don’t worry about leaning on your partner and telling them just how you feel and what you need.
8. Ask For Help
If you’ve the money for a doula, hire one. Seriously. She will massage you, help with the baby, be an endless fountain of knowledge and support. I’ve even heard tell of some who throw in load of laundry or two and clean sinks. Finding one should have been something you did pre-birth, but if you didn’t, have no fear. Call your local midwifery collective and ask them for a referral if you didn’t have one (a midwife) for your birth, to ask. Speaking of laundry and cleaning sinks, and hiring help … get a cleaner, if it’s possible — for those first few weeks, anyways. (Or heck — always.) Alternately, if you are blessed with having friends and family who live close by, this is how they can help. Not by coming over to ooh and ahh over the baby, expecting to be entertained and served High Tea, but by donning some rubber gloves and giving your toilet bowl a good scrub, doing a mop and sweep of your floors, and/or taking your other kid(s) out for some fun.
9. Food Faeries
The family and friend thing again. I was lucky enough to have some who got it, that whole newborn thing. They brought us meals! Soups, stews, baked goods and even whole chicken dinners! If you are shy about asking for it, then just email this list to your nearest and dearest. I’m not shy. The less time you are cooking and cleaning, the more time you have to concentrate on breastfeeding, especially if you are experiencing challenges with it. Stress greatly affects one’s milk-flow, and taking care of house and home/feeding your family can become too much in those first few weeks. If you are in it alone, that is.
10. Positive Affirmation
Not to get all crunchy on you, but in all honesty, this shit works. Don’t beat yourself up (like I did), if your body can’t produce enough or any. Zen out from that guilt-trip. Find solace in the fact that you are doing everything that you can and that science is a wiley bastard at times.
More on the Babbles …