So, you've decided to breastfeed your child. Great choice! I don't have to tell you about the benefits of breastfeeding. Everyone knows breast is best and I like to think most moms would breastfeed their child if given the right education and support. In fact, according to the CDC, as of 2010, 77% of mothers start breastfeeding their babies. Unfortunately, that number goes down as the child gets older with only 49% of moms breastfeeding babies the recommended 6 months. Some of the reasons for this include going back to work with little or no support for pumping, or just having trouble getting through the first weeks. I'd like to say I know all the answers, but I don't! I do my research and I learn as I go. However, having breastfed three children and having various experiences with each, I have some tips that may help out the moms who are planning on breastfeeding and want to come in to it prepared.
My Top Ten Breastfeeding Tips:
#1 - Educate yourself! Read all about it! Join support groups like La Leche League or online/Facebook support groups. Ask questions of other breastfeeding moms that you may know. The more you know, the easier it will be to get past those hurdles that you will most definitely encounter. One of my favorite websites for breastfeeding information is KellyMom.
#2 - Three words: Skin-to-skin! I had c-sections with both of my boys. Some say that when you have a c-section it takes longer for your milk to come in. I did skin-to-skin with my boys in the hospital and my milk was in by day three or four with both of them!
#3 - Get comfortable. Get a comfy chair for nursing. You'll spend a lot of time there. Get a good nursing pillow and while your in the hospital work with the lactation consultants to find the hold that works best for you.
#4 - Newborn babies have really tiny stomachs. This means they eat often. It may be every two hours, but when you feed baby for 30 minutes, he may want to come back to the breast an hour later. That's ok. He may be hungry again. He may just want to suckle. Give him what he needs. Nothing is wrong with you or him. This is normal.
#5 - Get some lanolin. Contrary to what some may say, it shouldn't really hurt THAT much to breastfeed. Sure, it's a sensation you have to get used to. But if the baby is latched properly, it won't hurt while he's nursing. UNLESS - he is nursing what seems almost non stop. Your nipples will get a little sore. So, let them air dry if you can. Then put a little lanolin on them. It helps with the soreness and will make breastfeeding more tolerable.
#6 - Find some ways for Daddy to help out. It's really easy for the baby's dad to feel left out because you spend most of the time with him. After all, he's eating 8 to 10 times a day! But if you find some ways for dad to help out, baby can bond with his dad as well! Dad can change the baby's diaper and bring him to you to feed him at night. He can spend some skin-to-skin time with baby too!
#7 - Going back to work? Get a freezer stash going! You don't have to start this right away, but you should start it at least a couple of weeks before you go back to work so you can stay ahead of what the baby needs. I didn't do this and I regretted it later because I couldn't keep up with my baby's needs and had to supplement with formula. It's a good idea to pump in the mornings because you usually have the most milk in the mornings. You can pump when the baby nurses (if you're that coordinated) or you can pump right after the baby is done nursing. You may only get one or two ounces a session, but that's ok. You're just building up a stash and one to two ounces is normal. Pumping gets out way less than the baby ever could.
#8 - Don't forget the nursing pads! You are going to need them, especially in the earlier days when you are nursing a lot. I noticed the more that my son wanted to nurse, the more I would leak when he was not nursing! And if you are going out, you might want to throw some extras in your purse/diaper bag along with an extra bra and shirt! Better safe than sorry.
#9 - Have a lot of healthy snacks around the house. You will get hungry! I tried to make sure I ate after every time the baby would eat (except in the middle of the night) and that I drank plenty of water. Eating healthy snacks throughout the day and drinking lots of water will also help you lose that baby weight faster.
#10 - Don't be ashamed to breastfeed! For some, this is easier said than done. We've grown up in a culture that tells us that breasts are sexual. They are something men like to look at, sure. But let's not let this take away from their real purpose, nourishing our little ones! You may not feel comfortable breastfeeding in public, with or without a cover. That's ok. Do what feels comfortable for you. If that means you supplement with formula or bring pumped bottles along when you go out, that's fine. Just remember, you don't need to apologize for breastfeeding. Most states have laws that say you can breastfeed your baby ANYWHERE. So don't let someone tell you that you need to leave or go in a bathroom or to your car to breastfeed your baby. Be discreet about it, of course, but remember your baby is just eating and you are doing what is right for your baby!