Breastfeeding is natural, but no one said it was going to be easy. And just because it’s a natural process, doesn’t mean you’re not still going to stress out about it. Whether you’re a first-time mom or very experienced mom, every baby and breastfeeding experience varies from one to the next. You might be wondering,
Is my baby eating enough?
Am I producing enough?
Why are my nipples in so much freaking pain?
Well, to put your mind at ease (hopefully), I’ve gathered a list of the best advice that I can come up with or have been told in my own personal breastfeeding journey from my lactation consultant and experienced mothers.
The number one thing if you want to breastfeed, is to Stick with it!
Know that bad days happen! Persistence is key!
Breastfeed in the first hour after your baby is born. The skin to skin contact and the act of suckling will stimulate your colostrum production which is very high in antibodies and nutrients according to the World Health Organization.
Skin to skin contact is so important! It is stress relieving and regulates your baby’s temperature and heart rate. It also helps increase a hormone called prolactin which helps your body produce milk.
When you’re learning how to breastfeed, stay calm! Studies show that babies can actually sense your anxiety and react to it.
It’s a learning process for both you and your baby. Babies don’t come out of the womb knowing exactly how to feed and position themselves. However, they do have a natural instinct to suck. Even if you’ve nursed a baby before, remember that every baby is different.
For me, the first week was the hardest. Sore nipples, getting the latch right, and not even knowing if I was doing it right was tough. If you can make it through the first week or until your colostrum turns into milk, then I believe that you’re on your way to success.
Sore, cracked and burning nipples are not forever. Nipple Cream will be your best friend. And if regular nipple cream doesn’t heal, ask your doctor about a prescription with Nystatin. It was recommended to me by a Lactation Consultant and it works wonders.
Make sure your baby is latching correctly. This could be a factor leading to your soreness. A shallow latch is very common. Opening the baby’s mouth more can fix this. Or, check their bottom lip. If it’s tucked under it can cause problems, too. My baby had this problem because she has a mild overbite.
You can also try different positions. The cradle carry is common, but you can also try football carry or side-lying.
One thing I learned is that once your milk comes in, your baby might nurse for less time. Once my milk came in, we went from 30 to 45-minute feedings to 5 and 6 minutes. At first, I thought something was wrong. Since colostrum is a thicker substance, it’s harder for babies to get which results in longer feedings.
And as hard as it is in the beginning (due to pain), feed your baby as much as they want! Your body works on supply and demand. The more you nurse, the more milk you’ll have.
And if your baby is cluster feeding, it does not mean that you’re not producing enough milk! Your baby is likely just going through a growth spurt. According to the lactation consultant I’ve met with, this is common at 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 12 weeks of age.
Your baby will tell you when he/she is hungry. Tell-tale signs of hunger include a fist, a tensed up body, crying and rooting. When they are full, the body will relax and hands will be opened up.
Every baby eats differently. Some will nurse for 20 minutes and some might nurse for 5 minutes. Just because of your baby nurses different from another baby, does not mean that you’re doing it wrong.
If you’re worried about whether or not your baby is eating enough, check the diapers. A healthy breastfed baby should have 6 to 8 dirty diapers per day.
Download a baby feeding tracker app to help you understand your baby’s feeding habits, show a doctor if you’re worried about their intake and to give you peace of mind. I personally used the MyMedela App, but there are many others out there.
Don’t forget to burp your baby. A colicky baby is fun for no one. And a good practice is to burp in between breasts if you switch in the middle of a feeding. And burp again when you’re done.
Foods that make you gassy will make your baby gassy. I had to cut back on eating broccoli for this reason.
Eat healthy and hydrate constantly! You have to feed yourself in order to feed your baby. And breastmilk is mostly made of water, so it makes sense that you need to be constantly drinking it. Also, certain foods can either boost or hinder your supply. (If you would like me to write a post about which foods these are, leave a comment below!)
Don’t do it alone! Ask friends and family for help. Join a Facebook group to get advice from other moms. Or find a local La Leche League group.
If you’re still unsure about breastfeeding, meet with a lactation consultant.
…if you have to switch to formula or supplement with it, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP!
Most importantly, if you have to switch to formula or supplement with it, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP! Mama, you brought life into this world and how you feed your baby doesn’t matter if your baby is still growing as he/she should. Yes, there are many benefits to breastfeeding, but don’t let anyone belittle you or berate you because you can’t or chose not to breastfeed.
I really hope that this article helps you in your breastfeeding journey. Are there any tips that you’d like to include that I did not mention? Is there something that I mentioned that you’d love to hear more about? Please leave a comment in the comments section below! Or message me directly on the super SAHM Facebook Page and give it a “like” while you’re there! 🙂
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