Secrets To Successful Breastfeeding
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Let me start by saying the number one secret is that no matter how easy it looks, it IS NOT easy!! However, it will get better….just give it time. The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be exhausting, painful, emotional, and draining. The best advice anyone can ever tell you is HANG IN THERE!! It really does get easier and the rewards are so worth it! As long as you REALLY want to breastfeed, you will get through it. Knowing ahead of time that it may hurt like hell and can be difficult in the beginning is half the battle! I didn’t know any of these things as a first time mom and I wish I did! I went through it all and nursed 3 babies for at least 2 years each! My third daughter was the only one who latched right away. Every baby is different which makes every mom’s situation different from another’s. Here are some secrets to successful breastfeeding to get you through the first few weeks and to hopefully keep you going for as long as you like. Breastfeeding is more common today than it has been in the past 30 years. However, there are still a lot of women who try to breastfeed and have little or no support from family and friends. Hopefully, these breastfeeding secrets and tips can give some women the extra help and support they need at such an important time in their life.
Let your doctor & delivery team know you plan to breastfeed
This is important because if for some reason you do need to have an emergency cesarean section or something does not go as you planned, you do not want the nurses to give the baby a bottle of formula. This will confuse the baby and the last thing you need is a rough start.
Skin to skin contact is important
Even if the baby is not hungry, let him or her lay on your chest or just be as close to you as possible.
Ask for a lactation consultant to help you
Most hospitals have lactation consultants right there to help you at any time. Don’t be shy, USE THEM!!! They are wonderful women who have seen it all and know everything there is to know about breastfeeding! You may think that you read enough information on breastfeeding during your pregnancy and do not need any help, but believe me, you will!! Most babies do not latch on correctly right away and you will need some assistance.
Find a breastfeeding position that is comfortable for both of you
Test a few different positions and find the one that feels best for you. A lactation consultant can also help you with this. Everyone is different and what may be comfortable to one mom may not be to another. Do what feels best for you and make sure to bring your boppy pillow or whatever breastfeeding support pillow with you to the hospital to use. Click the photos below for more info.
Every woman is different, but for most mothers, their milk does not come in until at least the second or third day. This may take longer depending if you had any complications with your delivery. The hospital will supply you with an electric pump to get you going. Pump whenever you get the chance and this should help your milk come in. Purchase a good electric pump for when you get home. If you plan on breastfeeding and are going back to work you will absolutely need a good pump! Medela makes some of the best electric pumps around. They may be expensive but are worth every penny! Most insurance companies will cover the cost for your pump as well!
Trouble getting a good latch
This is the most common problem breastfeeding moms encounter. Those little mouths of theirs need some help and it may seem like the more you help them, the more painful it becomes. As mentioned earlier (and probably will be mentioned again), hang in there! Yes, the pain can be terrible at times! If the baby has a proper latch pain should go away after the first few seconds. A proper latch may still feel uncomfortable in the beginning, but it shouldn’t be intolerable. If you are in so much pain that you can no longer take it but really want to continue breastfeeding, try a nipple shield. Nipple shields are life savers for breastfeeding moms!!!! Medela makes a great nipple shield in different sizes. Always chose a bigger size if you are unsure which one will fit you. Nipple shields are not just for moms with inverted or flat nipples, any woman who is having difficulty or pain can benefit from a nipple shield. The shield can help direct the baby to a proper latch, protect your painful nipple, all while feeding the baby the milk they need! In most cases, after about two weeks, you will no longer need the shield, your nipple will be healed, and your baby will be able to latch on correctly without it. Buy this shield before you have the baby so you will have it on you just in case! Trust me, you’ll thank me later if you need it!
This is so important if you plan on breastfeeding. The more water you drink, the more milk you will produce and the better you will feel. You need to replenish the water the baby takes from your system. Yes, you will be tired, drained, and if you have more than one child you won’t have much time to eat and drink, but do what you can to take care of yourself! Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated so you can keep nursing throughout the day!
Use a good nipple ointment
There are many nipple creams and ointments out there and the most common ones are usually made with lanolin. The hospital may give you this kind, just be sure to read all of the ingredients. It is better to use an ointment that is 100% natural because your baby will get this in his or her mouth. You can use something as simple as pure coconut oil (cold pressed) on your nipples for protection. This is completely natural and will not harm you or your baby. The more you use, the tougher your nipples will become. The best part is you won’t have to worry about washing it off before you feed your baby. Another good nipple ointment to use is Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Natural Nipple Butter. This is completely natural and smooth like butter, unlike the sticky lanolin stuff they give you in the hospital. If you continually use this after each time you nurse it will help improve your nipples so much!
Expect to breastfeed often
Breastfeeding can become a full-time job the first few weeks. Expect to spend most of your days breastfeeding. Many new mothers are not prepared for this and begin to think that maybe they are not producing enough milk and that is why their baby always wants to eat. This isn’t always the case, infants digest breast milk much quicker than formula, so they will want to eat more frequently. Your body will produce as much milk as the baby needs. Your chest will also become your baby’s favorite spot! Your breast offers everything your newborn needs, warmth, nourishment, and of course…YOU!! So, it’s no surprise that your baby wants to breastfeed so often in the beginning. Just be patient and remember you may be parked on the couch quite a bit the first few weeks after delivery.
Watch what you eat!
Your baby has finally latched on correctly and things are going smooth, however, you have noticed your baby is very gassy and are concerned it may be due to your milk. Try to pay attention to what you have been eating, especially the first few months. If you tend to eat a lot of dairy, cut some of it out of your diet. Test this for a week at a time. Many babies have a hard time digesting so much dairy into their little bodies. You may notice a huge difference in your baby. Talk to your doctor or other breastfeeding moms and see what diet may be best for you and your baby.
This may sound easier than it seems, but, try and relax! Your baby can tell when you are tense and it will make the baby tense! Remember to breathe and enjoy every second you have with your baby because it goes by so quickly!
HANG IN THERE!!!
Last time I will say this! It really does get easier, it just seems like the first few weeks are the longest and hardest of your life. Everything on your body hurts, not to mention you are totally exhausted. Just remember that it really is one of the best gifts that you can give your child, even if you are only able to do it for a short time. So be proud of yourself for sticking it out this long and remember you can always contact your local La Leche League or a lactation consultant for support. I hope these breastfeeding secrets and tips can help you breastfeed your baby for as long as you wish!