As a new mom, you have a lot on your plate. Breastfeeding is one of many things that you have never experienced before. It can be overwhelming, and nerve wracking to figure it all out. The tips below can help guide you in the right direction when you are struggling, and provide you with amazing resources when you need support.
1.) Have some patience. It’s rare that it works perfectly the second your little one arrives. Don’t freak out. Have some patience, and don’t expect perfection. Keep trying and you both will find your groove.
2.) Ask for help. If you feel like you aren’t finding your groove, there are a lot of resources available in person and online to provide help.
If you give birth in a hospital, there is most likely a Lactation Consultant on staff. Take advantage of that while you are there, and ask as many questions as you can.
When you head home, many Pediatrician’s offices also have Lactation Consultants on staff. You can make an appointment for you, and they will spend time with you evaluating your babies techniques, and your positions, to determine if simple changes can help you.
La Leche League meetings are held in cities and towns across the country. These groups meet regularly to support all things breastfeeding. You can find a meeting near you at https://www.llli.org.
If these options don’t work for you, there are many online supports. There is literally a Facebook group for any reason one could think of, and there is a plethora for breastfeeding. Search for exactly what you are looking for, and you are sure to find it.
Kelly Mom is also a great online resource. They advertise as providing evidence based resources for breast feeding and parenting. They offer articles and resources for almost anything you can think of, breast feeding related.
3.) It will probably hurt. But it shouldn’t hurt for long. It may take a little while for you nipples to get used to so much attention, but pain is typically a sign that things aren’t quite right. Constant and consistent nipple cream can be helpful with chapping. Alternating positions, and placing a rolled up washcloth under the breast, are two ways to switch it up a bit. Even a small adjustment can prevent constant wear and tear on the same spot.
Some women also have luck with using a nipple shield, which allows the nipple to heal up a bit. Many lactation consultants recommend using them sparingly, though, because it can cause some confusion for the baby, and be hard to wean them off.
It’s always best to consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant prior to using these techniques, as everybody’s experience is different, and I am not a medical professional.
4.) Pump…but not yet. Pumping can be a lifesaver, but it is a lot of work and can be overwhelming. Unless medically necessary, new moms should hold off on pumping for at least a month. In the beginning your primary goal is to bond and connect with your little one. It takes your body a few weeks to settle into a consistent supply, and for you to figure out what works best for the two of you.
The first month with your new little one can be extremely overwhelming, and adding figuring out how to pump to that could be too much. Many new moms find it helpful to wait until they have established a bit of a routine before adding pumping to their repertoire.
Once you are ready to pump, it can be a game changer. It allows others to feed the baby, and for you to have a touch more flexibility in your schedule.
It was recommended to me that I add a pump session in between two typical feedings to start with. This allowed me to start building a freezer stash for when I returned to work. This worked for me because I had an ample supply, but it was overwhelming. In these first few months it often felt like I was either nursing or pumping for most of the day, which was a challenge mentally. It is not for the faint of heart, but those early hard stages end quickly and typically a routine is established quicker than you expect.
5.) Set up a nursing spot. Prior to giving birth fill a basket with high fiber snacks, reading materials and a large water bottle. A typical nursing session is anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, but they can last for a couple of hours. During a growth spurt babies can marathon nurse, which can feel like forever. It’s important to stay hydrated, way more than pre-birth, and to keep energized with healthy snacks. Keeping this basket stocked will ensure that you have every thing you need no matter how long the baby decides to nurse.
Breastfeeding is a commitment, and it takes a lot of strength and patience on behalf of mom and her support system. Remember, your journey is different than any others, and your commitment to breastfeeding doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s. If you have the supply and the patience, then go for full on breastfeeding for a year or more. If you don’t, that’s okay too. Do what feels best for you and your little one, but if that’s breastfeeding, use this guide to help you through it.
All of the information in this piece is purely from my experience from breast feeding two babies for a year each. It is not intended as medical advice, and should not replace the advice of a medical professional.