What Mom Never Told You
You can encounter a lot of unwanted advice, wrong information, and embarrassing situations while breastfeeding. Just keep a positive attitude and be prepared to feel rewarded once your baby starts packing on the pounds!
Stop Playing With Your Food!
When your baby is born, he or she has a natural instinct to latch onto whatever is put in front of their face. What they aren't born with is the instinct to latch on properly - mom and baby have to work at this.
Some babies will push out their tongue, or suck on their tongue while you're busy trying to make them open their mouth wide. Sometimes your baby won't open their mouth wide enough for you to get most of your areola into their mouth.
These issues can be overcome with "suck training" also known as "finger training". This is where daddy (or your partner) can help! Using a clean finger and proper technique, baby can train his or her mouth to respond properly to mom's breast.
There's No Such Thing as Too Many Pillows
When I first started breastfeeding, I had a pillow for my back, a few for my legs, and a couple for supporting my baby.
One of the biggest things that you should keep in mind is how important your own comfort is while breastfeeding. If you aren't comfortable, then your baby won't be. If you aren't relaxed, your milk might not let down, then you'll have a frustrated mommy as well as a frustrated baby on your hands!
Before you sit down to breastfeed; grab everything that you think you will need - baby can wait a few minutes for you to setup.
Here's what I had on hand for the first few weeks of breastfeeding:
- One TV tuned on to my favorite show with its clock displayed
- A whole whack of pillows to support every inch of baby and I
- Breast pads for afterwards
- A warm blanky for my baby
- A burping/receiving blanket
- A warm wash cloth
- A towel or extra receiving blankets for all the milk spills
- My favorite thing... Lansinoh
Of course, you'll need your baby and some breasts (any size will do), but those items are implied.
A Full Breast Isn't Always Good
When your breast is full of milk - and we mean engorged, fuller than full, ready to burst - it is super-hard for baby to latch onto. Even if your baby does latch on, chances are, they're getting way more than they can handle at once. Think Niagara Falls!
If your breast is full, or if your baby is having a hard time latching on, try expressing or pumping milk first. Don't be afraid of expressing too much, but try not to express for longer than 5 minutes. If your milk is still pouring out (not just dripping) after 5 minutes, continue expressing milk until the flow stops or slows down to a reasonable amount. Once your done, try letting your baby latch on again.
If you want to save your milk, you can try using breast shells - just massage your breasts from the base to the nipples, then pop the shell(s) into your bra 5-7 minutes before feeding time. Right before you feed, take the shell(s) out, and pour the milk into the storage bags.
There are a few benefits to expressing milk before feeding - it can make it easier for baby to latch on, it will remove most of the sugary breast milk that can cause gas, brings the hind milk forward, and gives you a little something to store incase of emergencies. A little warning: don't express too much milk prior to a feeding! Babies still need foremilk as well as hind milk.
Because our breasts work on supply and demand, it's good to avoid expressing every time you go to breast feed - this could backfire and cause more engorgement.
It Takes Work and One Heck of an Attitude
By attitude, we mean enough of a passion to work through all of the many hurdles that you may encounter.
Breastfeeding takes work. It takes a lot of work. Even though it is a natural thing, it can take weeks or even months to perfect.
Even with a perfect latch, you may find yourself with sore nipples. Hold your breath, and keep going at it - your nipples can heal themselves even when you're nursing.
Baby may fuss, refuse the breast on and off, cry a lot, you might have sore nipples, find it a hassle to feed every xx hours, feel like a milk machine, and just want your body back for yourself. This is why you need the right attitude!
Even through all of the issues, keep a positive attitude - remind yourself that you are giving your baby the absolute best and keep in mind that things will get easier!
Diving into breastfeeding with a good mindset will make things much easier for you and your baby. Stick with it and you will be rewarded with a healthy baby, a great bond with your new child, and one heck of a sense of accomplishment.