When I was pregnant with my daughter over four years ago, I had decided to try to exclusively breastfeed her. I had delved into the research, reading every article I could on effective breastfeeding and why “breast is best”. I came to the conclusion that this was something I could do. Not only would it be extremely beneficial for my baby and myself, but it is also free and let’s face it, formula is expensive! Now that I have two children, I feel I am seasoned and able to give out my best breastfeeding advice.
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Breastfeeding My Oldest
When my little girl was born via C-section, I realized quickly that nursing was not as simple as I had imagined it to be. I did not get immediate skin to skin with her. She was taken away to the nursery for upwards of an hour while I was in recovery. While I was insistent that no one feed her until she returned to me, we still faced issues on the breastfeeding front. She had a difficult time latching, and we discovered that the only thing that helped was the use of a Nipple Shield. While this helped with her latch, it did nothing but exacerbate the pain in my nipples. I began to wonder if it was supposed to hurt this bad or if something was wrong with me. After talking with the hospital’s lactation consultant, I was informed that the pain was completely normal and would subside in a week or so. I knew this was what was best, so I powered through the pain. After a week or so, and countless uses of Lanolin the pain did subside.
I actually started to enjoy the nursing experience. Thankfully I was able to exclusively breastfeed my daughter for six months, at which point I began introducing solid foods. She still had breast milk as her main form of nutrition until the age of one. Nursing continued until she was right at two years old. I was both happy and sad to see the end of this journey hat we embarked upon together.
Fast forward two years and we welcomed a new baby boy to the family! His birth was vastly different and I was able to get the immediate skin to skin and I never had to be separated from him. He latched on right away and has been nursing like a champ for three months strong now.
After breastfeeding two babies, I now feel like I am somewhat capable of offering my personal breastfeeding advice along with a few tips and tricks I have picked up along the way.
First off, breastfeeding does not come easily to everyone! Many mothers have to really work at it and a lot of those mothers will give up for different reasons, but if you are dedicated to it you can make it work for you!
Breastfeeding Advice, Tips, Tricks
- As soon as your baby is born it is extremely beneficial to have immediate skin to skin contact with your little bundle of joy. This will help not only regulate the baby’s temperature but will also provide immediate bonding which will help stimulate a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Now, not every mother gets this, I didn’t with my first and was still able to successfully breastfeed her. Most hospitals are getting better about allowing C-section mothers to have skin to skin before taking the baby out of the room, but some babies need to be taken to the NICU, if this happens to you, don’t worry it will not ruin your chances of breastfeeding.
- If your baby does have to be taken away for a period of time, be insistent that you DO NOT want anyone to give him or her formula. While not a complete deal breaker, it can cause nipple confusion at an early age. I personally waited about three months before I gave either of my children pumped milk in a bottle in order to ensure we had a strong breastfeeding relationship.
- Don’t supplement if you can avoid it! This is one of my biggest pet peeves. When someone tells a new mother that she needs to supplement because the baby is not eating enough or because of jaundice or because the mother’s milk has not come in yet. First off, the first day or so of a newborn’s life he or she is exhausted and pretty much just wants to sleep so they won’t eat as much these first days. Secondly, a mother’s actual milk does not come in for a few days to a week after the birth of a child. Your baby will be perfectly satisfied with nothing but the small amount of colostrum that your body is producing. The first week or so a baby’s stomach is so tiny that not much can be held in there to begin with. Finally, if your baby happens to have jaundice (which is pretty common, as both of my babies had it), that is still no reason to be forced to supplement. Continue to nurse on demand and get that baby some direct sunlight. The more the baby poops, the lower the bilirubin levels will become and lets face it, breast milk digests mush faster than formula.
- This brings me to my next bit of breastfeeding advice, nurse on demand. Many medical professionals will tell you that you need to have your brand new baby on a feeding schedule. This is utter craziness to me. Your baby will eat when hungry, which in the first few months is A LOT! Breastfeeding babies will also go through periods of cluster feeding where they nurse for what seems like a whole day. This actually serves a purpose though, because the more a baby nurses, the more milk your body produces. Supply and demand at work. Babies will cluster-feed prior to a growth spurt in order to signal your body to produce more milk! This is partially why is is not good to supplement super early. Baby needs to nurse in order for you to produce milk. It isn’t that you are starving your baby or that you aren’t making enough milk, it is a natural occurrence and it is highly likely that your baby is not starving.
- My final bit of breastfeeding advice is for those planning to return to work. Start pumping to build up a stockpile pretty early. Many times I have heard not to do this because it increases demand which can lead to an oversupply, but really, isn’t an oversupply what you WANT when you are pumping in order to return to work? I was able to pump about 300 oz in a few weeks which is still taking up room in my deep freezer at the moment.
Breastfeeding Advice for Low Supply
- Mother’s Milk Tea has worked amazingly for me. Some people don’t like the taste (black licorice) but i personally love it! I drink it hot with honey and milk and it tastes delicious!
- You will also need to drink a TON of water. When I say a ton, I mean it. What i did was basically drink half of my body weight in ounces of water. SO get you a good water bottle and chug away!
- Pumping is also a great way to increase your supply. I would pump between feedings often. I also made it a habit to pump on one breast while baby was nursing on the other side. Once again, the more demand on your milk the more supply you will get!
- Fenugreek supplements are also a great option. You can get them online or at most health food stores. The downside to these is they can make baby gassy. They also tend to make you smell like maple syrup.
- There are so many foods as well that help increase your supply. Oatmeal is my go to personally. You can even make delicious lactation cookies like these that i found on Pintrest a while back.
My Beast Piece of Breastfeeding Advice
- RELAX. I can’t emphasize this enough. Your little baby will feel your stress, and it can cause some nursing aversion. The best advice I can give you is to relax and enjoy it. Breastfeeding is an awesome bonding experience. Yes, at times it can be hard but we power through. There will be days your little one wants to be on the boob all day. I say let it happen. The dishes can wait, the laundry can wait. They will be there for you when you have time. This precious little baby will only be little once. Let the house be messy, let things be out of place. Enjoy this time and soak up all the tiny baby cuddles, because one day they won’t be so little anymore.