We’ve all heard that breastfeeding is best for Baby, but if you’ve never done it before, it can seem impossible. Baby doesn’t always know how to do it well, and Mommy doesn’t always know how to fix it. It is very easy to give up.
I wish someone had told me breastfeeding is hard at first for EVERYONE. I wish I knew the first two weeks will make me think I’m crazy, but after that it’ll work like clockwork. Here are some of the things that helped me be successful:
1. Don’t Wait
I nursed immediately after birth. I wanted to get as much coaching at the hospital as possible, so I could go home knowing what I was doing. My second child took a full feeding straight out of the womb!
2. Lactation Consultation
Upon my request, a lactation consultant visited me in the hospital to coach me on proper latching and feeding. I wanted to start with good habits so I wouldn’t later have to correct bad ones.
3. Proper Latch
I read up on what a proper latch looks like, and though it seems like too much for a newborn, I learned that I have to insist on a proper latch. An improper latch results in pain for Mommy and poor feeding for Baby. Once we were home, I had Daddy observe to be sure I was doing it right.
4. Full Belly
It’s easy to quit the feeding when Baby falls asleep, but it just means he’ll be hungry again in a few minutes. This creates potential for soreness for Mommy. To keep Baby nourished, and your milk supply coming, wake Baby by tickling his feet and talking to him. You’ll know he’s getting milk when his quick suck-suck pattern turns into a slow suck-breathe pattern.
After just giving birth, I was exhausted. And in the days following, my first baby wanted to nurse constantly, so I didn’t sleep. With my subsequent children, I made sure to master the side-lying position before leaving the hospital. That allowed me to rest while feeding.
6. Mommy Care
There is soreness that comes with learning to latch well. Breast milk helps heal irritated skin. So does open air. Consider the first couple weeks your quality skin-to-skin time.
7. Ask questions
With my first baby, I continued to have questions. I called the hospital Mommy-Baby Center and talked to lactation consultants. There were bumps along the way, but they reassured me I should continue nursing no matter what.
8. Push On
When I had pain, I thought nursing just wasn’t for me. I’m glad I stuck with it, because after a couple weeks, I didn’t have any pain.
Honestly, I imagine it would’ve been easier to give up on infant formula than breastfeeding. There is no prep or clean-up with breastfeeding. It’s the most convenient, travel-friendly way to feed. That’ll keep you from giving up!
With my first two babies, I had to go back to work. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to continue breastfeeding as long as I had hoped. I pumped and stored milk before I went back to work, and diligently pumped until they needed more substantial nutrition. I obviously couldn’t have continued breastfeeding if I hadn’t pumped, so I’m grateful I did.
I used the Medela Freestyle Pump and it worked really well! It’s a popular model, and it was perfect for me. I highly recommend it.