I only breastfed my oldest son for about 4 months. Most of that time I pumped and fed it to him in a bottle. I contribute only making it that far on pure ignorance. I didn't educate myself on breastfeeding, how it worked, and what it would be like. So if you are reading this and you plan to breastfeed here are ten tips that I want to share with you that I wish someone had told me about breastfeeding!
- Do your research before baby is born. Before I had my first I didn't really do any sort of research on breastfeeding. I just assumed it would come naturally. Boy was I wrong! When I got pregnant again, I really wanted to succeed with breastfeeding this baby so I read a lot of information and even took a breastfeeding class. I learned so much and it was all very helpful after the baby was born! Even if this isn't your first baby, it's always good to refresh your memory on the ins and outs of breastfeeding.
- Remember, it may take a few days for your milk to come in. Sometimes it takes up to 5 or 6 days! And the good thing is, your baby only needs the colostrum those first few days anyway so it will be ok! Put the baby to breast often to stimulate your hormones to make milk and then try not to worry.
- Remember to eat and drink! When baby comes things get busy and hectic and tiring and I remember some evenings I would think "did I eat today?". It is very important to remember to eat and drink plenty after baby is born, especially if you are nursing, because it will nourish you and also help with your milk supply.
- Babies have a big growth spurt between 2-3 weeks old! So if baby is fussy around that time, won't sleep, and wants to eat all the time, please don't automatically think you aren't making enough milk! Nurse your baby on demand as much as he/she wants to and just hang in there! The growth spurt won't last that long and your milk supply will adjust to how much your baby needs as he/she grows! These growth spurts happen every so often as baby gets older so just know that they are coming and everything will be fine as long as you continue to nurse when your baby is hungry!
- Those first few weeks your nipples WILL hurt! I've heard a lot of people say your nipples won't hurt unless something is wrong, like the wrong latch technique or lip tie. But that's not necessarily true! This is what I tell people to remember. If it hurts for more than 30-45 seconds after baby latches, then yes, there is likely a problem. But if it only hurts for those first 30-45 seconds, there likely isn't anything wrong! Your nipples are just adjusting to having a baby sucking on them every few hours around the clock! They have to toughen up and adjust! Just give it time! The best thing I could do for my nipples those first few weeks was lots of nipple butter and lots of air! I would walk around topless in my bedroom after I showered just so my nipples could get some air! It helped so much!
- Let other people help. They may not be able to help with feeding the baby, but it is completely ok to let your spouse or other family members help out with housework or other children or even with baby in other ways. Let daddy get some snuggles in between feedings while you go take a nap or shower. Let other family members cook dinner and do the laundry. You need that time to rest, recover, and create a good nursing relationship with your new baby.
- Have some nursing bras on hand. They have sleep nursing bras now that are kinda like sports bras. They don't have all the underwire and fancy lace and those were my favorite during the first few months, because they were so much more comfortable than a regular nursing bra! I suggest getting a few nursing bras before you have the baby and then going back for a few more after baby is born and your milk has come in so you get a good, comfortable fit with your "new" breasts.
- Have other supplies ready for breastfeeding. I remember the first full day home with my second baby we couldn't find my pump! It was nowhere to be found! So I had to send hubby out to buy me a new one! Supplies like the pump are great to have ahead of time because you just never know when you'll need it. Also, a nursing pillow is great to have and great to bring to the hospital. Don't forget other supplies like nursing pads, nipple butter, nursing tanks, and even a nursing cover if you want to use one.
- Rest and Sleep. I know everyone says sleep when the baby sleeps, and sometimes it is so hard to convince yourself to do, but you really should! Newborns nurse around the clock for the first month or more! If you are the only one who is feeding baby then that means you will be up around the clock too! So even if it's the middle of the day and you the dishes need to be done or laundry needs to be folded, let someone else do it and go take a nap with your baby. Believe me, you'll be happy you did!
- Find support! I can't stress this one enough! Find other mothers who are breastfeeding and who know what it is like. Whether it be a local group in your community or an online group, it is great to have support. Your spouse can be supportive, but let's face it, he's never breastfed. It's great to have a group of mothers you can ask questions to or vent to about the ups and downs of breastfeeding. It's great to talk to other mothers who have been through or are going through the same experience you are going through and to encourage and lift you up.
As you plan and prepare for your new little one, just try to remember things won't always be easy and tears may be shed, but it will always be worth it. The love you will feel for that child will make everything completely worth it. I hope these tips help you to establish a wonderful nursing relationship with your new bundle of joy!