6 Helpful Tips For Breastfeeding Moms
Breastfeeding is hard. Anyone who says it is easy is either 1) lying or 2) has never done it. Breastfeeding is easily one of the most emotional, overwhelming, stressful things I have ever done. I quickly learned that it isn't until you have been breastfeeding for a couple of weeks or you are onto your second child that it starts to get easier. Even then, it can still be difficult! You are only able to whip that boob out and attach baby on after you have had some serious help and practice.
When I had my baby girl, I honestly though breastfeeding was going to come so naturally. I thought I just had to put her mouth by my nipple and she would snatch it and start going to town. Sadly, this didn't happen. Instead, I spent two days in the hospital consulting with lactation specialists, having nurses hand express my milk out, feeding only drops or less than one spoonful to my little one, and crying because my precious girl refused to eat. We ended up having to feed her donor breast milk because she just didn't want mine. Or she wanted it but she had no idea how to get it. I ended up leaving the hospital completely defeated and feeling like I had failed as a mom. I was also scared sh*tless about what would happen once we got home. What if I still couldn't get her to latch? What if I would have to put her on formula? What if I was starving her? And the "what ifs" continued, rattling in my head.
But then I got home and I didn't have to put her on formula. And she wasn't starving. She eventually learned how to latch using a nipple shield. Then, we didn't need to use the nipple shield after a few weeks with it. She was able to learn and I persisted. I have read that a lot of women give up on breastfeeding early on and if you are one of those women thinking about switching to formula, just try a little longer. I honestly thought that we would have a formula fed baby but here we are now, nine weeks later and still going strong on booby milk! I can now look back and make jokes about not being able to get my baby to latch. And now that she does latch, the bond we have is so strong and I honestly believe it is because I get to hold her in my arms, and she is attached to my breast while she eats. I am the one nourishing her and providing her little, growing body with what it needs to become big and strong. I know that I get to give her the amazing health benefits that go along with breastmilk. If you think that you can't do it or you are an expecting momma freaked out about breastfeeding here is some advice that I can give you. From one momma who had many obstacles and hurdles but made it to the finish line:
- Go to a breastfeeding basics class before baby arrives. Get the low down and see what you should expect. It will definitely change your perception on what you think will happen and you will be more prepared for baby's first feeding.
- Talk to a lactation specialist. Your hospital should have a specialist that you are able to consult with. These individuals are pure angels from heaven. They are superheroes without capes. They are every new mom's savior. They are able to provide you with extremely helpful advice and give you the tools you need to satisfy your little one's hunger.
- Go to a breastfeeding support group. As I stated earlier, breastfeeding is hard and many women have trouble with it. If it was easy there wouldn't be these groups and lactation specialists wouldn't exist. Hearing from others will help you realize that you are NOT alone.
- Try different techniques and tools. I think I tried four different breastfeeding positions until I found one that worked for both my daughter and myself. We also tried hand expressing milk until she was able to snag on. Also, nipple shields and lanolin cream completely changed the game for us. There is a plethora of resources, tools, and informational videos out there that show you how to get baby to latch, the correct way to express milk, and much much more. See link below to purchase a very helpful nipple shield.
- I'M GOING TO PUMP YOU UP! If the issue isn't your baby won't latch but rather you aren't producing enough, supplement with pumping. A lot of pumping. Make a schedule to track when you pumped, when baby has eaten, when she has had dirty diapers, and when she sleeps. Keeping track of anything and everything that has to do with baby helps you remember when you need to pump next. Also, knowing how many dirty diapers she has a day will ease your mind since you will be able to tell if she is eating enough or not. Get access to my All Things Baby Tracker Template when you subscribe below. See link below to purchase an amazing breast pump. Worth the cost!
- Eat the right foods. If you aren't producing enough, eat foods that are proven to increase milk supply. Some examples of these foods are oats, nuts, apricots, salmon, and avocados. Eating these foods actually works! Get access to my Breast Milk Production Meal Plan when you subscribe below.
So, if you are tired, frustrated, and just want to give up breastfeeding, don't. Just keep going, keep trying, and you both will get there. Think about the extraordinary benefits it has for your little one and for you. All of the pain and agony is worth it. To see all the benefits breastfeeding provides for you and your baby check out my 9 Perks of Breastfeeding post.