I have a handful of friends who are pregnant or have given birth recently, and more than one have asked that I write a blog post about breastfeeding. This is a really good idea, and I have been wracking my brain trying to think of what to write next. So, here it is.
10 Breastfeeding tips from a breastfeeding mother
- Don’t get discouraged.
This is my number one tip for breastfeeding parent’s. I say parents because both parents can play a role in your child’s breastfeeding journey. Please, don’t get discouraged. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. It is wonderful, but can also be painful and frightening at the same time, as is giving birth and raising a child. You may feel like you just can’t do it and you just want to give up especially in the first few weeks after giving birth. In the words of a little blue fish, Just keep nursing-I mean swimming, well you get what I mean. Between colic, latching problems, lip ties, reflux, non-supportive people, and sheer exhaustion you may want to just give up but make sure you stop and think about all the amazing things breast feeding does for your child and for you.
Also don’t be discouraged if for whatever reason, you can’t breastfeed and you have to take donated breast milk, or formula feed. Don’t beat yourself up about it. While breast milk does have properties formula does not you are still feeding that baby the best you can. You are still a great parent. Things happen and life moves on.
2. Water. Water. Water.
This is my second tip to all breastfeeding mothers. Drink as much water as you possibly can. Always have water near you. Stash it all throughout the house. Breastfeeding really takes it out of you and you will likely find yourself thirsty so often you think you are going crazy. Now I was always a big water drinker before I got pregnant and before but once I started breastfeeding M I was constantly thirsty. I couldn’t get enough water. I have gallon jugs in all the rooms I frequent throughout the day so I can chug that H2O as needed while doing housework, teaching our oldest, or just wandering aimlessly trying to figure out what I walked into this room for.
You will be thirsty. If you aren’t a fan of plain water I would suggest some sort of flavoring to add to your water. Some people add fresh cut fruit to their water, or you can go the quicker route and just buy those squeezable or powder flavors. Just make sure to read the label. Some have some odd additives.
I know bringing life into this world and then being responsible for your children 24-7 is a lot of work, but please don’t forget to take care of yourself. This is especially important with breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding burns a lot of extra calories, I know- Yay. So you want to make sure to actually be eating throughout the day. Many breastfeeding mothers find that their postpartum appetite and is even worse than their pregnancy cravings. You will likely be starving most of the time. It is a good idea to stash some snacks and things along with the water in the house because you will be hungry and your body does need it to keep up with your milk supply to keep giving your child the nutrition they need. Take care of yourself.
When I gave birth to M I had horrible PPD(Postpartum Depression)/anxiety which made it almost impossible for me to swallow food. So they put me on medication for the PPD and I tried to eat as much as I could, which wasn’t a lot. I knew I had to get nutrition somehow so I supplemented with meal replacement shakes which normally I could keep down. They helped me get over that hump and still be able to keep my energy and supply up for my sons. Another good thing to do is to keep taking a prenatal vitamin. M is now almost 17 months (1 year and 5 months) and he hasn’t self weaned yet so I am still taking my prenatal vitamins everyday. Those will also help you keep your supply up.
4. The “right position”.
There are all sorts of different nursing positions you can do with your child, and you don’t necessarily have to stick with one. I believe in the hospital they had me nursing M in the football hold position, but once I came home that position didn’t really work that great for us so we tried a bunch of others until we found one that we both felt comfortable with. At the hospital I just used a bunch of pillows to prop him up and to cushion my incision from my unplanned C-section. I was lucky and even though I had complications during his birth he latched right on and nursed for a good 45 minutes on both sides.
I had trouble nursing out of bed for awhile because of the C-section but once I got home I used a combination off a pile of pillows behind me, and then a Boppy around my side and then a My Brest Friend pillow on top of the Boppy. Now we finally found out that M had bad reflux so when I nursed him I had to have him propped up almost to sitting position and then leave him there for 30 minutes even after he was finished to let everything settle. You can look up different positions online or just make up your own, but once you find one or more you are comfortable with your breastfeeding journey will be much more enjoyable.
5. Keep track of diapers.
When I was in the hospital they stressed that I should be writing down every time M nursed, and for how long, as well as when and how many dirty and wet diapers he had. This was very overwhelming to try to keep track of. Especially with a colicky, reflux baby who did not want to sleep. So at the beginning I mostly just counted the diapers. This way I could at least make sure he was nursing enough.
Now a few months in I did find an App I really find useful as a breastfeeding mother. It helps you track your baby’s height and weight, as well as diapers, nursing sessions, pumping sessions, and bottle feedings. It is called MyMedela. If you are a list maker like I am and keeping track of these things will keep you at ease I would definitely recommend this App.
6. Don’t be ashamed/Find an advocate.
I know this one is very similar to the first one, but whatever you decided on your breastfeeding journey(as long as it isn’t harmful to anyone of course) don’t be ashamed. I have noticed there seems to be a lot of shaming lately towards how people feed their children. It is getting better it seems but it still happens. So I have been pretty lucky and haven’t had anyone verbally say anything nasty to me about breastfeeding my son especially since we are natural term breastfeeding. I have had a few angry stares but that was it.
My son has always hated a nursing cover so I didn’t cover him. I am not going to make him suffer by making him uncomfortable or just not feeding him when we are around other people. I also feed him in public while we are out running errands. I do prefer to feed him in the car but that is only because he is heavy and I would rather be able to lean back in the car seat to feed him more than most places I could feed him while we are out. I am lucky and my husband has been very supportive of me, but I know some people aren’t so lucky.
I would suggest finding someone you can talk to that can advocate for you. Many people suggest finding your local LLL, Le Leche League. Another great resource I have found is a Facebook page called Breastfeeding Mama Talk. There are some great resources and ladies on there as well.
I am not in any way affiliated with the brands I have mentioned in this article. I just really enjoy their products.
I am planning on continuing this is another post here soon with a few more tips on breastfeeding.
Thank you for reading,
The Momnipresent Mother