Breastfeeding is great for you and your baby but, it comes with its own challenges. I failed miserably with breastfeeding my first child. The next three I knew a whole lot more and things were a lot different. There are things I love about breastfeeding and things I hate about breastfeeding. It really is a love-hate relationship.
The biggest change between my first two was the fact that I had a lot more knowledge with my 2nd child. When I had my first I was young and I did not take the time to learn about breastfeeding before my oldest was born. When I had my son I was determined to do better and armed myself with a copy of The Nursing Mother’s Companion and read it cover to cover before he was born.
Breastfeeding tips every mom needs to know
With my 3rd baby I had a HUGE oversupply issue. It made me sad to see so much milk go to waste when one side leaked while nursing. One time I leaked so much in my sleep baby, the bed, and I needed to be cleaned up in the morning. Now Milk Savers make really cool inserts for your bra that let you save all of that amazing milk and store it away in the freezer for later. You can breastfeed with confidence and stop leaks before they happen.
Pain is a sign of trouble. Often people assume pain is just part of breastfeeding but the truth is it should not hurt. The first few days you may feel a bit tender but nothing a little lanolin can’t fix. If nursing hurts speak to a lactation consultant for help. Often pain is caused by a bad latch or possibly a tongue or lip tie that cause a bad latch. All of which can be fixed easily
Set yourself up for breastfeeding success
Find a comfortable place to nurse. Babies tend to go through spurts where they decide to nurse for hours at a time. During growth spurts, your baby may seem to be doing nothing but nursing for days on end. Having a comfortable place you can rest while nursing is a great way to make it easier to enjoy your time with your baby. I like to lay in bed on my side and work on my laptop while nursing baby.
Another great way to keep yourself sane during those nursing marathons is to learn how to nurse your baby in a baby carrier. This will allow you to feed your baby while having two free hands to take care of things around the house and other family members. My favorite carrier makes my life so much easier allowing me to homeschool my other children while the baby is safe and sound until they are old enough to add the baby to our homeschool.
Build a nursing basket with things you may need nursing a nursing session. Snacks, drinks, breast pads and a nursing. portable charger for your phone is great for keeping you comfortable while you are breastfeeding your baby. Getting up while nursing can be hard to do so having things handy within arms reach is the perfect solution.
A great support system goes a long way in successful breastfeeding. Enlist people willing to help around the house, with older children or even just to watch the baby so you can take a quick shower. Sometimes it is the small things that make your day easier.
Take care of your skin. As any mother will tell you, breastfeeding can sometimes be quite a painful experience. With regular nursing, the sensitive skin of your breast can become dry, irritated, and chapped. To avoid these painful symptoms, try these tips: don’t over-wash as it can also dry out your skin, make sure to dry your skin with a clean cloth after each feeding, and use moisturizing balms in between feeding sessions.
Build a strong milk supply
One thing I discovered is that I do NOT respond to a pump. Not one bit. A sad fact because I like many moms thought something was wrong and my milk supply was low. Turns out you can not judge your milk supply by how much you pump. Your baby is more efficient and triggers a better letdown than and an artificial pump is capable of. Meaning your baby gets more milk than your pump. The number of wet diapers and a happy baby are the best indicators that your supply is just fine.
Build a healthy milk supply easily by nursing on demand. So often mothers worry about scheduling breastfeeding sessions. The good news is feeding on demand is less stressful and better for building a strong supply to support your breastfeeding journey.
A great diet packed with healthy fats and plenty of fiber goes a long way to building a healthy milk supply. The key is to get a balanced diet in and keep taking your prenatal vitamin to fill in gaps. If you find yourself needing a boost oatmeal and fenugreek are amazing for your milk supply.
Sometimes, you can do everything right but still have difficulty producing enough breast milk to meet your baby’s needs. If this is the case for you, you can also try lactation supplements. There are plenty of natural, healthy, options available to help you boost lactation.
What to do if you do struggle with breastfeeding.
Even with all of the best tips, a stack of books, and a great support system you still can struggle with breastfeeding. It happens and it is nothing to be ashamed of. For some families, supplementing is just what they need. Breastfeeding does NOT have to be an all-or-nothing thing. And if you find yourself unable to breastfeed at all despite your best efforts that is OK too. I have been there and I will tell you it all works out as long as your baby has a full tummy.