Breastfeeding Beginner - 6.5 Things You Need To Know.
Whether you are a mom of 6 with a newborn on the way or a first time mom that wants to breastfeed, you are likely nervous, confused, worried and excited about your upcoming breastfeeding journey. With 32 months of breastfeeding under my belt so far, and how vocal I am on supporting and normalizing breastfeeding, I often get questions from people on tips or suggestions on how to be successful.
So - FIrst. Great, great job on researching so you can be as prepared as possible. I will share my experience as well as some sources I trust for further information, but please know I am not a doctor or certified in any way on this topic.
#1 - Make your voice heard. Whether you are going in for a scheduled c-section or your water breaks while at the grocery store looking for cheesecake because you can't stand being pregnant any more (true story, baby #1), make sure the nurses and staff at the hospital know you plan on breastfeeding. If they know your plans, they will be better prepared to support you.
#2 - Ask for a Lactation Consultant. Many hospitals have them on staff, but if not, you can even get a virtual consultation! (Isn't technology amazing?!) Lactation consultants are specially trained to help you with getting a proper latch with your new bundle, which will help both you and baby have a positive experience. They can also help identify lip or tongue tie which may or may not impact your breastfeeding journey.
#3 - Creams, Nipple Shields, Supplements... what do you need? Your nipples will be sore, cracked and possibly bleeding - especially the first week or two. This is normal. There are many creams on the market that will help ease this pain - just make sure they are safe to ingest by your baby. You can also just rub expressed breast milk on your nipples, and that will help a lot. Nipple Shields - these are very helpful if you have flat or inverted nipples, but there are other techniques that can likely help more (See above for that lactation consultant :) ) Supplements are something many many women use, myself included. Before going the route of supplements though, I think it is important to ensure your water intake and calorie intake are at the appropriate levels. Insufficient milk supply is a perceived issue by nearly every woman, but as long as your baby is gaining weight and having enough wet diapers, you likely do not have a milk supply issue.
#4 Your baby's stomach capacity is so small at birth. Milk takes 2 to 3 days to come in for a reason. Biology. Colostrum is more than enough to fill a newborn's stomach the first few days. I promise. If you truly feel that you are not producing enough, read up on supply issues.
#5 If you want to be successful, be selfless. Know that your baby is going to develop a bond with you that is like no other. Not only will nourishment be solely your responsibility, but so will your baby's comfort and safety. To your baby, you are their whole world. (Sorry Dad and Grandma). Your baby will likely not want anyone other than you. And that's ok. The nights are long but the years are short. Trust me on that one.
#6 Trust your instincts. Baby cries? Breastfeed. Baby is fussy? Breastfeed. Baby is tired? Breastfeed. Skin to skin and continually offering the breast is my best advice for a successful breastfeeding experience. Don't watch the clock, if your baby just ate and is crying again - BREASTFEED. Boob in mouth = happy baby.
#6.5 Trust your instincts. I know I just said that, but its so true. Breastfeeding seems to be generational, so your support system may not come from your family or friends, but perhaps just an online community or maybe you don't feel you have support anywhere - (Hey, I support you!) - you ultimately know what is best, so you do you, not what your sister's mother-in-law's cousin did.
Other than work trips that were out of my control, I did not leave B1 overnight until 15 months, and she was done nursing then. With B2 I've been much more of a control freak, and didn't leave him overnight until 17 months, and he is still nursing now at 19 months. Neither of them slept through the night until after 12 months. I skipped many events because it interfered with our schedule, and I put breastfeeding as a priority to everything else.
You've got this mama <3