Wednesday, February 17, 2016

10 Beginner Tips for Breastfeeding

So my original idea for this post was to have 8 tips but when I started writing everything out, I realized that I needed to include 10 to really be of any help to new breastfeeding mamas.

Breastfeeding is sooo hard in the beginning. I wish I had more of a support system when I breastfed my first baby but my amazing fiance encouraged me to stick it out. I am so glad I listened to him. It ended up being the most amazing experience of my life and once we got the hang of it, it was easier than bottle feeding!!

1) Be patient.
I can't emphasize this one enough. You cannot give up at the first sign of trouble. It is so hard and challenging at first and I can promise you, it is nothing like you were expecting. In the beginning, it hurts more than anything I have ever experienced. I cried my eyes out night after night because I felt like I couldn't do it anymore. It was exhausting waking up so often to nurse and not getting a break from that pain. There were scabs and split skin and UGH it was awful. I promise you, this passes. After about a month or so, it gets soooo easy. Just stick it out until then and see how you're feeling!

2) Be prepared.
I don't mean mentally prepared, either. I mean have a book or kindle nearby, a bottle of water, lanolin, your cell phone, and a burp cloth. Seriously, you might be there for a while. In the beginning nursing takes a while and once you get that baby latched, you don't want to move again.

3) Get comfortable.
Do you have a rocker or glider with a foot rest? PERFECT. If you don't, get snuggled up on the couch (in the corner so you can sit up and still be comfy) or kick back in a recliner. If you can't do that, find the biggest and most comfortable chair you can. It's so much easier to relax if you can be comfortable and that is so important for both of you. If you can find a quiet room with a comfy seat, even better.

4) Let the baby sleep in your arms!
This one isn't going to make breastfeeding easier, exactly, but it will make it more bearable. You know when you just get done nursing your baby, lay her (or him) down, and she wakes right back up and wants to eat again? Repeat 5-10 times? Well, when she dozes off in your arms after eating, just enjoy it!! It gives you a little nursing break, saves you the frustration of your baby waking back up, and you get to cuddle your cute little baby! Win, win, win.

5) Feed on demand.
This is so important. You need to ignore the 2-hour rule. Don't follow that! I promise you don't need to. Just feed your baby whenever she is hungry. In both of my breastfeeding experiences, my babies have wanted to eat every hour or hour and a half. Sometimes (when we were on the go or they were sleeping) they would go 3-4 hours without eating. It was all fine for us!! If you nurse on demand, then your body will produce exactly what your baby needs. Nursing on demand even when it has only been an hour will keep your baby happy and will help increase your milk supply. I know this is a lot, but again, it won't last forever. Once your baby starts getting older, the times will increase.

6) Talk with a lactation consultant. 
Seriously, this is important. I would have never been successful with breastfeeding the first time around if it wasn't for the help of a lactation consultant. I saw one at the hospital before we came home and she corrected all of the issues we were having. Sylas wasn't latching correctly and that made it even more painful for me BUT it also caused him to not get enough milk. I spent a couple of hours with her and we were good to go. They know what they are doing, listen to them, please! Many times they are free to see and if you are a WIC participant, one will come to your house for free. Seriously, she will come to you and you won't have to pay anything. How awesome is that?!

7) Pump whenever you can. 
Hooking yourself up to a breast pump and sitting there for 20-30 minutes while a machine sucks on your nipples is a good time.... just kidding, it's not fun. It is extremely important, though. It will keep your supply up if your baby goes longer than normal without nursing and it will also give you extra milk so that you can have a break later on!! If you have extra milk pumped, daddy or grandma can feed the baby while you rest or take a little time to yourself. Currently, I pump for about an hour a day. 30 minutes in the morning and then 30 minutes during my lunch break at work. This gives me all that I need for Josie while I'm away, plus a little extra.

8) Take care of yourself.
To give your baby the proper nutrients, you have to consume the proper nutrients!! Whatever you eat is somehow making its way into that breast milk so make sure you are eating things that are good for your baby. You also can't produce milk if you aren't hydrated so make sure you are drinking extra water!! Breast feeding burns a ton of calories so keep healthy snacks (fruits and veggies) nearby for yourself. If you are depriving yourself, you're depriving your baby. Keep that in mind!

9) It's harder to nurse a screaming baby.
Don't wait for your baby to get to that point before you feed her. If you even think she is showing hunger cues, try to nurse her. If you wait for her to scream, it becomes much harder to calm her down and get her to latch.

10) Relax!!
Take all of these tips I have given you and then relax! It's easier on both of you if you are relaxed. The baby picks up your moods and if you are feeling frustrated or stressed out, she will, too. If you are relaxed when you start nursing, the baby will latch much easier and have a better time eating. You'll see. :)

I won't sugar coat it, breast feeding is hard in the beginning. After a month or so, the pain goes away, baby has become a pro, and you guys will have a nice routine down. Stick it out for a month before you make any decisions about giving it up!! Unless, of course, your doctor or the baby's doctor recommends otherwise.

What other tips do you have for beginners? I would love to read them in the comments!

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