So many expectant moms are excited at the idea of that special bond that breastfeeding offers. But they also may feel a lot of pressure or angst about whether they will be “successful” in breastfeeding their babies.
Here are some tips to keep you focused on what is important and how best to prepare:
- Breastfeeding is great nutrition for baby. It offers antibodies to protect against disease and allergies. While formulas continue to attempt to replicate mom’s milk nothing is better for baby’s brain development than human milk.
- Pick a goal of how long you would like to provide your baby nourishment and try to stick to it. Often the best laid plans may change. Without a goal too often mom’s may give up or abandon their initial plan when they have a challenging day or week or even illness. Ask your spouse for support.
- Prepare ahead if you plan to work. Get resources on breast pumps, storage and areas at work that support nursing.
- Mom’s need energy! So, don’t forget to feed YOU! Good hydration and a well-balanced diet are key. Don’t forget to take your prenatal vitamins as well and vitamin D for you or baby. Speak to your lactation consultant if you feel your supply is low. There are even energy bars to support lactation.
- Surround yourself with positivity. Don’t heed all unsolicited advice but follow that of your best supporters. Ask other family members and friends who have nursed their babies to share some ideas too.
- Anticipate a few bumps in the road. It takes time for baby and mom to get to know each other, get comfortable with different positions, holds and baby’s feeding cues. They say it comes naturally but there is a learning curve.
- “If you’re doing it right it shouldn’t hurt!” Well…. this may be true, but it does take time for nipples to toughen up and get used to frequent feedings. Use nipple creams like Mustela to soothe sore nipples or express some breastmilk to dry on the areola in between feedings.
- Every breast is shaped differently. Make sure baby opens mouth wide and doesn’t clamp down on the tip. If this happens break the seal and start over again. Talk to your Pediatrician or lactation consultant for advice on nipple shields. Notify your OB if you have any signs of infections, redness, bleeding or fevers or flu-like illness.
- Feed when baby shows cues (sucking, stirring, rooting) and before baby is crying loudly.
- Use a nursing pillow and make sure you are comfortable.
- How do I know I have enough? This simple process truly is supply and demand. The more the baby suckles the more milk lets down. Reality is there are very rare occasions for a mom not to produce milk.
- Feed often (10-12 x per day) and let the baby set the schedule. Your pediatrician will check on baby’s weight gain and be able to reassure that you’re doing great!
- Baby should have 4-6 wet diapers per day once your milk is in. Stools will be soft and seedy, sometimes curdy and mustardy yellow.
- Relax and find a quiet place to take in the experience. If you are pumping and having a hard time with letdown, try a quiet low-lit room and have a photo of baby in front of you. When life gets busy, slow down, look at what you have nurtured and savor those special moments when it’s just you and baby.
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