Thursday, April 8, 2010

10 Breastfeeding Tips

To breastfeed or not to breastfeed-it seems to be one of the mains questions everyone asks new moms.

For me, it was always to breastfeed, for the following reasons-

1-It is free.Since we were going to be losing my income so I could be at home, it made since to go with the most economical choice.

2-No expiration dates or times, bottles to sanitize or lose the pieces to. Breastfeeding was always there and ready to go.

3-Formula is created to mimic breast milk. Not that formula is bad-I personally feel that whatever makes mom the happiest and keeps baby growing is the perfect choice, no matter what. However, given the option, it seemed to me that instead of paying a butt-load of money for a chemically processed item that is trying to BE breast milk, it made the most sense to simply breastfeed.

But you know what those pregnancy books don't tell you? Breastfeeding is hard. It doesn't "come naturally" and it takes practice for both you AND baby to get it right. And if you have it wrong? Well, it HURTS LIKE HELL.

So, if you happen to be facing the choice of breastfeeding or formula feeding (or maybe even both) here are some of my top tips on breastfeeding:

1-Take advantage of the lactation consultant at the hospital. Even get a nurse to help you. There is nothing wrong with you if it doesn't happen naturally and perfectly the first time-in fact, it probably won't. We don't grow up in a culture where we see women breastfeeding all the time, and often most people experience babies for the first time with their own-so DON'T feel guilty or stressed if it takes some practice to get it right.

2-Buy a NICE breast pump. Preferably one that does both sides at once. It sounds weird, but you will love the time you save. Also, get a lot of nursing shirts and bras-they will make the whole "out and about" nursing 100% better and more discreet for your comfort.

3-Don't be ashamed to nurse in public-buy a cute nursing cover and simply sit on a bench -I have even used dressing rooms before and been quite comfy. I've never once had anyone tell me to not breastfeed, yet at the same time, I doubt many people really knew unless they were also moms. I was that covered up with a simple cover or sling tail.

4-Wherever you do breastfeed, find something fun to do, watch on TV, or a book to read or music to enjoy-the point is, don't hole yourself up in a dark room -make it enjoyable for both you and baby. Nursing is a great time to sit and relax and chill out from the stress of the day-take advantage and make your "time out" as enjoyable as possible.

5-If you are having ANY pain that makes you want to cry, then most likely your latch is wrong. Not only is it hurting you like crazy, but baby also is not getting milk out well-and expending a lot of energy for very little food. Make sure baby gets ALL of your nipple in his/her mouth. The best way? Rub baby's lips with your nipple to stimulate him/her to open wide-then when the little mouth is open wide move your ENTIRE nipple into his/her mouth. His mouth should actually cover most of the areaola.

6-Got a sleepy baby who won't eat? Rub the baby's hands. For some reason that stimulates sucking. That works for bottle feeding, too and we would do it for some of the kids in the day care I worked at when they just couldn't stay away enough to eat.

7-Get LOTS of nipple cream. Lanolin is great and safe for baby to eat, so no worries about needing to rub it off. I used it before and after nursing. It will take awhile for your nipples to get used to being stretched and sucked by the baby-so you will have a little bit of pain, but nothing that should make you want to scream or cry-that is the sign of a bad latch or infection. Also, if you get cracked nipples, use lots of cream and soothing gel pads until they heal.

8-There are TONS of breast pads, soothing pads, and gel pads to help with the swelling and leaking that can occur from time to time. I would recommend always having some in your diaper bag, they are life savers. I also always wore more formed lined or padded nursing bras out and about so no one could tell if I had pads in them. Lots of the pads are really smooth and thin now, too. I got most of my great nursing gear from Motherhood Maternity, Target, and Mom 4 Life.

9-Try your hardest to not skip a feeding and get engorged with milk-this can lead to mastitis, an infection that hurts like crazy. I got one with my second son and it was not fun. So, if you ever get a high temp and your breasts are super tender, call your Dr. right away.

10-Don't OVER pump to get your milk flowing. If you are trying to stimulate milk, pump a little after each feeding, but as soon as milk starts to come, STOP. Let your baby's natural eating amount dictate the amount of milk made in the very beginning-at least until you get your feeding down comfortably. I thought I was being slick by pumping TONS of milk after each feeding in the beginning-so I could save it in a freezer-however; that just led to HUGE engorgement, pain, and a ridiculous amount of leaking-the engorgement also led to my mastitis mentioned above. Unless you are just not making any milk, or really have to pump, my advice would be to not pump at all in the first week or two after your milk comes in so, your body, you and baby can get everything under control.

If you have other questions, you can always talk to a La Leche League group, though keep in mind they are usually very anti-formula, so don't be intimidated if they come across strongly, they are experts in the nursing field and a great resource. Also go by your hosptial and make appointments to see the Lactation consultant whenever you need extra help or even talk to other moms you meet out and about for more tips or advice on specific problems or questions you have. If you are wondering about anything, feel free to ask me, if I have any advice I am happy to share!

Happy Breastfeeding!


Alexandra said...

love your list!!!!

Although if you are hurting then something IS wrong!! and don't just keep hurting. That is a common breastfeeding myth that it will hurt. but if you are hurting more than sore nipples the first month or so that baby is not latched correctly. :)

nancymoo said...

Thanks for this list, Miche! I've been wondering who is going to tell me all this stuff!! :)

Caitlin said...

I'm going to need you when I have a baby. Seriously.

Thanks for the lanolin idea, by the way. I looked super smart at the baby shower during the present opening :)

The Amazing Trips said...

I loved nursing. LOVED IT. I nursed two of our triplets until they were 17 months old (despite multiple cases of mastitis) and I just weaned our singleton at 2.5 years old.

Not only is it economical and immediate and healthy, it is a wonderful bonding thing to do. That's what I miss the most.

rachel... said...

Good post! I've breastfed all five of my babies and wouldn't have it any other way. There are just too many advantages and benefits to breastfeeding - formula and bottles are not even an option for us! :)