Breastfeeding. Just the word can stir up strong emotions. Fear, joy, sadness, the list goes on… The actual task can be even more daunting but it doesn’t have to be. These few tips can help your transition into your breastfeeding journey with a little more confidence.
Help Isn’t A Four-Letter Word
There are so many breastfeeding resources available to expecting and new mothers. Hospitals offer pre-birth breastfeeding classes, postpartum breastfeeding counseling, support groups, online chat groups, and private IBCLC support. Whether it is your first child or fifth child, getting support from a lactation consultant prior to the birth, and/or after, is a great way to gain breastfeeding confidence. These classes can answer questions about latch and provide help with different feeding positions. These resources can also provide you with a group to provide support if your breastfeeding journey gets a little bumpy.
Watch Your Baby’s Hunger and Satiety Cues
Breastfeeding babies eat more often than others. Watching your baby for hunger cues can keep you and baby from becoming frustrated. Some cues that you may want to look for are:
– Sucking on hands.
– Tightened fists.
– Licking of the lips
– Turning their head when their cheek is touched
– Crying usually comes last
Breastfeeding usually means more frequent feeding sessions, and because of that sometimes moms may question the adequacy of their supply. The frequency of feeding is not a good way to base your supply. Babies have satiety cues just as they have hunger cues. Ways to determine if your baby is getting enough may be:
– Listening for swallowing
– Relaxed and open hands
– Wet burps
– Baby’s body is relaxed
– After day five, 5-6+ wet diapers, 3-4 stool diapers a day
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed. If you have questions or doubts talk to your local IBCLC or Breastfeeding Counselor.
Forget “if you’re doing it right, it will not hurt”
You may feel some discomfort or slight soreness, especially if it’s your first child. Your nipples may become tender, but if nursing becomes very painful or unbearable then you may need to adjust your baby’s latch or position. A few things that relieve nipple pain:
– Nipple cream
– Warm, moist heat
– Breastmilk on the nipples after feeding
– Wearing bras that fit properly. Breast change size during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
If breastfeeding remains painful there could be other causes. Talking to your pediatrician and IBCLC can help.
All the water! All the snacks!
Eat what you want and drink all of the water. Unless your baby shows signs of a food allergy, your healthy diet shouldn’t need to change; however, you may need an extra 300-400 calories a day. Drink more water – breastfeeding may leave you a little parched, adding an additional 2-3 glasses a day could keep you from feeling thirsty. Listen to your body, eat when you’re hungry, drink when you’re thirsty.
While at home make space for yourself, use a breastfeeding support pillow if it helps, have water, snacks, entertainment, whatever you need to be comfortable. The more comfortable you and your baby are in the first few weeks of your breastfeeding journey, the easier it will be to become comfortable with the process of itself.
The idea of feeding in public may be intimidating but there are things that can help. Do and wear what is comfortable. If you want to feed in the car, in the open, with a cover, without one, do what you are comfortable with. Make decisions based off of you and your baby’s needs. You have the right to feed your baby whenever and wherever you need to.
According to Wisconsin law: 253.165 Right to breastfeed A mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breastfeeding her child, direct a mother to move to a different location to breastfeed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breastfeeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breastfeeding her child as provided in this section.
Breastfeeding can create a special bond between mom and baby. It’s a natural thing, but it is also a learning process. Do not be afraid to ask for help during any point of your breastfeeding journey. Lastly, be kind to yourself, sometimes days are tough. Especially on those tough days it is important to have grace with yourself. You are doing your best and that is enough.