Breastfeeding is without a doubt one of the best ways for a mom to bond with her child. Not only that but it is also extremely beneficial for the child’s immune system. Before I had my child, I was committed to exclusively nurse my son. I thought it would come naturally and didn’t understand why other women wouldn’t be doing it. While it may be completely natural, it is not necessarily easy. Like with so many things, expectation before giving birth and reality after giving birth turned out to be two different things. I had extreme difficulties nursing my baby at the beginning. I much later found out that my son had a lip tie which contributed to that. Moreover, it didn’t necessary help that I constantly had visitors at the hospital and at my home. I’m not the type of person that likes to be naked in front of other people and I feel like that these are intimate moments that should be enjoyed in private. In the hospital, I at least had the help of lactation consultants when my baby wouldn’t latch on. However, when I first came home with my baby, I had my entire family-in-law waiting at my home for me. I could have really used some time to settle in and figure things out with our newest addition to the family. The stress of having to breastfeed with an entire audience for the first time made me so nervous that I didn’t succeed. My baby threw a major fit and would not latch on. I felt like such a failure as a mom and that whole experience left me so traumatized that every time I tried to nurse after that, my baby boy just wouldn’t latch on so I resorted to pumping. However, I did have a success a few days later. Since I know so many moms out there are struggling with breastfeeding, I would like to give some tips on what to do and also reflect on what I would have done differently retrospectively:
- Lots of bonding and skin-to-skin
Like mentioned above, I had a terrible start to my breastfeeding journey which was so disappointing for me. I thought it would come so natural to me but because of several factors it didn’t. After difficulties at the beginning, I would also be afraid he wouldn’t latch before I even started feeding him that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. But at some point I became determined that a rocky start wouldn’t determine the future anymore. After all, a lion mom doesn’t need a lactation consultant and knows what to do. So why should it be any different from a human mom. I decided to become a lioness. I did lots and lots of skin to skin with my baby in peace when no one except maybe my husband is as around. It was important to me to bond with him and for him to feel safe on my chest. I gave him little massages after bath time to relax him. And one rainy day when I was alone with him on the couch doing skin-to-skin, it just happened. He started nursing again and from then on, it wasn’t an issue anymore. I highly recommend getting as comfortable as possible for feedings. A good nursing pillow can help you and the baby. Moreover, you can still re-purpose it later for tummy time or a sitting pillow. Additionally, I would recommend get a few good nursing bras without a wire so your milk can flow properly. It is definitely recommended to get more than one in case any accidents such as leaking or baby spit-ups happen. Baby and Sunshine has amazing nursing bras even some with padding which I totally love.
2. The benefits of pumping
Pumping certainly is a great way to get all the precious nutrients of breastmilk to your child when you are not around or when you have difficulties nursing. It is a bit tedious since it involves constantly cleaning and sterilizing pump parts and the bottle you use to fill in the milk. You should do it every 2 hours at the beginning and then once you have a good milk supply you can go over to pumping every 3 to four hours. Therefore, it is great that you have the ability for your partner or someone else to take over the feedings if you are ever gone longer than that time frame. It is also great for working moms. It is required by law that women are provided at area at work where they can pump. You can either bring a bag with ice-packs or store it in the company’s fridge. Moreover, there are microwave bags you can sterilize your pump parts in. Additionally, pumping is a great way to increase you milk supply. A lot of women like to pump one side while nursing the baby on the other side. Or they pump in between feeding to signal to their body that more milk is needed. Milk production works like supply and demand. Your body produces the amount of milk your body needs. If you skip feeding and pumping while giving them formula, it signals your body that your baby needs less and it lowers your supply. Hence, the more you subtract milk via nursing or pumping, the more your body will produce. Since I was such an avid pumper, my number 1 must have was a great pumping bra. Pumping can get extremely time-consuming and tedious. Thus, you want to be able to pump hands-free. I would pump at least 20 minutes every 3 hours. The pumping bra was holding the pump for me so I was able to eat, work, write blog posts, scroll the phone and pretty much every time that can be done sitting.
3. Set boundaries
One of the lessons I learned from my last experience of having kids is to set boundaries. The first time around I thought I would have to make everyone else happy, however this came at the expense of my mental and physical well-being and affected my ability to nurse my child. You simply cannot pour from an empty cup and you already go through enough stress and exhaustion with a newborn baby. You really do not need anyone adding to it. If you do like to nurse in front of other people, make sure to either send people out of the room or go to another room. Limit visiting times to 30 minutes. And quite frankly, if you feel visitors interfere too much with your privacy and your ability to bond with your baby, limit them all together. Maybe people would be very understanding if you expressed how you feel to them. And if they don’t, that’s their problems and not yours. I know for a fact, that next time I wouldn’t be willing to constantly put myself in uncomfortable positions. If you do like to have visitors and actually find them helpful, then of course, this is completely up to you. I remember that I would never really know what to wear because I wanted to be presentable and comfortable at the same time. Next day, I would definitely opt for one of the super cute Baby and Sunshine dresses made for nursing moms.
I hope these tips were helpful to you and your breastfeeding journey. You got this, mom! And remember: whatever decision YOU make for your baby is the right decision. If you are committed to breastfeed, you have plenty of resources, besides being provided a lactation consultant in the hospital, there are also free La Leche League help groups in almost every area. Like mentioned above, having the right gear definitely helps. Check out Baby and Sunshine and all of their awesome items they have. You will love the premium quality and softness of the clothes and your little one will, too.