When you’ve got a newborn, there are so many different things to think about and worry over. There’s so much to buy, so many appointments to keep, there’s an endless stream of people coming to visit, and you’re getting little to no sleep through all of it.
It’s a complete whirlwind of obligations and emotions, and it’s hard to imagine anybody being ready for it. But you are, trust yourself, you can do it. The thing is, though, it does get hard to focus on the smaller, less time-consuming things.
Breastfeeding being one of them and now don’t get me wrong; feeding your child is extremely important. However, it’s something that only takes a few minutes at a time, and we do sometimes forget to think about it when there are a hundred diapers to buy.
The trouble with breastfeeding is that like anything else; things can go wrong. Failure to prepare for these potential missteps will cause unnecessary stress as you struggle to deal with them.
Breastfeeding Tips & Best Practices
Here are some helpful tips that you should know about:
I know that you’re exhausted after going through childbirth and you probably just want to sleep, but this is something that you should jump on right from the word go so that you can get used to the process as quickly as possible.
Chances are, the nurses are going to want you to do this too. Don’t resist on account of tiredness or anxiety or anything like that. Just go with it. Even if it’s frustrating at the beginning, which it probably will be, power through it.
There are lots of things that can make the process feel like a chore. Your baby might be struggling to latch on. Your breasts will be tender because they’re not used to this new sensation, and you might even be struggling to produce any milk.
Some of these things will happen to every new mother, and all of them will happen to some mothers. They’re not things that should cause you to worry excessively. Of course, if there is something very problematic for you, then be sure to let your doctors or lactation consultant know, as most issues can be remedied easily.
If you wait because you have concerns or fears over your ability to breastfeed, you’re only prolonging things. It’s better to learn from the word go so you can comfortably feed for as long as your child needs it.
Breastfeeding Positions: Find Your Own Way to Hold
Something else that might be a bit of a struggle for you in the early days is finding a comfortable position to rest in while you’re feeding. It’s a position that you’re going to have to be in a lot while your baby is young, so this is important.
It’s not the same for everyone, some mothers like a fairly standard cradle. Just having your child lying on their side with their head resting in the crook of your arm. You can easily support them with the same arm this way.
If you’d prefer a bit more support for yourself and the baby than you would get here, you can also try it in a reclining position. You can lie on your side in bed with pillows behind you to prop you up and more pillows are propping up your baby.
There’s also something which is known as the ‘football hold’. It doesn’t sound particularly safe, but it actually is. You would basically hold your child under one arm and support their body with your forearm and their head with your hand.
It looks like you’re holding a football but it gives the baby easy access to your breast. You don’t have to stick to these traditional holds either, find whatever position is comfortable for both you and your baby.
Tools for breastfeeding?! Sounds a bit strange but hear me out. There are a lot of handy little devices that you can buy which will make breastfeeding so much easier for you and you may not have heard of any of them.
The first thing that might be useful is a nursing pillow. Tying into the last point that I made, it can be hard to find a position that’s comfortable for the two of you, but a nursing pillow should help eliminate that problem.
Usually, it’s one that you can rest on your lap while in a sitting position and your baby can lie on it on their side. It allows you to have both of your hands-free while nursing which is super convenient.
Then there’s also a breastfeeding pump. This is something that every mother should have. You can use it to pump milk from your breast and fill bottles of it that you can store for later use. Useful if you’re going to be separated from your baby for whatever reason or if something is preventing you from being able to feed.
For example, in the event that you’re not feeling well and need to take medication for a day or two, such as when you have a cold or the flu. You’ll already have a supply of milk on hand for your baby, allowing you to continue to pump and discard the potentially tainted milk.
It looks a little scary but it’s perfectly safe and painless to use. A related tool then you should think about is a co-sleeper. Some people aren’t high on the idea of co-sleeping and if you’re one of them, that’s fair enough, but it’s useful to have for breastfeeding.
This position is wonderful for the moments when you need to feed during the night, you don’t even have to get out of bed to do it. Your baby is right there next to you.
Breastfeeding Diet: Stay Nourished
Paying close attention to your breastfeeding diet is for both your benefit and your baby’s benefit. Your diet is important because it will influence the quality of the milk that you’re producing. Your baby needs to be getting a lot of nutrients, and only you can make sure that happens.
Making breast milk is hard work for your body, and it requires a lot of calories. It increases your energy needs by about 500 calories per day so you need to make up the difference somehow. You’re going to be hungrier that’s for sure, but you have to eat the right stuff.
You need plenty of Vitamin A, C, B1, B2, B12, Calcium, Iron, and Zinc, among others so keep all of that in mind when you are putting together your diet plan. A lot of this stuff can be covered by eating fish, especially the likes of salmon and shellfish or by taking a breastfeeding supplement.
You should also make sure there’s some red meat in your diet, as well as beans, lentils, and green vegetables too. Basically, what you consider to be part of a healthy, balanced diet but take it extra seriously while you’re breastfeeding.
When to Seek Help
So even with all of this stuff, you still might encounter some problems. Not everything is going to run as smoothly as we want it to all the time, and that’s frustrating, but you don’t have to face it all alone.
If you feel like you’re not producing enough milk, or you’re experiences blockages, or you have trouble getting your baby to feed this way, talk to someone. Don’t let your relationship with the nurses and doctors that helped you in the hospital end when you leave.
Make sure that you keep them updated because they will probably want to hear from you anyway, and they will have the answers to most of your questions. Any slight concern you have, broach it with a professional.
They’ve probably heard it before anyway, so there’s no reason for you to be embarrassed about the pitfalls that you’re facing. They say it takes a village to raise a child and that’s not a bad thing, because the village always wants to help.
Breastfeeding should be a time for you and your baby to bond. It’s a display of trust and a moment of pure familial intimacy, and it should be an opportunity that you can truly appreciate sharing with your child.
So don’t let all of these little things get in the way of such a beautiful, parental experience. Approaching breastfeeding from the right angle will allow yourself to relish in the connection that is brewing between the two of you.