How Do I Give Myself the Best Chance to Breastfeed Successfully?
February 8, 2016
There is a plethora of information available around the topic of breastfeeding, but how do you know what is best for you? As a first time breastfeeding mom, the best thing you can do is educate yourself so that you are able to make your own decisions about the rewarding experience of breastfeeding.
If you’re going to breastfeed, be resolute in that. While breastfeeding is a special experience for a mom and baby, it may bring challenges. Back up your decision with a solid breastfeeding support system and find yourself a lactation consultant or doula who you trust long before your baby is born.
Be Prepared with Breastfeeding Essentials
There are many breastfeeding products on the market that will help you with any problems you may encounter as well as make breastfeeding more comfortable for mom and baby.
- A good breastfeeding pillow is one of the most important essentials to have on hand. It will help you position your baby comfortably and make it easy to safely breastfeed your baby in each position.
- Nipple cream and breast shells will soothe sore nipples and help you collect any leaking breast milk when feeding from one breast and milk lets down from the other.
- A nursing bra will keep you comfortable and supported while you’re breastfeeding and give you a better way to hold breast pads in place.
- A breast pump, bottles, and storage materials as well as a bottle warmer set you up to express milk even if your baby is having trouble nursing in the beginning.
Find Support Among Others
Take a breastfeeding class while you’re still pregnant and set up a breastfeeding support system aside from a lactation specialist or doula. In your class, talk to other first time breastfeeding moms and find moms who have already been through it all as well. Get some extra help in place such as family and friends, especially if you have other children to take care of. Breastfeeding takes up a lot of time and energy and having the extra support of others who will pick up the slack with the other children, assist in house cleaning and cooking, or cheer you up when you’re experiencing difficulties will make a world of difference.
Nurse Early and Often
From the day your baby is born, you’ll start to have the first drops of colostrum that will eventually turn to more noticeable milk after a few days. Even though it’s only a little bit, nurse as often as you can and if your baby isn’t hungry or you’re not producing enough milk at first, try pumping or breastfeeding products and remedies to stimulate flow. The first couple of weeks are crucial to getting your milk to let down and for your body to learn to adjust. This is also a crucial time for your baby to learn how to latch on and become accustomed to feeding.
Take Care of Yourself (and Your Breasts)!
Before you ever even give birth, get in the habit of eating well and exercising. Not only will this help you keep your energy up and produce the healthiest breastmilk you can but it will also get you in the habit of keeping yourself healthy while you breastfeed. The benefits of breastfeeding are enhanced by good diet and exercise and you’ll notice the difference if you go from eating junk to eating well. Add a nutritionist to your breastfeeding support team to help you stay on track even better.
Learn about your breasts and how they make milk, if not from a breastfeeding class then from books and other trusted breastfeeding resources. The better you can care for your breasts, the more success you’ll have in breastfeeding.
Stay Diligent, No Matter What
You’re going to have issues and you’re going to meet opposition as a breastfeeding mom and it’s important that you never give up. Don’t let the negative opinions of others get to you and keep your breastfeeding support team on call to help you get through any issues and cheer you on when you’re feeling down about your decision. Stay committed and remember why you chose to be a breastfeeding mom as well as all the benefits of breastfeeding that come with the experience. Above all remember that there is a solution to every problem and that you can do this!