I have spoken about breastfeeding here before. Nursing my babies hasn't always been the easiest. I have wanted to quit. I have been frustrated. At times it is messy, exhausting, and inconvenient. But the bonding with my children, and the excellent nourishment my body is providing them, gives me all the encouragement I need to keep going.
I nursed Wilder for 8 months and Story for 13 months. Both of them self-weaned. That is my plan with Truman Ray. I did set the goal of 6 months with him, but am, at this point, happy to go until 12 months or even longer.
Now, on to my top ten breastfeeding tips!
Invest in quality products that will support your breastfeeding endeavors, like a dual electric pump, comfortable nursing bras and pads, lanolin cream, a nursing cover. Make sure your bras are non-underwire, as underwires could increase your likelihood of obtaining mastitis.
A correct latch is everything! If it hurts your nipple while baby is suckling, the latch is incorrect. Guide your baby to fully flange his mouth against/over your nipple and a large portion of your areola. Break the latch with your pinkie finger and try again if she doesn't get it right the first time. You should be tummy to tummy and should be able to look into each other's eyes.
Surround yourself with women who support your breastfeeding goals. Contact La Leche League for resources on playdates, or start a breastfeeding group of your own.
Enjoy the moments. While multitasking is often a necessity, take time to really enjoy the nursing sessions with your baby. Caress his head, smile at him as he looks at you. Hold his hand. Take advantage of this opportunity to be still, relax, and focus on your baby. If older children impede the quiet, provide them with special quiet activities and toys while you nurse.
If you are new to breastfeeding, take advantage of the lactation consultant services your hospital or midwife provides. It can be very overwhelming and frustrating to get the correct latch, or deal with engorgement, or wonder about frequency of feeding, or have a very sleepy baby who doesn't want to nurse. Before giving up, seek help.
Pump a few ounces a day to build up a supply for when you do need to be away from your baby. I suggest preparing a bottle of breast milk for your significant other to offer your child from time to time (if the baby will take a bottle). This gives you a little break and allows daddy to bond with the child in that way. This is just a personal preference of mine. Some mamas don't like to use bottles at all.
Trust the system. It's hard not to worry that your child is getting enough to eat. But God designed a perfectly synchronized system for you and your baby. If you are feeding your baby when he is hungry, he is gaining weight and having the recommended amount of soiled diapers, then your supply is fine. If you are worried about your supply, see a pediatrician or lactation consultant.
Take care of you. Be sure you are intaking the recommended amount of calories per day. Eat nutrient-rich food and refrain from drinking alcohol. Secondly, hydration is king! Take advantage of supply-boosting foods/supplements like Mother's Milk tea, lactation cookies, fenugreek. And stay diligent with prenatal vitamins.
Engorgement is not a forever thing! I have had severe engorgement with all three babies shortly after their births. To be honest, it was quite painful and I didn't think my body would regulate. I could write an entire post on engorgement but my main input is: 1) if your breast is too large for the baby to latch on, hand-express or pump (just a little bit) so there is a nipple to latch onto. 2) if the pain is too much, place one fresh cabbage leaf over each bare breast for about a half hour; the pain subsides almost immediately 3) place wash cloths over your breasts while showering; the warm (not hot!) water will sooth the pain but not come into direct contact with tender nipples/breasts.
Don't be hard on yourself. Every day of breastfeeding is a gift to you and your baby. Go for as long as you can but don't feel guilty if you have to stop earlier than you had anticipated.
One of my dreams is to become a Lactation Consultant. I'm so passionate about it!