Having a newborn is amazing and overwhelming all at once. With an every-three-hour round the clock schedule of eating, changing and sleeping (for the baby), even a small issue can feel like a big one. With the popularity of breastfeeding, and all of the media messages and random people on the street telling you that you must do it, and having mommy guilt if you don’t, a less than smooth start to nursing can make any new mom frustrated. But, with a positive attitude and a little perseverance, soon you’ll be telling new moms your tips for success!
1. Keep your eye on the prize and understand the benefits. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It is easy to digest and changes from feed to feed to provide exactly what your baby needs. Benefits include fewer ear infections, respiratory infections, stomach viruses and allergic reactions.
Pumping and bottle feeding is an excellent option too. Monitor your baby’s feeding cues and if he or she wants to stop eating (won’t latch, turns his or her head away and/or cries if you try to give him or her more) don’t force it. Babies know when they’re full and forcing them to eat more may lead to overweight children because they won’t understand what it means to be “full” and stop eating.
2. Find a support system. This can be your partner, best friend, mom, lactation consultant, a moms group, anyone. Many women quit breastfeeding within the first 10 days due to pain, frustration, exhaustion and just sheer annoyance of having your baby on your breast for up to 8 hours per day (while you’re in pain, frustrated and exhausted). But you and your baby learn more about each other and nursing everyday and then all of a sudden you’re a pro. Talk to your support system and keep nursing.
3. Take a breastfeeding class. Before you have the baby it’s useful to know what to expect. It’s also good to take a class with your baby in the hospital to receive more personalized advice.
4. Make your intentions clear to the nurses in the hospital that you are going to breastfeed. Even if you don’t have your baby in the room every hour of your stay the hospital staff should bring him or her to you when it’s time to eat.
5. Get help. Call a lactation consultant within the first week if nursing isn’t as easy as you anticipated. A lactation consultant can answer all of your questions regarding latch, pain and whether or not your baby is getting enough milk. Call La Leche League, the hospital, your doctor or someone from your support group for a referral.
6. Stick with it. The longer you breastfeed the easier it gets. While it is natural, it’s also something that you and your baby need to learn how to do.
But ultimately, decide if breastfeeding is the right choice for you. With formula as a close runner up to breast milk it’s important that you’re happy with your decision of how to feed your baby, whatever that may be. Babies respond to your emotions and should find feeding an enjoyable, bonding experience. If you’re happy at mealtime they will be too, and ultimately a good relationship with your baby is the most important thing.