Congratulations! You had a baby! Now it's time to feed them! If you are anything like me, you might be surprised to find out that it isn't as simple as you may have thought.
I still remember being pregnant with my first child. Like many others I assumed I would place my baby on my breast (after my perfect labor and delivery of course) and they would immediately latch, my milk would be overflowing and we'd be off on our beautiful adventure. Oh honey, if only I could go back in time...
Since I cannot go back and inform myself, maybe I can save another mom some trouble and heartache.
Disclaimer! Before I continue, I want to make it known that I think informed and supported is best. For some that is exclusive breastfeeding, for some that is formula and for some it is every combination in between! I was not able to breastfeed my first child due to medical complications. I combo fed my second child. There is no shame in how you feed your child and I will fiercely defend every parent's right to do what is best for their family. Now that we've covered that, here are the 10 things I wish I knew about breastfeeding:
1.) Ask for assistance right away.
There is a learning curve to breastfeeding. You have just given birth. Your baby is brand new and getting use to life outside the womb. Ask your nurse, midwife or lactation professional for assistance ensuring that the latch is correct. An incorrect latch can lead to pain, poor milk transfer and other difficulties.
2.) Join local breastfeeding support groups.
In most areas there are breastfeeding support groups that you can find on Facebook. These are usually organized by the local hospital system or health department and are run by an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). Breastfeeding support groups helped me troubleshoot minor difficulties I was having, make new friends and talk to other moms that were going through the same things I was. The IBCLC I met was an angel and one of the sweetest people I've ever met.
3.) Follow IBCLCs on Social Media.
Social Media can be a great way to get information on breastfeeding tips, tricks and motivation. It is important to make sure that the pages you follow are certified professionals, usually they will list their qualifications in their bio. Following professionals is a great free resource.
4.) Hydrate! Make sure you have water before you sit down to nurse!
Producing breastmilk requires staying hydrated! I never knew true thirst until I started breastfeeding. I always make sure to have water when I start nursing, or else I will immediately regret it.
5.) Have several spots around the house with comfy pillows, nice blankets and a phone charger.
It is nice to have several spots around where you can get comfortable while nursing. This is especially helpful in the beginning when you are recovering from birth and need to conserve your energy.
6.) Don't quit on a hard day.
Some days will be hard. It is OK and to be expected. Motherhood is tough. If breastfeeding is something that is important to you, take it one day at a time. Remind yourself of the reasons why you want to do this. If it is no longer the best thing for your family, that is OK!
7.) Stress can decrease milk supply.
Take some deep breaths. Do some yoga. Go on a light walk. All these things can help relieve stress and can help milk let down. Easier said than done, I know.
8.) Be careful of who you take advice from.
Before you take someone's advice make sure that they are familiar with the situation you are running into. An oversupply will have different issues than an under supply and the solutions will be different. I am someone who has battled a low supply for years. Some of my closest friends can pump 5x as much as I can in one sitting. What works for them won't work for me. Everybody is different and solutions are not one size fits all.
9.) Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt!
If breastfeeding is painful, SEEK HELP! Breastfeeding should not hurt. You should not be in pain. Please, please, please work with an IBCLC or CLC to get the problem diagnosed and solved.
10.) You are doing amazing. Take care of yourself!
You are amazing. You are an amazing mom. You are the perfect mom for your baby. It is going to be OK. One day you will sleep again. One day you will feel like yourself again. You've got this! <3