The message is getting out about how great breastfeeding is for both you and your baby. More people are choosing to breastfeed. If you don’t know all the great reasons to breastfeed or need more here is a link to 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child. Just this week the news reported that the risk of strokes can be reduced by women breastfeeding their babies.
Unfortunately breastfeeding can be hard. There is so much misinformation about breastfeeding, roadblocks to it, and unsupportive people can make it more difficult. Doctors and nurses are not educated enough on breastfeeding, so when issues arise at the hospital or in the early weeks after, they may give bad advice.
We want to give you a few tips and suggestions to help ensure a greater chance of success.
- Prepare ahead of time. Attend your local La Leche League meetings, take preparation classes, or read up ahead of time. My favorite breastfeeding book is The Breastfeeding Answer Book. It has a lot of tips for problems during nursing. It includes information on how to nurse through special issues like twins, physical deformities, or disabilities. Samantha likes Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding. Ashley loves the Kelly Mom website. It covers things like medications, herbs, and essential oils that are breastfeeding safe among other great topics.
- Do you. Ignore what well meaning friends or relatives suggest, especially if it contradicts anything that you have learned in your research. It was common to do things like put cereal in a bottle to try to get baby to sleep through the night back in the 50s. We now know that that can be harmful to the baby’s immature gut, but grandmothers are still suggesting it to new moms.
- Once baby is born, you need to nurse around every 2 hours including through the night until your milk comes in around day 3-5. Once your milk comes in, you still want to nurse around every 2 hours during the day, but can sleep a little longer at night as long as baby is content and gaining weight. Remember that breastmilk digests rapidly and babies have tiny stomachs ensuring the need to eat frequently. Frequent nursing also helps baby poop more which pushes the bilirubin through their system faster. The more that they poop, the less likely they are to develop jaundice.
- Do not use bottles or pacifiers for the first month or so to avoid nipple confusion. Before grabbing a bottle, call a lactation consultant so that we can figure out what the problem is. You may have heard people say that a baby can use mom for a pacifier, but that is backwards thinking. A pacifier is a substitute for mom. Sometimes babies need to nurse more often to increase milk supply while sick or for growth spurts. Non-nutritive sucking is just as important for security, comfort, and bonding.
- Keep up with a healthy diet and vitamins while nursing. Drink plenty of fluids. Your intake influences your ability to produce enough milk. Some foods like caffeine, onions, and garlic can cause baby to be gassy. If you notice that baby is cranky and gassy, examine what your diet has been like. Baby can’t be allergic to your breastmilk, but can have an intolerance to things in your diet. Things like dairy, soy, or gluten can also cause gassiness, reflux/excessive spitting up, or fussiness.
- It may take a couple of weeks for your milk to regulate to baby’s needs. Be patient. Also be aware that those needs change when baby is sick, teething, or going through a growth spurt.
- My favorite tip is to watch your baby’s cues not the clock once milk is established. Your baby starts off by asking to nurse politely. Rooting or searching for the breast with their mouth is the beginning of asking. They may start asking by making little noises. You do not have to wait until they are screaming for food because the clock says it hasn’t been long enough yet.
- Ashley’s tip is to get help if you are having difficulty. Call a lactation consultant. There are little tricks that can be tailored to your own personal experience.
- Samantha wants to remind you to bring baby to your breast instead of your breast to your baby. This helps ensure a better latch and helps avoid backache.
- Your nipples may get a little sore while adjusting to nursing. They should not crack, bleed, or be very painful. This website has tips on how to tell if you are getting a good latch. A lip and/or tongue tie can be the cause of this. Consult a lactation consultant or pediatric dentist that does revisions to see if this might be the case.
- Are you still concerned that baby is not getting enough to eat? This handout from Kelly Mom is great for helping figure out if that is your problem.
- Want more breastfeeding info? Check out my Breastfeeding page on Pinterest.
Keep in mind that there are rare cases that someone may not be able to breastfeed due to things like insufficient glandular tissue, certain medications or health issues, trauma from past sexual assaults, etc. It is always good to consult an expert to see if this is the case if you are continuing to have difficulty.
Did you breastfeed? Did you have any difficulties?