Breastfeeding may be one of the most natural acts on the planet, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Yes, we said it, sometimes breastfeeding can be challenging. If you are experiencing difficulty, know you are not alone. Breastfeeding is a relationship of dedication, perseverance, nurture and love. Today we are sharing 5 steps to make breastfeeding easier.
- Take a Breastfeeding Class and Read about Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding preparation can and should begin before your baby is born. After all, during pregnancy your body is already gearing up to breastfeed by creating the necessary hormones and undergoing breast changes. You should get your mind in the game as well by taking a breastfeeding class at your local hospital and reading up on breastfeeding. Although nothing replaces real-life experience, wrapping your head around breastfeeding will help when it’s time to start putting your knowledge (and instinct) into action. Also, many moms are unaware of potential challenges in breastfeeding, such as engorgement, latch issues and other impediments. Having an understanding of what may occur and knowing which resources to turn to for a refresher on how to resolve them, will cut back on a lot of frustration and help you work through bumps in the road.
- Hold your Baby ASAP after Birth: Connecting with your baby immediately after birth has a profound impact on your breastfeeding relationship. Skin-to-skin contact kindles your baby’s desire to feed and feel safe in your arms and stimulates your milk supply. Put your baby on the breast as soon as your doctor says it is safe for your baby. You will be amazed at his ability to find the nipple and suck. Even if you are not successful at breastfeeding the first time, you are establishing a bond and a routine that your baby will come to know and love.
- Learn your Baby: Here’s what the classes and books can’t teach you – your baby! Every baby is different but every baby was born to breastfeed and every mother has the ability to nurse. Learning your baby will help you recognize his different cries such as hunger, pain, fatigue, needing a diaper change or just wanting affection. As you spend more time with your baby, you’ll become acquainted with signs of hunger even before your baby begins to cry, which is the best time to begin a feeding. Schedules can be super helpful and assure parents their baby is getting plenty of opportunity to eat. However, it’s also important to remain flexible and allow your baby to guide part of your breastfeeding relationship as well.
- Pump when Necessary, Including when You need a Break: When it comes to breastfeeding, there is no right or wrong. It’s all about what works best for you, your baby and your family. Sometimes what is best for everyone is that mom gets a break. All hail the pump! Pumping allows mothers the freedom to spend time away from their babies, and even return to work, without losing their milk supply. Pumped milk allows other family members and caregivers a chance to feed the baby, which is not only helpful, but important for babies to develop strong ties with others besides mom. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself and let your pump be your ally in some much needed rest and relaxation.
- Ask for Help: When you are having trouble breastfeeding, don’t let the problem persist for more than two days without seeking help. Breast milk can be fleeting so if you are not expressing milk consistently – either through nursing or pumping – your supply may dwindle. Lactation consultants are available through a variety of organizations including your hospital, OBGYNs office and community groups such as local WIC offices. They can help you improve milk supply, latch, your baby’s attention span and interest in nursing, and support you as you work through the many challenges new mothers face when breastfeeding. Also, ask for help from experienced moms who may have some good advice for you. If breastfeeding isn’t the problem but you need help with other household tasks or in getting a moment to yourself now-and-then, talk to your partner or family members about it so they can lend a hand.