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Parenting

Let’s Talk About Breastfeeding. . .

3 Life Changing Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

`The first few months of your newborn’s life are a whirlwind. Sleep for eight consecutive hours seem like a distant memory. What’s more recovery from child-birth and hormonal changes will likely leave you physically and mentally exhausted. {You will have a new definition for the word, “exhausted.”} Add in trying to breastfeed, and you might begin to feel pretty overwhelmed. These are bits of wisdom to hopefully help you gain knowledge and confidence in breastfeeding and in motherhood overall.

1. Breastfeeding is LEARNED; Be Patient with Yourself and Your Baby

While breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful thing, it is also HARD. Breastfeeding is a skill and has to be learned. At times it is painful and overwhelming. Before I had my son, I didn’t know about most of the problems that would come up with nursing! I expected sore nipples for the first two weeks. I thought that my nipples would toughen up and it would be smooth sailing from there. But it takes a while to get the hang of nursing. Every child is different. I had to learn to nurse all over again with my second baby.

I have been incredibly lucky. Both my kids have been excellent nursers. No latching problems past the first two weeks. Thankfully, I have enough of a milk supply to feed my baby and store a little. And I have a supportive husband and family and a network of moms to go to for advice. But it was STILL HARD! It is important to know going into a new breastfeeding relationship that it will most likely a while to work out the kinks (usually 4-6 weeks), and longer still to master it and truly understand your baby’s language.

Even though it is just you and your baby when you are breastfeeding, raising a child truly does take a village, and that begins at birth. You need the support of your partner, your family, and close friends to dedicate the time and energy to establish breastfeeding and bond with your newborn. At first, it may not come easily. Give it time and go easy on yourself.

 

Ultimate Breastfeeding Guide
Reading a book to Roman while nursing a 4 week old River

(PHOTO CREDIT: Lindsey Heringer Photography)

 

2. Find Your Mama Tribe

The most important breastfeeding advice I can give you is to seek out other women who are breastfeeding or have breastfed. Talk to your mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, aunts, cousins, sisters, friends, anyone who can share their wisdom with you. Just as every child is different, every mother’s experiences will be different and will offer unique perspective.  You will have SO MANY questions in your first weeks nursing your little one. Do not be afraid to pick up the phone and ask.

In addition to those in your circle of family and friends, you have other resources available to you. Lactation consultants are overflowing with breastfeeding wisdom and they are passionate about helping mommies like you navigate the sometimes tricky waters. You can search for certified lactation consultants near you here. Most hospitals have lactation consultants in their employ, and will offer their services to you after you deliver your baby. Soak up all the advice you can and save their phone number. Remember that you can call them any time or set up an appointment to go over any questions you have. They are experts.

Organized moms’ groups are a great way to meet like-minded women. MOPS is an international group that exists solely to allow moms a place to share their experiences and form a network of support and friendship. The Le Leche League is also a fantastic resource if you have a chapter in your area. This is an international organization of women whose goal it is to encourage and educate mothers to help them breastfeed! How cool is that!? In addition, Facebook groups and forums dedicated to moms helping moms are prolific. Help is truly everywhere.

Talk About It!!

In other cultures around the globe, breastfeeding is a rite of passage, a skill passed down from one generation to the next. Mothers, grandmothers, and aunts surround a new mother, help her recover from childbirth, and teach her to feed her baby. For some reason, we in the United States are afraid to talk about the nitty-gritty details of nursing. American mommies are afraid to be seen nursing and do not talk about breastfeeding in mixed company. We don’t discuss what works, what doesn’t, and how demanding an overwhelming those first few weeks can be. We suffer in silence.

It is no wonder that so many women quit nursing because it is they have low supply, can’t get their baby to latch, etc.? I wonder what might change if women were having more conversations with each other about their breastfeeding challenges. There is nothing more validating that realizing that you aren’t alone in a struggle.

 

3. Make Breastfeeding A Joint Effort

If women aren’t talking about breastfeeding, men DEFINITELY aren’t talking about breastfeeding. In all likelihood, your partner has no idea what you might be struggling with or how you are feeling. TELL THEM! One of the biggest mistakes we make as women is to assume our partners know what we are thinking and what we need. Be vocal about what you are going through. Ask for help if you are tired or need a break.

Get Dad involved. Share new knowledge with your partner as you learn about breastfeeding and about your new baby. Breastfeeding is something only you can do for your baby, but yu don’t have to do it without support. Involve your partner by having him read the baby a book while you nurse her to sleep, or rock her to sleep after a feeding. After the first month or so, when your milk supply is established, you might want to pump milk and have your partner give the baby a bottle.

The bottom line is DON’T DO IT ALONE. You are parenting together. Share the load and ask for help when you need it.

Treasure This Time

Ask for help. Communicate with your partner, your loved ones, and your older children. Give yourself time to come into your new role. Be patient and forgiving of yourself. Allow yourself space to relish your little peanut. Do not stress about breastfeeding, or any aspect of parenting a newborn, to the point that you are not able to treasure the little moments with them. Remember that you are a great mom and focus on loving your little baby 🙂

 

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1 Comment

  1. Tashé

    The hardest thing about breastfeeding is wanting to pump and getting people to respect the liquid gold. I hate when I have to stop what I’m doing at workto pump. Then to have a sitter waste milk or warm up a full bottle knowing that I get off in 30 minutes. So when I get there to pick up my child, I have a full bottle and full Boobs. So now I have to have someone feed him while I pump so I don’t waste milk.

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