5 practical things to know about breastfeeding…
Another mom post! What can I say, being a mommy is pretty much what I do 24/7 and when they are so little there is not a whole of time to think or do much else but the basics. I am excited to share with you a little about my breastfeeding journey and hope to help other new mom’s or soon-to-be mommies out there. My disclaimer here is that my little one is just two months old, so what I am sharing is about my experience so far and I am sure breastfeeding looks different as babies get older.
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telling you about the practical
In these past two months I have learned so much and I have also followed previous advice given to me that I have appreciated. Here are my 5 top practical things I believe you should know as you start the breastfeeding journey:
#1 Learn What Normal Breastfeeding Looks Like. It seems very basic and instinctual that you would know what good and normal breastfeeding is like, but the truth is most new mom’s out there do not. Comments such as ‘it will get better’ only normalizes situations that may actually not be normal in the breastfeeding process. For example, pain is normal at the beginning stages of breastfeeding but it should disappear by the end of the first week. If you are still experiencing pain after one week of nursing chances are that baby does not have a good latch, and could possibly have tongue/lip ties. Secondly, though breastfeeding at first can seem to be a ‘messy’ experience in the sense that baby may be dripping milk when eating. However, it is not normal to have so much milk drip over that you would have to always change shirts. Other things to consider is that good breastfeeding is normally silent. If your baby is wheezing or constantly coughing, chances are that baby is experiencing reflux. Good and normal breastfeeding has a pattern, which is SUCK-SWALLOW-BREATHE. If your baby is holding their breath and having to stop to catch up on their breathing when breastfeeding they have not developed good efficiency and efficacy when breastfeeding and this can tire them faster. I was surprised to realize that I did not have a good concept of what good breastfeeding feels and looks like, I kept thinking to myself ‘this is probably normal, and it will soon get better…’ It was not until week 4 that I decided to see a lactation consultant who was so wise in guiding me.
#2 Learn How To Read Your Baby. It was not until I saw my pediatrician for the first visit that I learned how to read baby cues. For example, when babies fists are closed and tight it normally means they are hungry. However, once they start eating you will notice their hands will start to relax. Once they are full, their hands will be totally relaxed and loose. This is one way to tell that your baby has had the adequate amount of food (since you cannot tell how many oz they are eating when breastfeeding). Other signals to look for are in baby are bloating, frequent spit ups, frequent hiccups, baby banging their head… all of these have a cause and a reason behind them. If your baby is acting in a way that makes you wonder, look into it, 9/10 times they are trying to communicate something.
#3 Start Pumping As Soon As Possible. I am not sure that I had plans to delay pumping, but a close friend of mine said that her biggest regret was not pumping soon enough. Pumping helps your body produce more milk, and even if you have an adequate supply pumping is extremely helpful especially if you have plans to return to work, or if you’d like to not be the only one who can feed baby. I am so glad I started to pump right away. We introduced a bottle to our baby after week 1, and though it is impossible to predict whether baby will take to a bottle or experience nipple confusion, it was well worth it in my experience. I was so nervous to introduce a bottle but I was feeling extremely exhausted from being the only one who can feed baby. Luckily our baby took to a bottle right away and did not experience nipple confusion. Of course we only used the bottle as needed. I personally believe that introducing a bottle in the early stages helped her take the bottle easily; whereas if had introduced it to her now she would be able to clearly feel and know the difference and possibly have rejected it.
#4 Get the Adequate Nursing/Pumping Supplies. Pumping is a hard enough task as it is. At first it feels over complicated, time-consuming, and uncomfortable. I am sure that feeling wears off with time. However, my recommendation is that you set up yourself for success with the necessary supplies so that there are even less barriers to getting your pumping done. For me that looked like buying all-in-one nursing & pumping bras so that I do not have to change bras for pumping. These two bra’s are my favorite that I found on Amazon, they are very similar but the straps are different and I like them both, one is more comfortable during the day for support and the other better at night.
If you are an on-the-go person, make sure that you have the right supplies so that you can pump on-the-go. For me this looked like ensuring my pump could be plugged to the car, and/or with batteries. I also bought a lunch pale so that I could store milk in a cool place while out and about. Finally, I also bought nursing/pumping friendly tops so that I did not have to lift or take my shirt off in order to nurse or pump. With these tops you can pump while driving, and nurse anywhere without the need of a cover (if that is your style) - they are my absolute favorite and I am wearing one of them on the picture above. I am sure I will continue to re-order more styles!
#5 Breastfeeding Tea’s, Supplements, & Smoothies. Having a good supply is most everyone’s main concern. I didn’t wait to know whether my supply was good or not before I went ahead and did all the things to increase supply. By day three I was already producing abundant milk. A few things that I did were drinking lactation tea’s twice a day (Mother’s Milk), take fennel essential oil capsules, and make lactation smoothies. The main thing is to stay hydrated! Wishing you the best in your breastfeeding journey, and remember that all of our experiences are different, we are all doing the best we can.