May 22, 2010 by currbell
Despite the 14+ feedings I do a day for about three months now, I’m no expert on breastfeeding. We had a lot of problems to overcome at the beginning. It takes a little while to learn the techniques to good breastfeeding (well it took me a while anyway) and it can take babies a little while to learn how to feed well. I had to be away from my girls and in the hospital not long after the birth, and pumped during that time, and I was on medication so the girls had to go on formula for a while, and I lost a lot of my milk supply, which had to be built back up. But we have worked through all of it, and the girls are growing SO good. You absolutely should get more comprehensive advice if you plan on breastfeeding, but here are somethings that I didn’t find in the books.
- Breastfeeding is not intuitive, or at least doing well without pain and bleeding isn’t instinctive anyway. It’s something you need help with to be successful at. I had more that one experienced mom help me with my latching and problems I had at different times in the learning process. Seek out women who really enjoyed breastfeeding among your acquaintances, go to LaLeche League meetings, or hire a lactation consultant. What I’m saying is don’t be afraid to look for help. I would have never made it without some!
- If breastfeeding is painful for you in the beginning use the breathing and relaxation techniques you (hopefully) used in birth.
- It kind of like learning to drive a car, a lot of motor memory skills. And just like you weren’t ready for Nascar after your first driving lesson, its going to take you a little while to get the hang of it. Give yourself some grace, and remember all the reasons it’s worth it…you know the reasons, you’ve read them. But I must say now that I’ve got the hang of it…well breastfeeding is just one of the sweetest things. It had the power to create such a lovely, comforting, soothing bond between you and your baby. The first time your baby looks in your eyes and she rubs her little hand up and down your side while feeding and then relaxes and falls asleep in your arms you’ll know it was all worth it.
- Keep your fingernails cut short as you come closer to your due date. I think this helps with just handling new babies in general, but it especially helps when you have to unlatch your baby.
- Get some lanolin for breast feeding (Lansinoh is a brand that is available at most drug stores) and use it after each feeding. When I was having pain during feedings I was encouraged to express out a little breast milk and then stand in front of a fan and let it dry before I put on any lanolin. Air drying can be very helpful. Getting some direct sunlight on your breasts each day is supposed to be helpful also is healing up an cracking and bleeding. Try heat or cold to sooth pain.
- If you are having a lot of trouble with cracking or bleeding and are considering quiting because of it try pumping for a while instead of feeding, so that you can heal up. Pumping helped me get an idea for how breastfeeding should feel if I’m doing it right, which helped me know when I was doing it wrong and it gave me time to heal. I am told that breast pumps can be rented from a pharmacy, but I have never tried renting one.
- Check your breasts regularly for knots or painful spots. Massage them as you feed to get them worked out. You need to take care of these as a clogged milk duct can grow into worse problems. If you have some knots that won’t move try to get extra rest and fill a bowl with water as hot and lean over the counter and soak your breast i the bowl for ten minutes massaging it occasionally, then breastfeed as soon as you can afterwards. That was the tip that worked the best for me.
- There are lots of ways to increase your milk supply. Mother’s milk tea worked pretty well for me, but there are LOTS of ways to increase your supply. If you suspect that your baby is not getting enough food be carefully about running right to formula, as that could cause you to have even less milk. Your body increases the supply to meet the demand, so make sure she spends lots of time sucking even if you need to give her something afterwards. Make sure to drink plenty of water.
- Keep some reference materials around on breastfeeding. Having a copy of “The Womanly Art of Breasting” around has helped me lots when I ran into an issue that I wasn’t sure how to deal with. I found this article on latching really helpful. I wish i had read it before I started breastfeeding.
- Breasting feeding can be a wonderful opportunity to do your Bible reading and listen to some great pod casts. An ipod has turned into one my small blessings in mother hood. I have listened to several books on librivox (I highly recommend this one, and this one, and this one…too much fun and very encouraging too) and of course this is the perfect time for the Homemakers By Choice podcast (it was such a blessing and encouragement for those weeks that we couldn’t make it to church). If you need a little inspiration for all the cooking your not doing, ideas for quick dinners, and just plain old entertainment (even The Man, who’s interest in cooking equals zero finds these podcasts interesting when he hears one) you must check out The Splendid Table, and if you start feeling horribly disconnect from the rest of the world (I couldn’t believe it, there were major earthquakes that I didn’t even know about until weeks afterwards, lol) you might try this podcast for a five minute update on the news of the day.
- After I became comfortable with breastfeeding I was able to use a ring sling (there are some lovely ones at this site, though I didn’t get my ring sling here, I did get a wrap carrier and the shop owner was MORE than helpful) to breast feed and do things like type up an e-mail, make lasagna, or soothe a SCREAMING baby in while shopping (covered of course). That discovery has been a real blessing.
- I had a lot of trouble keeping the girl’s hands out of the way while trying to get them latched. Swaddling while feeding can help you get through that stage if you have problems.
- Lastly, breastfeeding is not just about food, but also about relationship. My two girls are different people and they interact with me and feed differently. Get to know YOUR baby. Learn to understand her and speak her language. I heard a story the other day of a lady who could eat anything while breastfeeding but deviled eggs, lol. It upset her babies stomach. Sounds crazy, but she figured it out. The best thing you can do as mother in most any area is know your child.