From conquering the first few days to tips on how to stick with it, Beck leads us through some of the basics to consider for those planning to breastfeed.
The art of breastfeeding. Our bodies are made to do it, and experts agree it’s head and shoulders above the rest. So, it was quite upsetting when my sweet baby arrived and I had no idea what to do or where to turn. Somewhere between the baby name books and maternity clothes I overlooked researching the most important decision I would make… nursing.
After a trip to the pediatrician for jaundice just one day after our daughter was born, I was given the name of a lactation consultant who helped me immensely. I quickly realized I was not the first new mom to need help. While I’m far from an expert, after nine months of feedings, I’ve learned so much about this often overlooked aspect of parenting. Before you ditch the breast for bottle, consider preparing yourself for the most beautiful gift you can give your child.
Breastfeeding is best-feeding. Research reveals that breast milk is far superior to formula, with benefits into adulthood. Even just a few months of breastfeeding can provide antibodies to shield your child from a host of illnesses. The first few sleepless nights (or weeks in our case) of parenting leave little time for reading, so preparing beforehand may save you from giving up too quickly.
Attend a Breastfeeding Class
Similar to childbirth classes, they offer an overview of what life looks like post baby. There are many organizations, both local and national, that offer these informative classes. For example, La Leche League holds monthly meetings across the U.S. and abroad.
Consider a Lactation Consultant
The hospital has lactation consultants available, but it can be hard to get the hang of nursing when you’re so overwhelmed with that beautiful new baby in your arms. Consider asking friends or relatives for references should you need help once you arrive home. The cost for an initial home visit can run anywhere from $100 to $200, with a lesser charge for each additional visit.
Invest in a Good Pump
While it’s best to avoid offering bottles during the first few weeks of nursing, it’s a good idea to have access to a quality pump. There are so many options, both single and double, depending on how much you plan to pump. If you’d rather not buy a pump, you may be able to rent one. A pump can be used to relieve engorgement between feedings and can help you build your stored supply. Freshly expressed breast milk can be kept safely in a refrigerator for up to eight days, in a standard freezer for three to six months, or in a deep freezer for six months to a year. Visit the CDC’s website for the most current handling and storage guidelines.
It can be so challenging those first few weeks, with little sleep and a new baby to love, that breastfeeding can seem absolutely draining – and you may want to quit. I know I did! Try to remember you’re giving your baby the tremendous gift of milk made just for him or her. Find a comfortable, quiet place to nurse away from distractions. Once you get comfortable, you can start practicing nursing in different places both in and out of your home. One thing that worked well for us was keeping a boppy pillow in the backseat of the car. I always felt very comfortable nursing while we were out knowing I could go to the car for privacy. It may take a few weeks (or in our case months) to get used to the demands of nursing, but once you settle into a good routine it gets much, much easier!
Even if you can’t breastfeed, due to low milk supply or other health reasons, enjoy the closeness of feeding your newborn. It goes far too quickly. As our night-wakings have dwindled to just one in the ninth month, I try my best to remember my sweet baby girl won’t be little much longer! I try to take every opportunity possible to dance, laugh, sing and snuggle with my little one and I encourage you to do the same!