You CAN master breastfeeding! Learn how in this post sponsored by my partner, buybuy BABY.
Breastfeeding has always been one of my most favorite parts of motherhood. I know that I’m extremely lucky to have been able to bond with my Ayva through nursing for the first 19 months of her life. I’m thrilled to be at the beginning of a new breastfeeding adventure with my son, Jamie!
You would think that since breastfeeding is a natural bodily function that it’d be easy to do. Just pop your breast in your baby’s mouth, and voila—dinner’s served. If only it were that easy. The truth is, nursing can take a little while to master. There are all sorts of factors that go into making a mama and baby have a successful breastfeeding relationship, and each mother/child pair is different. Here are a few tips to help you get started with mastering breastfeeding. Don’t forget to ask for help if you are having trouble. A lactation consultant, or even your child’s pediatrician can be a great support.
How to Master Breastfeeding
Talk to a lactaction consultant.
The best thing that we were able to do when Jamie was born was talk to a lactation consultant before we left the hospital. She gave me a few tips to help me support the baby latching easier, and reassured me that it would take some work. Just knowing that I was on the right path before leaving the hospital gave me confidence. A couple of nights later, when the baby was howling because it was taking too long for him to find my nipple to latch on, I needed that confidence!
Most hospitals have a lactation consultant who makes rounds and will see you after you have the baby. If not, check with your doctor for a recommendation (your insurance probably pays for it!), and look up breastfeeding support groups in your area. It’s incredibly helpful to have an expert help you master your nursing technique in person. You don’t have to figure it out on your own.
Get clothes that are comfortable and easy for you to nurse in.
If you’re anything like me, you have no problem dropping stacks of cash on clothes for your baby. Everything for the little ones is just so cute! Listen, Mama. You have to get some clothes for yourself. You will need clothes that you feel good in. You’ll also need plenty of shirts and dresses that allow you to easily manage handling a wriggly, hungry baby while pulling out a breast and perhaps covering up all at the same time. At buybuy BABY, you can stock up on the perfect nursing outfits in the Motherhood Maternity section. You’ll want to make sure you have comfortable nursing bras, too.
Have a pump on hand (even if you don’t think you’ll need it).
Even if you plan to nurse your baby without supplementing with bottle feedings, get a pump just in case. We all have the best intentions, Mama. The truth is, nursing exclusively is exhausting, and you just might need a break. Being able to pump and make bottles for someone else to feed baby while you get a few minutes to yourself can be a lifesaver. Many insurance companies will reimburse you for an electric breast pump, too. Even if you pick up a small manual pump and a few bottles to keep handy, do it for your sanity.
Take advantage of all of the cool breastfeeding accessories and gadgets that are available.
There are so many interesting accessories that are available to help make nursing easier! I’ll admit, I was opposed to a lot of them because we’re trying to be minimalists in our home. Some of the accessories, though, are too cool to pass up. For instance, have you heard of milk savers cups? buybuy BABY has a selection of these cups that catch the let down from the breast that isn’t being used during a nursing session, so that you can save it and use it in a bottle. Isn’t that awesome? If you’re having a tough time filling a bottle from pumping, one of those milk savers could come in handy. Take some time to walk down the breastfeeding aisles and see all of the nursing gadgets and things.
Take care and keep it simple.
There is something to be said for keeping it simple when it comes to breastfeeding. Break it down into three pieces: Mama, Baby, Body. First, you need to take care of Mama. Make sure you’re eating snacks and drinking lots of water. You’ll need to consume about 500 more calories than normal to keep up with the pace of newborn nursing. Take breaks when you need to. Pump and make bottles if you have to. You have to take care of yourself.
Secondly, watch out for baby. Be present when he’s nursing so that you can start to figure out his cues. Does he poop after nursing for a few minutes? Is he super fussy on the breast? Is he wetting enough diapers that you know he’s getting enough milk?
Finally, take care of your body. Get lanolin to moisturize your nipples and prevent cracks and bleeding. Use a Boppy to prop baby up to take some of the pressure off of your back. Take care of yourself, your body, and your baby, and you’ll be fine.
Give yourself time to figure it out.
Breastfeeding takes time to master. My son was latching on perfectly three hours after being born. Two days later, it was as if he’d never nursed at all. Nursing is new to you, and it’s new to your baby. Cry if you need to when you get frustrated, but then inhale, exhale, and give it another go. I’ll tell you this—it hurts in the beginning until your nipples get used to it. Your baby is going to cry at the top of their lungs if it takes awhile for them to latch and get milk if they’re hungry. You’re going to want to give up and quit. Don’t. Give yourself time. Show yourself grace. You can do this, Mama.