"I'm expecting my first child and I plan to breastfeed. But what should I expect?"
Does this sound like you? There is no doubt that there are many benefits to breastfeeding. However, being a first time mother, you are naturally worried if you are able to do it. I'm not going to lie and guarantee you that there everything will be smooth going. Some people have no problems while others find it very challenging.
As for me, I successfully breastfed all 4 of my kids for 1-2 years. While expecting my first child, I read up all I could about how to do it and also potential challenges. I was very determined to do it and turned a deaf ear on people who told me otherwise. My biggest motivator was money. Yup, I am not ashamed to tell you that my husband and I were struggling financially then. I did not want to burden him with having to buy milk powder. Breastmilk was free and it was good. So I told myself that I would make it work, no matter what. I'm not telling you this to boast. I just want you to believe in yourself and know that you will make the best decision for you and your child.
The act of breastfeeding for the first time is something you can never really prepare for. Learning how to hold the baby and get them to suckle can only be learned through first hand experience. However, gaining breastfeeding knowledge before hand is important because it will raise your chances of being successful.
So, for all new moms out there, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Know where you can turn for help.
Not all doctors and nurses are breastfeeding experts. You will get expert advice from a lactation consultant. Find out if there is a La Leche League near you. Attend their meetings where you will get the support and help that you need. It also helps to seek out other breastfeeding mothers. There are many online groups that you can join. If you are having problems, you will definitely find mothers who have "been there, done that" who can offer valuable advice.
2. Many mothers, including myself, found it very handy to have a bottle of water next to you as you breastfeed. You will feel very thirsty.
3. You don't have to measure how much milk your baby is taking in.
Just feed on demand. Your baby knows how much it wants to drink. Some people have the idea of pumping out the milk to see how much baby is drinking. Unfortunately, that is not accurate. Baby is more efficient at sucking your milk than you are at squeezing it out. If you want to know whether baby is drinking enough, count how many wet and dirty diapers you have to change.
4. Be led by your baby, not the clock.
You may feel like you are feeding very often. This is natural as their stomachs are so tiny. It fills up quickly. They also get hungry quickly too. Generally you feed your baby every 2-3 hours. However, don't set your alarm clock. Don't force your baby to live by a rigid schedule. With my first baby, I was constantly looking at the clock. It was very tiring indeed. It seemed like just when I put her down, it was time to feed her again. I was more relaxed with my other babies. I let the baby tell me when to feed and didn't bother about the clock anymore.
5. Don't fall for the "you don't have enough milk" scam.
Yes, I call it a scam. One way to ensure you have enough milk for your baby is to let them suckle more. Your baby and your body have a perfect understanding. If your baby keeps on sucking, your body will keep on manufacturing milk. When my mom sees me breastfeeding my almost 2 year old, she will say "sure you still have milk?" I get that comment too from some of my friends who learn that I am still breastfeeding my toddler. Well, the answer is "Definately. For sure I still have milk". I will only stop producing milk when my baby stops sucking. Also, your body will eventually adjust to your baby's demand for milk. You know why I say you don't have to look at the clock to feed your baby? Because your body will automatically tell you when it is feeding time. If your baby is feeding every 2 hours, you will feel your milk "let down" after 2 hours. It is like your boobs are saying "Hey, it's time, where's the baby?"
6. Don't get anxious and worried when you don't see milk the first few days.
Your milk will "come in" when it's ready. Meanwhile, your baby is getting colustrum and all its wonderful benefits like carbohydrates, proteins and antibodies. This is also the time for you to make sure your baby keeps on suckling (even if you think there's nothing coming out). Like I mentioned before, your body will adjust. Your suckling baby will trigger all the milk production you dream of. In the end, you might be screaming "Oh, my breast is too full".
7. Before your milk comes in, don't give in to the believe that you need to "top-up" with formula.
Some well meaning people might tell you that you are starving your baby. The will try to convince you that you must feed your baby formula milk because clearly, you don't have any milk yet. Please know that baby will NOT starve in the beginning. Their bodies are designed to survive those few days on colustrum before you milk comes in. Remember how to tell if baby is getting enough? Yup, count those wet diapers.
8. The most essential part of breastfeeding is getting baby to latch on properly.
Improper latch on will lead to sore nipples and baby not getting enough milk. You have to suffer the pain and baby gets frustrated. Definitely a problem you want to avoid. Here's a good video to teach you how to do it. Get ready for images of bare breasts :)
There are many more things you should know about breastfeeding. Read as much as you can so you know what is truth and what is not. I wish you all the best in your breastfeeding journey. Remember, trust yourself and enjoy the bonding.
If you are an experienced breastfeeding mother, leave a comment on what helped you.
If you are a new mom and have a concern about breastfeeding, leave a comment too.
Breastfeeding Accessories You'll Need:
- Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover, Mint Chocolate
- L'ovedbaby 4-in-1 Nursing Shawl Clay Gray
- Kushies Washable Nursing Pads, WhiteKushies Washable Nursing Pads, White
- My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow, NaturalMy Brest Friend Breastfeeding Pillow, Natural
- Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter - 2 oz.