We all have different experiences as parents. There are many things that I cannot provide first hand advice about to my clients. I can provide them with data, suggestions, and anecdotes but ultimately if I have never gone through it my information may be less useful. Breastfeeding is not one of those experiences for me. Between the three children, I have 58 months of breastfeeding experience under my bra (not belt, get it?) and counting.
Here is my most succinct breastfeeding advice:
- Read a book before the baby arrives. I like this one: Bestfeeding by Suzanne Arms, which has a great cover.
- Put your newborn to breast right after birth and at least every 2-3 hours until your milk comes in. Even if they are tired and sleepy, your body needs the stimulation for your milk production to start.
- It does hurt at the beginning as your nipples are stretching but it should get more comfortable during each feed. If it hurts during the entire feed, you might have a latch issue.
- If anything is not going well, please call a lactation consultant. Ask your friends for recommendations. Lactation consultants are just like any other practitioner, you need to find the one whose personality jives with yours!
- Position your baby so that their shoulders are facing the breast, they shouldn’t have to turn their head to eat. This sounds simplistic but its true!
- Eat and drink all the time. Consume at least 2,000 calories a day.
- Just get a hands free pumping bra, even if you aren’t planning on pumping often. They are cheap and oh so helpful.
- Give it SIX weeks. This was the best advice anyone ever gave me. The first 6 weeks can be tough but if you can make it that long, it usually gets much easier from there. Many times people will tell me that their goal is 6 months or a year or two. Set your expectations low and start with 6 weeks!!
- Have a can of formula in your house even if you have no intention of using it. Knowing that it is there can take some of the pressure off.
- When you decide to stop breastfeeding is between you and your baby. Sometimes they lead the way, sometimes you do.
It is 100% okay and acceptable to not breastfeed. I tell clients that I can be their breastfeeding cheerleader and push and encourage them or I can be the one to tell them that it really is okay to throw the towel in! It is a personal decision and should be respected and not judged whether that is to nurse you child until they are 4 or to start with a bottle of formula in the hospital. If you are not sure about whether or not to breastfeed, I would suggest giving it a shot (and 6 weeks 🙂 )