Breastfeeding our babies can be one of the most challenging yet fulfilling things we can do as a mother. (Besides actually giving birth!) Sure there’s a little discomfort, uncertainty and sometimes fear and doubt, but once we get the hang of it there’s no way to describe the bond. The ease to which we can nurture and calm our little ones, not to mention the simplicity of not having to wash bottles!
It took me a little while to really appreciate and love nursing our first born. She was in the NICU at Memorial West Hospital and had trouble latching, and I needed a lot of help. I almost gave up several times, but once we figured it out together it was the best part of my day. Gazing at her. Hearing those little gulps. Feeling her nuzzle close to me, smelling that freshly washed hair, and marveling at how my body not only created this miracle, but could also nourish her.
Since its National Breastfeeding month, I thought I’d talk to the lactation consultant, who helped me through those tough first few weeks to get some tips and advice for new breastfeeding mothers. It’s so easy to give up, but find some hope here thanks to Pam Hendrix, BA, RNIV, IBCLC, RLC lactation consultant at Memorial Healthcare System’s Family Birthplace.
10 Breastfeeding tips for new moms from a lactation consultant.
- Take a prenatal breastfeeding class, and make sure that your partner attends! When the baby comes you will need support and a cheerleader.
- Try not to use pacifiers or bottles in the first month of life (There may be exceptions to this, see your lactation consultant to discuss this) These can potentially cause confusion for the baby early on, but you can still be successful if this occurs. I personally used a bottle right away one feed a night so my husband could participate in feeding, and I could get some sleep. It worked for us! If you try this make sure to pump while your partner is doing the feed to keep up your milk supply.
- Join a breastfeeding support group. There was one at Memorial Hospital West where I delivered our daughters and I met one of my best friend there. It was so nice to get out of the house, meet other breastfeeding moms, learn other ways to hold your baby while nursing, and get all or your questions answered.
- Don’t Google, use Kellymom.com. It is an evidence based search engine for breastfeeding.
- Eat to your hunger, drink to your thirst. According to Kellymom.com, a nursing mom needs an additional 300-500 calories per day.
- If you are having trouble, get help ASAP. Do NOT wait. Call for your lactation consultant for help. Also, always visit with the consultant before you leave the hospital!
- Engorgement as your mature milk comes in should pass within 1-2 days with good nursing and a little pumping if needed. But call an IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant) for tips to ensure you are doing OK.
- Don’t give up on your worse day! Just like so many things in life it may not be easy at first but it does get easier. And breastfeeding can save you time and money, plus builds the health of your family. Detours do not mean failure!
- If you cannot make enough milk once you tried and worked with your lactation consultant, know this, YOU DID NOT FAIL. (This is not an exam!) You did your best so be proud that you are offering your baby as much as you can for as long as you can. Any breast milk is going to be better than no breast milk.
- Pass on what you learn to other women, even if you couldn’t make enough milk. Women helping women is the best way to help pass on the love and super powers of moms’ milk to our babies.
Remember, breastfeeding does provide so many benefits not only for our babies but for us moms as well. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of SID’s, obesity, certain cancers, and ear infections, and recover much quicker when they become ill. And mothers are at lower risk for female related cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes and they have less risks for cardiovascular disease. Whatever you decide, make the best decision for YOU. But please know there is support out there, and it starts with you lactation consultant. Use it, and savor the newborn stage! It goes so quickly!