A friend lent me a book on breastfeeding in the first few weeks after Theo was born. The introduction described how blissful and restful this beautiful experience was.
I wanted to hunt that author down. What the heck was she talking about?! And a lot of the “breastfeeding expert” websites said similar things. Whereas the words I would use were more like, “painful,” “exhausting,” and “frustrating.” I was committed to trying breastfeeding, but I also felt like the only one having a miserable time.
Now I’m almost to the point where I was certain I’d quit nursing (six months), and I’m questioning if I actually want to.
The truth is that breastfeeding is hard. It takes a while to get used to. And often times the “experts” put unnecessary pressure on you.
But I found that when I had the right information, like the encouragement that I wasn’t alone, and that formula is not the devil (thanks, experts), the process got much easier over time.
Here are the simple, basic facts I needed to help me get through the hardest part of breastfeeding. I’m so grateful to have found these tips, through friends or online, to help me get to the other side, the happy one.
Benefits of Breastfeeding Timeline:
For the first few days:
– Colostrum (a sticky yellow fluid) provides nutrition at first, and also protects the newborn against infection and illness. It cleans out the baby’s intestines and reduces jaundice.
– Your milk comes in 2-5 days after your baby’s birth. Breastmilk provides antibodies (protecting the baby even if you get sick), and is easier to digest than formula or cow’s milk, which lessons the likelihood for digestive issues.
– It helps your body to recover after giving birth by contracting your uterus back to its regular size, and is a way to help you connect to your little one.
For 4-6 weeks:
– Lowers the risk of infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and digestive and respiratory problems.
– Continues to help you recover by giving you opportunities to rest and be off your feet, and helps establish your milk supply
– Releases the hormones prolactin and oxytocin which help you relax
For 3-6 months:
– Tests show that babies who have been breastfed during this time are healthier
– Reduces the risk of ear infections
– Helps you lose baby weight faster (burning 500 extra calories a day!)
– If you’ve made it this far, you have made it through the hardest part, having overcome soreness, engorgement, and cluster feedings
For 6 months:
– Lowers the risk of allergies in the baby
– Provides enough nutrition with or without solid foods
– You likely will not have a period or ovulate this whole time
– Protects against diseases like childhood cancers
For 9 months:
– Helps with intellectual development, as well as physical, as your baby learns to new skills
For a year:
– Protects against all types of diseases and chronic infections
– Reduces the risk of needing speech therapy or braces later in life
– Saves money for sure! Breastfeeding is free, not to mention convenient in terms of not having to buy and prepare formula
– Lowers your risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis
Adapted from Breastfeeding Basics
How to Relieve Soreness:
1. Lanolin ointment
2. Hot compress or water
3. Cool compress or water
4. Warm salt water treatment (no more than 10 minutes)
5. Exclusively pump for 24-48 hours (more than that might cause oversupply)
6. Get help from a lactation consultant (might be a latch issue)
7. Wear breathable cotton clothing
Ways to Increase Milk Supply:
1. Stay hydrated – lots of water, sometimes Gatorade helps as well.
2. Take Fenugreek (an herbal supplement) twice or three times a day.
3. Eat healthy fats, like oatmeal (not instant), nuts, and avocados.
4. Pump after every feeding.
5. Nurse as often as you can.
How to Fight Infection:
1. Nurse or pump as often as you can.
2. Take a hot shower.
3. Massage any lumps in a circular motion, or pushing downwards.
4. Take ibuprofen to reduce swelling and fever.
5. Drink lots of water.
7. Take vitamin C.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself!
1. Go outside and take a walk.
2. Have someone take a “shift” and feed the baby with a bottle while you sleep.
3. Find a show to watch while you’re nursing.
4. Talk to other moms who have been there.
5. After the first few weeks, get on a schedule with your infant. (It so helped me to have a routine!)
Any other moms have tips out there?