Before I had my son, Nolan, I knew a little bit about breastfeeding from my sisters. One of my sisters is a labor and delivery nurse, so after watching her feed three babies and give me endless tips, I felt confident I would breastfeed my children. Breastfeeding is difficult for any new mom; I can only imagine what women go through who do not have as much background knowledge or support as I did.
“There are three reasons for breastfeeding: the milk is always the right temperature, it comes in attractive containers, and the cat can’t get it.”-Irene Chalmers
After five babies and almost seven years of successfully breastfeeding, I have been asked by numerous friends about tips and tricks that helped me stick with it. To help make your breastfeeding journey successful, these are my tips:
1. Prepare for the beginning. If you are about to have a baby and want to breastfeed, please do not let it scare you. Before you give birth, read about breastfeeding or talk to a lactation consultant so you do not walk into it blindly. As soon as you have your baby, try to get him or her to latch on. Babies’ senses are heightened in the first hour after birth. They are neurologically wired to find the breast. By letting them nurse right after birth, it helps them get a better latch. If you need help, do not be fearful to call a nurse; they are there to help you. Also, if at any point you have questions, call the lactation consultant, call the national hotline at 1.877.4.LALECHE (1.877.452.5324), or you can even email me and I will answer your questions the best way I can. Ask for help if you feel like you are not getting a good latch or if you just have concerns. It is very normal to have questions.
2. Drink water. Drink so much water that you feel like you can’t drink water anymore. Breastmilk is 90% water, so it is really important to stay hydrated. This is a common mishap that can be fixed easily. Any time I feel like my let-down is taking longer to happen than normal, I will go drink two glasses of water, and I can almost immediately see a difference in how full my breasts get. When or if you get sick, know that it is common for your milk supply to drop due to dehydration, so be especially mindful about staying hydrated during illness. You can drink lactation tea (I buy from Mrs. Patel’s) to boost your supply during that time.
3. Take cues from your baby. When you see your baby rooting, view that as your cue to get the boob juice ready. Once your baby goes from moving around chewing on his or her hands, crying will soon follow. it is way easier to nurse without a baby screaming at you to do it faster. The easiest way to see that babies are full and ready to unlatch is to check their hands. When your baby’s hands change from clenched tight to relaxed and open, your baby is telling you he or she is full.
4. Prep for Pumping. If you want to pump and start your milk bank, do research before you start.
-Pump in the mornings right when you wake up. Your milk is most plentiful then, and you will pump more.
-Pump before you nurse. The female body KNOWS that your baby wants more milk, so you will produce more milk if your baby nurses 15 minutes after pumping. If you try and do this the other way around, your body knows the pumping is not your baby, and you will not produce as much milk.
-count the number of times your baby nurses, that’s your magic number. when you go back to work, the number of times you pump at work and the times you feed your baby at home should equal your magic number.
5. Take lactation supplements to produce more milk. I love the Oat Mama bars. They are delicious and really do make a difference in your milk production. I also love browsing Pinterest for recipes, there are SO many that you’ll be able to find at least one that you like.
I encourage all moms to try breastfeeding. It is such a magical experience to be able to make your baby grow from what is created in your body. GOD created mamas to feed our children our breastmilk and the benefits both mother and baby get from it are enough reason to try it. Some of my most favorite moments are moments I have breastfed my babies to sleep. I want every mama to experience that sweetness at least once in her life.