How to breastfeed? Have you ever wondered? I guess not. Well, at least not until you actually started doing that. 😉 This is a common mistake. Every woman thinks breastfeeding is super easy, natural. The instincts would lead you. True. And Wrong! Yes, maternal instinct is very strong, no doubt here. But it is a good practice to learn some theory first.
Table of content:
- What is breast milk
- Breast milk composition
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- Essential tips for effective breastfeeding (what worked for me)
- Breastfeeding positions & techniques
- Breastfeeding diet (essentials to know)
- Dealing with breastfeeding problems (my own experience)
- Breastfeeding video (visual example)
- Summarizing + extra advising
When I was pregnant, my girlfriend (who was also a mom of a six-months-old baby) asked me if I was planning on breastfeeding. The question sounded silly for me. Of course, I was. Why would she even ask me about that, I wondered. I thought of it as a natural and easy thing to do.
But soon after I gave birth I came across many difficulties in the matter of breastfeeding. First week was the toughest. My nipples were sore; the milk wouldn’t flow as it should have. All that resulted in me having ‘porno star boobies’ full of milk without actually being able to feed my baby! At the end of the day I had a constantly yelling baby, sore breast and the worst feeling of all, that I was a bad mother.
So I faced the bitter truth: breastfeeding is a damn hard thing to do. Indeed, it is. In case you are not prepared and fully armed with information on the topic in advance. I guess this is the common mistake for many women. They think that breastfeeding is natural, no special preparation needed for that. Wrong.
Let’s just have a look at the statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only 49 percent of women are still nursing six months after giving birth. Just think about it! Forty nine percent! The number is so small considering that the World Health Organization recommends to breastfeed children at least for a year. Moreover, it’s a known fact that breast milk aids in preventing most common infections for babies’ first year, like an ear infection, flu, stomach viruses and even such scary diseases as asthma and diabetes.
I am writing this article on my fifth month of breastfeeding. I know it’s not a lot yet, but I’m planning on nursing for as much as I can. (Well, at least for a year and a half). Notwithstanding my rather short experience of breastfeeding thus far, I went through the wringer to establish lactation and finally enjoy the process without worrying. I’ve been through a lot physically and mentally. Seriously.
So if you want to get some very useful information, find answers to your questions and stop worrying about things that don’t matter, this article is for you! I was digging deeply for any information that could help me overcome the difficulties of breastfeeding at start and learn how to enjoy the process. This article comprises pretty much everything you need to know about breastfeeding. And it is also based on my own experience.
So I hope it will be useful for you. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you still have any questions after reading it. I would also love to see your comments about your own experience of breastfeeding. If you find this article useful, please, share it with your girlfriends who are expecting or have just delivered. I would be so very grateful for that! 😉
Let’s get going! 🙂
What is Breast Milk?
According to Wikipedia, Breast milk is the milk produced by the breasts (or mammary glands) of a human female for her baby. Milk is the primary source of nutrition for newborns before they are able to eat and digest other foods; older infants and toddlers may continue to be breastfed, either exclusively or in combination with other foods from around six months of age when solid foods may be introduced.
Breast Milk Composition
Breast milk is a unique baby food. As of today, no one has yet come up with any analogs completely corresponding to it. Nothing but breast milk fully meets the needs of infants. Its composition comprises up to 500 essential things needed for a baby, many of them cannot be created artificially. The mother’s body begins to work on the creation of breast milk long before her little offspring sees the world.
The appearance of milk in the mammary glands occurs due to prolactin (also called PRL or lactogenic hormone), which is responsible for its allocation. The basis of breast milk is the lymph and blood where all the nutrients fetch up, modified in the process of digestion.
Every woman is unique, so is the breast milk, yet a set of components in this product is the same for all lactating mothers.
The composition of breast milk includes:
- Biologically active water (88%) – the main component, perfectly digestible by infants. If the baby is fully breastfed, he doesn’t need to be given any additional fluids, like water;
- Carbohydrates (7%) are presented in the form of lactose (milk sugar). Their function is to accelerate the development of the brain and nervous system, promote the full absorption of iron and calcium, as well as bifidum factor with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial effect. They also normalize the bowel function;
- Fats (3.8%) – they help strengthening both the immune and central nervous systems. The composition of fats includes cholesterol (needed for vitamin D production), bile and main hormones. The balance of fats and carbohydrates in breast milk is ideal for the growing baby;
- Proteins (1%) – the basis for baby’s rapid growth and weight gain. They include whey protein, taurine (for CNS and brain development), lactoferrin (iron source), nucleotides (DNA building material), lactase (for lactose-splitting), lipase (for complete digestionof fats);
- The remaining components (0.2%) – iron, vitamins, minerals, 20 kinds of hormones (growth factors), antibodies, white blood cells (immune defense).
The quality of breast milk in nursing mothers is not constant, its composition may change under the influence of many factors:
- Time of the day. Daytime milk is thicker than at nighttime.
- Weather. The milk is more liquid during the hot weather, and thickens on the cold.
- Health of the mother. The composition of breast milk changes with weakened immunity or taken drugs.
- Baby’s activity. The milk for newborns is more liquid (to substitude water). The harder the baby is sucking, the thicker and more fatty the milk gets.
If a woman has twins, the composition of breast milk may differ, for it is necessary to adapt to the needs of each child. The volume and quality of milk largely depends on the nursing mother’s health, nutrition, sleep, medication, and addictions (like nicotine and alcohol).
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Not only is breast milk unique in composition, it is also distinctive in its properties. The baby gets tons of health benefits on breastfeeding, such as active mental development, normal digestion, strengthen immunity, prevention of pneumonia, diabetes, obesity, allergies, atherosclerosis, diarrhea, and many other dangerous diseases.
- Woman’s milk is a wonderful antidepressant. And I’m not talking about the benefits for the baby now. It mostly concerns lactating mothers. I am referring to the use of the processes of breast milk’s formation and feeding your baby with it, thus developing maternal instinct and affection to your child.
- According to the Swedish researchers, the breast milk contains alpha-lactalbumin, a protein that is able to successfully deal with 40 types of cancer.
- Breastfeeding is able to improve the immune system response during vaccination.
- The milk forms a protective barrier for the baby to guard against allergies and infections. The presence of stem cells in it provides the regeneration and protection, as the source of antibodies, resistant even to diseases that the baby could get from his mother.
- Antibacterial properties of milk can be used for the treatment of child’s rhinitis, eye conjunctivitis or healing cracked nipples of nursing mothers.
- Breast milk is not just the food for the baby, it is an important ritual of communication with his mother: an opportunity to calm down; get rid of ailments and fears. It also helps the baby to have a sound sleep.
- Breast feeding has economic benefits as well: the mother’s milk is always suitable for consumption, has no expiration date and there’s no necessity to cook. In other words, breast milk is the priceless free milk for a young family budget, since buying formula is quite an expensive alternative.
YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ: 7 BREASTFEEDING FACTS EVERY MOM SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
How To Breastfeed. Essential Breastfeeding Tips
Breastfeeding tips is a popular topic. You can find quite a lot of information about it. It’s all over the internet. But the more information you read, the more misleading it becomes. Sometimes you get really confused. I will simplify this for you! 😉 Having studied the topic quite thoroughly, applying my own experience to it, this is what I came up with:
- Nurse within first few hours after delivery. It’s important to make “skin to skin” contact right after the delivery. This helps evoking natural instincts and lactation mechanism in the body of a newly fledged mother. Your baby should be latched to the breast within first thirty minutes. The milk hasn’t come yet, but there is a much more valuable substance – colostrum. It is a thick clear liquid that contains many essential agents, like enzymes, vitamins, antibodies, immunoglobulins, as well as protein, fat and carbohydrates. For its rich composition, colostrum is called “the first vaccination” for the baby.
- Avoid formula at the beginning. Colostrum is produced in small amounts yet its rich composition fully satisfies the need of the newborn child for nutrients. The formula, on the contrary, can play a low-down trick with your lactation. Firstly, after eating formula, the child doesn’t want to latch on to the breast, and therefore receives much less of valuable colostrum. Secondly, your baby may find the nipple on the bottle more appealing because it is much easier to suck the milk out of the bottle than the breast.
- Make sure the latch is right. The child must latch not only to the nipple and areola, but also to the area around it with lips flanged out like the flower. Only with this type of latch can the baby suck as much milk as he needs. It will also help the mother to avoid nipple soreness. Poor latch means the baby can have problems with weight gain and swallowing excess air that eventually leads to excess gas and cholics with sleepless nights. And I’m sure this is the last thing you’d like to cope with. Here’s how you can master a perfect breastfeeding latch!
- Feed your baby on demand. This is easy to do. Meaning, you give breast to the baby on his every cry. If the child refuses the breast perhaps he has other concerns than hunger. He can be hot, cold, wet, or just feeling uncomfortable. However, in most cases, the breast helps to calm the baby. At first, the newborn can literally spend hours “hanging” on your breast. This doesn’t mean he is hungry. Breast milk is digested very quickly, and sucking breast for the baby is also a way to be close to his mother, calm down or fall asleep.
- Avoid pacifiers. The essence of breastfeeding is that the baby gets the breast on demand. Lactation depends on breastfeeding. If a child gets a pacifier, the breast is not stimulated enough, thus less milk comes in next time. If lactation has not been established, the use of the pacifiers can easily lead to its elimination.
- Drink hot fluids 30 minutes before nursing. This helped me a lot. Hot fluids aid in milk production. When it seemed to me that my baby didn’t get enough milk, drinking hot water would be first thing in the list.
- Use different breastfeeding positions. Not only is it comfortable for both the mother and the baby, but it’s also quite beneficial for the mother’s breast, for nursing in different positions helps to prevent galactostasis and further breast inflammation – mastitis. Being in different positions, the baby sucks milk from different mammary ducts. The basic rule in this case: the baby sucks more milk from the place where his chin rests.
- Nighttime feedings are important. Prolactin, responsible for milk production, is produced in large amounts during night. Nursing in nighttime is needed throughout the entire period of breastfeeding. In this case, co-sleeping is a wonderful option that makes nighttime breastfeeding super easy.
- Breastfed baby doesn’t need additional water. Breast milk contains 80% of water, thus supplying the baby with all necessary fluids. Those first portions of milk – the so-called front milk – serve him as a drink, and back thick milk as the food. Additional water may be required to newborns only in extreme cases, such as hot climates. However, it’s better to give water with a spoon rather than a bottle to avoid nipple confusion.
- Wait until 6 months for solid foods. A portion of mother’s milk is much more beneficial for the baby than a jar of squash puree. Even after 6 months, solid foods are good for breastfed children in terms of exploring new tastes and consistencies, not to make up for the lack of nutrients. Other reason to postpone solid foods is to give your baby’s digestive system the required time for its maturing. Remember that children have great protection from illnesses as long as they breastfed, so do not try to substitude breast milk with solid foods. At least wait until you celebrate your baby’s first birthday.
- Continue breastfeeding even if you are sick. Modern medicine has already developed products that are compatible with breastfeeding. If it is seasonal flu – nursing is not only possible, but necessary. Breast milk contains antibodies to the infection, so the baby gets his portion of immunity each time you breastfeed. In case he catches the flu after all, the baby takes it in stride.
- Seek professional help. If you still feel you have a problem with breastfeeding, correct latching, milk let-downs, or just not sure if your baby gets enough milk (usually if he screams a lot during day&night) do not hesitate to use expert advice. Meet the lactation consultant as soon as possible. He will provide you with necessary information and guide you through the whole process. So you will be confident everything is ok next time.
In order to gather information for this particular topic I used a lot of different resources both Russian and English, including websites, books and my own humble experience. If you are interested to learn more, read 29 totally awesome breastfeeding tips for new moms, and secrets for successful breastfeeding to find out some very useful life hacks for effective breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Positions & Techniques
When it comes to breastfeeding positions, practice makes perfect! The best thing here for you and your baby is variety. Use at least three positions for nursing that you find comfortable. You have to be patient, because one position that works perfect for you may be inconvenient for your baby. Anyway, learning the right hold for your baby may be tough yet it’s one hundred percent worth it since in the end breastfeeding will bring you joy instead of discomfort. After all, nursing takes hours everyday. It’s great if you enjoy the process 😉
The ability to feed your baby in different positions helps you not to get tired during long-lasting nursing and helps to prevent galactostasia in your breast.
Breastfeeding positions that work best for me
- The cradle hold. I think this one is the most popular, as well. No wonder, it’s very comfy! And by far the majority of babies love this hold. It reminds them of their prenatal time when they were growing in your belly. This position requires you to cradle your baby’s upper body (head, neck, spine and bottom) in your arm. You can use your other hand to hold his legs or put it on your lap or a pillow that rests on your lap. His body should be facing you. And his lower arm will hug your back. This is the classic nursing position that should work for both you and your baby.
- Reclining position. This one is awesome since you can breastfeed and snooze in the meantime. Lie on your side. Take a pillow and put it under your head on your arm. It’s better to bend your knees. Draw your baby close to you. His body should be facing yours. You can cradle his head with your arm or put your bottom arm under his neck. If your baby fails in reaching your nipple, try to put him on a small pillow. This position is great for nursing during nighttime as well as during the day when you need some rest. Use this position at start of breastfeeding if you are recovering from cesarean or tough delivery.
Keep to a healthy & well-balanced diet
One of the fears of new moms is that breast milk wouldn’t be nutritious enough if they stick to a diet. This is a fallible judgment. Breast milk is a unique substance that contains all nutrients for the growing baby regardless of what you eat.
However, if your diet is too high in calories, this could affect your liver that had already suffered enough during last months of your pregnancy. On the other hand, low calories diet is also not good, since it may change the quality and quantity of your milk. The best option here is to stick to a well-balanced diet full of nutrients so that your body won’t deplete its reserves while producing milk for you growing baby.
The other thing is that you feel hungry all the time. Literally. Especially, after you breastfeed. So, preparing some healthy snacks in advance wouldn’t go amiss. I would also advise to drink more hot fluids 30 minutes before you breastfeed. This will aid in milk production. I usually get more let-downs during nursing if I drink, for example, hot tea with milk shortly before nursing. Anyway, the key to good health and stamina while breastfeeding is to eat 3 general meals (small portions) and include healthy snacks in between.
What to eat when breastfeeding
First of all, prepare yourself! Even the strictest diet won’t help during the first month of breastfeeding. The thing is, your baby adapts to the outside world, to receive food through his stomach, not the umbilical cord, so sometimes he may suffer from excessive gas, intestinal cramps or even diarrhea. Do not be afraid of that. The baby gets used to the new conditions very quickly. Usually, after week three you can gradually introduce new products into your diet.
Make sure your diet is full of complex carbs, proteins and good fats. Try to vary products every day and eat balanced meals. Avoid saturated and trans fats (fast food, high-fat meats, butter, tropical oils, etc.). Choose low-fat meats. Alter your whole fat milk to a skim one, and include more olive oil, avocados, nuts and salmon into your diet.
What not to eat when breastfeeding
There is a list of foods to avoid when breastfeeding. It includes products that are potentially dangerous to the baby’s health. Primarily, this includes allergenic products such as strawberry, cocoa, citrus, and coffee. You should always monitor how your baby reacts on your menu. If you hesitate whether you should eat certain products, it is best to try a little piece and see how the baby reacts. My advice is to add a new product in the morning. This way you can monitor your baby’s reaction to it during the day.
Okay, to be fair, I wasn’t eager to stick to some special anti-allergic diet. Unfortunately, I love coffee too much to just give it up. So I drank it during pregnancy and excluded it from my menu only for the first month after delivery. Now I drink one to three cups of coffee a day. As for dark chocolate and citrus, I started eating them on the third month of breastfeeding. I guess, I am lucky enough to have a baby showing no bad reactions or allergies to whatever I eat. That’s good news! 🙂
So, I’ve pretty much covered the topic of preventing allergies, now, baby colic is in the league of its own. There are two controversial beliefs on this topic:
- You can prevent baby colic with your diet.
- No matter what you eat, the baby will have colic.
I will break the mold here. I hold to both of the beliefs. And I will explain why.
Baby colic cannot be prevented. A child is born with a sterile gut and begins to feed on mother’s milk, thus populating his gut with microflora. This process does not always go smoothly. Most often, children suffer from excessive gas or colic during the first three months (unreasonable cries for hours. In this case, it is almost impossible to calm the baby down). It’s unavoidable.
I was on a strict diet for the first month of breastfeeding and my baby had colic. I then started eating almost everything and my child still suffered from colic. So my switching to more various and nutritious diet haven’t exacerbated the baby’s suffering whatsoever. Yet I agree, certain products that are difficult to digest and cause flatulence can also affect the baby’s digestion. For example, if you eat a lot of cabbage or beans, there’s a high chance that your child will suffer from diarrhea on top of colic.
- Eliminate overeating. Eat small portions more frequently.
- Breakfast is very important. Make it nutritious. Never skip breakfast.
- Plan to have three big meals and two-three snacks during the day.
- Try to plan your menu in advance
- If you have any doubts about a certain product or dish, better stay out of it
- If you are really craving for a product or a dish that is on the «stay out of it» list, you can afford a little bit to feel yourself better 😉
- feeling hungry just before the bedtime? Drink a glass of milk or any liquid food. It is easier to digest.
- If circumstances have forced you to drink alcohol, you can afford yourself a little glass of red wine or champagne. (Yes, breastfeeding and alcohol are compatible. 😉 You just have to know the allowed quantity you can drink)
- Do not forget to take vitamins (your baby gets everything he needs from your body. You never know if there’s enough left for you. So make sure to take extra help from multi-vitamins & mineral complexes for pregnant & lactating women)
Here’s also an article on breastfeeding diet I personally found very useful and comprehensive. Check it out 😉
Breastfeeding ain’t easy. Especially at the beginning. I will share my personal experience of five top problems in the matter of breastfeeding. I personally had wrong expectations concerning nursing when I was pregnant, thinking it would be natural, easy. But by the end of day one of my nursing experience, the first problem popped up. My nipples were sore and when my baby latched on, I literally cried. This was the very moment I realized – this is the reality. Yes, breastfeeding is natural, yet there could be some problems. The best thing to do is accept it and be ready to meet and solve these difficulties.
So here’s five problems I personally was “lucky” to come across with.
Problem #1: Sore nipples / Painful latching
Sore nipples might be the result of different things but mostly it happens due to frequent and/or incorrect latching at the start of nursing. That also causes painful breastfeeding (especially when the baby’s latching on). Usually this problem occurs only during the first two weeks of breastfeeding until your nipples roughen. But if the cause of the problem is the wrong way your baby latches to the breast, then sore or even bleeding nipples is going to be your concern even after these first two weeks after delivery.
Solution: First, you can check your baby’s position while nursing. Correct latching is very important here – the baby’s mouth should cover your nipple and the bottom area of areola. I personally found the solution and immediate relief in using over-the-counter lanoline cream. It is very convenient, since you use it right before breastfeeding and you don’t have to wash it off.
What this video on how to get a baby to latch on correctly.
Problem #2: Clogged ducts
When I arrived back home from the hospital, my milk came in. I felt my breasts became heavier and the slight tingling sensation was there. I waited for this to happen since the moment Alex was born. Without hesitation, I gave my breast to the baby. He was sucking. Perfect! As the day progressed, my breasts continued to engorge with milk that made it actually painful. By the end of the day my baby was crying like crazy. I had no idea why that was. My boobs were full and hurt in spite of breastfeeding. Then I realized something was wrong and called my aunt (who is also a massage therapist) for help. She quickly diagnosed that I had clogged ducts. That’s why my baby was crying – he didn’t get any food whatsoever. Yet my breasts were full of milk.
Solution: First thing she did was massaging my breasts. Freaking painful! I cried. But of all the possible aids for clogged ducts out there, massage is the best one. My aunt then started pumping the milk. And I thought that massage was painful! The third and last remedy she made was warm compress and applied it to my breasts. I had it overnight and never had any problems with ducts afterwards.
So, remember, if you have plugged ducts:
- Massage your breasts. It can be very painful but you have to do it. You can also ask your husband to help you with it.
- Pump your milk to help clear the ducts
- Apply warm compress (at least for 2 hours)
Do that and you’ll be fine. Oh, yes, and don’t forget to rest 🙂
UPDATE: I got a series of recurrent clogged milk ducts when my baby was 13-17 months. It was a complete hell at first, but then I started digging for more information and found many helpful tips on how to get rid of the clog!
READ ABOUT IT HERE: 8 QUICK AND EASY WAYS TO TREAT A PLUGGED MILK DUCT
Problem #3: Low milk supply
I guess, every new mom is concerned about her milk supply in the beginning. I wasn’t an exception. Especially, because my baby was crying all the time! I was always nervous about my baby not having enough milk. But the only criteria in terms of milk supply is your baby’s weight and quantity of “do number one’s”. Other thing is, first three months is the time your lactation will be establishing. Sure enough, you may have some doubts. But, actually, breastfeeding is a smart process where demand breeds supply. So apply your baby to the breast whenever possible. The so-called demand breastfeeding. Thus your brain will always get this cause-effect relationship: the baby is sucking – he needs food. Prolactin will do the rest.
Solution: There are many ways to increase breast milk. I will share those that worked for me. So if you think you don’t have enough milk or if it is really the case, try frequent nursing. Drink more hot fluids (water or tea). You can also pump during the day. I didn’t. But I know it helps. Again, «demand breeds supply». The best time to do it is after nursing. I also drank some formulas for breastfeeding women. They are very nutritious and they do help in milk production. Drink them 30 minutes before nursing. The last advice is sleep more, stress out less and get tons of fresh air. Seriously, that one works like magic! 🙂
RELATED: HOW TO INCREASE BREAST MILK SUPPLY
Problem #4: Baby’s falling asleep at breast
Common problem, actually. But I wouldn’t even consider it as a problem. Why? Because as long as the baby’s sucking, you will continue having let downs and he will drink the milk while snoozing. Usually, infants fall asleep at breast during first two months after birth. This bonding makes the baby feel protected so he relaxes. I would say – enjoy! 😉
Solution: First, start off nursing with the fullest breast. Don’t wait until your baby falls asleep, switch him to the other breast. If you notice your baby is sucking less, his eyes are closed and he starts snoozing, you can tickle his nose or checks. Also try removing him from your breast and take him up straight to stimulate burping, and then give him breast again.
Problem #5: Painful let down
Let down is not the most pleasant feeling on earth. For some women it can be really painful. At first, I was one of them. Your breast after delivery is functioning like a single well-oiled machine. When you let down, it is quite normal to feel a tingling sensation. But sometimes, milk-producting engines work in overdrive and the let down feels like tons of needles plunging into the breast.
Solution: How can you cope with that? First, make sure you don’t have an infection, since painful let down may be a sign of inflammation or even mastitis. The other sign for something going wrong would also be fever. Some women experience pain because of an excessive amount of milk. Good advice here would be trying to breastfeed your child more frequently and make sure he sucks all the milk out of one breast before switching him to the other. If that’s not enough, pumping during the day is the option. But you have to be careful, given that the more you pump, the more milk will come next time.
In my case, pain during let down was because my mammary gland switching over to produce milk (dah! Like all breasts do, one would say). Indeed, every mammary gland goes through changes. I’d say the way you feel the let down depends on your sensitivity threshold. Anyway, the problem resolved by itself. Your breast just needs time to get used to its new life and work.
These are not all the problems that might occur on your breastfeeding journey. I just described my own experience. If you didn’t find the solution to your problem, I advise to check out Top Ten Breastfeeding Problems Solved.
Here’s a great example of breastfeeding tips and techniques applied in action.
So you’ve read the whole article through. Hope it was useful. I spent a lot of time to really dig in deeply into the topic. Hopefully, you have found answers to the majority of your questions about breastfeeding while reading this huge piece of information 😉 I tried to make it personal throughout the article, including my own experience into this little research. Since my lactation has established and I’ve already gone through all the problems, worries and disappointments, I dare to give you a piece of advice. These are things that work magic.
- Do not stress out! I know it’s a damn hard thing to do, especially for new moms. But what you should remember is that there’s nothing more important at the moment than your child and yourself! When you stress out, your breast milk is full of cortisol, the stress hormone. You give it to you baby who doesn’t need that at all. So chill! 😉
- Ask for help. Usually, you stress out because there are tons of things to do (like cooking, housekeeping, laundry, etc.). These are pretty easy things. You got used to doing them. Yet now you can’t handle even this. You get disappointed and stressed out. But all new moms forget about one little change – you are a mother now! Period. Meaning, 24/7. There’s nothing more important than that for now. It’s hard work, so all the extra errands could wait. You could make your life easier by asking your relatives (or the relatives of your husband) to help you with the household chores. Also, there are plenty of services for housekeeping and food delivery. Do not neglect them. Yes, it’s extra spending, but when it comes to your peace of mind – aka no cortisol in breast milk – aka the happy baby, it’s one hundred percent worth it!
- Sleep whenever you can. I totally mean it! Don’t underestimate this My baby was not a sleeper in the first months after birth. In the daytime he slept at home twice for fifteen minutes. Freaking crazy! Especially, when you expect the newborn to sleep most of the time. Nah. Not my story! I probably looked like a zombie from “The Walking Dead” series until I learned a couple of things: 1. Household chores can wait. 2. Your baby’s snoozing at breast? Great. Get comfortable and take a short nap as well. 3. Breastfeed in a reclining position and sleep in the meantime. 4. In brief, whenever your baby is sleeping, lie down and get some rest! Even if that’s for 15 minutes. I don’t know how to stress this enough but your sleep is extremely important especially during the first couple of months after delivery. It helps you recover better and faster. So don’t disregard it.
- Adhere to your beliefs. Do not let anybody shatter them. Right after you give birth, you get many people telling you what to do. Some may even be really pushing and persistent. They think they know better. They might. But no one except you knows what is best for your child. Don’t even start arguing with these people if you think they’re talking nonsense, you immediately violate the first point in this list – you get stressed out. Now, we don’t need that. The best way to act here is to listen to whatever is said to you, say thank you for their opinion and do what YOU think is best! At least you won’t waste your nerve cells for something extremely unimportant J
- Try out nesting. Being with the baby 24/7 may be extremely tiresome, yet it is the only thing your child needs, especially during the 1st month after delivery. Imagine, he has gone through a lot! The process of birth is not an easy thing for a baby. He was safe and secure in your warm womb and now he finds himself in a completely different and unfamiliar world, and the only thing he knows on this life stage is you. You are the connection. He needs you around all the time. So, nesting sounds like a good idea, right? J Not only is it essential for your newborn baby, it is also crucial in terms of establishing your lactation. In other words, it’s a win-win! 😉
- Get more fresh air. Try walking outside as much as you can. Both you and your baby need fresh air. Oxygen aid in restoring normal levels of hemoglobin that tend to drop dramatically right after delivery (mine has already dropped in the 3rd trimester, so imagine how I felt after giving birth!). The more fresh air you get, the less problems with let downs you will have. In other words, spending time in the open air helps with milk supply. Last but not least, walking is a physical activity. It’s right what you need at the moment since you won’t be able to work out at least for six weeks after vaginal delivery and two-to-three months after cesarean. Thus, get the most out of walking!
- Add extra calories to your diet. Breastfeeding is a lot of work for your body. It spends a great deal of energy to produce breast milk. Thus you will need 500-600 extra calories during the first 6 months of breastfeeding and 300-400 extra calories down the road. Just remember to keep to a healthy diet and eat frequently. You don’t have to count calories. All you need is listen to your body. It knows exactly how much is necessary. Trust yourself.
- Learn to enjoy the process. Apart from all the possible problems with nursing every new mom has a chance to meet with, breastfeeding is the most amazing thing that is given to a woman. The process evokes ancient innate instincts, builds a strong connection between a mother and a child; it also rebounds to a much smoother transition of a woman into a mother. Not to mention the satisfaction that it is you who give your child health, immunity, and satiety, physical and emotional connection. Remember – you are the mother! You are the whole universe to your baby. And breastfeeding is there to help you with that special connection. So enjoy nursing and cherish every single moment of it.
I think that’s pretty much it! 🙂 If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. I will answer with pleasure. Feedback is very important for me. It shows that my work is valuable for you. And I consider it the utmost praise!
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