For many first-time mothers, the idea of breastfeeding is a new experience in which they have little experience. While it might seem like a simple process, it’s perfectly natural for you to worry about doing it right so that your baby grows healthy and strong.
There are so many devices to choose from, horror stories about soreness, and enough pressure to make your head spin. Before you start stressing out, which isn’t good for the baby, know that you a wealth of breastfeeding education resources at your fingertips.
Deciding what you will need now is the best way to prepare for your baby’s arrival. Take these tips into consideration as a proactive step in the right direction.
Don’t buy everything
Countless mothers across the globe have found themselves with an uncountable amount of breastfeeding supplies, half of which they’ve never even used. Don’t fall into the trap of buying every device and outfit out there. Instead, stick with the basics.
What You’ll need to breastfeed
Two regular nursing bras for the day
Two sleep nursing bras for extra comfort at night
A nice robe, nursing gown or pajamas
Pads for sore nipples
Warming and cooling packs for relief
A pillow that provides back support for long periods of sitting
Sanitizer for your hands
Blanket or towel for throw-up or hiccups
Change of shirts in case you need to change
Notice that this list does not include a breast pump. After reading breastfeeding guides, you might think that these devices are a necessity, but they aren’t. While they can help to alleviate soreness, not every mother finds that she needs one.
Wait until you are 100% positive that you need to pump instead of mouth feed before making a decision. You will probably know after the first few times you feed your baby, but you can usually try out a pump at the hospital if you are curious.
If you do decide that you need one, there are plenty of accessories that can make your life easier. However, you might find that you enjoy the bonding that mouth feeding brings. Give it time, then decide.
When the stress sets in, we all have our go-to “feel good” food. Multiply that by ten, and it’s about how you will feel after coming home from the hospital. Not only are you stressed about caring for a new baby, but you’re exhausted on top of it.
During this time, it can be tough to even think about meal preparation. However, eating healthy and drinking lots of water is essential to produce enough milk for your baby. It also ensures that your milk is packed full of the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs.
Keep in mind that you will burn up to 500 extra calories a day after giving birth. While that might sound like a dream come true any other time, it’s going to take a lot of healthy eating to keep your energy up as you find yourself nursing constantly.
Most stressors and downers are caused by misinformation. You might have heard an old wives’ tale or something crazy from a friend of a friend at the office. This is one time in life where a friend’s advice should be left aside.
Instead, opt for patient education breastfeeding through the hospital during your stay or pick up a DVD for breastfeeding education. Whatever you do, make sure you know what to expect beforehand.
The more educated you are on the subject, the happier and more positive your outlook on the experience will be. Remember, you were born with natural maternal instincts. If anyone can d this right, it’s you.
If you are still feeling a little shaky, there are also support groups for new mothers that cover this topic extensively. Sometimes it’s good to have friends going through the same experiences you are.
What to do during breastfeeding
There’s a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding, but it isn’t half as hard as writing up a resume. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll do just fine.
If you feel pain
If you’re experiencing pain outside of your nipples being sore from suckling, there’s something wrong. Consult your doctor or make an appointment with a professional for a checkup. Don’t panic, just find out what is causing the pain.
Doctors can offer the support and guidance you need during this pivotal time in your life, as well as keep an eye on the health of you and your baby.
Many mothers worry that their milk supply is not enough for their baby’s constant hunger. So, they turn to supplements to keep up with the demand. Unless physician recommended, this is never a good idea.
If you find yourself in this scenario, it is an excellent idea to start using a breast pump. This will allow you to store your milk for later while reducing soreness and swelling. Go for a silicone pump head; they’re amazingly comfortable and gentle on the skin.
Still worrying about not producing enough milk? Try feeding more regularly and using a quality pump. Both have been proven to help women produce more milk naturally. As always, double-check with your lactation specialist.
Your body has been changing for the past nine months and will continue to change for nearly a year. It’s normal, and no two women experience post-nursing changes quite the same.
You will certainly notice that your breasts increase a cup size or two while they are producing milk. Whether this excites you or not, they almost always return to their pre-pregnancy size after you have weaned your baby.
Some women shed a lot of weight during this time, while others simply don’t. Your skin may regain elasticity; it might not. Whatever happens, it is a natural part of giving birth and being a mother. Remember, you are beautiful in your own skin.
How long should I breastfeed?
Breastfeeding education doesn’t always cover the duration of time you should feed your child. While it’s mostly up to personal opinion, there is one major benefit to not weaning too early.
The longer you feed, the more you are reducing your risk of reproductive cancers. So, don’t be hasty with getting this phase over and done with. Take your time and wean your baby when you feel the time is right.
What about prenatal or postnatal vitamins?
Before you toss your vitamins to the side, take a moment to think about the vitamins and nutrients they put into your body. In the same way, they transferred to the baby through your umbilical cord, they come through in your breast milk.
There’s a lot of debate on just how important these vitamins can be in the prenatal breastfeeding education realm, but there’s no denying that the vitamins are at least beneficial to you during the first few months. If your baby receives even a small fraction of those nutrients through your milk, then that’s all the more reason to keep taking them.
These vitamins provide macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and healthy fats) that will help fight your after-birth fatigue. The less bogged down you are, the easier your life will be while taking care of your new baby.
Extra relief for breastfeeding
Sometimes you may be sore and nipple cream can provide the relief you need. Considering your baby will be breastfeeding, you should choose an organic nipple cream so that you don’t have to worry what your baby would be consuming from you.
Regardless of what supplies you chose to buy, there is one that mothers all over highly recommend. Several companies sell nipple creams designed to treat cracked, dry, and sore nipples. Whether you choose to pump or mouth feed, these creams can be a lifesaver.
As a side note, stay away from alcohol and petroleum-based creams. These can make the dryness worse, leading to even more pain.
Breastfeeding education can help you adjust to this new daily (multiple times daily) process. While this article is here to provide you with a synopsis of what to expect and how to handle different aspects of feeding your baby, it is strongly recommended that you reach out to your doctor or lactation specialist for more information.
They know your medical background and personal circumstances, which allows them to cater their care to your specific needs. Think of your physician as your new best friend, at least for a while.
Before you know, you will be breastfeeding like a pro and spending precious moments bonding with your beautiful new baby. It isn’t always sunshine and roses, but make sure to enjoy this special time in your life. Welcome to the wonderful world of motherhood, and happy breastfeeding!