Hey, Mamas! Today I want to chat about one of my favorite things I’ve experienced in motherhood. Breastfeeding! How the Lord designed our bodies to produce milk that sustains the life of our babies is truly miraculous! I pray that you and your baby have a beautiful breastfeeding experience! Here are my tips:
- It’s All about that latch, baby! This is the make or break, Mama. A proper latch will ensure the baby is getting the milk, and sending the correct signals to your body to produce more milk. Think of a duck’s bill. Both of the baby’s lips should be flanged out. Your baby’s mouth should cover about 70% of the areola. If it’s painful, try starting over. With my second, I had major blistering and cracked nipples. Thankfully I was able to hire a lactose consultant, she helped us fix this right quick.
- Try different positions. My personal favorites are cradle and side-laying. There’s also cross-cradle, back-lying, and football hold. I found side-laying to work well while co-sleeping. Find a fit that works best for you and your baby. As they grow older, they may change preference in position.
- My breast friend. I found it conducive to have a breastfeeding pillow the first few months of both my babies’ lives. I personally loved “My breast friend.”
- Hydrate constantly and eat foods that produce milk. Many of my posts remind you of the importance of drinking water in pregnancy, in labor, and once again, in postpartum. This may seem like common sense, but your milk is a liquid. Therefore, you need liquid in your system to produce…liquid. 🙂 I would drink at least 16 ounces immediately before each feeding, and continue to drink while feeding. I found having a water bottle with a straw super helpful, as it made my drinking a little more hands free. I also strategically placed water bottles all over my house. Oats are great for milk production. I ate oatmeal, cookies made with oats, and a friend gifted me these awesome bars that were easy to grab.
- Feed often. The first few weeks to a month of a baby’s life are crucial. They tend to lose weight soon after birth, as they were used to receiving all their nutrition through the umbilical cord. Now they are learning to latch, just as you are teaching them to feed. They need to eat every minimum 2, maximum 3 hours to prevent their blood sugar from dropping and to help build your milk supply. The first few days your body produces colostrum, this wonderful substance that helps line the intestines and seal the gut. Around day 3-5, your milk will come in. I found it helpful to remind myself: 12 feedings a day, 12 wet diapers a day plus poop as my target. You also want to feed often to help push the meconium out and prevent jaundice from setting in. Once they have put a bit of weight on, usually after the first month of life, you can put a little more time in between feedings.
- Patience and deep breaths. Sometimes it’s hard to remain calm when your baby is screaming and trying to communicate what they need. I found myself at times very anxious right before a feeding those early days, and your baby can sense this. “Will we get the latch right this time? Do I have enough milk?” Take a deep breath and relax. Trust that your body is making the exact amount of what your baby needs.
What are some breastfeeding tips you can share, Mama?
There are SO many things I wish I knew before experiencing postpartum. I’ve limited my list to my top six things for the sake of time.
- There’s no such thing as an ab delivery service. After having your baby, your body doesn’t instantaneously transform back to your pre-baby figure. See the picture of my stomach 2 days after giving birth to my second child. Remember the last six weeks of pregnancy? You would wake up to find your baby grew…a lot, overnight. There’s something really cool about the flip side of this. The first 6 weeks-ish after I had my babies I would see my stomach shrink dramatically day after day. A lot of this has to do with my next point, breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding is a learning process. Keep those calories up Mama and keep drinking. Lots of water. I would keep a water bottle by me at all times. It’s important to drink and eat enough calories so your body has what it needs to make the milk. I’ll post a future article about breastfeeding tips. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Don’t hesitate to seek out a lactose consultant, the sooner the better! My daughter wasn’t latching properly and I had blisters on both nipples. It wasn’t pretty and it was painful. The $180 I paid for a consultant to come was worth every penny. (Think of how much money I would’ve spent in formula for a year!) I’ve had a great breastfeeding experience with my daughter and it wouldn’t have been possible without her! Give yourself grace as you learn what positions work best for you to hold your baby, and experiment. Take deep breaths before starting each feeding session. Your body is creating all the nutrients your baby needs, how amazing!
- Your body is healing. You just had a baby! Whether it’s was a c section or a vaginal birth, you need to let your body heal. Both of mine were vaginal births, and some advice I would give is kegel away! I liked to kegel while breastfeeding because I love multitasking (and that’s about the only task I could do in tandem with a newborn baby). My pelvic floor was shot after the marathon of labor, and I didn’t hesitate to seek out pelvic floor therapy after my first. Be sure to have your doctor/midwife check for diastasis recti and seek out exercises that help repair this condition if needed. You will bleed down there after giving birth, so take it easy on certain activities.
- Press pause on sex and exercise until six weeks after or until you’re done bleeding. Check with your doctor on this and make sure you get clearance at your six week follow up appointment. In my fairy tale running world, I thought I would go for a run the day after I gave birth to my first. Thankfully, my midwife had a stern conversation with me prior to giving birth. Her two words “organ prolapse” were enough to put the fear of God into me. When the baby grows inside you, your uterus grows with it. After giving birth, your uterus will contract back to its original size over time. Breastfeeding helps with this, causing it to contract! (Isn’t our body cool?) The key words here are over time. Your organs were pushed up and down and all around. (Remember always feeling like your baby was sitting on your bladder near the end of your pregnancy?) As your uterus returns to it’s normal size, the organs find their proper positions once again.
- Limit your list. This one was so hard for me. I love creating lists and checking things off as I accomplish them. Each time I became a mother, I had to shift my way of thinking. I might not get the laundry, cooking, or cleaning done. But I did breastfeed my son/daughter every two hours. I did change lots of diapers. I did keep myself nourished and hydrated. Be realistic and adjust your expectations for yourself as you are learning how to be a mother.
- Ask for help and work smarter. We have a great community of friends and family, and I am so thankful! I don’t know what I would’ve done without them. People cooked meals and dropped them off. I didn’t hesitate to ask someone to fold laundry or watch my kids while I took a quick catnap. Make use of the many services available to us today! Grocery delivery service? Yes, please!
What about you, Mama? What surprised you about postpartum? What advice or wisdom would you pass onto new Mamas?