Friday, October 23, 2009

Tammy's Top Ten Breastfeeding Tips

To all the mamas and the mamas-to-be:

I have found that while mamas-to-be get a lot of advice on pregnancy and infants, people can be pretty tight-lipped about breastfeeding. I think this is because people are worried about being judged or having others feel that they are judging them. When you have a small baby, there is a lot of pressure put on you to breastfeed, but it is often hard to find resources or advice to help you do this. Then, when your baby gets older, there is a huge societal pressure to stop breastfeeding. You just can't win! So I hope this tips list will be of use to you.

  1. Get a lactation consultant before you have your baby. There is a pretty high chance that you will need help the first few days after your baby is born. Get recommendations from your friends or midwife and have the number ready. It may cost you $50-$100 but it will be the best money you have ever spent!! You can also get free advice and consultations from the Nursing Mothers Counsel and La Leche League. Have your partner involved so that they can help you after the consultant leaves. I think lactation consultants make the difference between being able to breastfeed and having to stop.
  2. Set up a nursing station before you have your baby. Get a comfy (but firm) armchair or glider set up in your living room. Stock it with a pitcher of water, a selection of teas, snacks that you can eat one-handed, nursing pillows, burp cloths. And a nice footstool is a must! I found this footstool on Craigslist and I have used it everyday for the last 7 months! You are going to be spending 4-7 hours a day nursing for the first few months!!! If you can nurse while laying down on your side this will also really help you!
  3. Be prepared for pain. Engorgement is really painful. The worst is when your milk starts to come in, but there can also be engorgement pain when your baby changes her eating or sleeping patterns. The first few nights that my baby slept through the night were really painful for me as my boobs had not gotten the message! The first few weeks of breastfeeding will also be really painful as your baby might not latch on correctly. Lanolin helps. Plugged ducts are also really painful and take time to get rid of. La Leche League has great advice on this subject.
  4. Stay hydrated. This means drinking HUGE amounts of water. One mom I know called it "The Thirst". Stay away from sweet drinks and caffeine. This will just make you thirstier!
  5. Get a hand pump. I had a Pump & Style double electric pump all ready to go before the baby came. But it takes some time to learn how to use the pump and it can be frustrating when you are sleep deprived. My favorite hand pump is the Medela Harmony. I liked the handpump so much that I got two and use them to pump at work. I get more milk by handpumping than I do with the electric! This website has great advice for going back to work.
  6. Stock up your freezer. If you can pump a little extra each day, it is a great idea to have a breastmilk stash in the freezer for emergencies or when you go back to work. The first few weeks back at work are stressful and it is great to have this stash if your production goes down. Try not to use your stash on a daily basis as your body will react and stop making as much milk.
  7. Drink Nursing Tea. Herbs can help your milk production. My favorite tea is Nursing Tea by Herblore. You only need a little bit! I like this tea because it does not contain fenugreek. You have to be careful with how much fenugreek you take as it can help or hinder production depending on how you use it.
  8. Don't buy nursing bras before you have your baby. I bought several before and none of them fit now! Your breasts are going to change shape and size and you really cant predict what you will need. Your best bet is to buy a couple nursing tanks for the first few weeks/months. Then, when you are more mobile, go and get some nursing bras once your boobs settle in to their lactation size.
  9. Throw your guilt in the garbage can. Be happy with however long you were able to breastfeed! That is great! If you have to supplement, that is ok too! Just do the best that you can and don't let others get you down.
  10. Enjoy your special baby and mamma time. I really like the special time I get with my daughter while breastfeeding. It has made it worth all of the hard parts the first few months and the occasional plugged ducts I get now. I like it when she looks up and me and smiles and blows me a raspberry after she finishes drinking. I am going to try to keep breastfeeding for a year.
Good luck to all of you! Please feel free to post your breastfeeding tips in the comments!