Tips for New Breastfeeding Moms
If there is one thing that you should know before you begin breastfeeding your baby, it is this- every mother’s breastfeeding journey is different. While some find it natural and smooth-sailing, some might find it to be downright overwhelming. No matter how long you choose to breastfeed your baby and how you choose to do it, remember that you are giving it your best shot. You know what works well for you and your baby. That is all that matters!
Let’s face it - no book can fully prepare you for what lies ahead
You might have read large paperbacks on breastfeeding and watched numerous videos that talk about breastfeeding tips. But, no amount of preparation can make you feel fully ready for the journey. I was terrified when I was asked to hold my baby for her first nursing session! And it is perfectly alright if you feel nervous despite having done all the research you could. Remember that it is a natural process. You would not have to teach your baby how to latch. Most babies are experts when it comes to latching, and moments after birth, you would find them happily latching on to their mother’s breasts, enjoying their first feed. If this does not happen in your case, it is perfectly alright. You can always work with a lactation consultant if you are looking for guidance on latching and other aspects of breastfeeding. In my case, I had a very supportive lactation consultant who rectified all my latching problems in a week.
Some mothers might have excess breastmilk, and some might face a deficit in the supply. In the latter case supplementing with baby formula might be required. Some mothers might be fully against formula feeds, and some might have to rely on them either due to their situation or simply because they choose to. Some mothers might get the opportunity to stay with the baby all day long and nurse him to her heart’s content, which was my case. Others might have to join back work within a few weeks or months. So, expressing breastmilk and feeding it from the bottle might be their only option. In the end, the mother knows what’s best for her health and her baby’s.
Accepting your decision and avoiding guilt-tripping upon comparison with other mothers would be very important. Your mental health has a strong impact on your breastmilk supply. Remember that your breastmilk would also be transferring hormones from your body to your baby. Stress hormones from the mother can also affect the breastfeeding baby.
Breastfeeding challenges that new moms face and how to tackle them
Knowing about the common challenges that new moms face would help you be mentally prepared for what lies ahead. Based on my experience and from what I heard from my friends who breastfed their babies for more than a year, here are the common problems most new mothers face.
Nipple soreness. Pain and general soreness in your nipples are very common, especially in the first few weeks when the baby nurses very frequently. You can talk to your doctor and use a good nipple cream to reduce the discomfort.
Frequent feeding. Cluster feeding is the term used to indicate cases where the baby likes to take smaller feeds but more frequently. This is common with few babies, and there is nothing to worry about if this happens to you. As long as the baby is gaining enough weight and wetting nappies as they should be, you do not have to worry about the feeding pattern and frequency.
Engorgement. While some amount of swelling is common, a hard and engorged breast can be very painful for the breastfeeding mom. In such cases, hand expressing the milk after a warm shower would be useful. To maintain the supply and to prevent breast engorgement, frequent feeds, or expressing using a manual or electric pump are the tricks that were really effective for me.
Get the right gear
While most new mothers are keen on spending all the money they can on baby essentials, not many focus on their own health and comfort. Some nursing accessories can make any new mother’s breastfeeding journey more comfortable. I was lucky to have friends who guided me through the process and recommended the best nursing accessories. Here are the tried and tested nursing gear I would recommend for any new mother to invest in.
1. Breast pump - Choose an electric or manual pump based on your budget and the frequency of expressing milk. Full-time working mothers who require day-long stashes of breastmilk might find electric pumps to be more convenient. This would also help the father get involved in feeding the baby. To avoid nipple confusion, invest in bottles with nipple designs that are ergonomic and closely similar to the shape of the mother’s nipples.
2. Nursing pillow - Nursing pillows are very useful as they can prevent backaches from those long nursing sessions. They are very much effective in helping new moms work on proper latching for pain-free nursing.
3. Nursing cover - I would always carry this KeaBabies cover with me while taking my baby out. It helps new mothers breastfeed their babies wherever they are.
4. Nursing pad - Occasional leaks are quite common in new moms. You do not want to endure breastmilk stains on your expensive tops and dresses. Use comfortable nursing pads like these organic reusable ones from KeaBabies to avoid leaky nipples from causing an embarrassment when you are outside.
Combine the above gear with a good diaper bag, and you are good to go. And with a spacious and practical diaper bag like this one from KeaBabies, you would be able to carry several bottles of expressed milk wherever you go. These might look like simple utilities, but they can drastically alter your nursing experience on the whole.
Take things slowly - maximize the skin-to-skin contact with the baby if you are struggling with latching issues.
Do not hesitate to top up with formula if your breastmilk supply is not enough for the baby.
Try and offer nothing but breastmilk to your baby for the first six months after birth.
Feed when the baby wants instead of sticking with rigorous nursing routines.
Comfort feeds are perfectly fine.
New moms can continue to feed their babies even when they are down with common illnesses like cold and flu.
Keep the breastfeeding advantage for your baby’s health in mind, and you would be motivated to pursue the journey happily. From my experience, I can assure you this - no matter how it begins, you can always find ways to make things more convenient for yourself and your baby. I also had a great support network that made things simpler for me. Breastfeeding support should be available for new mothers both in the form of access to efficient nursing gear and good moral support. This would make the whole process manageable and less stressful.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Lindsay Hudson
Lindsay is a freelance writer who is mom to a lovely daughter. She loves dressing in matching outfits with her daughter and bringing their 2 dogs out for their daily walk.