You’ve made the Choice to Breastfeed….Now What???
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THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BREASTFEEDING
THAT MOM NEVER TOLD YOU
The decision to breastfeed is one a lot of new mother’s make, but nobody tells you exactly what to expect. Knowing a few key things will help prepare you for what is coming next.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding:
To Baby – less risk of illness, decreased duration and intensity of illness, less colic, fewer allergies, increased visual acuity, better dental health, a happy and secure baby and the greatest mother/child bonding.
To Mother – no sterilizing and preparing bottles, no formula to buy, milk is ready when the baby is hungry, it’s always the right temperature, easier night feedings, less choking hazards, quicker postpartum healing and lighter or elimination of postpartum menses.
We Aren’t born knowing how to breastfeed, but there is help out there
It is the most natural thing in the world, but there are things to learn about breastfeeding so don’t feel like a failure or give up because you “don’t know how.” There are help and instructions available in many places so never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for that help. Many good books have been written on the subject such as The Womanly Art of Breast Feeding by the La Leche League available on Amazon. Many communities have support groups, such as the La Leche League, for breastfeeding mothers. You can look them up in your community directory or ask for the contact information from your hospital or your obstetrician.
It takes time
Your body needs about six to eight weeks’ time to sync perfectly with the demands of feeding your baby by adjusting the amount of milk production based on much your child takes at each feeding. If your baby needs more, your body will produce more, if you give it a chance to get there. Don’t give up in those first weeks. Trust your body to do what it is meant to do but give it a fair chance to get where it should be.
Yes, in the beginning, it hurts….a lot!!! It does get better very quickly as your nipples toughen up. There are many things you can do to get them ready before the baby is born. Lightly pinch them often during the day, scrub them gently with a cloth when you bathe, go bra-less under your shirt pre-birth, have your husband pay more attention to your nipples. I’m sure he won’t mind one bit. If they become unbearably sore once baby starts feeding, you can find nipple shields at your local pharmacy that act as a barrier between you and baby. Once your nipples toughen up, I suggest not using the shields anymore. It’s just easier for both of you.
Sometimes babies get thrush (essentially yeast infection of the mouth) that could be passed back and forth between you and your baby during feeding. It shows as a thick, white coating on the tongue that may look like road map tracks. You’ll know if this happens because it will feel like someone is holding a lighted match to your nipple. You will physically cringe at the sound of your baby crying because your body knows the agony that is about to come. Then you too will most likely cry too. It is easily cured with Gentian Violet which is a purple, non-prescription, antiseptic dye that is safe for both you and your baby. The dye stains incredibly, so wear clothes you don’t care about turning purple. Don’t forget the baby clothes too. Excessive pain is not right with breastfeeding so contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing extreme pain.
What if I can’t do it?
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t breastfeed, for whatever reason. Some women just can’t do it. Not being able to breastfeed does not make you a bad mom. It just means that you are a mom that has to wash and warm bottles. The milk source is of no consequence.
One option that can make it easier
A breast pump is a breastfeeding mom’s best friend. You can pump extra milk to freeze for later. It is good to have on hand if you want to go out for a bit or if your nipples are very sore. Never microwave breast milk. Warm it in hot water only.
You’re doing a great job mom
You never hear those words enough, sadly. The benefits of breastfeeding, to both you and your baby, far outweigh the cons but whichever method works best for is the one that is right for you. New moms have enough that they feel bad about so don’t add the method of feeding to that list. If you’re happy, your baby is happy. If you’re not happy, nobody is happy!