Beyond the Basics of Breastfeeding
By Carmen Shuey
When I found out I was pregnant and began to plan for my son, Cole, the choice to breastfeed wasn’t much of a choice, I figured why not? Not only was it the most natural way to feed my child, but also it was nutritious (while building your child’s immune system) as well as cost effective. I had NO idea how much more important, more amazing breastfeeding would become.
What No One Ever Told Me
No one told me the following things about breastfeeding, which I hope are helpful to you. In the first couple weeks your baby will be nursing VERY often, plan on devoting the majority of your time to nursing, sleeping and eating. Ask for help – don’t feel like you have to keep a clean house, let others help. This bonding time will only happen once, and it will be gone before you know it.
Keep food and water close by. I can assure you that as soon as you get the baby to sleep your tummy will start to rumble and you won’t want the little one to wake up. Also use comfortable pillows and wear comfortable-cuddly clothes. You will want to be relaxed and intimate. Let me stress that you will spend a large amount of time nursing – so be patient and relax. You probably want to leave the home for a while, which is understandable. It will be awhile before you feel comfortable taking your baby out in the world and before you have enough time between feedings.
The Do’s and Don’t of Eating
Not until Cole was on my chest after his birth did I fully understand the decision I had made to breast-feed. I suddenly realized that everything I ate would be directly given to him, just as when I was pregnant. Now that I had met my little boy it was even more important to feed him correctly. Some basic rules about your diet during breast-feeding:
- Drink LOTS of water, this will not only keep you refreshed and losing weight, it will help with milk production.
- Eat small healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your energy up. Finger foods are great, since they aren’t messy and can be kept handy. Try grapes, trail mix, graham crackers, cheerios, and baby carrots- anything small and easy to clean up will do the trick.
- Think BEFORE you eat! Your baby will not enjoy Mexican, Chinese or any other spicy foods. The last thing you want to do is give your baby gas, or worse.
- If you don’t have a good memory, keep a journal of what you eat. This will help determine what foods you eat may be causing an upset stomach for your little one. I found out after a couple tries that green apples gave my son a terrible tummy ache, needless to say I don’t eat them anymore.
- Avoid fish – mercy found in fish has been found questionable by several sources. If you have questions talk with you physician.
Basic Rules of Breastfeeding
- Talk and work with your doctor- they can make sure your child is gaining enough weight.
- Set a Goal “I will breastfeed until he is at least 2 months old” or whatever you are comfortable with, this will affirm your decision and make an easy goal in sight. And who knows you may outlast your goal.
- Find a mother group, hospital help line or use the La Leche League International website. You will have questions and you will need support!
- Be patient, your milk supply will come, probably just when you have given up.
- Take care of yourself! If you don’t take care of you- who will take care of the baby?
- Be willing to make sacrifices, feedings will be on your child’s scheduled- and pretty often in the beginning.
- Pick a comfortable spot to nurse like the rocking chair, or a comfy recliner, but stick to it as often as possible. Your baby will associate that area with you and nursing and will be comforted as soon as you sit there.
On about day four, I woke up from a nap, since Cole hadn’t slept much the night before, and my chest hurt SO badly! I freaked out, they were hard as a rock, and Cole had a hard time latching on. It was the weekend so my doctor wasn’t in, so I called my Doula – thank God for Doulas! Not only did she get me through the labor, she was a source of information, and she too had be through the hard chest.
This is a common occurrence, be prepared and don’t be scared. A couple good ways to deal with this – take a hot shower and let the water run on your chest. This will help start the movement of milk and will also relax you. You can also use cold packs or cold frozen veggies on your chest – but I found a hot shower worked best.
You will also have to message them to help release some milk manually and make it easier for your baby to latch on. Once he/she latches on and begins to nurse it will get easier, this may last up to two days – like it did for me! Just be patient, it will get better, I promise.
Other possible problems/pains – dry cracked nipples, bleeding nipples, or a baby who finds it hard to latch or seem uninterested. I have never had any of these problems, but I know they can all be worked on and possibly fixed with some determination and help from one of the above-mentioned resources.
Breastfeeding On The Go
I would like to think I have mastered the art of breastfeeding on the go – although I am sure I will still find struggles along the way. First and foremost be prepared. You may now asking, how do I make sure I am prepared to nurse my baby anywhere we go? First, always bring a blanket. The blankets you use for a baby bundle or baby burrito are perfect. You want a lightweight blanket in the summer and a warmer, fuzzy blanket in the winter.
When you pack your diaper bag, along with diapers pack a blanket. Check to make sure it is in your diaper bag every time you leave the house, this will become a routine. You may even want to pack one in the car, just in case. With a blanket, you can cover up a nurse anywhere you can find a seat.
Other important tips- invest in some comfortable nursing bras, this is a necessity. I have found the sports bra like ones with snaps at the top are easiest to reattach, while being modest. When you are going out with the baby consider what you wear, so you have easy access to your chest. You may like t-shirts, tank tops you can pull down, wrap shirts, button down shirts or even the specialty made nursing clothes. Avoid anything that would be complicated to lower or lift quickly. With the proper attire and a blanket you can nurse anywhere.
Are you still nervous? I was too, for a while. But I finally learned that people may look quickly to see what you are doing, but if you can nurse the baby before he is beginning to fuss or cry than you can avoid extra attention. As long as you are fully covered, which you brought a cover for, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Remember you are providing nourishment, comfort, and love to your child in the most natural way possible.
Working and Nursing…The Most Difficult Task
When I reluctantly went back to work after six short weeks, I knew breastfeeding was going to be hard, but I wasn’t about to give up on my goal of nursing my son for the first vital year of his life. The most helpful thing possible is a great breast pump.
Now I didn’t say good, I said GREAT! You will be pumping forever, and not get very good results with a hand held, cheap pump. I was given a Pump-In-Style that was so helpful. It plugs into the wall (make sure you have an outlet where you will be pumping), and has a refrigeration cubby where I put cold packs in to keep my milk cold and fresh.
Talk with your employer, let them know you will need time to pump, as well as a clean, private area to pump in. If they value you they will help with these things. You must pump to maintain your milk supply, and to have more for while you are away, and hopefully to build up stock.
Why Than Would You Breastfeed?
With all I have mentioned to you may be wondering, why breastfeed? Beyond the fact that it is the best source of nutrition for your child, it provides the most amazing bonding experience. There is nothing more incredible in the world than staring into the eyes of your child while being as close as you can possibly be. My sons eyes are the most beautiful shade of blue/gray and they look like puddles of water dancing around. When we cuddle down and nurse I can get lost in his eyes and the whole world disappears.
You will not regret a moment spent solely devoted to your child, and nursing is one of the easiest ways to get that time. So make nursing your plan for as long as you can, not only for his health, but also for your bond. You will learn to love him or her more everyday!
Encourage Others To Breastfeed!
Please encourage others to breastfeed and enjoy the many benefits of the decision to breastfeed. To help have them read this article and the article available at the link below. You will be amazed at the data showing why breastfeeding is so beneficial and totally worth the effort. Enjoy your baby!
About the Author
Carmen Shuey is the owner of CT Toys which specializes in toys and articles for babies and children.
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