Breastfeeding is a miraculous journey that many moms look forward to. It is a welcoming experience that offers numerous benefits for both the baby and the mother.
The fact that our bodies can create a perfectly nutritious meal for our little ones on demand is nothing short of astounding. However, as mesmerizing as breastfeeding may be, it's important for new mothers to understand that it's not always a walk in the park.
This blog, Breastfeeding - things to know before you start aims to shed light on what to know before you start breastfeeding, ensuring you are better prepared for this beautiful yet challenging experience.
First and foremost, it's important to not have any expectations. Breastfeeding is natural, but it's not always easy. For some, the journey is smooth and straightforward, while for others, it can be rocky and emotional. Many new mothers are surprised by the difficulties they encounter. Just like me, I thought that my experience in childcare would have prepared me for exclusive breastfeeding my two boys. Perhaps I overlooked or underestimated the potential challenges, thinking, "Oh, this is quite simple, food on demand!" Or maybe my experience didn't adequately prepare me for the difficulties. Either way, I was excited to start breastfeeding my newborn, blissfully unaware of the challenges that lay ahead.
Despite my challenges, every breastfeeding experience is unique. However, I can tell you that my boys enjoyed being breastfed and were never interested in being bottle-fed. Mind you, this was quite draining, and wished they were easier on me. There were sleepless nights, hormones, and postpartum depression. Reflecting on my experience, I think that if I had been educated about breastfeeding challenges being a first-time breastfeeding mother, we might have eventually achieved success with bottle feeding.
How can you prepare to increase your chances of having a better breastfeeding experience? Before starting, this may be helpful:
Seek Professional Help: Utilize the support available in the hospital. Though it might be tempting to snuggle with your baby, keep in mind that there are knowledgeable experts available. Lactation consultants and experienced / labor and delivery nurses can provide invaluable assistance with breastfeeding basics. They can help you and your baby achieve the correct latch and ensure your baby is receiving the necessary nourishment.
Prepare with Essentials: Consider purchasing a breastfeeding pillow before giving birth and bring it with you to the hospital. This pillow can greatly enhance comfort and positioning during breastfeeding.
Expect Time Dedication: Prepare to invest a significant amount of time in nursing. Newborns have voracious appetites and require frequent and lengthy nursing sessions to thrive.
Understand Colostrum: In the first few days, your milk won't fully come in. Instead, you will produce colostrum, a yellowish liquid that is rich in nutrients and plays a vital role in boosting your baby's immune system.
Prepare for Discomfort: Breastfeeding can be painful at times. Your nipples might become sore, red, cracked, and sensitive. It's essential to be prepared for these discomforts and seek remedies when necessary.
Delay Pacifier Use: Many experts recommend delaying the use of a pacifier until you and your baby have successfully established breastfeeding. This can help prevent potential confusion in your baby's latch.
Utilize Hospital Pumps: Maximize the use of hospital-grade breast pumps available during your hospital stay. They can be incredibly efficient in helping your milk come in and maintaining your milk supply.
Positive Mindset: Approach breastfeeding with a positive outlook, patience, and persistence. These three qualities are your allies on this journey, increasing your chances of success.
While breastfeeding is an incredible journey with numerous benefits, it's crucial to be well-prepared for the potential challenges you might encounter. Seek professional help, ensure you have the right tools, and maintain a positive mindset. With the right knowledge and support, you can increase your chances of a successful breastfeeding experience, making it a beautiful and rewarding journey for both you and your baby.