7 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
Apr 26 2008
I babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley. If you have babies and no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby! To check out more baby advice, check out the baby tips category.
7 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
by Aruni Gunasegaram
My now 5 ½ year old son was born by emergency c-section making my post birth recovery time challenging because a) I was exhausted, b) he didn’t seem to sleep very much and c) I developed a breast infection. Now a) and b) are par for the course when having a baby but c) knocked me senseless. I didn’t want to take any more medication given that I had just come off of several after the c-section so I waited to see if the pain would go away. When I reached the point where I would wake up from a restless sleep with tears in my eyes from the excruciating pain and I began having thoughts like “I wish I could die right now, but I can’t because I have to feed my baby,” I began a round of antibiotics. Within a week or so I felt sane again.
Now part of the reason I contracted the breast infection was because I wasn’t breastfeeding correctly. It took about 7 to 10 days for my milk to come in and then because of the infection probably 10 weeks for me to quit wondering how the human race survived before bottles and formula! I ended up breastfeeding our son for about 7 months and our daughter about 9 months when it was apparent to me that we were ready to move on to the next phase of our mother/baby relationship. Here are some tips that helped me establish a successful breastfeeding relationship with my children.
1. Mentally prepare yourself that it can take up to 8 to 12 weeks. Some insightful person…maybe a nurse or my lactation consultant, told me “Give it 8 to 12 weeks before making a decision on whether you want to quit breastfeeding.” So I told myself ‘this is a marathon, breastfeeding is important to me and my husband, and I can’t quit before 12 weeks.’ I remember saying that to myself almost every day and when I was 10 weeks into it I realized “Wow, this isn’t so bad. In fact it’s pretty darn neat!”
2. It’s OK to supplement! I know I will be chastised by the pure breastfeeding advocates for saying this, but in my opinion it is OK to supplement with formula especially if you feel something is wrong with you or your baby. I was so afraid to supplement because I was repeatedly told that supplementing was the worst thing I could do, which of course made me feel like an awful mom. But let me tell you, if you are exhausted and your baby isn’t gaining weight, it is one of the best things you can do. After feeling guilty for a week because my milk wasn’t coming in and my baby wasn’t gaining weight, and trying to survive a breast infection, I decided to supplement just a little bit and what a relief because it helped me gain my confidence back. I had more confidence when our daughter was born 2 ½ years later. I smiled at the nurses who said I shouldn’t supplement and did it anyway for the first few weeks of her life. UPDATE: Based on a reader’s comment below, it wasn’t clear that even though we supplemented in the first several weeks, I also continued to pump. It is so true that if you quit pumping, your body will think you need to produce less milk. So I pumped and I took time to rest a little longer to build up my milk supply and that’s why my milk came in! Supplementing is not for everyone but in my opinion the sanity and health of the mom and baby are of utmost importance!
3. Don’t be afraid to take that baby off! Some well meaning nurses told me that when the baby is finished he will fall off. They didn’t know my son. He would stay on for over an hour on each side just suckling half asleep if I let him. I remember breastfeeding sessions that would last 90 minutes which when I had to start over again in an hour and a half reduced me to tears. I believe not pulling him off when I thought he was done contributed to my getting the breast infection. With my daughter I produced so much milk that after 8 to 10 weeks I was able to take her off sometimes at 7 to 10 minutes!
4. Keep a breastfeeding log. So that you have an idea of how much time you are breastfeeding and maybe even what position you are breastfeeding in, keep a breastfeeding log. When our son was born I used a form I created in Microsoft Excel to jot down often illegible notes. Fortunately when our daughter was born, we had an alpha version of our mobile software program, Baby Insights, available. I could easily keep track of my pumping and breastfeeding schedule which helped me understand her feeding patterns and how much milk I was producing.
5. Drink plenty of water. Drinking plenty of fluids, eating well, and getting good rest is a huge contributor to successful breastfeeding. In fact a vast majority of breast milk is water. Keep a bottle of water next to you when you breastfeed.
6. Ask and/or pay for help. Whether it’s a lactation consultant, a post-partum doula, your significant other, or a friend who has breastfed before, ask for help. A good lactation consultant can give you great tips on how to get your baby to latch on and feed properly. If you can afford a post-partum doula a few hours per week, they can be a god-send with both household and breastfeeding support. Ask your spouse to help you keep the breastfeeding log, bring you water, fresh fruit, snacks, and the baby!
7. Relax. I know this is easier said than done, but I found the more relaxed I was, the more my milk flowed. Lack of sleep and stress actually reduces your body’s ability to create breast milk. And worse you may start to resent the process and maybe even your baby! Watch a funny show or movie. Take a nap. Take a leisurely walk. Chat with a friend. Or just bawl your eyes out…we all know what a stress relief that can be!
Once your milk flow is established consider donating to a Mother’s Milk Bank near you. I donated to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Austin with my daughter and it was a wonderful feeling knowing that my milk was going to help sick and premature babies.
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Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com. Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and lotsa link love!Author: Aruni | Filed under: baby, baby advice, baby care, baby insights, baby tips, breast milk, breastfeeding, breastfeeding schedule, milk banking, nursing, pumping | Tags: baby advice, baby food journal, baby sleep, baby swaddle, baby tips, breast milk supply, breastfeeding, breastfeeding schedule, breastfeeding support, co-sleeping with baby, from the park bench, how to swaddle a baby, insomnia, milk banking, Mother's Milk Bank, neenmachine, nursing, pumping, successful breastfeeding | 8 Comments »