This is a question I hear quite often, so I thought I would share my favorite tips, as well as share the amazing comments we received from our Facebook page when we asked our fellow breastfeeding mamas!
My Top 5 Pieces of Advice Every Woman Should Have Before She Breastfeeds:
1. Find a lactation consultant in your area before you have your baby.
No one should have to google this information at 3:30 in the morning when you feel like your nipples are going to fall off. Instead, spend a few minutes on the computer, in between your stroller and diaper research, to find an international board certified lactation consultant who seems like a really great person. Check out her Yelp reviews and ask your friends who they would recommend.
2. Take a quality breastfeeding class so that you know what the ‘norm’ should look like.
This will help you to discern when you may need extra support from a lactation consultant or support group. As new parents, we have no idea how often our baby should be peeing/pooping during those first few weeks and what a comfortable latch feels like. A prenatal breastfeeding class should give you the basics and a nice foundation for what breastfeeding should look like for you. It should get you EXCITED about breastfeeding, not fuel your fears.
3. Find a breastfeeding support group in your neighborhood and check it out before having your baby.
Find out where to park and what the flow is of the group. Do these women look like ones you want to hang out with? Does the support group leader seem friendly and non-judgmental? In those first few weeks after having my son, I remember feeling quite anxious about bringing him to an unfamiliar place. I wish I had stopped by my local breastfeeding support group, while pregnant, so that I would have been less timid to stop by when we were having breastfeeding challenges.
4. Plan to spend time figuring out your breastfeeding rhythm with your little one.
Which position is most comfortable for the two of you? How long does it take your baby to have a good feeding session? How often does your baby like to feed? Every mother/baby pair is unique and it is important for you to figure out what works for the two of you. Plus, there is a reason that babies breastfeed for about 45 minutes per feeding session in those first few weeks…. It is nature’s way of helping mom slow down, relax, and enjoy her baby. When else have you had the opportunity to slow down your pace of life and be completely present? It’s a gift!
5. Know that while breastfeeding is natural and normal, there can be some hiccups along the way, as with anything having to do with raising a child.
Surround yourself with supportive people who can cheerlead you through the difficult times and celebrate your successes. A challenge does not equal a failure. It just means that we need some support to meet our goal.
Here are the tips that were shared on our Facebook page:
Gina: Drink things other than water, like coconut water
Krystyn: It will get easier
Brittany: I knew hardly anything about breastfeeding before I gave birth. My mom and my husband’s mom didn’t breastfeed. I just wish I would’ve had someone with any kind of experience to help me. I had flat nipples and a lip-tied baby. I needed the support!
Erin: I was in shock that I was so tender at first. That would have been great to know… then I wouldn’t have assumed that I was doing something wrong and freaked out.
Kelli: It’s natural, but isn’t always easy for everyone. It gets better with time, patience and support!
Rena: Best advice I ever got: The two of you have to learn one another. It’s a learning process for both of you, so go easy on yourself.
Kim: Don’t watch the clock…watch the baby and go by his/her cues.
Lynz: I wish I had known how hard it was going to be (tongue-tied, nursing strikes, overactive letdown, reflux, etc.), but with perseverance and a lot of support (from Robin and The Boob Group) it DOES get easier!
Janine: Hang in there! After about 2 weeks, it gets SO MUCH BETTER!
Ashley: Ask for help when you need it. No use trying to figure this out all on your own.
Liesal: Trust your body and your baby. I was so worried that I was doing something wrong and that he wasn’t getting enough. Babies know when they are hungry and will tell you about it until they get enough. The best advice I got was that it gets so much easier once he can help you. Each monthe does get easier and easier.
Shawni: Any amount of breastmilk you can give your baby is a good thing, so don’t feel guilty if you have to supplement. Also, their bellies are the size of their fists.
Jeannine: Go with the flow! If your milk doesn’t come in fast, don’t worry about it. The baby is fine with colostrum (for the first few days.)
Kelly: Not to worry about how long I feed and watch the baby to show he/she is full. Also, that I could have encouraged my milk to not ‘dry up’ by diet and other things.
Mary: I wish I had read this to know about the first few days of breastfeeding:http://theleakyboob.com/2011/08/baby-explains-normal-newborn-behavior/
Alye: It’s may be hard for the first few months, but it’s all worth it.
Hillary: Have the number of a lactation consultant before the baby is born.
Ashley: Don’t let all of the advice and directions confuse you. Do what works best for the both of you, as long as it’s safe and effective.
Erin: It’s gets easier!
Laura: Not all advice is GOOD advice – do a little research before the baby is born so that you know what’s true and what is not!
Veronica: Take a class!
Katie: Don’t let your boobs get hard! Pump and feed often! The Nursing Mothers Companion book helped me tremendously as well.
Super Cool Kids: I wish I would have started a stash right away.
Natalie: Breastfeeding should never hurt!
Allison: Listen to your baby and your intuition.
Stephanie: Research a correct latch. Feed as often as possible in the beginning.
Joann: Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt!
Kristine: Not every breastfeeding relationship looks the same. You and your baby have to get to know one another and figure out what works best for you. It’s not a textbook kind of thing.
Renee: Don’t let the nurses in the hospital discourage you. Ask for a lactation consultant if you need help.
Suzanne: If you are not sure how much your baby is getting, you can rent a scale or stop by a support group. If you are having a problem with let down, find a quiet place with no interruptions and relax!
Vanessa: I wish someone had told me that the amount that breastfed babies take doesn’t really increase the way that it does with formula fed babies. I worries for a while that my son wasn’t getting enough.
Teresa: Have a lot of one-handed food on hand in the beginning because you will only have the use of one hand for a while.
Monica: Use a wrap (like Moby) anytime/anywhere. I didn’t know how easy breastfeeding could be with her strapped to my body.
Mei: My husband helped to make sure that I had water, snacks, and my phone nearby.
Here are a few more articles on our website, specifically dealing with breastfeeding a newborn: