Right after I had Tate I was afraid to breastfeed. Like most new mamas I was afraid it was going to hurt or that it was some sort of discomfort involved. This feeling was strange for me. I mean after all, I am a pediatric nurse. I’ve gone into plenty of lactation consults, I have counseled many mothers on latch technique and I’ve seen the process done over a 100 times. But when it came to me and my body… I was still so, very afraid.
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Like many other things in life, sometimes fear comes from no real basis at all, other than word of mouth. I had heard so many other mamas say things about breastfeeding that it caused me to be afraid myself. When they asked if I wanted to breastfeed Tate shortly after birth I politely declined saying, “Not yet.” About 30 minutes later, they asked again and I came up with yet another excuse; I was tired. After about 2 hours the lady said to me, alright no more your baby needs to eat. And you know what?
Debunking Breastfeeding Myths
Let me debunk this myth for you: With the proper latch, proper hold and proper positioning of mama, breastfeeding should NOT hurt. If it does, something is being done wrongly.
Heres some other myth bubbles I’ll burst for you:
- Once you breastfeed your breasts get saggy and never go back to normal.
- FALSE: Yes, after breast feeding is stopped, the skin around the breasts tend to be a little less firm. This can be combatted with upper arm exercises to strengthen the skin and tighten it’s hold.
- Breastfeeding is too time consuming.
- FALSE: Sorry to break it to you but warming up a pre made bottle takes just about the same amount of time as getting in your breast feeding space and positioning and whipping out your boob.
- Breastfeeding is only for mamas who want to “be all natural”.
- FALSE: I’m not even sure what this statement means, but yea. “That ain’t it.”
- If you breastfeed it will make your baby clingy.
- FALSE: Whether you breastfeed or not, that baby is going to want to be in your arms non-stop. I mean, they did just come from your belly.
Trust me, there are so many more myths I can debunk but for now — let’s just get on to the facts, shall we?
Things to Do Before Your First Time BreastFeeding
Use your Resources:
Breastfeeding (like anything else in life) takes practice to make perfect. As I said before, even after seeing many, many breastfeeding mamas, I still was absolutely clueless as to what to do when it was my turn.
Mama, hear me clearly now: Do not be afraid to ask for help with anything in motherhood! But especially when you’re about to leave the hospital. It is literally our job to help you. We literally get paid to help you with any issues you have before you leave the hospital. Take full advantage of your resources and help before you have any issues. In short, use the lactation consultant.
Like all parts of motherhood, it’s best to do your own research. Once you decide breastfeeding is for you, I would suggest researching everything about it. The types of holds, feeding periods, consistency of the milk production, let down, breastfeeding products; everything down to even what breastfed baby’s poops are like (because trust me, they are different). Researching before you give birth allows you to have all your questions ready when you do meet with the lactation consultant. You most definitely will still have questions once she leaves, but at least it will give you some ground to start on.
Prepare your body, your home, your mindset, all of it. Get it all in. It is said a mom should have 500 calories more a day in her diet while breastfeeding. Prepare your home before birth to have your favorite foods on hand to ensure you are easily able to get this increase in caloric intake. This increase in caloric intake will also help your body produce more milk and more importantly, keep up with the production. After researching your favorite products, buy them and have them out of the package and ready to go for the second you get home. Trust me, you’ll need them within the hour.
Let it go
I know, totally easier said than done, but any stories you’ve heard from friends, family, colleagues, etc. — let them go. It will be so much easier to actually breastfeed when you let go of what “so-and-so” said it should feel like, or should look like. Remember, we are focusing on facts here!
Now, we’re ready to start breastfeeding.
Your first time you feed will be scary. Just like life, trying new things can be scary but after the first time you try it, you realize it really wasn’t all you made it up to be. Think of this with breast feeding. Just give yourself the first few times and then make a judgement.
Here are my top 5 tips for breastfeeding:
- Remain calm. Hunched over back, clenched jaw, sweating forehead; that sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Don’t let that be you when you breastfeed. Instead, get into a nice comfortable position, and relax not only your body but your mind, too. Allow your body to flow and do its thing. It sounds so funny but I used to literally visualize my milk coming down from my body into my baby’s mouth. It may sound silly but it worked, I never had one real issue with milk production.
- Get prepared before you start. Before your baby even gets fussy or you know the time is coming set up your space. Get your book or TV ready, get the blankets ready, get all your tools ready and in one place because once you sit down to feed that baby — that’s it. You’re at their discretion now when it comes to you getting up. One of my favorite products was the Milk Snob nursing cover. It was stretchy and light weight which worked perfect in public. Even better, it doubled as a car seat cover that I used in the cooler months to block out the wind from baby boy. My other favorite item was the My Brest Friend nursing pillow. It’s a little thicker than a boppy and more sturdy. Since having had a C-section, it was difficult for me to support Tate’s weight a lot in the beginning and this served as a life saver because it was easy for him to lay directly on it without me having to hold it too much and he was higher up for my comfort. There are plenty of products out there. Find your products and get everything situated.
- Get your feeding schedule down. Now this applies mostly to baby’s first few months of life. Starting out it’s easier if you feed your baby on a schedule and don’t wait until they call for food. It keeps from having a frantic baby and mama in the long run. In the beginning you’ll be getting a hang of baby’s sleep schedule, wake schedule, your wake schedule and sleep schedule… It will be a lot. Throw in feedings and it can be easy to forget! Offering the breast every 1-2 hours for baby’s first few months of life is a good way to get your baby on a schedule to know when the milk is coming but it also helps your body to know when it’s time to let some milk down for that baby, too. Now notice I said offer the breast. This means if you’re giving the breast to your baby every hour and they seem uninterested or do not want to latch, do not fret. Try pushing back to every 2 hours and go from there. Sometimes your baby not taking the breast simply means they are uninterested in it right now. Just be sure to pay close attention to make sure your baby is still taking in the right amounts of milk. Another additional benefit of feeding on a schedule is if you wait to feed until baby tells you they are ready to eat, it could be a moment of stress. Baby is screaming because they’re hungry you’re now rushing frantically to get set up and this situation is even worse if you are in public. To avoid that, feed your baby on a schedule.
- It’s all in the hold. Remember we talked about being comfortable well this goes for your positioning, too. There a few different types of holds that you can position your baby in to make it comfortable for both you and them. Refer to the picture below for images of them. Personally, the football hold was the easiest for me. As a new mom having to manipulate baby’s head to my breast, my nipple to their mouth and hold them secure was a lot. The football hold gave me the most control of these things.
- Relaxxxxx. I CANNOT SAY THIS ENOUGH! You’re let down literally depends on it. Your body will not let down as much milk as needed as a result of being clenched and tight. This is why your position (not only in your house) but also with your baby, matters so much.
Being a new mama is hard. Each time you enter a new phase it will feel like it was harder than the one before. It will feel tough and down right impossible. But you are mama, hear you roar! You were literally meant to do this job and there is nobody better at it for your baby then you. So cut yourself some grace. Breastfeeding is a difficult journey and even more as a new mama. You feel lost, confused, defeated, disappointed at times and more. But never let those emotions stop you from what you set your mind to. You and your body are made for this.
Take time for you too mama,
And if you’re looking for some tips on starting your baby on solids, get my 6-page workbook packed with checklists, food age charts, a food journal and more.