I have been blessed to have been able to breastfeed all of our babies. I have actively breast fed for over 10 years (and still counting). I have breastfed through the first 6-7 months of pregnancy several times and have conceived while breastfeeding 9 times.
This is not to say that I’m an expert on the subject or that it has always been easy. Breastfeeding a baby takes effort, sacrifice and an amount of selflessness but the end result is worth it.
Since this is World Breastfeeding Week I thought that I’d share some of the best advice that I’ve received, some things that I’ve learned and the tips that have about breastfeeding over the past 10 years. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, (Check out Connie’s list) but rather these are the things that have been important to my success and/or that I’ve had to learn the hard way.
Even though this book is not written from a Christian perspective, you will be amazed at the wonderful way that God designed a woman’s body to provide the perfect nourishment for her baby. Information, encouragement and motivation to keep going, this book from Le Leche League has it all. Your local library should have a copy.
Drink at least 2 quarts of water daily. If I’m not drinking enough, I notice a drop in milk supply within 2 days! (More on this in tomorrow’s post)
This is especially important during the first 2-4 weeks. Every woman is different, but I know that I have to nurse at least every 3 hours during the day in order to maintain an adequate milk supply.
Change baby’s diaper before you feed on the second side.
Most of my baby’s like to fall asleep while nursing. Changing their diaper before I finish feeding them does a couple of things. One it wakes them up so that they are more ready to finish nursing and two when they are finished on the second side you don’t have to rile them up by changing a diaper.
Don’t be a strict scheduler.
This is coming from someone who LOVES schedules. While it’s true that some women can strictly schedule their babies and maintain an adequate milk supply, for many it can severely limit your ability to provide adequate nutrition for your baby.
There is another reason that I suggest that you not be a strict scheduler. I know a lot of moms of many and each of us purposely parent our younger children differently than we parented our older children. We’ve learned something valuable through our parenting experiences. We better understand the importance of relationship and we know better how to build that relationship with our small children. As a result we relax our schedules and spend more time holding, loving, nursing and enjoying our younger children. As one mom of 9 succinctly put it, “We start out as Ezzo parents and end up as Sears parents”.
Babies go through frequent growth spurts when they will want to nurse much more frequently than usual.
Baby will seem fussy and want to eat almost constantly, this is normal and provides them with needed nutrition while increasing your milk supply and only lasts one to two days.
Use lactation consultants.
I mentioned in the opening paragraph that I’ve had a lot of experience breastfeeding however, every time I’m offered help from a lactation consultant I say yes. Even when I was in the hospital with Bella we spent about 30-40 minutes with the lactation consultant and I learned something new.
Stay close to your baby.
This may not be popular and you are certainly welcome to ignore my suggestion. We believe that there may be a bigger, more important reason than physical nutrition that new babies need their mom to feed them and feed them often, relationship.
While pumping and giving the baby a bottle of breast milk will certainly fulfill a child’s physical needs, perhaps we and they are missing out on some of the benefits of relationship that nursing provides. In our house this means that no one other than mommy has ever fed any of our babies breast milk. We think that God may have designed the mother as the source of physical nourishment for her baby as a means of building this initial and vital relationship and we desire to follow His design as much as possible.
You can get pregnant while you are breastfeeding.
You can get pregnant if you are exclusively breastfeeding (before starting solids). You can get pregnant if you are still getting up several times during the night to nurse your baby. You can get pregnant without having any cycles between pregnancies. God is in control! Don’t do anything that would put another pregnancy at risk.
We live in a fallen world and sometimes, even if you do everything ‘right’ you may not be able to breastfeed or exclusively breastfeed your baby.
Don’t be naive or stubborn about this. Be sure that your baby is having 6 – 8 wet diapers within a 24 hour period and keep an eye out for other signs that he/she is getting enough. If you’re concerned contact a lactation consultant and/or doctor immediately. Nourishing your baby with formula is not failure.
Do/did you breastfeed? What breastfeeding advice has helped you?