My 8 Breastfeeding Tips
It has been ages! Juggling home life and student life has been intense. I have 5 days to turn in my portfolio and install work for the end of year exhibition so please, pray for strength for me. Oh and for those wondering, I am studying for a Masters in Photography. I will go into detail about that some other time.
As some of you probably know, August is breastfeeding awareness month and you are all probably aware by now that I am a huge breastfeeding advocate. So in the spirit of all that, I wanted to share the little I know about breastfeeding from experience. I have now successfully, exclusively breastfed my son for 6 months. I just started giving him solids in form of purées but Breastmilk is still his primary source of nourishment. Like I mentioned in one of my posts a while ago, I aim to breastfeed him until he is 2 years old as recommended by the WHO (or until he is no longer interested, whichever comes first.) So without further ado, here are my 8, hopefully helpful breastfeeding tips:
1. Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding before hand.
You would be surprised how much there is to know about breastfeeding. Read as much as you can, talk to ladies who have breastfed, watch YouTube videos and if possible attend a breastfeeding class. If you are in the UK, the NHS, NCT and La Leche League offer classes and group support meetings. Sign up as early as possible for the classes though. I missed out on attending one because I did not sign up early enough but I made sure to educate myself in other ways. There is no such thing as being over-informed. Oh and by the way, I am starting training in September to become a breastfeeding peer-supporter. I am super excited to help other mamas!
2. Surround yourself with people who are pro-breastfeeding and breastfeeding savvy.
Breastfeeding is natural but sometimes, it can take a while for you and baby to get the hang of it. So having people who know a lot about breastfeeding around is very helpful. In my case I had the midwives, health visitors, other moms and my mom who has loads of breastfeeding experience, there to support me. There is nothing to boost your confidence like people encouraging you. Trust me!
3. Let baby breastfeed on demand.
I have heard that some people try to schedule baby's feeds. That's not the best idea. Allowing baby to nurse on demand (i.e. nurse whenever and wherever he/she wants) will help boost and tailor your supply to baby's needs and also help you to be relaxed. No stressing about schedules, just go with the flow, mama!
4. Forget about dieting!
I encourage you to eat and drink as you need because you have to be in tip-top shape to breastfeed exclusively. Eating your fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains will supply you and baby with all the nutrients you need. Taking a multivitamin supplement in addition to a balanced diet will help beef up whatever you may be lacking and prevent your vitamin stores from being depleted. But please seek your GP's advice before starting any pharmaceuticals. Do not forget to drink lots of water/liquids and do some form of exercise too! Personally, I love dance work-outs and running. No need to feel pressured to go on extreme diets (like no-carb diets) in order to lose weight. It may do more harm than good.
5. Skin-to-Skin is very beautiful as well as powerful.
Great for bonding, great for the release of oxytocin and you need that O-juice flowing to keep your supply where it needs to be. One thing that I do that makes sure that baby and I get skin-to-skin is to co-sleep. Now I know co-sleeping is not for everyone but seriously I would not have survived the numerous night feeds if baby was in another room or in his cot. So cuddle away, babies smell YUMMY anyway!
6. Be determined to breastfeed.
During your breastfeeding journey, a lot of discouraging things may happen but you have to be determined to push through. This is particularly true for extended breastfeeding. I am starting to feel pressure from "concerned folk" to supplement with formula or follow on milk now that we have gotten to the 6 month mark but I am determined to continue so I ignore everyone/everything else. Breast is best for us!
7. Get comfortable and confident.
I know that breastfeeding in public is one of the things that puts a lot of women off breastfeeding. I learnt very quickly to get used to breastfeeding wherever I was. I have breastfed on the train, in the park, at church, at a gallery, in a restaurant and a bunch of other places. With a cover and sometimes without one (because my son thinks it is funny to yank it off, he hates being covered.) Breastfeeding in public is your right, get comfortable and confident doing it!
Stress will suck the joy out of the whole process, mess with your milk supply and make you feel generally crappy. Try as much as possible to relax, breathe and savour every moment with your baby. It is not a joke, they grow super quick!
I would like to encourage all mamas out there, breastfeeding or not, you are doing one hell of a job! It is not easy but it is so worth it!