How to Make Your Life Easier When Planning to Breastfeed
August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. There is information absolutely everywhere on why to breastfeed. Even the backs of formula cans remind you that breastfeeding is recommended.
With all the overload, it’s no wonder that many new moms feel a lot of pressure on how to feed their baby. Many experience guilt when things don’t go as well as expected. But breastfeeding is not always easy and it can be very challenging at times.
So today, I’m going to skip over all the reasons that you might want to at least consider breastfeeding your baby. If you want a great resource discussing multiple topics about breastfeeding including why you should consider it, check out the AAPs Healthy Children website here.
In honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I’m going to discuss how to make your life easier when planning to breastfeed the new addition to your family.
Take a class
Most hospitals and birthing centers have lactation available to help new moms. This is a huge improvement over the situation even 15 years ago. Lactation consultants help new moms while in the hospital, but they also meet with moms after discharge, and often also teach lactation classes. Knowledge is power. And knowing what to expect will definitely take the edge off if you’ve never nursed a baby before. Most breastfeeding classes are open to both the new mom AND dad. Getting your partner on the same page is definitely important.
Talk to your family and friends
Check in with your parents, siblings, cousins, and friends. Did any of them breastfeed their kids? You may have untapped resources right in your own circle!! Other parents are always ready to share information. Ask around to see if there were any can’t live without items that you can add onto your wish list. Better yet, if they still have said items, ask if you can borrow them!
Some families are not all that supportive of breastfeeding. They may find it embarrassing and weird if they haven’t had any exposure to it. If this is the situation that you’re in, remember that this is THEIR baggage, not yours. In this case, simply share that you’ve decided to breastfeed your new baby and let them deal with their own baggage. Breastfeeding a new little is about what is comfortable for you. And you do not need to leave the room for their comfort… (although if that’s more comfortable for you, then go for it!)
Grab a couple of good breastfeeding books
Everything always goes more smoothly at 2 PM in the afternoon when the lactation consultant is literally a phone call away. Our bodies and babies like to wait till 3 AM to throw all the curve balls our way. So before giving birth, try to find a couple of good breastfeeding books that aren’t all that preachy. Cause preachy is NOT going to set well at 3 AM. I particularly enjoyed So That’s What They’re For: The Definitive Breastfeeding Guide 3rd edition by Janet Tamaro. She definitely spoke to my sense of humor and didn’t take everything quite so seriously.
Other great (although less silly) books include The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International and The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins.
Keep your sense of humor
This is essential. You can add breastfeeding to your growing list of the non-glamourous aspects of childbirth and parenting. Perhaps you’ve imagined breastfeeding to be an event like the image to your right. And don’t get me wrong, it certainly has moments where that’s how it feels. But there are also moments when your baby is screaming at you because they just broke the latch and now your boobs are squirting them with milk totally out of your control. Or times that you look down and realize that your breast pads must have shifted and there is now milk all over your shirt 🙂 Unfortunately there are no good stock images of these types of encounters… so you will have to use your imagination. Or arm your partner with a camera and wait for the perfect opportunity…
Set up your space
Make sure the spots you’ll be nursing in are armed and ready. You actually don’t need a whole lot to breastfeed successfully. If you get down to the basics, just your boobs and a baby. However, you’ll enjoy the process a lot more if you can be comfortable and relaxed. So make sure you have a couple of pillows to help support your little, particularly while you are sore and healing from childbirth. There are many pillows that are specifically designed to wrap around you to give support, but you can configure any pillow to get the job done. Keep a pile of water bottles next to your nursing area. It never fails that you will be dying of thirst right as soon as your baby latches.