Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

I'm no expert on breastfeeding, but I always love reading blog posts about different breastfeeding experiences. I feel like it's something that not many people talk about, and a lot of moms are left to just figure it out on there own. So here are some things that I've learned in the past 9 months, hopefully someone else can benefit from these tips. :)

1. Learn: I know everyone says that breastfeeding is natural, which is true, but it really is a learning process for both mom and baby. I took a breastfeeding class through WIC when I was pregnant and it helped both me and Leland learn so much. I learned what the correct latch looked like, how to position the baby, and what to expect. They also gave me a book to refer back to later. Even though I felt pretty prepared I also had the lactation consultant at the hospital come in almost everyday to help me figure things out. Most the time she told me that everything looked great, but she did have some great tips on how to help Esther latch. Learning these things right at the beginning really helped us in the long term.

2. Get your Husband on Board: I've heard that one of the biggest factor's for determining if your successful with breastfeeding is the amount of support you have. I was glad that my mom and other family were supportive of me breastfeeding, but I am so grateful for how supportive Leland has been. Once he learned about the health benefits and found out how much money breastfeeding saves, he was 100% for it. From the beginning he has been great about getting water and snacks for me when I was nursing, as well as being totally comfortable with me nursing in public. He's also been so amazing with feeding Esther breast milk in a bottle whenever I'm at work.

3. Don't Freak Out About Formula: A lot of pro-breastfeeding info will tell you how horrible formula is. A few hours after she was born the pediatrician recommended she have a bottle of formula because her blood sugar was low. I was really worried about nipple confusion, but it turned out to not be a big deal. Later while we were still in the hospital, she was loosing a lot of weight, and was super hungry because my milk hadn't come in yet. I felt so bad because she was very fussy, so the nurse suggested we give her formula with a supplementary nursing system. This turned out to be a huge help because she learned how to nurse correctly while still getting the nutrition she needed. It was also so much easier to feed her once she was no longer starving.  Luckily we only had to use it for a few feedings a day for about a week and then I had more than enough milk for her. I wish I had worried less about her having formula because it was only for a short while and she's never needed it since.

4. Learn How to Side Nurse as Soon as Possible: When we first brought Esther home from the hospital I would feed her by sitting up in the bed with a boppy (a must have for us!) on my lap. This was so uncomfortable, especially since I was recovering from a C-section. My mom encouraged me to try to nurse her in the bed, lying down on my side, so that I could get some rest while Esther had her sometimes 40 minute nursing sessions. I was pretty skeptical at first but as soon as I learned how my life was so much easier. It took some practice but by about 6 weeks it was my go-to position for night feedings. I would doze off a little, but I would almost always wake up and put her back in her bassinet as soon as she unlatched. Even now this is the way I almost always nurse Esther ever since she outgrew her boppy. Sometimes when she is being a little stinker it's the only way she'll fall asleep!

5. Expect the Unexpected: Just as we would get the hang of breastfeeding, something else would change, a growth spurt, a baby that suddenly becomes dis tractable, or a nursing strike. My advice is to just keep on keeping-on. Realize that these hard phases are usually pretty short, and sometimes you have to change things up, but don't give up! There have been so many times where Esther has refused to breastfeed and I had all but given up on ever nursing her again. But even though she's sometimes had to have a few bottles of pumped milk. she's eventually always come back to breastfeeding. And as soon as she does I am so glad that I kept trying. The website kellymom.com has been a huge help for us. It's always the first place I go when I have questions.

 Breastfeeding is such a great bonding experience and I am so glad that it's been able to work for us. Once we hit 12 months I'll let her decide when to be done, but until then I'm soaking up all the snuggle time I get with her.

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