Breastfeeding is a journey full of ups and downs. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the journey easier, like knowing breastfeeding basics and having support.
For the pregnant mom, the new mom, or even the mom that’s breastfed in the past, knowledge and support can make the upcoming or current breastfeeding journey easier.
Knowledge is a huge part of where success comes from on your breastfeeding journey. When I first started breastfeeding, I thought it would come natural.
Not only was I a nurse, but I’d never heard of anyone having a lot of trouble breastfeeding.
I was in for a surprise.
Breastfeeding was hard for us. I learned that just because breastfeeding is natural doesn’t mean it’s easy. So I decided to become a Certified Lactation Counselor and learn all that I could about breastfeeding so other moms didn’t have to experience the struggles I did.
I learned SO much.
There’s a world of information to know about breastfeeding… My career is focused on it. That doesn’t mean you need to learn absolutely everything (leave it to people like me- we’re here to support you).
But it might help to know a few things about breastfeeding, at least the basics.
Pregnancy is a good time to think about these things. It’s a time to decide if you want to breastfeed, if you’re open to pumping, or if you’ll consider formula. Making those decisions help determine the direction you’ll take.
Some Breastfeeding Tips
Here are some of the things I learned that are the foundation of breastfeeding success.
- Breastfeeding can make you sore in the beginning. It’s kind of like breaking in a new pair of shoes. You and your baby are getting used to each other and how to breastfeed. It’s not particularly helpful to “break in” your nipples before baby. I’ve heard people advise to rough your nipples with a washcloth. Ouch! Not only does it hurt, it can also cause premature contractions and doesn’t generally do much for preventing soreness in the beginning anyway.
- Although it is normal to expect soreness, it’s not normal to experience cracking and bleeding. If you are in extreme pain and bleeding, your baby might not be latched on correctly. Once the latch is fixed, usually the nipple heals.
- Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process. Milk supply depends on how much your baby breastfeeds (or how much you pump). The more stimulation your breasts get, the more your body responds by making milk.
- Babies breastfeed frequently. Most pediatricians recommend breastfeeding your baby every 2-3 hours. Your baby shouldn’t go longer than 3 hours, but they may eat sooner than every 2 hours! Feeding frequently is perfectly fine, especially if your baby is hungry. It also helps to build your milk supply.
- Milk supply is the number 1 worry of breastfeeding moms. It’s also the primary reason why moms quit breastfeeding. While it’s easy to see how much milk your baby gets from a bottle, it’s harder to tell when breastfeeding.
- Generally, moms make enough milk even though they worry. The signs your baby is getting enough milk are that they poop frequently (usually 3-4 poopy diapers per day after day 4) and they gain weight appropriately (your pediatrician should be checking).
- Breastfeeding is natural but isn’t always easy. I always try to make this a point because it can be discouraging when breastfeeding starts out difficult. But it’s normal to have trouble in the beginning- you and baby are just figuring things out!
Having a little bit of education can certainly aid in the breastfeeding journey. Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes or have support groups. Breastfeeding classes are a great way to learn about how to breastfeed and prepare yourself.
There are even breastfeeding classes offered online if going in person isn’t possible. Similar to a birthing class, breastfeeding classes are helpful to build a knowledge base before the baby is born. But even after the baby is born, education can be a huge help along the way.
A huge contributor to breastfeeding success is your support system. Lactation consultants are specially trained in breastfeeding issues. They help moms overcome struggles and empower them along the way. If you run into breastfeeding problems, a lactation consultant is a fantastic option for help.
Support groups are another great option. La Leche League is an organization with breastfeeding support groups across the United States. Their leaders are trained in breastfeeding support and can help address any problems. The ladies that make up the La Leche League are knowledgeable and supportive, always a great option for a breastfeeding mom.
Support also comes from the people right around you. It certainly helps to have family and friends that understand your decisions and support you through them. If you have women in your life that breastfed their babies, they may have valuable advice. Talk with them, ask them about their experiences, and lean on them when you need support.
Ultimately though, remember that you are Mom. You know what is best for you and what’s best for your baby. Support comes in all shapes and sizes. Be confident in the decisions you make for yourself and your baby. Find a support system that respects and values your choices. Lean on them throughout your breastfeeding journey, and you’ll find success.
Knowledge and support can make all the difference in breastfeeding success. Each mom and baby’s breastfeeding journey is unique. Having the education you need prepares you for what to expect and helps you overcome any pitfalls. Support comes from all sorts of different places. Sometimes it’s from breastfeeding professionals, other times is from other moms in a support group. Perhaps the most important support system is already all around you.
Overall, you will know your baby better than anyone. Your decisions are important. Be confident in your decisions and don’t be afraid to find the right support system to surround yourself with. Breastfeeding is a journey. It’s not always easy but it’s beautiful.
About The Author
Kealy is a Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own breastfeeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their breastfeeding journey. She offers support and shares her knowledge to equip and empower moms. If you are interested in talking with her or taking one of her breastfeeding classes, visit www.littlebearcare.com.