6 Important Lessons I Learned About Breastfeeding
How come breastfeeding seems to be so fun and easy in movies and commercials? It actually came as a shock to me that this is one mommy role that can be excruciatingly painful and even messy. Here are some of the things I’ve learned…
Lesson 1: Milk does not come out when the baby does.
I thought I would get to breastfeed immediately upon holding my daughter in my arms. As it turns out, my doctor told me that in most cases the mother lactates 2-4 days after giving birth. Thus, I had to feed my baby with a syringe first to avoid nipple confusion later on and have her latch to my milk-less breasts just for practice.
Lesson 2: Breast engorgement is torture!
The second night after I was allowed to go home, my breasts started to swell and ache. Having my baby latch on to it caused extreme pain. I literally cried and did research over the net first before calling my doctor. I learned that my breasts were engorged and I had to use a breast pump or breastfeed my baby in order to release the milk and clear the ducts that may be blocked. Also a warm bath or a warm compress can help relieve the pain.
Lesson 3: Nipples will feel sore and can get wounded.
Since nipples were made for breastfeeding, I never thought that it wouldn’t be able to withstand constant infant sucking. I was proven so wrong. My nipples became very sore, got wounded, and even bled. The good thing is that it was able to heal quite fast and it got used to the stress after consistently breastfeeding. I wish I had known that this would happen beforehand, though so that I could’ve thought about purchasing a nipple shield or some nipple creams, like lanolin.
Lesson 4: Milk does not just come out from one nipple at a time.
This was one of my most shocking discoveries. While breastfeeding, milk started leaking from my other nipple and caused quite a mess. Later on, I found out that wearing breast pads help a lot to avoid the mess. I also sometimes used a small bottle to collect the milk from my other breast and store it in the fridge so I can feed it to my baby at a later time and give my nipples some rest.
Lesson 5: A breast pump is essential if you can’t be with your baby all the time.
Asides from preventing your breasts from becoming engorged, breast pumps will also be useful to collect milk that your baby will need when you’re not around. Keeping breast milk in the freezer (50F or cooler) allows it to be kept fresh for around 2 weeks, keeping it in the fridge (390F) will keep it fresh for around a week, and keeping it in room temperature (25 0F) will only have it last for 6 hours at most. But do remember that storing it for a long time may lower the quality of the milk as proteins may undergo degradation.
Lesson 6: Milk supply production may need some help.
For some women, milk production may not be sufficient for the needs of the baby. Eating properly and drinking vitamin supplements recommended by the doctor are some steps that you can take. There is a close relationship between proper diet and breastfeeding. Moreover, squeeze every chance of rest that you can get. To improve my lactation my OB even recommended that I take Natalac, a malunggay extract which is a post natal supplement.
Learning how to breastfeed properly is imperative. It’s not just for the baby’s sake but for the breastfeeding woman as well. No matter how hard or difficult it may be, this is still one of the most important bonding times you can get with your baby.
This is my first time to breastfeed and in spite of the misleading movies and commercial scenes, I am happy with the experience, especially since I know that I am doing what's best for my baby.