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Successful Breastfeeding - What You Need To Know
Is it right for you and baby?
The decision to begin breastfeeding starts before baby gets here. Often, most mothers feel pressured to not partake in the most satisfying and bonding experience simply because they're worried what other people will think.
Discuss it with your partner on whether or not you think raising your child on breastmilk is the best solution for his/her overall growth and development.
Pros of Breastfeeding
When deciding to exclusively breastfeed, weigh the pros and cons of each.
- It's free! - You don't have to worry about spending money on formula, bottles, and bottle accessories.
- It's always available - No debating on whether or not baby can make it through the night before your can of formula runs out or when you'll be able to get more formula.
- More sleep for everyone - No having to get up multiple times at night to prepare bottles. All you have to do is wake up to feed baby and then go right back to sleep!
- It's easily digestible
- It contains SUPER ingredients you won't find in formula - white blood cells which help prevent and fight against infections and other harmful diseases that can be detrimental in the first few months of baby's life.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it can help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, otherwise known as SIDS.
- It lowers the risk of future asthma and allergies
- Promotes brain development with extra fatty acids
- Can reduce the risk of obesity in children
- It will help you lose your baby weight! - you'll burn anywhere between 300 - 500 calories a DAY!
- It creates a bond that no one will be able to break
Cons of Breastfeeding
Sure, everything can have it's cons!
- You're no longer on your own schedule - when you're about to take a much needed shower, make sure baby is fed otherwise you'll hear dad screaming "Hurry up! I can't feed the baby!"
- You might need to invest in a breast pump - there are a few state funded programs that give them out for free, but regardless, if you aren't comfortable breastfeeding in public, you might want to take a bottle or two.
- The first few weeks are AWFUL - you'll probably experience so much pain you'll want to stop, but just remember ...this is about baby. Push through it and it'll be easy as pie before you know it!
Common Breastfeeding Myths and Problems
What if I don't produce enough milk?
- This is highly unlikely. Most women produce milk just fine. Within a few days after birth, babies always lose weight. Some doctors aren't specifically trained in breastfeeding so they'll tell you that it's because you aren't making enough milk ...which is entirely false! Within a few days, baby will be gaining a LOT of weight, they just don't drink as much in the beginning because their tummies are itty bitty. Other times babies will get frustrated when latched on, acting hungry when really they're just having latch problems. This is when it's best to consult a lactation consultant so they can show you how to do it properly.
I pumped a few days after birth and (next to) nothing came out. What's wrong with my milk?
- Well, for starters, it always takes a few days for your milk to come in.
- Your baby only requires a teaspoon of milk per feeding for the first few days, also.
- Your pump just simply doesn't do the job as well as baby. Sorry! Babies know how to properly suck. Not every pump is specifically built for each different breast. It's a one size fits all type of thing. You'll never be able to pump out as much as you're producing.
I gave my baby a bottle and now they won't latch on to me! I have to quit now.
- The reason being they don't want you anymore is because they have to suck harder to get your milk out. Bottles have a tendency to drip. They don't have to work for it so baby is going to cry and cry because now they've become accustomed to an easier method. Keep trying!
My nipples hurt too bad. I can't do it anymore!
- I feel your pain. Been there. Done that. You just have to bite your cheek and remember that it's all going to get better soon. My home remedy was cold, wet teabags. Put them suckers in your bra after a feeding and the relief is outstanding!
I was told my baby is too small/too big for his age because I'm under/over feeding him.
- Huge, huge, HUGE misconception. With a breastfed baby, your breasts only produce enough milk to fill your child up. Your body gets on a routine of how much milk to produce based on how much your child eats. When baby is done eating, they're full and will naturally stop. There's no such thing as overfeeding or underfeeding a breastfed baby.
I need to stop breastfeeding at 12 months because my milk will have no nutritional value after that.
- Absolutely untrue. That's like saying you can't drink cows milk after a certain time because the cow doesn't make nutritious milk anymore. It doesn't even begin to make sense to say that either.
- The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding to "2 and beyond", meaning, there is no limit. There is no expiration date.
I was told to switch breasts in the middle of each feeding. Is this OK?
- Absolutely not. Like I said before, most doctors aren't specifically trained in breastfeeding so they'll say this is OK.
- During a feeding, the first part of the milk that comes out is called "foremilk" (like when you turn on the hot water and at first, it's cold. It takes a moment to warm up!) It is higher in sugar and lower in fat.
- The latter part of the feeding is the "hindmilk". It has a high content of fat and calories. This is what's going to put meat on those brand new bones! If you stop right in the middle, your baby gets two doses of foremilk and no hindmilk!
- Making sure baby has finished nursing on one breast has been proven to be most crucial. Interrupting a feeding to switch is not only bad for your nipples, bad for baby, and bad for bonding, but it's also not as nutritious. Always nurse baby until baby is full and naturally stops.
How likely are you to breastfeed your next baby?
Life Hacks for Successful Breastfeeding!
- Keep all of the coolers/ice packs the hospital will give you. They make for GREAT breast milk storage!
- Teabags! Teabags are your friends. Soak them in cold water and when you're done with a session, put the wet, cold teabags on your nipples. Oh, the relief!
- Forget your bottles at home while you're away at work? No problem! A water bottle will fit on your breast pump! It won't screw on, but it still works!
Thinking you aren't making enough milk anyway?
Don't worry. I stopped producing a lot when I started working. Stress is a huge factor, too! Good news is there are lots of remedies to try before giving up!
- Water, water, water ...and more water! Drinking at least 8 glasses a day will most definitely help your supply if you feel like it's slowing down!
- Lactation Cookies - with a mixture of some special ingredients, you'll be back to full boobs in no time
- Gatorade - Some people swear by it, some people don't. Personally, it worked like a charm for me.
- Fenugreek - You can buy this pretty much anywhere in the vitamin section. When your body begins to smell like maple syrup, you know you've got it all in your system. Women have been using it before your ancestor's ancestor's had ancestors!
Lactation Cookie Recipe - A Mom's Best Friend!
1 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of flax seed meal (don’t skip this step, and no substitutions!)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of steel cut oats
1 cup of chocolate chips
4 tablespoons of brewer's yeast
1 Preheat oven to 350°.
2 Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
3 Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar.
4 Add eggs and mix well.
5 Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, mix well.
6 Sift together flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, and salt.
7 Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
8 Thoroughly stir in oats and chocolate chips.
9 Scoop onto baking sheet, approximately 1” balls.
10 Bake for 12 minutes.
11 Allow cookies to set for a few minutes before removing from tray.
Signs your body is producing milk just fine
- Baby is gaining weight normal
- You experience "letdown" when it's almost feeding time
- Baby naturally pulls off the breast when full
- You haven't supplemented at all (so there's no reason to not be producing enough!)
- Baby begins to fall asleep at the breast - oh so comforting!
- Your breasts no longer ever feel full - this is a GOOD thing. It means your baby is eating when she should so you are doing wonderfully!
What your doctor MIGHT say
Doctors often have the best interests of the patients in mind, but most doctors aren't all that acquainted with breastfeeding. They sometimes don't offer the best advice because they've never been through it and/or because they're not properly trained.
You don't ask your neurosurgeon how to breastfeed, do you? No :)
They have lactation consultants for a reason. These are properly trained, have spent many years in the field and know exactly what they're talking about. If in doubt, find a local WIC office or a Lactation Consultant in your area.
A few things doctors will say are "your baby has lost weight since birth. It's your breast milk. You need to supplement formula." Please please please don't do this. It's a HUGE misconception. ALL babies lose weight after birth and they all gain it right back, too!
They also might tell you that your baby received colostrum (the best part of breast milk that only comes in the beginning) and that you no longer need to nurse. Totally untrue! Babies need that milk to fight off future infections and problems. Breast milk has stuff in it that formula doesn't contain.
If you can't do it, that's ok too.
This is meant to educate you. To let you know that you can try, and if you start failing, there are things you can do to become successful. Granted, there are women who just physically can't breastfeed and I bet you didn't know that I'm ALL for formula. Yep!
My first daughter was a formula baby! I tried breastfeeding and failed miserably after 2 weeks. She's now 8 years old and is in our state's Gifted and Talented program!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula if you have to use it. No one will look down on you for it. In the end, it's your child and mother always knows best!
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© 2014 Ash Ryan