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What I've Learned About Breastfeeding
It may be natural, but it's not always easy
Maybe it's the fact that formula is so ready and available. Maybe it's that the allopathic medical establishment tries to regulate how you should or shouldn't be breastfeeding. Maybe it's just nerves and a new baby. Either way, breastfeeding is not always easy!
The pictures you see of mom's quietly nursing their newborns into an easy sleep, is pretty far from what really happens, at least at first. I can attest to this personally, as my first son absolutely refused to breastfeed, and no one is really sure why. There are so many factors that could've been the cause or had nothing to do with it. With my second son, who is currently a new born, I have found some ways to get him breast feeding. It hasn't been easy, and we are both still new at it. Though some of the tips I accidentally run into, might be helpful if you find yourself in the same frustrating position.
Sometimes you just have to let them cry...
I'm not really one of those mothers that is ultra bothered by my crying infant. I would prefer him to always be happy and never cry, but I know it doesn't hurt him to cry and it also shows he's got a healthy set of lungs.
Another thing I have learned though, is that when your baby is hungry and has worked up a good fit about it, your breasts will start to express milk on there own. At some point I thought I was going to have to get a towel to clean up the mess, until I realized that the crying was just what both baby and I needed to get the breast feeding process going. It was much easier to let him cry for a few minutes and then show him where the 'free milk' was, then to fret over him crying for to long. And trust me, once they realize there is milk there and it's coming out really easy, it won't take long for them to get the idea and take care of the rest for you.
Show them how it works - give it a squeeze
When my youngest son was born, I had gestational diabetes, which meant he had low blood sugar when he was out of the womb. Because of this, the hospital urged me to get him to eat RIGHT NOW, and then kept pushing formula when he hadn't eaten after 30 minutes. This was wrong of them, especially because you want to get your baby used to your nipples before they learn the easy and instant gratification of baby bottle nipples.
Either way though, I ended up giving him the bottle to get the nurses off my back, which meant that he became unhappy any time I tried to breastfeed him. It didn't help anything that I was tired after having a c-section and being hoped up on pain killers. So when I kept pushing the boob on him, I realized I was going to have to get creative if this was going to work this time around.
It was more by accident that I found that squeezing out some milk into your babies mouth, often makes them realize it's not that hard to get the milk flowing into their eager little mouth. So if you're getting frustrated and baby doesn't want to latch on or suck, then try putting your nipple in their mouth and giving a few squeezes. It might take a few times as your baby gets the idea, but while you're doing it, you're bring the milk in faster anyways, which is what your baby wanted in the first place.
A little bit of bribery can go a long way
If other options aren't working, a favorite trick of lactation specialists, is to use a little bribery. They usually use sugar water in a dropper to drip onto your nipple. Though I find it's healthy, easier and better to just use some formula.
Get your babe into position on your nipple and drip in a small amount of formula on your nipple until they get the idea. They will probably start feeding from your breasts before they realize what you've tricked them into. =)
Sometimes weird positions work best
Doctors will only recommend one of three positions - the cradle, the football hold and the back laying position. These positions are fine and in most cases they work well. Though sometimes a baby just won't be happy with those three positions, which is why it never hurts to try out some creative positions for breast feeding.
You can do both - breastfeeding & formula
With my first son, after he knew what a bottle was, he refused to have anything to do with boobs. With my youngest son, I have been able to get him to use both a formula bottle and breast feeding. Which is convenient for both of us. When we can sit and bond together, we breast feed. When he's out with gramma, dad or someone else, he can use formula.
It doesn't hurt them to have both, and as long as they aren't throwing up after every feeding, then there is little chance you are going to over feed them.
Be happy and it will flow
Seriously, if you are stressed out, your milk will not flow or it will be such a small flow that your baby will just get frustrated and cry for a bottle, which will just frustrate you more and continue the cycle of angst.
This is why it's important not to beat yourself up to much. Everyone assumes that maternal instinct will kick in and you and baby will know how to breastfeed right away. The truth of the matter, is that it often takes weeks or months before you two will have the process down at all. So if you're just starting out, don't stress! If you're too tired, your in pain, you have too much on your mind or anything else, you can use formula or wait a while until you are relaxed and hopefully happy.
Try to remind yourself when you are breastfeeding a cranky, tired or frustrated infant, that this is a process. It's one of the first you have with your baby, and just as when they are toddlers or teenagers, sometimes you have to give them some tough love. If they don't want to feed right away, let them be hungry for a little while, you aren't going to starve them. The same with crying, if they want to scream about not getting a bottle, let them, it's perfectly fine.
Remember - the more relaxed and happy you are, the easier the milk will flow and the faster you and baby will get the hang on breast feeding.