When I had my child, I didn’t give breastfeeding a second thought. It was as natural to me as giving my baby a kiss. Yet, I could easily recall how challenging it was for me in the beginning – painful engorgement, inadequate milk supply, to name a few. On top of that, the early days were a blur, given my sleep deprivation and soreness from a long labour.
Even though things went relatively smoothly after a while, I wouldn’t have been half as successful if it wasn’t for the preparation that got me through it. You can breastfeed successfully, too, especially if you focus on the first six weeks – that’s when you establish your milk supply and develop the skills that will ensure success. Here are a few tips on how to survive and thrive.
Knowledge is power. Before you even have your baby, take part in a breastfeeding class, buy a breastfeeding book, or watch a breastfeeding video. Better yet, do all three! Breastfeeding is a learned art. Give yourself time and space to master it.
Once you’re able to get baby latched on, the last thing you want to do is disturb him just to keep your arm from falling asleep. So, how about grabbing something to support your arm as you hold the baby? Try a nice firm pillow, or one of those C-shaped nursing pillows!
Nurse on demand
Newborns need to frequently nurse, about every two hours, and not on any strict schedule, to stimulate the mother’s breasts to produce plenty of milk. The baby can eventually settle into a more predictable routine later. But because breastmilk is more easily digested than formula, breastfed babies often drink more frequently than bottle-fed babies.
Some of you may find that the minute baby starts nursing, you’re suddenly very thirsty. Water, juice and milk can help you stay hydrated. Limit soda, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, as too much caffeine might lead to irritability or interfere with baby’s sleep. As for me, I had a bottle of water on hand at all times!
No, your baby may not get it right away. Annoying? Yes. And for many mothers out there, this is apparently true. If you have trouble at first, don’t give up until you’ve tried it for at least a few weeks. Of course, unless your baby is showing signs of failing to thrive, then a switch to formula milk might be in order. Either way, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first.
Did you know that the more you pump, the more milk you’ll produce? Try to pump for 15 minutes every few hours. If you can, pump both breasts simultaneously. A double breast pump helps stimulate milk production while reducing pumping time by half.
There may be times when you are feeling drained out, touched out, and well… you just want your “before-baby” body back. And if you feel like you’re on the verge of giving up, this is the period when you can lean on your baby’s other parent. It’s time for hubby to chime in with lots of positive talk about what a great thing you are doing for baby.
This article is an extension of an article found in the print edition of Singapore’s Child July Issue 177 with the headline ‘Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success’.
How was your experience with breastfeeding? Share them with us!