Congratulations and welcome to Motherhood!!!
I can remember the day I found out I was going to be a Mommy; the day I started looking at baby gear and products; the day I created my baby registry; and the dates I gave birth. This is an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming; especially when you are deciding to breast or bottle feed your baby. So you are on the fence, I’ve been there and I understand. I decided to breastfeed, as I was a breastfed baby. Breastfeeding my 3 girls, was the most rewarding experience; more on my journey with breastfeeding in following posts.
Today, I’m talking to the mom to be or the new mom. Here are some tips, I wished I would have known ahead of time, that have been helpful for my breastfeeding journey. As a side note, what I am about to share with you is my personal experience as a Mom. I have successfully breastfed 3 kids. I’ve been through the struggles (every 2 hour feedings, over tired/no sleep/exhaustion, cracked/bleeding nipples, struggling and surviving with post partum depression, etc… I’ve been there!) I am not a lactation consultant or nurse, although I will reference them in this post.
Things I wished I knew about breastfeeding (before I started):
1. As Moms we don’t “sleep when the baby sleeps”, this was a fantasy in my experience. We sleep when we are able, but prepare yourself for exhaustion. Sometimes, when the baby sleeps is the only time you can get in a peaceful shower (Mama, I’ve been there).
2. Hormones, lack of sleep, and post partum depression; is nothing to brush off. Get help, and please, please, please, ask your physician for the number of someone to talk to. There is no shame in asking for help. Post partum depression is common; having a professional to talk to can help tremendously; you don’t need to go at it alone. You will be a better Mom for your baby (and self), if you get yourself the help you need.
3. Find yourself a Mommy tribe! Check out Facebook for a birth month club for your baby. There is something so comforting about chatting with a complete stranger, when you are both up nursing your babes at 2, 3, 4 AM. Birth clubs are great, you can find a birth buddy (born on the same day) for you baby, or chat with a Mom about milestones that both of your babies are currently hitting. I cannot say enough about birth clubs…and they are FREE!! (This can be done when you are pregnant, pregnancy milestones are better when you have the support of others going through it with you.)
4. Along the same line, join breastfeeding support groups on facebook, and hook up with your local “LA Leche League” (a international breastfeeding support group, go to their website – http://www.llli.org – look for your local chapter). They have amazing breastfeeding support groups. The local group leaders may organize playdates, which you can attend in person with your baby (and other children, if you have other children).
5. Ask your partner to help with night feedings. Obviously, your partner is not physically equipped to do the actual feeding, but there are other ways they can help. The routine my hubby & I have is: when the baby wakes, he gets up, changes the baby’s diaper; giving me time to use the bathroom and get a drink (proper hydration is key for breastfeeding mothers). I get my nursing spot set up (beverage, phone or book, low light or book light, pillows and a blanket), then hubby hands me our baby. This works for us, and helps him feel like he’s helping. I’ve found this helps me feel less resentful when he rolls over and starts snoring again, as I’m fighting to stay awake while nursing our baby.
6. When help is offered, take it! Someone offers to cook you dinner, take it. Someone offers to hold and snuggle your baby, let them! (Only if they are a known and trusted adult.) (Especially those Moms affected by post partum depression; or Moms of colicky babies.) Get in a quiet shower/bath, take a short nap….do something for yourself – trust me the laundry & dishes can wait! If someone offers to pick up your house & do the dishes, let them. As a side note, I must take a minute to thank my amazing Mother-in-law (who is more like a second Mom) Lynn, who will do light housework and our dishes when she’s watching my girls.
7. Put your lactation consultants number on speed dial. Girl, I cannot say enough about this. You can call your lactation consultant whenever you have a question. (At 2AM, leave them a message.) In NY state it is the lactation consultant from the hospital where you gave birth. If you gave birth at home ask your nurse, OB, or doula for a lactation consultant recommendation. (Each state and/or country maybe different.) With my first baby, I was in their office once a week for the first 3 months (my baby also had problems latching, more on my journey in future posts). They do not mind!! They are a great resource, especially for questions about medications that may transfer through breastmilk.
Check back next week for more helpful breastfeeding tips, and my top 5 most useful products as a new Mom, for your breastfeeding journey.