Moms, breastfeeding is hard; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. For some moms, it may come easy and for others, it may not and that’s okay it’s perfectly normal either way. As a mom of two, breastfeeding wasn’t the easiest for me with either of my kids. With my first child I was naive and thought that it would be simple and with my second I thought it would be much easier because I had learned from my first. Boy was I wrong. I was only able to breastfeed both of my children for a few months each.
I want to share some advice that I wish someone shared with me before embarking on both of my breastfeeding journeys.
Anticipate a learning curve
When it comes to breastfeeding there is going to be a learning curve for you and your baby. There are so many different positions that you can feed your baby in and trying some out to see what works will be the most beneficial.
You can also try out breastfeeding pillows like the boppy or my brest friend pillow. Both pillows curve around your body and help support your baby while they are eating.
Make an appointment with a Lactation Consultant
After having your baby, at most hospitals, there will be a lactation consultant who will come around to meet you and answer any questions you have. I know with my first child they had me feed him to help with positioning and were there to answer any questions. With my second child, they did come to my room and answer any questions, and offered assistance as needed. If you have questions ask them.
If you are still needing assistance once you leave the hospital contact the lactation consultant you met in the hospital, they normally give their information, or contact your baby’s pediatrician and ask if they have one in their office or who they recommend. Getting help can make a world of a difference for you and your baby.
Make sure you are eating enough and drinking lots of water
This may go without saying but for all moms make sure you are eating enough and drinking enough fluids throughout the day. When breastfeeding make sure you always have water nearby and even a snack. Breastfeeding will make you extra thirsty and hungry! Making sure you are eating enough and having enough fluids will also help with maintaining your breast milk supply.
Have a Hakka and breast pump on hand
A Hakka is so helpful! It is a silicone manual breast pump that uses suction to express milk. It is great to use on one breast while you are feeding baby on the other, especially when there is a letdown and you may express milk that baby otherwise wouldn’t be drinking. You may gather an ounce or two but that is always great to have on hand.
Pumping may not be on your radar or something you have an interest in but having a pump handy is helpful for several reasons:
- If you have an oversupply of milk you can pump it to save and store it for a later date.
- If you want to have your partner or another family member or friend feed the baby while you shower, run to the store or take a break.
- If you are feeling engorged and need to express some milk but it isn’t time for baby to eat yet. Even if you pump a little bit it will relieve that feeling and you can save that milk for later.
- You want to know exactly how many ounces the baby is eating. When you are breastfeeding it is hard to know exactly how much the baby is eating and being able to pump will tell you how many ounces you are expressing from each breast. There can be a difference in how much babies can express from you versus your pump but it can give you a good idea of how much they are truly eating.
Having both on hand was so helpful for me and I used them both daily. I will say when purchasing a pump, check with your insurance because most of them will cover a certain cost of a pump or it will be fully covered. Also, do some research on pumps, read some reviews, and even poll friends and family who have had babies to get some ideas and first-hand recommendations. All pumps are not the same and one that works for me may not work for you.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Being a new mom is hard, and so is breastfeeding, so make sure you are giving yourself some grace! If breastfeeding isn’t something that works for you and your baby then supplement with formula, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Do what is best for you and your baby!
As a mom of two to any of the new moms out there, I want you to know you are not alone! Being a new mom can be hard, there are so many things to learn and experience for the first time. Don’t forget to give yourself grace and take everything day by day. You will get the hang of it all!