This week we celebrate "world breastfeeding week". As a mommy of 3 littles, nursing is so very important to me. I follow the concept of "attachment parenting" and have had incredible success with it. For me, keeping my babies close to me is what feels natural. It's how it was always intended to be. I don't like to get caught up in all the "newest baby trends" or "coolest baby gear". I think the more simple we keep it, the easier it really is. So I have compiled 5 tips for new mamas to help you breastfeed successfully.
1. Nurse right away. After the baby is born, place your baby on your chest and just have skin to skin contact for as long as possible. Baby doesn't need to be weight or measured yet. As long as your baby is in good health, keep your baby on you. When the baby is ready, he or she will do the breast crawl and find its way to your breast on their own. Think about it- do dogs need to teach their puppies how to nurse? No. They just are born wanting to eat. Babies are the same way. They want to nurse.
2. Nurse on Demand - first of all, your baby knows when he or she is ready to nurse, when they need comfort, when they are hungry etc. They do not need to be (nor should they be) put on a nursing schedule. Don't look at the clock, don't stretch feelings, don't worry. Sometimes it's every 2-3 hours and sometimes it's every 20 minutes. And that's ok. They will not be consistent. It's normal. Their bodies go though stages of massive growth and stages of sleepiness. Just nurse on demand. Secondly, your milk supply is "DEMAND and SUPPLY". The more the baby demands, the more you will supply. The less he/she demands, the less you supply.
3. Do not have bottles or formula in the house - this step is KEY. Nursing is hard. It's frustrating and it's sometimes painful. The first 6-8 weeks are challenging. But when you are exhausted and irritated and haven't showered, you will hand the baby to your husband and tell him to give the baby a bottle if you have them on hand. And this WILL negatively affect your milk supply. I promise. If you skip a feeding, that's one less feeding you will produce the next day. Causing the baby to be frustrated and a downward spiral to a formula fed baby. (Which by no means is a bad thing. But this post is about successfully Breastfeeding, not formula feeding.)
4. Have a support system - it is SO important to have a support system of people who encourage you to nurse and push you through the exhaustion. If you don't have a circle of people who know much about nursing, go find a moms group. There are SO many out there and you will need support, encouragement and you will have hundreds of questions. But just remember, our bodies are meant to create life and sustain life. Trust Your body & eliminate stress as much as possible.
5. Side nurse at night -(I am side nursing in the photo in this post) I am all about anything to simplify this whole newborn phase. For us, that meant co sleeping. Which doesn't necessarily mean that we are sharing a bed, but that the baby is very near to us. So our nighttime routine looks like this -- bath, lotion, jammies, nurse baby to sleep and then gently place baby in their co sleeper or bassinet in mommy and daddy's room. Then go to sleep yourself! Once baby wakes up in the middle of the night, pull baby in bed with you and side nurse till you both fall back asleep. As the babies woke up in the night I just switched from side to side Until they fell back asleep. Consleeping is very controversial, but you have to do what is right for you and your baby. For us, that meant keeping baby close by so I could nurse on demand. (Safety note - obviously don't co sleep if you or your partner have been drinking or on any medication. You have to be conscious enough to know where your baby is).
I will leave some links below to some great articles that expand on these concepts. A few other tips: Drink lots of water - I mean chug a glass or bottle of water every single time you sit down to nurse. Keep taking prenatals or supplements to give the baby and your body the most nutrition possible. And enjoy it. Because they won't nurse forever. And they won't always wake up in the night. Babies aren't meant to sleep all night. So cuddle them, love on them and keep nursing. It's the best thing ever.