Any doctor will tell you that breastfeeding is indisputably the best feeding option for babies under the age of one. Yet only a third of American women breastfeed their children for the first twelve months of life. Many who try and fail aren’t equipped for success. These tips will help any mom interested in breastfeeding start strong and keep it up.
The benefits of breastfeeding are countless. It’s the most nutritious feeding option, providing babies with everything they need to thrive as well as disease-fighting antibodies. Unlike formula feeding, breastfeeding is free and convenient. Mothers and babies bond over it naturally. It also helps mothers lose their pregnancy weight and prevents babies from being overfed. These are just some of the reasons why many people say, “Breast is best.”
But only about a third of mothers in the U.S. breastfeed their infants for the first 12 months of life, the period recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics Breastfeeding is difficult. Formula just seems like the easier option for many moms.
If you’re a mother or mother-to-be wanting to breastfeed your infant, you need to set yourself up for success. Following these tips will help you start off strong and breastfeed longer.
Make a Commitment
If you approach breastfeeding with an attitude of “I’ll just try it and see how it goes,” you’ll be much less likely to succeed. When it gets difficult, you’ll easily be tempted to quit. Instead, make a commitment to breastfeed for at least a year. You’ll be more motivated to stick with it.
Expect it to Be Difficult Breastfeeding is demanding, uncomfortable, frustrating, and exhausting. Prepare yourself for these challenges. If you expect it to be easy and pleasant, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Prevent and Treat Soreness
It’s normal for your breasts to be sore in the beginning — although if you feel a lot of pain the baby probably isn’t latching on correctly. The best way to treat and prevent soreness is to rub lanolin on your nipples after each feeding. It’s available at many drugstores. Also, be cautious when taking a shower. Try to avoid direct spray from the shower head on your breasts and don’t use soap on them.
Know that it Gets Easier
The first weeks are the most difficult for a breastfeeding mother. Your body is recovering from childbirth. The baby needs to eat around the clock and may have difficulty latching on. But if you stick to your commitment, breastfeeding gets noticeably easier after about two months. The baby will deep longer, you’ll feel stronger and you’ll both know how to do feedings like they’re second nature. Many mothers find breastfeeding to be very enjoyable after the newborn stage has passed.
Sometimes if you’re riot careful your milk ducts can get blocked or infected. The best prevention measures are to keep your breasts clean and dry and to fully empty each breast. Lithe baby doesn’t finish emptying a breast during a feeding, start the next feeding on the same side. This will help prevent a painful bacterial infection called mastitis.
Get Professional Help
If you’re having any difficulty with breastfeeding or any doubts about it, talk to a lactation consultant. If you don’t know where to find one, ask your OB, your baby’s pediatrician or your local health department for a referral. You should especially seek help if your baby isn’t gaining weight or you feel pain during breastfeeding. If you start feeling extreme pain or notice breast redness, swelling and a fever, go to your doctor immediately. You may have mastitis, which is treatable with antibiotics.
Get Household Support
Enlist help from your family and friends when you’re breastfeeding„ especially in the first weeks after childbirth. Ask them to take the baby ‘Mien you’re not feeding and need rest. Have them do household chores. You need to reserve your energy for your most important duty: breastfeeding the baby.
Get Emotional Support
Talk to other moms who are breastfeeding or have successfully breastfed in the past. They will understand exactly what you are going through and will cheer you on when you feel like giving up. If you personally don’t know anyone to talk to, ask at your doctor’s office or health department if there are any local support groups you can join.
Rump in Advance
If you plan on returning to work, start pumping your milk and storing it in the freezer several weeks before you go back. You’ll want an adequate backup supply while you’re adjusting to pumping during your workday.
Communicate with Your Employer
You have a right to be able to pump your milk during breaks at work. Ideally, you should pump at least twice and preferably three times during a shift eight or nine hours long. Talk to your employer about finding a private, comfortable place to pump. If your direct supervisor isn’t accommodating, speak with your human resources department if you have one or even a lawyer if you’re being discriminated against for wanting to breastfeed.
Remember it’s Temporary
Before long you’ll look back on the first days of your child’s life and wonder how they flew by so quickly. Remind yourself of this whenever you’re tempted to give up your commitment to breastfeeding. It won’t last forever—try to enjoy it while you can.
Maggie Martin is completing her PhD in Cell Biology, works as a lab tech for Mybiosource.com and administered ELISA kits in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. She contributes content on Biotech, Life Sciences, and Viral Outbreaks. Follow her on Twitter @MaggieBiosource