Breastfeeding your baby is touted by society as one of the most natural things a mother can do. But as anyone that's taken on the task can tell you, breastfeeding doesn't always come naturally. Some moms find the process of getting a good latch, making an adequate milk supply, feeling occasional discomfort, or breastfeeding in public really uncomfortable. Every mom has unique challenges that should be validated and heard. But regardless of what you're facing, there are little things that make nursing easier for you and your baby.
I tried breastfeeding my first born daughter for about six weeks before I incorporated bottle feeding. My daughter was low birth weight and needed to eat frequently to gain weight. My previous breast biopsy surgery had adversely impacted my supply making nursing very difficult, especially in public. After a lot of tears (from us both) I decided to only nurse or pump at home, where I was comfortable.
You might be dealing with other breastfeeding struggles and that's OK. By trying new techniques and implementing new tips you'll find the perfect way to feed your baby that works for your family. If you decide to continue breastfeeding through whatever challenges you might be dealing with, here are eight little ways to make nursing easier.
1. Find A Comfortable Spot
Whether it's in your house or out in public, finding a comfortable spot is key to a successful feeding session. This might be a certain chair or a private table at the back of your neighborhood coffee shop. Either way, being in a comfortable spot will help you physically and emotionally relax when breastfeeding your baby.
2. Wear Comfortable Clothes
You don't have to wear maternity or nursing-specific clothes everyday in order to be comfortable. But whatever you choose to wear will ideally have easy access for your baby. If you prefer to nurse more discreetly there are tops with extra fabric to help you. There are also nursing specific options, like this H&M nursing maxi dress ($35). Pair it with flip flops or wedges for summer, or combat boots for fall and you're good to go with chic nursing attire that's comfortable.
3. Make Sure You're Getting Plenty Of Water
According to the Dr. Sears website getting enough water isn't so much about securing an adequate milk supply as it is more about keeping a mom hydrated and avoiding fatigue. The website recommended following the in and out principle: if you have fluids going out, you need to replenish the amount gone.
4. Plan Out Snacks And Meals As Much As Possible
While breastfeeding and pumping, I remember being a lot hungrier than normal. And because I was so tired, I often grabbed whatever was right in front of me. Some of which wasn't exactly healthy and made me lose energy.
It may seem like common sense, but the Mayo Clinic website said menu planning helps you eat healthier because you already know what your meals are going to look like. You won't be making impulse purchases, or grabbing for impulse snacks.
5. Get Your Partner Or Anyone Around You Involved
Le Leche League International (LLLI) suggested getting a spouse involved more with breastfeeding. Now, your spouse might not be able to directly breastfeed, but they can take the baby from you when you're not nursing and hold them, sing to them or play with them. This will help you rest in between feedings.
6. Rest As Much As Possible
According to the Baby Center website sleep deprivation and stress can both contribute to issues with low milk supply in new moms. I remember thinking that the people who said "sleep when the baby sleeps" were insane. How does that work when there's mountains of laundry to do, dirty bottles to clean, and e-mails to answer? But, not sleeping when my baby slept left me cranky at feedings and with zero patience. I quickly discovered the best and most efficient way to feed my baby was when we were both rested.
7. Get Into A Groove
Routines are hard at first with a newborn, as you are mostly responding to your baby's cues. But creating a little bit of predictability and flow to your day with a baby can be helpful with feedings. The LLLI website suggested making a schedule with a set bath time, reading times or walks, which can all help establish a rhythm with you and your baby.
8. Just Breathe
You don't have to make any decisions about breastfeeding in advance. Some mothers will think they have to wean at a certain time, like when they go back to work for example, but you never know. You might not be ready. Your baby might not be ready. The best advice that LLLI suggested to moms is to just take it one day at a time. Try not to have any breastfeeding expectations or predictions.
Every mother and baby might have unique challenges and hurdles when it comes to nursing. (Or none at all.) Just because you don't find breastfeeding challenging right now, doesn't mean you won't run into a challenge down the road. But understanding there are little things you can do to help yourself can go a long way in setting you up for the best breastfeeding environment with your baby.