Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pearls of Wisdom from Veteran Nursers

I asked family, friends, and Facebook and Twitter followers to lend a helping hand to moms on the fence about breastfeeding. Below are some words of wisdom that I hope you'll find of use.

  • Don't give up - it's hard work but it's worth it once things become routine. And it does get easier!!
  • Don't be shy to ask advice from someone who has breastfed!
  • My advice would be not to have bottles/formula around and tell family and friends not to buy them for you. This will tempt the mom to use the bottles/formula if she's having latch on problems, nipple pain/soreness, etc. It's so easy to quit so try not to have these things around the house because they will ruin your milk supply.
  • Breastfeeding will really hurt in the beginning, but only for 1 week or 2, then it is quite enjoyable, and helps you lose a lot of the baby weight. If you are expecting your second child then it doesn't hurt at all, you just skip right to the enjoyable part. 
  • Stick with it, don't give up. It may be painful, but its worth it for your baby to get the antibodies that you produce. Don't worry, the pain goes away with some time...just be patient. Plus, it saves money on having to not buy formula. Make sure the baby's lips resembles that of a fish when he/she latches on. Definitely get a lactation consultant to help before you leave the hospital. They will also help you properly unlatch the baby if he/she's not latched correctly. This will avoid lots of pain. And another note, you will feel cramping while baby is drinking...this is because your uterus is working on getting back to normal size and breastfeeding helps it along.
  • If you're milk ducts are plugged, massage the breast, use hot compresses and continue to breastfeed your baby from that breast to try and unplug the duct. It will be painful at some points, but you'll know exactly when it has been unplugged.
  • Breastfeeding promotes stronger teeth and bones, and babies tend to be healthier.
  • If you are stressed, letdown becomes a challenge. Take time, sit down and relax to nurse or pump. When people describe their nursing challenges to me, it almost always seems to be related to stress, often over not producing enough milk and it's obvious where that will go.
  • The message "every mother can breastfeed" is misleading and dangerous (even though for only a few women). It should change to "every healthy mother can breastfeed".
  • My one piece of advice is don't feel bad if your breastfeeding experience isn't what you expected! With (my first son), I fully expected to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months, but he had other plans. At 5 days, he had lost more than 10% of his birth weight, so I was sent to a lactation consultant. My supply was good, his latch was good, and he was getting a good amount of breastmilk in him. Still, he couldn't gain weight, so I was told to supplement with formula. It was against everything I had wanted, but if it was to keep my son healthy, I was going to do it! It turns out that he was diagnosed with malabsorption when he was about 18 months old. Fortunately, I was able to exclusively breastfeed my second for 6 months and my 3rd will be 6 months old on Sunday and he was exclusively breastfed until about a week ago. So don't give up! And sometimes, you have to think "do I want to do this for my own reasons, or for my child?"
  • Enjoy it. It is a gift you can give your child for only a season in time.