Whether you're a first-time mom, or giving birth to your fourth baby, for many women, breastfeeding is different with every child. For everyone, there will be bumps along the way that may leave new moms feeling frustrated, unprepared, and overwhelmed.
If you're scared of breastfeeding, you're not alone. These tips will help you get started and feel more confident in the process. And if you experience problems along the way, we've got that covered too.
1. Think about breastfeeding BEFORE your baby arrives
Many mothers overlook the importance of preparing to breastfeed before their baby arrives, until they attempt to nurse their newborn for the first time.
Before delivery, consider taking either an in-person or online breastfeeding class. These classes help you feel more prepared and confident with breastfeeding your baby and take some of your anxiety away. They will also teach you the basics of breastfeeding, pumping and storing milk, and common issues that may come up. In addition, taking a breastfeeding class can reassure you when things don't go exactly as planned.
2. You shouldn't have any pain while you breastfeed
If there is pain, it could be a sign your baby isn't latching correctly. If your pain persists for longer than 30 seconds, break the suction and start over. When dealing with nipple pain, it's also a good idea to consult with a lactation consultant to find the solutions that will help.
3. Keep in mind that your breasts are made to produce milk, not store it
If you're feeling depleted and unable to produce milk, this might be because your baby may need to feed more than usual. Take a deep breath and trust your body to supply the milk your baby needs.
4. In the first few days, you might experience swelling or engorgement
If symptoms persist and you experience severe pain, swelling, or fever, contact your doctor. These combined symptoms may be the sign of mastitis. In addition to meeting with your doctor, contact a lactation consultant to make a plan to feed baby and preserve your milk supply.
Those first weeks at home will have some ups and downs. With your lack of sleep, it's only natural to be overwhelmed and stressed. But remember, research shows that breastfeeding moms get more sleep! Don't be afraid to ask for help. Visit with a lactation consultant to support you during this time and help take some of the pressure away. You're going through a lot right now, so be kind with yourself. Take a break, and enjoy those precious moments spent with your baby.
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC is a mom of 2, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She owns Lactation Link, a private practice offering online breastfeeding classes, blog, and other resources.