Breastfeeding Advice for New Moms
One of the main things new moms struggle with is breastfeeding. In fact speaking from experience it is one of the main things that cause our anxiety and depression. It's not always easy, and sometimes it's impossible. However, I'm here to tell you that it's ok! It doesn't make you less of a mama.
Get A Good Nursing Pillow
Breastfeeding is a lot easier if you are comfortable and well supported. With my first baby I tried to feed her just by holding her or using a pillow. This however, did not work. My back wasn't supported and I was still so sore from my epidural and having the baby. Nursing Pillows are serious lifesavers (back-savers). I honestly use mine all the time even when i'm not nursing, just to help support my back when i'm sitting. I personally use the boppy pillow, which I believe is the most popular nursing pillow. However, there are many other brands to look into.
Ask For Help!
If you find yourself struggling with breastfeeding, instead of getting stressed out ask for help! There are a few people you could as for help. While in the hospital you have access to the breastfeeding consultant. They are wonderful and will help show you exactly what to do, as well as, give you some great advice. Another option is to take a class in breastfeeding, your local hospital, or holistic health center should hold breastfeeding classes. My pediatrician actually helped me with my daughter. She just sat quietly and watched me feed her, and made any corrections if needed. There are so many options for help on breastfeeding, to make it less stressful on you! So before throwing in the towel and giving up because it's hard, first seek help.
Pumping for Sanity
If your anything like me the thought of pumping seems time consuming, tiring, and like your a cow. With my daughter I had to pump constantly to try to build my milk supply, and feed her by bottle due to some problems we were having. With her it was horrible, I hated pumping and breastfeeding. I let myself get overwhelmed in the end I gave up with my daughter, and we had to switch to formula. My supply dried up at just 3 months.
However, with my son I tried a different approach to the electric pump. It doesn't take any extra time from normal feeding. Honestly it changed the breastfeeding and pumping game for me. My lifesaver was the Hakka Breast pump, which I'm sure you have seen or heard about all over YouTube. There is a reason for that! This pump is a game changer. I suggest watching a few tutorials to make sure you understand how it works, and that it will be a good fit for you. Just a quick explanation, the Hakka Breast pump goes on the opposite breast your baby is feeding on, and basically catches your let down. Now the amount it catches can differ from person to person, feeding to feeding. Personally I can catch around 3-4 ounces each feeding. The morning feeding/pumping is when I get the most supply. I don't have to spend extra time pumping, since I do it the same time I'm feeding my baby. It's a great and easy way to store up a decent supply.
The reason you want to pump is honestly for your sanity. For the times you want to nap a little longer, get your hair done, date night with the hubby, or just to have a break to yourself. Let the spouse or someone else take over for awhile so you can rest. We can start to feel like just a food source and it can get really tiring. So take some time for yourself!
The Importance of Self-Care
This is huge! If you aren't taking care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of your baby to the best of your ability. You need to take time for yourself to breath, and gain some sanity and sense of self back. Now I know what your thinking. "How will I have time to do anything?" It will seem like you won't have time to yourself, that your life revolves around your new baby. But you need to make the time. Make your spouse take over for awhile just to take a hot shower. It is amazing what just showering can do for you. You will feel clean, refreshed and more relax.
Take naps! This is a big one, when your baby is sleeping, you should be sleeping. You will hear this a ton. You will want to take the time to clean or get things done. No! Sleep! Seriously you need the rest. I was go go go after my son since I didn't tear and recovery was easier. I thought I could do anything and was super mom. No! I ended up having a meltdown a week in because I didn't realize just how tired I was. My husband and some family member took over cleaning and taking care of everything so I could just sleep for awhile.
You can get so involved with taking care of this tiny human you have made, and being a good mom. That you forget your important too. Self-care is vital, and you need to make time for it. Otherwise, the stress will overwhelm you, and you will want to take it out on your spouse and your baby. Which in the end will only make you feel worse, trust me. So do it for yourself, but also those you love.
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Breastfeeding Vs. Your Baby's Well-being
Breast isn't always best. I'm sure there will be someone out there who will argue or fight me on that. I'm not saying that the nutrition isn't the best for your baby, I'm saying the well-being of your baby is more important than your pride. Sometimes things don't always go as we imagine in our heads, that's life. It's OK! I was devastated with my daughter, breastfeeding was hard, and I just wasn't producing enough to keep up with the demand. Eventually my milk dried up all together at 3 months! Not my fault, but I still felt like I failed her in some way.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, and your baby is not getting enough, or the nutrition it needs, formula is not the end of the world. I promise you will still be a good mom, you are not a failure, and your baby won't love you any less. If other moms, or people look down at you for it, you ignore them because they are in the wrong!
Some babies can even be allergic to their mothers breast milk (lactose intolerant, or allergic to things you eat). The point is, if you have to go formula it is OK! You didn't fail, you are still an amazing mom doing whats best for your child.
You Are an Amazing Mama!
I don't know if you need to hear this, but you are an amazing mom! If you're reading this blog post right now, you care. You care enough to read this and get advice. You are doing the best you can to be the best mom. Being a mom is hard, raising a tiny human is hard, breastfeeding is hard.. That's ok! It doesn't make you less of a mom if you get stressed out. We all get stressed out, and sometimes we handle it in bad ways. That's why breathing and taking time for yourself is important. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You're not weak, you are strong for wanting to be better. No matter what, you will always be your child's mama, through right and wrong, ups and downs, they will still look at you and see their mama. So chin up mama! You are doing a fantastic job.