Breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful things you can do for your baby. But sometimes it is one of the hardest things. I am going to begin this little talk by prefacing this in that I know there are people who try very, very hard to breastfeed, and it does not work out. I have met some of them! They are some of the most self sacrificing people I have ever met. I hope that some of the tips I can give, can make the difficulties a little easier.
I think most of the time people assume it will come naturally. It is a natural process after all!
But I think one thing that mothers need to prepare themselves for is that breastfeeding is a lot of work. For me, personally, it was way easier than bottle feeding. But that is not to say it was without it's difficulties.
I think one thing to remember first off, in order to have a successful breastfeeding experience, is attitude. I know, that is a weird thing to say, but attitude makes a big difference in breastfeeding. If you go into it and say "I am going to try to breastfeed." You have good intentions, but it is probably not going to work out, similar to if you said "I am going to try to read 10 books this summer." but then you have to do it. Pretty much, with breastfeeding you have to just do it. You are going to have to devote your time to doing it.....
It is going to take time. You need to breastfeed your baby every 2-4 hours. When the baby is small, they often need longer to nurse too. It can be 15-20 minutes each session. I like to think this is time to sit down and rest yourself, recovering from birth can be trying, and often we as mothers do not rest enough. Taking the time to rest can make breastfeeding easier as well.
Sometimes I have met new mothers who have a couple other children, they take a couple days after birth to rest up, and then they jump right back into their work. They don't eat properly, they don't see they have any other choice. but to do their duties they always preform. About 6-8 weeks later, they find themselves exhausted, their milk supply falters, the baby starts crying a lot, they wake up at night more. You want to lose the baby weight you have put on, and start exercising, but instead of the rush they expected, they feel more tired. They add vitamins. They wonder if they should stop breastfeeding. You see the formula packets the hospital sent home with you and you think "Some people say their baby will sleep longer if you give them formula."
Other people have told you mix some rice cereal in their bottle....You give in and give the baby a bottle. It is not so bad, the baby sleeps for a couple hours, you are really full of milk, but it gave you an hour or two off. Once in awhile, can't be bad, right?
Yes, once in awhile, if you were pumping to compensate, it could be fine, but this early in your breastfeeding relationship, it could be the end, if you are not experienced. Rice cereal in a baby bottle is just a bad idea at that age....
Exercise is great for a breastfeeding mom! But overdoing it, can effect your milk supply. You need a minimum of calories in order to maintain a steady breast milk supply. You need a minimum of 1800 calories and more depending on specific people. But if you notice you are exhausted, you are stressed, getting depressed, baby is fussy.....take the baby for a walk and eat a good meal.
Nurse the baby more often- every 2 hours to increase your milk supply. One big thing to remember, if your baby is tiny and sleeping through the night, it can effect your milk supply. Prolactin levels peak while you are sleeping and when you breastfeed at night, it helps trigger more milk production.
One of the best things you can do though is get involved with a mother's support group. Look online
You can see if they have one in your area. Also, there is breastfeeding support groups that will have groups too, you can go to.
These are great ways that will get you out of the house and meeting other people who are in the same situation as you, without extra stress.
If you find that life is so overwhelming and you are feeling like you cannot handle taking care of your baby, you may be suffering from some postpartum depression. Please let someone know! It is so hard to do that, I know, but it is more common than you know. But that is another post!!