*Check out who won the Froggy Hunt.
I am on my eighth year of breastfeeding and I have a few bits of advice to share.
No, I haven't nursed a single child for eight years! I have successfully nursed seven children for approximately one year each, and am currently nursing my eighth baby.
By "successfully", I DON'T mean that it has been smooth sailing all the way. I mean that I have stuck with it and ridden out the bumps along the way, and my babies were well nourished by my breast milk.
Before I share my advice, I would like to remind you that these are things that I have found useful. I'm no doctor. I don't even play one on TV, but these are a few tips I have discovered over the years that I hope you will find helpful.
- Put your baby to the breast as soon after birth as possible. Don't hesitate to ask for help from a lactation consultant if you feel like you need it.
- Make sure your baby's mouth is open WIDE when nursing.
- Don't give your baby a pacifier or bottle for at least the first week or so after birth. This will allow her to get comfortable with breastfeeding and not become accustomed to an artificial nipple. (We've broken the pacifier rule a time or two, but it's best not to.)
- Expect mild to moderate soreness at first, but don't let that stop you! It will soon pass.
- Use lanolin for soothing cracked or sore nipples.
- Wake the baby during the day if she goes more than 3-4 hours between feedings. Making sure she gets plenty of calories during the day will encourage her to sleep better at night.
- If the baby is too sleepy to nurse, try undressing her for a diaper change. A cool wipe on the bottom usually does the trick.
- Expect times when it seems the baby wants to nurse constantly. This is a sign of a growth spurt and she is signaling your body to make more milk. Soon your production will catch up with her demand and she won't need to nurse as often.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Make it natural for your children to see you nursing. When they are curious, simply tell them, "This is how babies eat."
- DON'T try to crash diet to lose all your pregnancy weight. Trust me on this one. Your milk supply will drop and you will have one unhappy baby on your hands.
- If you feel like your milk supply is diminishing, nurse as often as you can (every hour or so if baby will cooperate) to step up production.
- DON'T be in a hurry to start solids. This often diminishes milk supply because baby is getting nourishment elsewhere. Read about why we don't use baby food.
- Take a nursing cover whenever you go out so you can nurse the baby anywhere. Here is a discussion about breastfeeding in public.
- Relax! Try not to stress too much over how long and which side. I used to nervously watch the clock and I would worry if the baby didn't nurse "long enough". I would also mark my bra with a safety pin so I could remember which side the baby should nurse from. Now, I realize that a healthy baby will let me know what is "long enough" and I can tell which side is fuller without a safety pin.
- Use La Leche League International as a resource. There is a wealth of experience and advice at that website and you can even contact someone who is willing to help you with a specific question. I found help there when I was struggling with an extra sleepy newborn who did not want to wake up to nurse.
- Be sure to check out tips my Facebook fans are leaving on the Smockity Frocks fan page. It turns out beer does work! Who knew! (Thanks, Tracy!)
This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are some things I don't know, like "Does beer help with milk production?" and some things I'm sure I have forgotten to say here.
If you have something you'd like to know, leave it in the comments and I'll try to address it.
*This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.