It was very important to me to breast feed. I wanted to feel the connection to my baby, my baby feel the connection to me through the closeness and of course all the health and nutrition that comes with breast milk. It also is what is intended, it’s natural, it’s what our bodies are made of, it’s the perfect nutrition for your growing baby.
Benefits of breast feeding: http://www.lalecheleague.org/faq/advantages.html
With that strong desire, most moms have anxiety over breast feeding — I sure did! Will I produce enough milk? Will it hurt? How do I know they’re getting enough food? So I took a breast feeding class and worked with a professional lactation consultant to learn all I could before being put in action. I encourage you to take a class, but here’s what I learned:
-You can produce enough milk. Only a very small percentage of the population has issues producing enough milk. To give yourself the best chances, make sure to have baby latch on and nurse starting just an hour or so after birth and then every few hours after that. Don’t go longer than 2-3 hours without the baby nursing in the first few months. You are supposed to feed 8-12 times per 24 hours.
-Feed on demand. Don’t rely on the time between feedings as a gauge if your baby is hungry. If your baby is crying and fussy and can’t be soothed from other methods (holding, walking, singing, change of diaper, change of temperature) and their not sick then feed them, they’re probably hungry! I made that mistake where I couldn’t believe that Archer would be hungry again so quickly, but he was. Babies have growth spurts so sometimes they feed closer together.
-If the baby is latched on correctly, it will not hurt. When the baby latches it shouldn’t hurt. If it does take the baby off and try the latch again. I have had to do this 4 or 5 times before I felt the latch was correct. If you let your baby feed with an improper latch you will definitely feel the pain later and it will be hard to let your nipple heal when you have to nurse so often.
-Always offer both breasts. I made this mistake and assumed that one breast was enough, alternating between feedings. The trick to get him to take the other breast was to feed Archer on one breast, then burp him and offer him the second breast. He almost always wanted the second breast once I started offering both.
-Be patient. While in the hospital I was having issues getting Archer to latch and the lactation consultant said “Nothing will teach you more patience than becoming a mother.” That hit home. Breast feeding and getting your baby to latch and feed is on their schedule, not yours. You have to wait until they’re ready and willing and be there ready to offer them your breast, i.e. shove it in their mouth the moment it opens wide enough! In the first few weeks it sometimes would take me up to 45 minutes to get a proper latch when he was ready for it. Yes, that long! Just hang in there, they call breast feeding a learned art. Both you and your baby have to learn.
-To get them to open their mouths wide, rub your nipple on their lips, express some milk on their lips.
-Proper latch: http://www.lalecheleague.org/faq/positioning.html
-Babies know how much milk they need, all you have to do is offer the breast, be patient and if they’re hungry they’ll eat. You can’t force a baby to breast feed!
-If you have a sleepy baby that is hard to rouse to eat, i.e. they won’t open their mouths wide enough to eat, then try changing their diaper before you feed them, undress them, etc.. what ever you need to do to wake them up. We had to do this for the first month or so for Archer, he as a very apathetic eater.
-Your newborn should feed for 10 minutes on each breast. We had a hard time getting to 10 minutes. He’d get tired and would just stop after 8-12 or so on one breast. Like I said before, try burping your baby, playing with them to wake them up, stroking their cheek to get them to suck, etc… and offer the breast again.
In closing, if you are having issues reach out and get help through a local La Leche League. If you still are having issues and want to give up, do what you think is best for you and your baby. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad if you decide to transition onto formula. The most important thing is that you are a happy loving mom for your new little joy.