The World Health Organization encourages exclusively breastfeeding your infant for the first six months of life but just getting started makes six months of exclusive nutrition seem overwhelming for some.
How do you get started? Who teaches you how to do it? How does your baby learn?
BREASTFEEDING IS LIKE DANCING WHEN NEITHER PARTNER KNOWS THE STEPS.
There is a lot of fumbling. Feelings may get hurt. Body parts might get a little worse for wear as you figure out how they all go together.
When you are starting to breastfeed, remember a few things:
1. Make sure you are in a comfortable position. Don’t contort your body.
2. Take a deep breath and encourage your baby. Stress will be sensed by your infant, so everyone will benefit if Mom is relaxed.
3. Help your baby have a great latch by waiting for him or her to have a wide open mouth. If the latch is shallow, or only has your nipple, break the seal with your finger and encourage again.
4. Your body will be regulating milk production in the first weeks of breastfeeding, so feeding often, sometimes called on demand, will help with reducing engorgement and keeping mastitis at bay.
5. When in doubt, put that baby to your breast. Time tables can be confusing. Your baby doesn’t know what a schedule is. If you baby is hungry, feed your baby. Comfort, nutrition, thirst, and hunger are all reasons you baby may want to nurse.
6. Be kind to yourself. You are learning a new skill, and so is your baby. This dance is long but can be extremely rewarding. If you are feeling frustrated and under supported or prepared, reach out to your doula, a lactation consultant, or an IBCLC in your area.
7. Only you will know when it is time to end the dance. Breastfeeding is rewarding for some, but it is personal and you are the expert in what is best for you. If you need to help when it comes time to wean, the same resources who can help you learn the first steps, can help you learn the finishing steps.
Chinook City Doulas offers lactation support to our clients. Imagine having an expert available to you for every latch the first few day you are home from the hospital. A doula can manage the tasks that you need tackled while you are busy feeding your baby, provide companionship, ensure your families needs are met and offer the most up-date information and resources. Contact us today to learn more.