Breastfeeding is equally the most rewarding and challenging thing I've done in my life.
There is nothing like looking down and bonding with your baby while you are nourishing them. The sweet smiles and pats on the cheek. And just the time you get to spend with your baby. Dedicated bonding, it's just so special. (feeding time is amazing bonding time whether you're breastfeeding or not!)
At the same time you're at the mercy of a small human's stomach, comfort needs, and sometimes sleep schedule. Cluster feeding, nipple tweaking, biting, sleep deprivation, neck and shoulder pain, clogged milk ducts, lip and tongue ties, mastitis, and many other things can take away from the joy of breastfeeding.
Here are a few simple tips to help make your breastfeeding journey a successful one!
1) Take a moment to get calm before you start nursing.
Take a few deep breaths, do a grounding/mindfulness activity, put the baby down for a moment and stretch. Whatever you need to do so you're in a good place mentally before you start nursing. This will put you and your baby at ease.
2) Posture and Comfort matter.
Learning how to sit correctly with a straight back, not leaning forward towards your baby will help. This will save your neck and shoulders after the countless hours you spend breastfeeding, especially in the beginning! Use pillows under your arm, baby, side, wherever you need them to help support you both.
3) Keep a breastfeeding basket nearby at all times!
I carried this with me from room to room when my babies were little. I kept snacks, burp cloths, water, my milkies milk saver (similar to haakaa), breast pads, and whatever else was helpful! It made it so much easier to have everything together in one place than to look for something before or worse, need something while I was nursing.
4) Find a good Lactation Consultant and Use them!
Since Obamacare went into effect insurance has to cover 6 visits with a lactation consultant! Some Lactation Consultants will even travel to your home. Reach out to your friends, your care providers, your doula and ask for recommendations.
5) Finally, know the truth about breastfeeding before you start!
There are many myths about breastfeeding out there (I think I see a future post topic). Find out the facts and know what to look for if something isn't right, and then get the proper help (see point number 4). Just because your mom or Aunt Sally or the neighbor across the street who loves to give unsolicited advice thinks something is good/bad, normal/not normal doesn't mean they know what they are talking about!
I mentioned my milkies milk saver and the Haakaa earlier- if you don't have one of these handy products, GET ONE! Besides the fact I would catch and save up to 2 oz PER FEEDING, I also didn't ruin every shirt I owned with breastmilk after I started using one! I never tried the haakaa, though I've heard great things, but I loved that the Milkies could fit inside my bra and I could just leave it there until I was ready to move sides or we were done nursing!
*sources- these tips come from my own breastfeeding journey and the book bestfeeding by Chloe Fisher, Mary Renfrew, and Suzanne Arms.*