I'm not a doctor or a lactation consultant, but after nursing two kids past the age of two, I like to consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to breastfeeding. And while it hasn't always been easy, it's been one of my proudest achievements as a mom and worth every second. So if you're pregnant and planning on doing the same with your baby, here are 10 breastfeeding tips that every mom should know. Pass it on! And if I missed something, please add the tip here.
Be Prepared: One of the keys to a successful breastfeeding relationship is preparation. Read up on it in your pregnancy books and on your favorite websites, and if you can, see a lactation consultant before baby arrives to ask specific questions about breastfeeding that your books don't answer.
Breastfeed Early and Often: Make sure to tell your OB and nurses that you plan to breastfeed. They should provide you with some breastfeeding supplies and help you get started within one hour after delivery. And as tired as you may be, nurse often to get your milk supply going, even if this means hooking yourself up to a breast pump.
Don't Be Surprised if it Hurts: I'm not going to lie. Breastfeeding can be a pain-both literally and figuratively. Baby might not latch on correctly the first few days (or weeks), your nipples can crack, or worse, you could develop mastitis, a painful breast infection. For me, it was all of the above, but I got through it. Just remember to always ask for help when you need it.
Enjoy the Benefits: By now you probably know how breastfeeding benefits your baby, but don't forget to enjoy the benefits yourself. Not only will you save time and money-- no need to sterilize bottles and measure and mix expensive formula, but it will help you lose the baby weight, too. Really...so keep this in mind when you've had it "up to here."
Get Props: There are plenty of breastfeeding tools available, so invest in a couple to make your breastfeeding experience more comfortable. Many moms swear by the Boppy Nursing Pillow, but I prefer the My Brest Friend. And then I have a friend who was content with a throw pillow. Experiment and see what works for you, and don't forget the nursing stool.
Keep Baby Close for Nighttime Feedings: Breastfeeding is a round-the-clock job, so make those nighttime feedings easier by keeping baby close to you. Both my kids slept in my bed in a Snuggle Nest Co-Sleeper, but if you're not comfortable with baby sharing your bed, you can invest in a bassinet or simply set up the crib in your room.
Invest in a Nursing Cover: There's nothing more natural than breastfeeding, but doing it in public can be stressful, especially when you're first starting out. That's why I love Bebe Au Lait nursing covers. Whether I'm on a plane, at a park or a playdate, it's as easy as finding an comfortable seat, throwing the cover over my head, and breastfeeding my child discreetly without worrying about blankets or burp cloths slipping and showing too much skin.
Know That Breastfeeding Can Be Messy: Don't be freaked out by leaky boobs. Whether it's another crying baby in the distance or holding your baby close to you, your breasts can leak, so keep a supply of nursing pads on hand or invest in a couple of padded bras. And speaking of bras, invest in a few different types of nursing bras. I like a lightweight sleeping nursing bra or nursing camisole at night, and during the day I like wearing a sexy, but comfy nursing bra-yes, they do exist! Just skip the ones with underwire.
Do Wear a Dress: Nursing apparel has come a long way, so don't be fooled into thinking you can only wear separates. There are many designer brands like Japanese Weekend and Maternal America that have chic nursing dresses, but here's a secret: any dress with a deep V-shaped neckline will get the job done. Just wear your favorite nursing bra underneath, and voila.
Breastfeed As Long As You Like: Breastfeeding is a very personal choice, so whether you breastfeed for one week, one month, one year or more, it's up to you. Don't let other people bully you into weaning because "your baby is too old" or give you a hard time for only breastfeeding for one month. Hey, it's better than nothing, and every mom is different and doing what's best for her child and herself.
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