Medical Minute. Breastfeeding: Don't believe what you've heard!

Breastfeeding for the first time– Being prepared, supported, and relaxed will help you make it through to enjoy an immensely rewarding experience.

I once had a pregnant woman tell me that she was more nervous about breastfeeding than she was about actually giving birth.  That may sound backwards, but I totally understand what she meant.  It’s terrifying because you don’t know what to expect, you fear failure, and there are these awful stories floating around from traumatized moms.  Those stories are hopefully the combination of some exaggeration and sleep deprivation.  The fact is, it can be a struggle.  It’s important to try not to get discouraged.   And just think, you may lose weight faster if you breastfeed!

HELP.  Ask for help from the maternity nurses or the hospital lactation consultant the first few times you breastfeed. Don’t be shy, these professionals have seen every boob in town and they’re not going to care what you look like.  Begin seeking support before you have the baby- it well help you be prepared and calm any fears you may have.

MILK SUPPLY.  So many moms say they never had enough milk, or they worry they’re not making enough.  In most cases, your body will know what to do and will get the job done.  The more often you breastfeed, the more milk you will make.  And remember, you are what you eat- or what your baby eats.  Smoking is out, medications need to be approved by your doctor, and alcohol avoided.  Limit caffeine to prevent it from making the baby jittery.  Eat as healthy as possible!

SORENESS.  Everyone will tell you that you may feel some tenderness at first, but breastfeeding should not be painful.  To prevent soreness, let the milk dry naturally on the nipples and change bra pads often between feedings to keep them dry. You can apply lanolin after feeding if your nipples get dry or cracked. Remember to wash it off before feeding your baby.

EXPERIENCED MOM ADVICE: Books and professionals are fabulous, but if you were wondering what real Birmingham Moms think, we’ve got it!

The lactation nurses told me if I could make it 6 weeks….it gets so much easier after that and they were right! After 6 weeks it does not hurt anymore, it gets so much more natural and like second nature. I could read a book, watch tv, etc while doing it. JUST HANG IN THERE for those first 6 weeks…use the lanolin, etc. It is so wonderful for your baby and formula is so expensive!!!!

Start going to La Leche meetings BEFORE baby arrives!  Those ladies will help you in any way they can!

Surround yourself with people who support your breastfeeding decision, and call on them if you are feeling frustrated or need help.

RELAX! They know when you are uptight. Everytime I had trouble it was because I was too tense. Try to relax as much as possible. Get comfortable.

Go to the breastfeeding support groups offered by Brookwood. They are free and I would have given up if it weren’t for their amazing lactation nurses. At 6 weeks – things immensely improved but I’m now at 3 1/2 mos and my baby nurses for 6 minutes on each side now and it’s so amazing and fast. We don’t even use bottles of pumped milk anymore b/c it is so much quicker to nurse.

Get good support (people and bra) and don’t expect it to be instantaneous or automatic. It takes A LOT of work and dedication and time before it gets to be easier.

If everything goes wrong and your milk doesn’t come in or whatever- you are not a failure as a mother. Do not let it hurt your belief in yourself!

Where to get knowledge and help in Birmingham:
Brookwood Lactation Center, 877-1978.  Classes offered for expectant moms!
La Leche League

One thought on “Medical Minute. Breastfeeding: Don't believe what you've heard!

  1. Thanks for posting. I think the most important thing that you wrote is the last two sentences. Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience, but it’s important for new moms to know that you’re not a failure if it doesn’t work out. (And yes, you should try, and ask for support, and utilize the many resources our community has to offer.)

    I was 110% committed to breastfeeding. Did my research, took the classes at Brookwood, went to La Leche meetings, worked with consultants. Tried really hard for many months. Did it. But in the end, it wasn’t the right road for our family. Wish someone would have told me that that was OK.

    That’s my message to new moms: don’t beat yourself up. Enjoy your time with your baby. Trust yourself. And honor whatever is best for your family!

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