How to Mentally & Physically Prepare Yourself For Breastfeeding
Whether you are in the final last weeks of your pregnancy preparing for delivery or you are at home with your new little family member trying to get the hang of this whole breastfeeding thing remember this..
it’s going to be okay, and it may take some time, mama!
Becoming a mom is an adjustment. It is something new. It is something that you mentally and physically have not gone through before. Be easy on yourself. Your hormones will be up and down. This is normal. You might even find yourself randomly crying, questioning if you’re doing it right, questioning if you can do it at all. If it doesn’t happen right away it doesn’t make you any less of a mother or a woman.
Your body is physically adjusting just as you are mentally.
“You can do this, it is natural, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a learning curve for some.”
~ Doula, Britney Asbell
So how can you best prepare yourself mentally and physically for this new transition of motherhood? Read below and find out!
1) Educate yourself on the different breastfeeding positions.
Yep! There are different ways in which you can hold your baby while you breastfeed. A position that works for one mom and her baby might not work for you and your baby. You two are learning this together, be patient. If something isn’t working try another, if one side isn’t working, then switch.
2) Take advice from your lactation consultant after delivery while you are in postpartum.
Once you deliver and are moved over to postpartum you will be introduced to a new set of nurses, along with an lactation consultant…use her! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to express your concerns. No question is a dumb question. She will help with positioning and placement of your nipple in baby’s mouth. She may even suggest that you use a shield if she believes you need one. The shield will go over your areola and nipple. With a small opening at the tip this will help bring the nipple out making it easier for baby to latch on. You may have flat or inverted nipples and this may be why your baby is having a harder time latching on.
3) Prepare yourself for hard and tiring days.
Your baby is going to show you a whole new level of being tired. The good news though? No matter how sleep deprived you may be that major amount of love you have for them is going to get you through it, and somehow you will find yourself still functioning! A typical day could have feedings every two hours: 4 a.m., 6 a.m., 8 a.m. etc. Try to think of each feeding as a reached goal because it means your baby is gaining weight & nutrients quickly. Yay!!!
4) Take it easy on the nips!
Avoid soap and don't try to clean your nipples with rough washcloths. Use a moisturize as your nipples will be less likely to crack. Avoid wearing underwire bras as they can cause irritation and make you more sore.
5) Keep track of feeding times + diaper changes.
If you walk away with anything from this post- take this! In the hospital, and at baby’s follow up appointment they will ask you questions about the number of daily feedings along with the number of diaper changes. PLEASE, KNOW THE ANSWERS. When my son was 3 weeks old I noticed that he had hardly eaten all day, and he did nothing but sleep. Phew, some down time for me right? NOPE! I knew something was wrong and took him to see his pediatrician that late afternoon. With the doctor’s non sympathetic words and lack of bedside manner he told me that our son was severely dehydrated and had to be hospitalized immediately. I was terrified! I remember looking at my mother in law crying and being so worried. Here we were at just 3 weeks old and he was having to be put in the hospital with wires hooked up all over his little body and fluids providing him with what I wasn’t, and couldn’t at the time. It was by far the worst memory I have being postpartum with him. Just be aware…if you know something is off or wrong, trust your mothers intuition.
6) Know what is normal and what is not.
Yes, breastfeeding will have you sore at first, but it is NOT normal for you to be experiencing extremely sore nipples throughout the entire feeding, every feeding. This may be a sign that baby is not latched on properly. If the pain is so bad and is lasting beyond the initial attachment, or if your nipples become damaged seek help. This pain should not lead you to the point of dreading having to nurse. For the first few days your nipples might be chapped and sore. Normal soreness can be soothed with butters/balms, and should lessen the more you and your baby get used to breastfeeding.
Words of encouragement from Doula, Britney Asbell (pictured above)
Breastfeeding! Ah, the most natural thing a woman can do once baby is born. We spend 9 months growing our baby, allowing and trusting our body to nourish the little being that will soon grace our lives and our family. Then baby is born and breastfeeding doesn’t go as seamlessly as we had hoped. Some how that trust in our body begins to fade. There’s concern of milk coming in. Colostrum, what is that stuff? Should it be hurting? Is my baby getting enough? The questions and concerns go on and on! It’s natural, you are a new mom, all moms have some type of worries! Take a deep breath mama! You can do this, it is natural, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a learning curve for some.
First off, breathe! Trust your body, trust your baby and be patient with the process.
Start yourself off on the right foot and find a local breastfeeding support group, or go ahead and connect with an IBCLC. These people will be your biggest supporters, your cheerleaders, your “go to girls”, and will make sure to help you along this journey. It is a journey after all, and you can do it!
The early days may lead to some discomfort, your hormones are adjusting, your baby is new and still learning. If at any time you find yourself in pain, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. This is where that support group or IBCLC will come in handy!
Those early days are filled with lots of surprises, learn to find humor in it! Learn to be amazed at your body and its capabilities, you just grew and birthed a baby after all!
In the first few days your milk will switch from colostrum (that yellow-ish, thick, fluid) to mature milk. Colostrum is jam packed with all the nutrients baby needs. It doesn’t seem like much is there, maybe just drops, but it’s just the perfect balance for your baby and his or her tiny stomach! Soon the colostrum will be gone and mature milk will be in full flow!
Don’t be alarmed, as many mothers find themselves dripping and leaking in those early days of mature milk. Invest in some breast pads, reusable or disposable and keep them near by!
As the days go on, you may have ups and downs, help can always be found; so reach out. Any time you are unsure, ask for help! Most importantly dear mama, never doubt yourself! And never give up on a bad day! Breathe mama and trust the process.