Since August is National Breastfeeding month I thought it would be a good idea to close out the month with a blog about breastfeeding. I know sometimes this topic can be touchy so I will only talk about what I have learned as a new mom breastfeeding. I also want you to know I am not opposed to formula at all and I even fed Johanna formula as a supplement for the first two weeks of her life. As a new mom I have learned a lot of “tricks to the trade” when it comes to breastfeeding. Honestly, when I was pregnant I did absolutely no research on breastfeeding and kind of thought it would just be something that came natural. Well, that’s not always the case. At least it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t even positive that this was something I wanted to stick with until the lactation nurse put Johanna right on me about 20 minutes after she was born. I guess this was supposed to be my tutorial but truth be told I can’t tell you a single thing she said to me. Now, Johanna latched on immediately and was a really good eater. I guess you could say I was a bit lucky in this sense. I had no idea that I was already producing colostrum which is what your body makes before your milk comes in. It’s full of nutrients that your baby is in need of right after birth. I think a common misconception is that colostrum doesn’t make baby full but it actually does! So here are some tips I learned as a new breastfeeding Mama! Drink lots and lots of water and eat lots and lots of food! Breastfeeding is nature’s lipo! You burn a lot of calories each time you nurse your baby or pump so you need to replenish these calories in order to make lots of milk. You also need to stay hydrated at all times in order to produce a healthy supply. Pump immediately and pump a lot. Pumping before your milk comes in is actually a good idea! My milk came in about 4 days after Johanna was born but I was pumping as soon as I got home from the hospital. Unfortunately, I had to use a manual pump because my electric pump hadn’t gotten to me yet. I do believe that pumping helps your milk come in faster and at a larger quantity. Right after I would feed Johanna, I would do a power pump or pump for 20 minutes. If you’re using a manual pump it’s easiest just to pump 10 minutes on each side. Nurse as often as you can! A baby can bring on your milk faster than a pump can so nursing a lot is also good at promoting your milk supply. I was cluster feeding Johanna so she was nursing about every hour to hour and a half in the beginning. Eat lactation bars and drink the lactation tea! I made my own lactation bars. I’ll add the recipe I use at the bottom of this post. Now, I can’t say that these things worked for sure because I was using both immediately after we got home from the hospital. I’m not sure if there would have been much of a difference had I not used them. But I still eat the lactation bars to this day. They are yummy! This next tip seems weird but it works! Drink a dark lager beer. This is a tip I learned from my cousin who breastfed all four of her children. No lie, I drank a dark lager and the next day I pumped double what I was normally pumping. Some other things that I have learned along the way are to feed your baby a bottle every now and then. Another common misconception is that you have to nurse your baby all the time. This is something I thought I was going to be doing. It’s actually better that your baby learn how to drink from a bottle early on. This way other people can feed them and it makes for better transitioning later on. It also helps to know exactly how much milk your baby is getting because you won’t know when you’re nursing. Luckily, Johanna is quite greedy so she will take her milk from anything! Keep a healthy supply in your freezer. Now for myself, I pump at least 4 times a day. This is milk that I freeze so that I can feed her bottles whenever necessary. When you freeze your breast milk, it’s good for up to 6 months. This will help you feed your baby breast milk for a longer period of time even when you want to stop nursing. Practice different positions for your baby. There are so many different positions to nurse your baby in. Some are better than others and some babies prefer different ways at different times of the day. If you’re having trouble with positions you should attend a La Leche League meeting to watch other Mom’s breastfeed their babies. It helps to “see the real thing” so that you aren’t guessing. Another weird tip…. Let your babies feet touch something. In my case Johanna nurses much better when her feet are tucked in a blanket or are touching something. I’ve learned that other babies like this as well! If you’re having trouble latching, position your baby so that his/her stomach is touching yours. This way they don’t have to turn their heads. This creates a lot of frustration for babies and they will often give up. Next, point your nipple towards their nose, not their mouth. Stimulating the nose will help baby open their mouth. This way, baby will get a much better latch. Another misconception is timing! This was a huge struggle for me in the beginning because I was always determined to time each side. Trust me when I say, your baby will let you know when they are done eating or when they are not done eating. I was also watching the clock and waiting for that 20 minute mark on each side. However, Johanna would often be done before the 20 minute mark. This actually created a bit of a problem for me. While I thought she was still eating, she was actually just using me as a pacifier. I’m not ashamed to say that it took me a few weeks to figure this out! When you start breastfeeding, you will be sore! But this soreness does not last forever! I suggest losing the bra for at least the first 2 weeks after your baby is born. Unless you’re going somewhere, don’t even put one on! This helps give your breasts air and prevents blocked ducts and mastitis. Two things that are extremely uncomfortable. Use massage and a hot shower to soothe your breasts. Invest in a good cream! You’ll probably only use it for the first few weeks but the money you spend on it is well worth it! I personally used the medela nipple gel. My last tip is to make sure YOU are comfortable. This is why it’s a good thing to practice positions. Try not to slouch and use a boppy! Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and your back is in a comfortable position. Those aching muscles are seriously no fun when you’re nursing! So there you have it! I hope these tips help you and of course whatever works for you is best for baby! Everyone has a different experience and remember that breastfeeding is 90 percent determination and 10 percent milk production! You’ve got this Mama! You’re doing a great job!!!!
Lactation Bar Recipe: Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oatmeal 1 cup chocolate chips 1 cup creamy peanut butter ¾ cup ground flaxseed ⅔ cup of raw honey 2tsp vanilla Instructions:In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.Stir until very well combined.Using a small cookie dough scoop, roll into balls. Place on a baking sheet. Place in fridge and let sit for 2-3 hours. Store in air tight container. Enjoy!