Breastfeeding 101: Do's & Don'ts
Before I begin, I would like to clarify that everything I write is based solely on my experiences and what I have learned. Every person is different and what may work for me may or may not work for you.
Being a new mom in the Hispanic culture, I feel we aren't really spoken to or taught much about the topic of breastfeeding. (I know I was told zer0 by any of my motherly family members.) All I was told were all the horrors of child birth and early motherhood. When it came to breastfeeding all I would hear over and over from everyone was how much it hurt. I was never actually spoken to about the positive aspects of breastfeeding much less taught how to go about it and how to successfully maintain a breastfeeding lifestyle. Which is a shame being that breastfeeding is one of the many amazing abilities we were given as women.
When I found out I was pregnant I almost immediately knew I wanted to ATTEMPT to breastfeed my baby. (I say attempt because I was unsure of how it would all work out after hearing all the horrors of breastfeeding.) I would have never imagined I would be exclusively breastfeeding my baby. What I did know however, was that if I really wanted to take a stab at it, I would have to educate myself and mentally prepare myself for it. I read books and did all the research I felt necessary until I finally felt some sense of confidence.
Thanks to the great support of the hospital that birthed my baby and my husband I can say I've been exclusively breastfeeding my baby for 2 months now. How did I do it you ask, here are my suggestions of do's and don'ts and what worked for me.
-Do breastfeed your baby on demand (every time they seem to be hungry i.e.: sucking on fingers, rooting, etc.) at least during the first 2 weeks after birth.
-Do breastfeed your baby within the first 24 hours after birth. It is said that during this time your baby is more likely to want to breastfeed for the first time.
-Do spend the first 3 hours after birth skin to skin with your baby. (Skin to skin is when you lay with your baby bare chest to bare chest.)
-Do skin to skin with your baby as often as possible during the first few days after birth. This is said to promote milk production and stimulates your baby to want to feed right after birth.
-Do drink lots of water. (You will naturally want to do this regardless, I always feel super thirsty while nursing and have heard others experience the same. Your body needs to stay hydrated since you are breastfeeding.)
-Do consider taking supplements to increase your milk supply and if you are given the okay by your doctor. (I for example am drinking Mother's Milk tea once a day and Fenugreek pills twice a day.)
-Do eat lots of oatmeal. (I personally am not a fan of oatmeal but, I make a cold smoothie with almond milk which I prefer and drink it as often as possible.)
-Do pump at least twice a day in between feedings to increase your milk supply during the first 2 weeks. (This really helped me increase my supply in the beginning and now I just pump at least once a day usually in the mornings when I'm more full in order to store away for when I am away from my baby.)
-Do invest in buying some lanolin ointment for your nipples and use it after every feeding especially during the first 2 weeks.
-Do consider taking a lactation class before your baby is born or even after birth will be beneficial. (My hospital offered a class during my stay after labor.)
-Do research, read up on breastfeeding, and contact a lactation consultant if necessary. (My hospital offers a 24/7 "warm line" which provides lactation counseling around the clock.)
-Don't give your baby any pacifiers, nipples, bottles, or formula during your stay at the hospital after birth. (My hospital was very supportive of exclusive breastfeeding and made sure to note on my baby's bassinet for nurses to see that she was a breastfed baby and not to give her any pacifiers, bottles, or formula.)
-Don't go more than 3 hours without nursing your baby or pumping during the first 2 weeks after birth. During this time your breasts are making your milk supply necessary to feed your baby, skipping a feeding will tell your body that it does not need to produce that milk.
-Don't give your baby a bottle, even if it's your pumped milk during the first month after birth. Giving your baby a bottle might create nipple confusion and later hinder your milk supply because he/she may not want to latch on to your breast anymore. (Remember bottle nipples are much easier and faster to get the milk from than your actual breasts.)
-DON'T GIVE UP!!!! We were born to do this! The beginning is always hard because it's something new to your body and for your baby. After the first 2 weeks your body and your baby will adjust to it all, your milk supply will begin to regulate, your nipples won't hurt as much, and your baby will adapt. After nearly 2 months, I can say I don't feel a thing anymore when I am nursing my baby and I am much more comfortable nursing her in front of people or in public places, which I never thought I would be able to do. Trust me it will all be worth it in the end!!!
*Recommended book to read: "The Nursing Mother's Companion" by Kathleen Huggins