From Laura:I have to say, the one thing that I stress to all of my new mommies and what I believe was the biggest part of my success in breastfeeding my daughter, is education. Why? Education leads to comfort, and comfort leads to you being comfortable, baby being comfortable, and with this 90% of breastfeeding issues disappear! So what does this mean? Talk with breastfeeding mothers about their experience (make sure to take everything with a grain of salt!!), go to a breastfeeding class, contact your local La Leche League Rep, practice different positions with a baby doll or rolled up towel (find the position comfy for you), and all BEFORE baby arrives!!!
The more you know before baby arrives, the easier it will be once baby is actually here! Yes, when you go to the hospital, there are a TON of lovely nurses (such as myself!) and Lactation Consultants that can coach you and teach you about the art of breastfeeding. However, that first session is usually pretty difficult. Between you being exhausted (from delivery) and baby being brand new, the first try is usually not what you had hoped. You get through that first feeding, probably not as gracefully as you would like, you get some sleep, and when baby is ready for feeding number two, you tackle breastfeeding again! But all of that background knowledge is important so that what the nurses are telling you makes sense!
And don’t get discouraged. That first feeding is NEVER what you imagined. The key to remember is that you have never done this. And neither has baby! It is a learning process for both of you! And until your milk comes in (2-7 days after delivery) the baby will only be getting drops of that thick (and ultra loaded with nutrients) colostrum. You and baby will have to work pretty hard to get those liquid gold drops into baby’s belly. This leads to mommy frustration and baby frustration. You get upset because hormones are running rampant and you feel like you are letting your baby down and baby gets frustrated because his/her belly is hungry and the food is not getting there fast enough. It is normal for all to get frustrated. Just try to remember, keep calm and relaxed, keep trying to latch baby, and eventually, baby will calm down, latch, and get enough to be satisfied. It also takes time to figure out what positions work and what don’t work. Trial and error is how you get through those first few days until you get a routine that works. And as baby grows, you have to trial and error along the way to accommodate growth or preference changes.
Like I said above, education is number one followed closely by comfort. The first time, and any time, you try to breastfeed, get comfy first. Make sure you are either seated or laying comfortably (there are many different positions), your arms are propped on pillows or a nursing pillow (boppy), make sure mommy is comfortable BEFORE you try to latch. If you are uncomfortable or trying to do some crazy position and muscles are twitching/shaking, baby can sense that and feel that and will not latch. So make sure that you and baby are both relaxed and comfy before every session! Many of the breastfeeding issues that mommies encounter (such as latch/suck issues) can all be cured with comfort and/or position change. The number one reason why a baby won’t latch is a comfort issue. If you do have a latch/suck/etc problem that is not resolved by comfort or a position change, this is when those lovely nurses, Lactation Consultants, the local La Leche League Rep, or other breastfeeding coaches come in handy. You don’t hear about it, but there are people around that can help! Make some calls and inquiries. If nothing else, call your OBGYN or Pediatrician, they will know where to find some help. Or give a call back into L&D at the hospital; we will answer questions 24/7!!! We can’t make house calls like some of the other agencies, but we are open 24 hours a day for phone calls! And if we can’t answer your question, we will find someone who can!
We all have to make decisions that are best for us and for our children. Obviously feeding preference at birth is a big decision. For some it is a simple decision, for some it takes thought, and for some it is a HUGE decision. Whatever you decide will be the right one. We all know the saying that “breast is best” but bottle feeding is a CLOSE second! You have to do what is right for mommy and baby!
Keep in mind, there are more than two feeding options. Most people see a line drawn in the sand between breast and bottle. This is not the way of the world. There are so many other options. First, you can exclusively bottle feed or exclusively breastfeed. Then, there are the moms who EBF for a set amount of weeks. It may be due to work or it may just be preference at that point to stop breastfeeding and switch to bottle. Then there are the combination feedings. Some new moms have issues (such as nipple cracking…use Lanolin from the first feeding mommies!!!) and they start pumping early. This way baby is getting mommies milk but giving the nipples a rest and time to heal. Some mothers also do this for other reasons (going back to work, don’t like breastfeeding, or they pump to get some REST and some one else can feed baby!). Then there are also supplementing options. Some moms chose to breastfeed and then supplement with formula a certain number of feedings. Like I said, there are a TON more options than just breast or bottle. And you have to find the one that works best for you and baby!
Feeding preference is a decision that every mommy has to make for herself! I hope that this post helps some of you lovely ladies out! I would love to answer any questions you may have or give any help/advice! And if I can’t help you, I can find someone who can! You can always find me on my blog as well http://the-mommy-goods.blogspot.com/ where I talk about breastfeeding, cloth diapers, and other mommy/baby related things!!! I will be starting cloth diaper reviews soon too!!