Breastfeeding a newborn is a beautiful way to bond, connect and nourish your baby. There are many benefits of breastfeeding. What aren’t often talked about are the struggles that can happen during the first few weeks postpartum. As you learn about your baby and your baby learns about you, there are some things that can ease the difficulties that may arise. Collecting these items and organizing support before your baby arrives is ideal.
Create a Breastfeeding Station
There are things we have found helpful for the breastfeeding mama to easily have on hand. This can be a basket that has the following items available and easy to access when you nurse your baby.
Good Nipple Cream: A good nipple cream is essential to help relieve discomfort of sore, cracked nursing nipples. This can be applied before and after breastfeeding and anytime in between. We love Motherlove Nipple Cream.
Nursing Pads: No nursing mom wants to face the embarrassment of wet spots on her shirt from milk leakage, but it can happen to even the most prepared woman. The chances are reduced if you use breast pads, which when used properly can prevent uncomfortably soaked clothing. Choose from washable or disposable types, both of which can keep you comfortable and dry.
Gel Pads: Medela makes a wonderful product called Tender Care Hydrogel Pads. They quickly soothe sore nipples and act as a barrier between your clothes and your skin so they don't rub and irritate further.
Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is important while breastfeeding. Keeping water nearby during breastfeeding is a must! Becoming dehydrated can decrease your milk supply and also make you feel tired. It is estimated that over 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Easy Snacks: While breastfeeding you need about an additional 400 to 500 calories a day — to keep up your energy.
To get these extra calories, opt for nutrient-rich choices, such as a slice of whole-grain bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter, a medium banana or apple, and 8 ounces of greek yogurt. Try to have protein with each snack to help balance your blood sugar which in turn will help maintain your energy and mood.
Cloth or Small Towel: Have this handy for when your baby spits up or you need to catch milk leaking.
A Good Book: Reading is one of my favorite things to do while nursing. With my first baby, I finished many books in our marathon nursing sessions from the rocking chair. Clever pillow arrangement allows your hands to be free, or think about a book holder. Set up a little table right next to your rocking chair, have a basket of snacks on hand, set the book in a book holder, and you only need one hand to turn the page! You can also read in the side-lying nursing position – just prop the book on a pillow behind baby.
Support System – Good Support is Essential
Educate Your Partner: It is important for your partner to be educated about the ins and outs of breastfeeding so that he or she can help you in your breastfeeding journry.
Breastfeeding Friends: If you have friends that are breastfeeding, surround yourself with them. Keep their phone numbers handy for questions and encouragement.
Your Mom: Sometimes mothers can be a great support during breastfeeding, especially if they breastfed themselves. However, don’t feel guilty if you need to tell your mom that you would rather not talk about the subject if you find it stressful.
At Health Foundations, our lactation consultants and postpartum nurses are here to assist you with any and all questions you have related to breastfeeding your new baby. We also have a group called Mama’s Milk Hour that meets every Thursday at 2:30. Our group is led by a lactation consultant and is a wonderful way to connect with other moms. This group is free and open to the public.
If you are pregnant and just beginning your search for prenatal care, contact Health Foundations to schedule a free consultation with a midwife and a tour of our beautiful Birth Center. We are here to serve you at every stage.