5 Steps Toward Happier Breastfeeding
1. First and foremost, you must feel secure about your postpartum health. The days and weeks after the birth of your baby are filled with questions surrounding the healing of your body. How much bleeding is too much, how much pain, how much exhaustion...? Your health care provider is your information source - not only for significant health issues like fever or increasing pain - but also to address any concerns about your physical and mental state. Your OB/GYN is your doctor, even after your baby is born. Don’t wait for your “6 week check up” to discuss a symptom or clear up a confusion that you have today.
2. A positive attitude toward breasts and breastmilk helps mothers cope with the good and the not-so-good moments of breastfeeding. Being happy with your breasts may sound silly to some but if your breasts embarrassed you before you gave birth...you are in for a bumpy ride. Your breasts will get bigger and then smaller, hot and then chilled, soft and then hard and all in the same day! Leaking breastmilk is so variable...some mothers leak all the time and some not at all. If you expect your amazing, milk producing breasts to do their work normally...welcome leaking as a part of this life-sustaining endeavor.
3. Count upon support a phone call away. A lactation consultant, La Leche League counselor, or your best friend can be relied upon for their knowledge, wisdom and compassion. Hands-on breastfeeding help either in your home or within the energy of a group of other breastfeeding mothers will help you to get through nipple pain or the never ending feedings and share frustrations and happy solutions through non-judgmental conversation. Enlist a postpartum doula or allow loving family and friends to keep fresh fruit and veggies in the fridge and set up freezer meals ahead of time. Prepare ahead of time for the support you deserve to be happier (and less encumbered by housework) during your postpartum weeks.
4. Design 3 comfortable breastfeeding places to. 1: sit, 2: recline, 3: sleep. When you can anticipate settling into a well-pillowed, well-lighted and well-supplied “cocoon”...an hour spent breastfeeding there will seem like a welcomed respite from the rest of your day. You might be able to breastfeed lying down in your bed for every feeding but will more likely find yourself on the living room sofa or a glider in a corner of the family room, catching some time to feed your hungry baby. Keep your comforting supplies - pillows, a pitcher of beverages and healthy finger foods - next to your “cocoons”. Your breastfeeding will be more enjoyable if you are comfortable in different positions, in different rooms, at different times of the day.
5. Being able to travel lightly with your baby and breastfeed freely as you go on with your life. The mothers who seem happiest to me are those that resume much of their pre-baby daily routine (although not employment outside of the home) within one month after birth. The most common reason that I hear from those moms who remain behind closed doors is...”There are so many things that I need to carry with me when I go out with the baby that it’s easier to stay home”. You can venture outside of your house with nothing more than your baby tied onto you. Go out and walk for 5 minutes. Come home. Still ok? Walk for 5 minutes in the other direction. Easier without the heavy diaper bag, lugging the stroller down the stairs or navigating through doorways, right? Short trips to run 30 minutes worth of errands do not require more than a soft, nylon shoulder bag with 2 diapers, a package of wipes, 2 zip-lock bags and a change of clothes. Weight? Less than a pound. You will feel better with a change of scenery, sunlight and some walking. A sunny bench in your local park might just be the best place to settle in for a lovely, outdoor breastfeeding session.
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