1. It won’t be easy.
2. It’s not for everyone. Breastfeeding may seem natural but for some, it’s just not possible. Whether it be medical or just personal preference, the glorious thing about parenthood is you get to choose what’s best for you and your baby. That’s ok. Just educate yourself on the right formulas for your baby.
3. Join a Facebook Group. Just remember to be open minded as all Facebook groups (as we know) have extremes. For the most part, it’s an open forum that can be helpful and supportive at 2 am, when your nipples are bleeding, the baby is crying and your husband is snoring beside you. If you need an invite, shoot me an email (krystal at borrowforyourbump.com) and I can add you to some I belong to. Try it out at least. I don’t usually participate as my questions are usually answered by the posts and conversations of others. Most posts will provide links to credible and scientific research (see #4. below).
4. Bookmark Kelly Mom (use it instead of Google). We promise there is an answer to any question about breastfeeding, how long milk lasts at room temperature, average weight for breastfed babies, you name it, KM has an answer.
5. Breast pumps are now required by most health care plans (except grandfathered plans). I was “grandfathered” but luckily had a cousin who let me borrow hers. No milk is transferred through the tubing so don’t be deterred from buying a used option or even renting one if your insurance won’t cover it. Some women have better luck with hospital grade pumps (these can be very expensive so renting this model is usually best). I recommend an electronic/battery powered breast pump (runs anywhere from $200-$400) and a manual one for emergencies (manual pumps are very affordable and start at $30). Just do your research to find the one that is right for you.
6. Invest in a few nursing bras and tanks and at least two hands-free pumping bras (once you get used to the convenience, you won’t ever want to hold those bottles when pumping again)! When nursing and even pumping, it’s best to wear camis and open sweaters or cardigans. Be leery of dresses (except this breastfeeding dress which has a nursing flap).
Also, a nursing cover is great for you private moms when nursing in public AND pumping in the car. If you are one the go, I can guarantee you will have to pump in a car and it’s great to have something loose to cover up with (blankets work but can fall down easily). Trust me when I say that you will have so many things hanging off of you, it’s just nice to have easy access and coverage that you are not constantly adjusting.
7. If you deliver at a hospital or birthing center, a lactation consultant will likely be available to assist you in these first few days (or contact a professional through your local La Leche League). Your milk likely won’t come in for a few days after you have baby but you will need to continue feeding so your baby can get the nutrients of your colostrum. It’s likely your baby won’t latch perfectly and this is key to a successfully breastfeeding journey. It’s going to hurt but it will get easier and luckily, there are many medical professions and breastfeeding support groups who want you to succeed. It’s easier to get it right in the beginning so don’t hesitate to ask a ton of questions.
8. You need support! Your breastfeeding journey will be successful if you have the support of those closest to you. Don’t be discouraged or surprised if you need to educate your loved ones. The recommendations and research have changed over the years so be open minded and respectful to those who many not understand your decision. To someone who hasn’t had a baby, breastfeeding can seem very private, intimate and can make them very uncomfortable. Society has taught us that breasts are sexual so it’s hard to change that perception until you start feeding your baby with the things. As a mom, it’s nothing short of amazing, seeing your baby grow from nourishment from your body. But again, it’s not for everyone (see #1 & #2).
I hope this helps you new mamas out there. Whatever journey you choose, just find the support you need. You are going to do great!!