Breastfeeding fell out of fashion in the United States several generations ago but today’s medical science community seems to pump out an endless stream of new findings that emphasize the lifelong value of nursing one’s baby. Breastfeeding benefits mom’s health as well as her baby’s.
Nursing a baby is like any other new endeavor - it takes time to get the hang of it. This is true for mom and for baby. The first few days - or weeks - of trial and error can be frustrating, painful, and fraught with confusion as mother and baby learn how to communicate with each other.
Here are 10 ways to make breastfeeding easier on a new mother. Her circle of supporting friends and family can help by keeping these tips in mind, too.
- Celebrate the Bonding: Babies grow up awfully fast so enjoy this intimate time together. It’ll be over sooner than you realize.
- Seek Professional Guidance: Many hospitals, birthing centers, and OB-GYN offices keep lactation consultants in the loop. Ask for a reference and give her a call.
- Try Not to Stress: Stress makes everything more difficult to cope with and babies feel their mothers’ stress. When you get stressed, so does the baby.
- Delegate Chores: Nursing takes time. Assign chores to other members of the household and enlist the assistance of helpful friends and extended family members. Your time is already taken.
- Think One Feeding at a Time: Mother and baby will soon settle into a breastfeeding routine but, in the meantime, don’t get overwhelmed thinking the beginning frustrations will last forever. Think one feeding at a time and the next one will be easier.
- Set a Short-Term Goal: Many breastfeeding mothers describe the first six weeks as the hardest. That’s not very long, in the grand scheme of things. Do your best to continue nursing for six weeks and then reassess the commitment.
- The Baby Knows: Breastfeeding instructions often focus on the clock - 15 minutes in the morning, so many minutes per breast, and other such time constraints. Babies can’t tell time but they know when they’re hungry and when they’ve had enough. Follow the baby’s lead; the baby knows.
- Stay Hydrated: Milk is mostly water so drink plenty of water to keep mom healthy. Sip water steadily all day instead of in big gulps at intervals. And remember that all liquids are not water. Your baby needs you to drink lots of water right now.
- The Sooner You Start, the Better It Works: A woman’s body is made to take immediate control over nourishing her newborn baby. The sooner this natural process starts, the better. Nursing does the obvious for the baby but it also helps a woman recover faster from childbirth.
- Don’t Let One Bad Day Win: Breastfeeding will be smooth sailing most days but there will be some bad ones. Don’t throw in the towel when one bad day makes a beautiful experience bothersome.