1.Do not allow small setbacks to force you to quit.
I had to supplement with formula for three weeks when Garrett was a newborn, due to jaundice and poor weight gain. I have talked to other moms who had to do the same and subsequently quit breastfeeding. It’s a common myth, I’ve found, that babies can not/should not/will not eat both formula and breastmilk, and maybe that’s true in some cases but it shouldn’t prevent you from trying. As long as you keep your supply up, you should be able to return to exclusively breastfeeding.
2. Stock up on supplies. Be ready for anything.
While it’s true that all you really need to breastfeed is boobies, there’s quite a few things that make it a lot easier and a lot more comfortable. A nursing pillow, nursing pads, a good nursing bra or tank tops, lanolin, ice packs, and ibuprofen are just a few things you may want to have on hand, especially in the early days. The last thing you’re going to want to do is make a trip to the store when you’re exhausted, sore and you have a hungry baby to tend to.
3. Invest in a good breast pump.
This is especially vital if you intend to return to work. A portable pump with ample suction is critical for maintaining supply when you’re away from your baby. If you can’t afford one of the higher end pumps, most hospitals rent pumps for a very reasonable rate. (Where I gave birth, it’s just $1 a day, plus a deposit.) Even if you’re not going to work, if your baby has difficulty latching, you may need to pump in the early days to keep your milk moving.
4. Save every extra ounce.
Even if you’re only able to pump an ounce, KEEP IT. Breastmilk is liquid gold and every little bit you can feed your baby is beneficial. Be sure to research proper storage techniques. With that being said…
5. Research, research, research!
Knowing the benefits of breastfeeding and what awesome things you’re doing for you baby will only help to encourage you to keep going.
6. Find a breastfeeding buddy.
Two of my IRL friends and several of my online friends had babies at the same time that I did, and we all breastfed our newborns. Knowing that I wasn’t alone made things so much easier. Plus, it’s nice to have someone to talk to when you’re awake feeding your child at 3am.
7. Have a strong support system.
This goes along with #6, but it’s not just about having a friend. It’s getting all of the members of your family on board with your mission. My partner was completely supportive of breastfeeding our son from Day 1. He helped me position the baby, learned what a good latch was and looked like, learned how to store and handle breastmilk, and refilled my water cups. I also follow International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Nancy Holtzman on twitter (@nancyholtzman) and she has been my lifesaver. Any question I have, she always has an answer.
8. Constantly remind yourself why you’re doing this.
The appeal of having Daddy get up and feed the baby a bottle of formula in the middle of the night is strong when you haven’t slept in weeks, so remind yourself why you’re breastfeeding. Whether it be for the nutrition, the price (formula is expensive! breastmilk is free!), the bonding, the weight loss, or the convenience… Whatever your personal reason for breastfeeding is, keep reminding yourself.
9. Maintain your supply
No, you really can’t have Daddy feed the baby a bottle while you sleep through the night. Even if you have a bottle pumped. Your body needs to be told to keep making milk, and that works by moving the milk. (Either by nursing your baby or by pumping) The more milk you move, the more milk you’ll make. A good way of increasing your supply is to pump immediately after you nurse your supply. There are also supplements that you can take to increase your supply if needed.
10. Take care of yourself
Going back to sleeping through the night while Daddy feeds the baby a bottle. Here’s another reason. If your body is used to making milk all night and you don’t move that milk, you’re going to end up engorged. Which means you’ll wake up with boobies as hard as rocks and you’ll likely be covered in your own milk. Plus, you risk plugged milk ducts or worse. So don’t do it. Enjoy those late night moments with your baby. They won’t last forever. Also, make sure you stay hydrated, eat when you’re hungry (this is not the time to diet. If you eat properly, you’ll likely lose weight just from breastfeeding) and keep taking your prenatal vitamins.
11. Set goals
Maybe you just want your baby to get that precious colostrum or maybe you want to nurse for the whole first year (as recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics) Whatever your intentions are, set a goal and stick to it.
12. Make it work for you
Do whatever you need to do to make breastfeeding easy and convenient for you. For instance, if you’re not comfortable nursing in public, make your trips short enough that you won’t risk engorgement and bring a pumped bottle. Whatever your issues are, there’s always a way to accommodate things to make it work.
Breast is best, but it isn’t easy. I hope your find these tips helpful and share them with your current and prospective nursing mama friends.