5 Things every breastfeeding mom needs to hear
Most new moms will experience some breastfeeding difficulties in the early days. Getting latching right and figuring out your baby’s needs are big tasks. Even after overcoming the initial hitches, the early weeks may be filled with many questions. How do you know your baby is getting enough? Is it normal for baby to feed this often? Why is baby restless and fussy? Is your milk nutritious enough? Should your baby not be sleeping better by now?
No wonder many new moms give up on breastfeeding. You should know that some of these difficulties are caused by how people think babies should be behaving. Sometimes your baby is just being a baby, and the challenges will pass as time does. Other times there really are problems that you need to address.
Whether feeding is going really well, or whether you are really struggling, below are five tips that every new mom will benefit from.
- If you are not sure, get help
No matter what you are struggling with, if you find and address the problem early on, the long-term effects will be a lot smaller. Many moms do not realize that they can see a lactation consultant, or they may be concerned about the cost. They often end up taking advice from their doctor, from friends and family, or from the internet. These sources may not always provide accurate information. Read more on when to see a lactation consultant, or contact us for a referral to a consultant in your area.
2. Forget everything you’ve read about routine
At least for the first few weeks. Baby is getting used to life on earth, and you are getting used to being a mom. These are probably amongst the biggest adaptations both of you will ever make. It is not the best time to worry about introducing schedules.
The truth is small babies are not yet able to manipulate you or to learn bad habits. If they are crying, want to feed or want to be held they are simply showing you their need at the time. If you fulfill this need your baby will feel safe and will eventually learn to trust that you will be there. Don’t listen to those telling you that you are spoiling baby. Take things day-by-day and let your baby set the pace. Understanding normal newborn feeding patterns will save you a lot of worry and stress.
3. It’s OK if you do nothing else
I realise that this is easier said than done, especially for moms who have other children as well. But the crux of the matter is that it takes 24 hours a day to care for a newborn. One can very easily find yourself still wearing your pajamas by the time dad gets home from work.
In the olden days when people had extended families this phase of life probably looked different. So cut yourself some slack, and see your day-job (OK, we know you take the night shift as well!) as caring for baby. If this is all you do you still deserve a pat on the back.
4. Is your support network supportive?
This is a hard fact to face. But if your mother/sister/friend did not breastfeed her own children, she may not be the best person to take breastfeeding advice from. This is true even if she is supportive in principle.
Try to line up at least one support person who breastfed her own children. She will have more understanding of the challenges that you are facing, and are less likely to make you feel anxious over what is simply normal behaviour.
5. Don’t blame breastfeeding for all parenting problems
No matter what the problem, people tend to blame breastfeeding. If your baby is fussy or not sleeping well, the first question asked is whether he is getting enough milk. If your baby is cramping, your diet will be blamed.
The truth is there are many reasons why babies cry, or cramp or wake up frequently. Moms are even sometimes blamed for breastfeeding and causing all these problems. Although breastfeeding difficulties can sometimes contribute (which is why you need to seek help early if you struggle), mostly this is not the case. Your breast milk remains by far the superior feeding option for your baby. Don’t let anyone steal your confidence on providing for your baby.
A last word
Having a baby is tough, maybe tougher than you anticipated. But hang in there; these early weeks will pass, and eventually you will get the hang of it. Eventually breastfeeding will start yielding the joy that you were probably hoping it would. Just push through and don’t give up!