As a first-time mother, you’re most likely already inundated with information of all things baby-related ― from the point of conception, to delivery, to after baby arrives, every detail is exhaustively covered in literature. Not to mention all the different schools of thought from experts, as well as advice from well-meaning friends and family, especially when it comes to the hot-button topic of breastfeeding. But aside from those practical, technical details about breastfeeding, what else do you need to know? Here are some lesser-known breastfeeding tips, centered around your well-being as a mother, to help set you up for breastfeeding success:
Manage your own expectations.
Breastfeeding books often neglect to mention that the experience will not be the same for every mother. It’s often tough and tiring, and requires persistence for it to become a comfortable and natural experience. So as much as you’re hoping for a smooth and easy breastfeeding experience, also be prepared that things may go the other way, and that some perseverance might be required!
Your comfort and well-being is important.
Taking care of yourself is paramount even in those first hazy days of being a mother. When you’re in pain, or extremely fatigued, your patience and tolerance will wear thin and adversely affect nursing initially. So don’t be afraid of taking any step that will help you in becoming more comfortable and to keep going; for example, applying lanolin on cracked and sore nipples, or using nipple shields to help to ease the discomfort.
Take a closer look at environmental issues that may be hard on your baby’s developing body
Fluoridated tap water can be hard on your newborn baby, as can the detergents and chlorine that are used to kill microbes in the water supplies of large towns and cities. If your young infant is especially fussy, and you bathe them in tap water or use it in mixing formula to supplement extra-hungry breastfeeding babies, you may want to look into filtering your water before it reaches the tap. Many experts recommend using whole house water filtration systems to ensure your children drink and bathe in clean water as they grow.
Tag team with your husband or support group.
Basically, remember that you’re not alone in this - enlist help from your husband. For example, infants are often sleepy, and one part of successful breastfeeding is ensuring that your baby suckles at your breasts long enough to stimulate milk flow. Your husband can help to keep baby awake, by gently helping to stroke baby’s back, or placing a damp towel on baby’s cheek. Also, give up the idea of doing it all alone in the early days of nursing, and accept help from your friends and family - or even consider hiring some if resources permit! Instead of being polite, let loved ones help by preparing meals, doing housework or running errands. Having a clean home in particular will go a long way towards giving you a sense of normalcy, and allow you to focus on feeding your baby.
Listen to yourself and your body.
New mums often say, in hindsight, that they wished they had trusted their intuition more. Many hospitals often come with lactation experts, or you might hire your own doula or nanny. Many of these experts and specialists might come schooled with their own usual practices and philosophies. In the initial anxiety to get things right, you might tend to trust experts more than you trust your own instincts. But remember: whoever’s advice you choose to go with, ultimately your instinct as a mother counts too. In fact, in times of doubt, go with what feels right for you - don’t discount those intuitive nudges! After all, it is your baby, and your body. Trust yourself!
Don’t forget about yourself
Lost in the craziness of trying desperately to feed your new baby is the fact that your health and well-being are important. You will feel your best and have the most staying power when you are taking time whenever possible to rest and recharge. Pamper yourself with a day at the spa while a loved one cares for your baby. And don’t neglect your hygeine. Your baby will mirror your health in a way that you may not fully understand at this point. Perform your daily makeup and primping rituals whenever you can in order to maintain your normal positive attitude. Washing, combing, and brushing should go without saying. But it is also important to keep your skin healthy and clear so you feel great.
And above all, if ever you need encouragement, simply focus on the invaluable bond that you’re developing with your baby through nursing. Here’s wishing you all the best, and happy nursing!
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