If we can and we choose to do it, breastfeeding can be wonderful. The liquid gold a mother provides to her baby is not just milk to satisfy hunger. Breast milk is an inheritance for the rest of baby’s life. It is a powerful healer for a woman’s body. And it is an act of sustainability towards the planet. Breastfeeding is much more than milk.
Here are the practices that have helped me succeed in breastfeeding.
No stress, please.
Breastfeeding is hard. It can be uncomfortable, requires dedication, time and, at the beginning, even some blood and tears. The mother should protect herself to the fullest from outside stress.
- Always remember it’s YOUR baby and it’s YOUR body. Keep in mind that all the criticism that may raise around, it’s not about you. Judgement will always be there, if you want to nurse, or if you don’t; if you already stopped nursing a baby or if you are still nursing a toddler. If you nurse in public, or if you cover your baby’s face on a hot day. It’s a social phenomenon, nothing personal. You are doing your best.
- Do not focus on how far you should go, but cherish how far you have already come.
- Get away from digits. Your baby’s well-being, happiness and development reveal so much more than the ounces / ml that you pump.
Fuel your body.
Take good care of your body, and your milk will flow.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. My favorite are: oats (all about good nutrients!), nuts (healthy calories) and avocado (the good fats). And, of course, treat yourself with a lactation cookie (I like to make them myself, here’s the recipe).
- Don’t get thirsty. You need to keep hydrated, so a bottle of water or a lactation tea along the way is always a good idea. I love this tea (I used it every time I felt a decrease in my milk supply, and it always got better!)
- Exercise. Low impact exercise improves mother’s health and helps with emotional well-being, keeping those baby blues away. I like to take a walk and get some fresh air with my baby.
Make it cozy
The more comfortable you and your baby are, the better your experience will be.
- At home, create a nursing space. It can be a glider, nursing rocker or your bed. Make it comfy (smooth light and relaxing scents) with everything you need at easy access (nursing pads, water, and nipple ointment);
- A nursing pillow is a must have for me! Specially in the beginning when our body is still sore and our back hurts, a little support is so welcome. You will be able to reuse it for baby tummy time and baby supported seating. My favorite.
- When in public spaces, if you prefer some privacy I would recommend nursing shirts (I love these) and a nursing cover (I use this in so many different ways and it has been so useful).
Ease the discomfort
Nursing is supposed to be an act of bonding and connection with your baby so let’s dribble that pain away.
- A nipple cream can help you with quick relief in those first days. This is the one that works for me.
- Thermopads are a life saver. Before nursing, I heat them and use to relief plugged ducts and stimulate milk flow. After nursing, I use them cold to reduce breast swelling and any pain. These are what I use.
- Any persistent pain, continuously sore breasts or flu-like symptoms, please do not ignore and call your doctor. There are several conditions that may require medication.
Finally, enjoy the journey. Soon your baby will be going to elementary school, graduating from college and raising her own kids. Enjoy the way your baby stares at you while you are nursing her, enjoy the unique connection you are building. You definitely give more than milk, you are nourishing love for your’s child entire life.
Disclaimer: This article is based on my personal experience and is not meant to substitute medical advice – if you have any concerns, contact your physician or lactation consultant immediately.