As we all know, breastfeeding has many benefits for the baby and the mother.
Throughout pregnancy, women hear that “breast is best”, and not surprisingly breastfeeding is generally associated with being a good mother, while formula is seen as bad. Mothers’ guilt is real and nearly all women will experience it. Mothers are racked with guilt, feeling that their best isn’t good enough, regardless of what they are doing.
We want to share with you seven things that could help to make breastfeeding a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience.
- Learning The Art of Breastfeeding
For some women, breastfeeding is everything they expected. But for the majority of mothers, breastfeeding is not natural and easy, with many experience difficulties and pain.
Rest assured, you are not alone!
Mothers and babies have to learn how to do it, and even women with previous experience have said they had to re-learn how to do it with each new baby.
A mother once told me that breastfeeding is like learning to drive a car. It’s really difficult at the beginning and you have to think about everything, and once you learnt, you do things automatically.
- Making Adjustments
If you don’t feel you have got the hang of breastfeeding and are in too much pain, ask for a midwife or lactation consultant to observe and help you with your technique (for baby positioning and attachment).
If possible while you are still in hospital - the sooner the better.
Remember, asking for help does not mean you are failing at it. As with everything new we do, it takes a bit of practice and adjustments on your and the baby’s part.
- Keep Breastfeeding and Carry On
You might feel that breastfeeding is tiring, is making you house and baby bound and even stressful. Does this sound familiar? Don’t panic!
Breastfeeding DOES get better and quicker after eight weeks as the baby becomes more efficient at feeding and you and baby get the hang of it.
Keep in mind that breastfed babies will need to be fed more frequently than bottle fed babies, and that during growth spurts, they will eat a lot more often, sometimes even every hour, might be unsettled and sleep less.
- You Are Doing Your Best
It is true that exclusive breastfeeding is the best source of food until the baby is six months old.
However feeding is not one size fits all, and exclusive breastfeeding might not be the right thing for some women for many reasons.
Mothers should be allowed to make their own decisions without feeling guilty or like they are “a bad mother”. At the end of the day, all women do the best they can do for their babies.
Remember - Happy Mother, Happy Baby!
- The Unspoken Truth About Expressing
Are you worried about your milk production and thinking of expressing? Think again!
While it is true that expressing will increase your milk production and that the expressed milk could be used as a top up or alternative to breastfeeding, the amount of expressed milk will rarely reflect your breast milk production.
The pump is just not as effective as the baby, and mothers can’t relax as they “feel like a cow” so they end up getting only very small amounts of milk. It is also important to remember that no pump will ever be able to create the physiological and emotional effects that having a baby to your breast would have.
- Be Kind to Yourself
If possible, try and take a nap every time the baby sleeps.
This will help with your breast milk production, as well as managing your wellbeing and how well you cope with this new phase of your life. After having a baby, it is important to be kinder to yourself and recognise that you are going through some big changes and embracing your identity as a mother.
- Reaching Out For Help and More Information
The first eight weeks are the most challenging, so it is very helpful if you can organise for a family member or friend to help you with the cooking, to clean the house, look after the dog etc.
The more relaxed you are, the better you will be able to cope and enjoy this wonderful if challenging world of motherhood.
If you need breastfeeding support, see a midwife, breastfeeding consultant or your General Practitioner. The websites below offer tips and advice on breastfeeding, and some information on local breastfeeding support networks.
And remember to repeat this mantra: Happy Mother, Happy Baby!