Despite the many stock images and celebrity photos of breastfeeding, most of us out here in the real world know it can be hard — especially in the beginning. Here are five things new moms should know about breastfeeding.
1. Water is key
Staying hydrated is a must while breastfeeding; not only does water help nursing moms avoid constipation, dizziness, and headaches, but it also helps produce adequate breastmilk. Most adults don’t drink the recommended water totals on a daily basis; there’s no better time than now to start!
So how will you know if you’re drinking enough? First, you’ll avoid feeling thirsty; feeling thirsty exists as your body’s alarm system that it’s already dehydrated. Try to get on a schedule and drink a glass of water every two hours or so. Second, a quick way to check if you’re drinking enough water is to check the color of your pee: light, nearly clear pee means you’re good to go. Dark yellow indicates that you need to step up your water intake.
2. Multiple Approaches Work
The internet and your mom tribe will likely recommend a variety of approaches for any issues you bring up: engorgement, clogged ducts, low production, nipple tenderness, trouble latching, and many others.
Remember: what worked for another mama may not work for you, and that’s okay. Try the approach, but if it doesn’t work for you don’t be discouraged…move on to another approach. Everyone’s body is different and where one momma swears by Fenugreek capsules, they won’t have worked for someone else.
Take a deep breath, don’t be discouraged, and work through your options until you find something that jives for you.
3. Splurge on Breastfeeding Clothing
Breastfeeding can be a messy and sometimes uncomfortable business—especially during those first few weeks. Invest in some stylish and comfy clothes.
Look for well-designed clothes that can be easily manipulated with one hand; odds are you’ll be holding a hungry baby in the other. And with number two above, what line worked for another mama may not work for you, so shop around and try out several brands before deciding which works best for your body.
4. Know Your Rights
As of 2018, it is now (finally) legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states in the United States. Idaho and Utah were two of the last states to legalize breastfeeding in public, and not without some pushback from legislators.
Breastfeeding mothers have protections under the law to feed their baby when he or she is hungry whether they’re at the zoo, in a restaurant, or in a mall. Do not feel (or let anyone else make you feel) as though you need to find a public restroom or out-of-the-way nook to feed your baby. Find a comfortable spot and nurse: it is your right to do so!
5. A Good Latch is the Holy Grail
New moms learn quickly that breastfeeding is a learned skill for both mama and baby…and achieving a good latch is key. Proper positioning can reduce sore nipples and ensure good let down of milk. Research shows that establishing a good latch can impact how long a mother breastfeeds. Whether you can reach out to a knowledgeable friend, a midwife, or a licensed lactation consultant, use experts to help make your breastfeeding experience as rewarding as possible.
Disappointments and frustration will rear their ugly heads during breastfeeding, but sticking with it offers tremendous rewards. Let others share their advice, but remember to navigate your own journey; it’s a journey you and your baby will take together.
Photo Credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock