I have a bit of experience in this area because I have nursed all of my three children until past their first birthdays. In fact I'm still nursing my sweet Lydia, who turned two last month.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I had never known anyone that had breastfed their children but I knew that it was better for babies than formula so I thought I'd give it a try and see what happened. I never dreamed that I would not only nurse my children, but do it for an extended period of time AND become a complete advocate of breastfeeding. It has truly amazing benefits, which is to be expected because breast milk was designed by God and He knows what is best for us! If you are unaware of some of the perks of nourishing your child this way, here are ten reasons why you should choose breastfeeding.
I do know that some women genuinely aren't able to breastfeed and that others simply choose not to for their own reasons, and trust me when I say that I do not judge anyone in this area. However, I do like to encourage women who want to or are breastfeeding and having difficulties or have little support.
So, what are my top ten tips for nursing mothers?
1. Invest in a good nursing pillow.
I have owned three: a Boppy, and two from Leachco. I didn't really have a preference between the two brands. Nursing pillows are great for support while you are feeding your child. Sometimes, your arm is going to want a break! They aren't just for infants either! I STILL use mine with Lydia and she's two!
Both styles that I've owned were equally useful, but the Leachcos have velcro straps that are good for holding a baby still when you give them time in the floor.
They also have other uses, like helping eager siblings hold their new sister or brother,
or providing a cuddled-in-the-arms style resting place for little ones who like to feel like they are being held while sleeping.
If I could have just one thing to aid in my breastfeeding journey, it would be a nursing pillow!
2. Invest in a good cover ----or not
I have written on my views on modesty and breastfeeding in the past. I don't believe that every woman NEEDS a cover, but I do believe that a woman should be discreet when she does feed her child. If you are the type that would prefer to use a cover (like me) you can get by only using light receiving blankets BUT your child will reach an age when their curiosity will get the best of them and they will positively insist on trying to pull that blanket OFF so that they can see the world around them! That's why I really preferred my Udder Cover because it had a strap that hooked around my neck so that it couldn't be removed by baby AND it had a little peek a boo hole so baby and Mommy can still peer in or out at each other. Some other brands that I know women I know have enjoyed are Bebe Au Lait and Leachco with its Cuddle U cover. Particularly crafty moms can even make their own covers.
3. Purchase a tube of lanolin cream for soreness and cracking
Whether you are nursing your first child or your fifth, the first few weeks of breastfeeding include an adjustment period for your breasts and nipples. It can be sore. It can actually be pretty painful. All the moisture on this sensitive area from your baby's mouth and breast milk can cause cracking and bleeding. By applying a natural lanolin cream to the area before and between nursing sessions, these things can either be prevented or soreness and pain can be alleviated until your breasts become used to feeding. I prefer the HPA Lanolin from Lansinoh which is endorsed by the La Leche League.
4. Stay Hydrated!!!
I'm going to say this again because it is that important. Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and nutrients from your body and it can make you very fatigued if you aren't careful. Nursing will make you extra thirsty by instinct, but make sure that you don't ignore your body's signals and you drink, drink, and drink lots of water and fluids!
5. Before every nursing session, double check to make sure you have your book, the remote, your snack/drink before you sit down!
This one seems a bit silly, but if I told you all the countless times that I settled down in the chair or on the bed and got my little one latched on and only THEN realized that I left my book sitting across the room out of reach or my glass sitting on the kitchen counter after I poured it, I could fill a book. Unlatching a ravenous baby is possible, but do it one time and you'll know why I chose instead to just sit there thirsty or bored if I was forgetful. :P
6. Get support!
If you're family and friends are supportive of your breastfeeding decision, then thank the Lord for blessing you! Seriously. There are many women who deal with intrusive comments, suggestions, and criticisms from even close family members and it makes their nursing relationship stressful. Sometimes, it even causes women to give up or wean before they and their child are ready. If your friends and family are not supportive you CAN find others who will be there to encourage you! Find a local chapter of the La Leche League or another breastfeeding support group. Ask around. I believe that all hospitals equipped with a Labor and Delivery unit either employ or have resources to find lactation consultants. You may even check with the local health department. The one here even has a breastfeeding support group that meets monthly. You can also join forums filled with women who are full of knowledge and support. Try these:
La Leche League Mother-to-Mother Forums
Mothering.com Breastfeeding Forum
I'm not going to lie or sugar coat it. The first month of breastfeeding is H.A.R.D. for most women, including me. Feedings are time consuming and you might not know how to get your baby to latch correctly or they may not want to latch properly at all. It hurts at first. You'll be tired. Sometimes you will really truly feel like a walking milk machine. But it is all so very worth it in the end and the difficult times will pass. That's why it is so vital to have other people to help you if you need it! Don't give up!
This one is particularly of importance while your baby is exclusively nursing. Once they start solids, it does get better! I know this can be a hard one if you have more than one child or if you are like me and feel guilty about all the things you "should" be doing instead of taking a nap, but like I mentioned before, your body is working HARD to produce that mama milk for your wee one. In order to maintain a good supply, your body will need to rest. Breastfeeding WILL make you drowsy at times because it releases hormones associated with sleepy time(melatonin, I believe). Take a nap! Rest your eyes for ten minutes! Kick back n the recliner while your other children read or even *gasp* watch a short television show. Replenish yourself for your own good and for your baby!
8. Don't Wean Until You and Your Baby are Ready
That's right. I said it. Besides your husband, no one else in the whole wide world has the right to pressure you or lecture you into weaning your child. No matter how many rude comments, old wives' tales, or funny looks other people may give you, you do what is best for YOU and YOUR CHILD. That may mean weaning at 6 months or at 3 years. The bottom line is it is not anyone else's decision. There are so many benefits to extended nursing that people (
9. Buy a Quality Breast Pump
This one is intentionally towards the bottom of the list because while I think it is a good tip, depending on how many children you have, how experienced you are, or other variables (do you leave your child in daycare or with babysitters often? Are you prone to mastitis? Do you need to increase your supply, etc) you may not even need a breast pump. I used mine for my first child for about the first three months and never touched it again except for once when I had a clogged duct when my second child was small. My children were always with me when they were small enough to need frequent nursing sessions and I've been blessed with an abundant milk supply, so I simply didn't need a pump. BUT if you think you are going to be using one on a regular basis, I highly, highly recommend Medela brand pumps. I've used a manual one and a small handheld electric one, but by far the most comfortable to use was my double electric pump.
10. Cherish this time with your child
No matter the length of your nursing relationship, it is a special time that will bond you to your child in such an amazing way. Spending that time holding your baby, cuddling them, stroking their little downy heads, all the while knowing that it is your body supplying their nourishment is something that is better experienced than explained. It is a gift from God. It can be hard, but it is oh-so-worth-it and it flies by faster than you can imagine. One day you'll think back fondly of the sweet nicknames your child came up with to call their nursing time (my oldest called it "nigh-nigh", my son called it "wuh," and my youngest calls it "nursies"), the times when you watched your toddler do acrobatic moves while still attached to you (trust me on this one), or the times when the only thing that would calm a child with a boo boo was a nurse from Mommy and you'll get wistful. Fleeting moments. Treasure them.
What's your best tip for nursing mothers?
This post is also shared with:
Growing Home, Raising Homemakers, Works for Me Wednesday, Top Ten Tuesday,Deep Roots at Home, Far Above Rubies, Women Living Well A Mama's Story, Raising Arrows, The Better Mom, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, and Far Above Rubies