My breastfeeding do’s and don’ts:
• Whatever you do, DO NOT…I repeat DO NOT listen to the nurses at the hospital who try to push formula while your milk comes in. Colostrum is THE BEST thing for your baby and though it will be painful, difficult, exhausting & very challenging let your baby suckle all day and night if need be to stimulate your milk.
• Colostrum is ALL your baby needs until your milk “comes in,” so please be patient and work though the initial pain and frustration. It WILL get easier…I PROMISE!
• Caving in and giving formula in the hospital before your milk even has a chance to come in, is setting yourself up for failure.
• Tell the nurses ‘Thank you very much,’ but you’re sticking it out and that you’re 1000% committed to breastfeeding. Give it a chance before jumping to formula! ;-)
• Ask to see a lactation consultant in the hospital twice a day if you need to. Tell them you want to use the hospital grade pump to further stimulate your milk.
• Either rent a hospital grade pump to take home with you or buy a very high quality double electric pump. (I had great success with ‘Medela pumps.’)
• Once you’re home, if your milk supply is low, pump after each nursing session to increase your milk supply.
• Don’t forget that the first month or so is THE most important, as that’s when your milk supply is being established. So this is the time to hunker down and NURSE, NURSE, NURSE.
FEED ON DEMAND! Here’s why:
• Please, whatever you do, DO NOT put your baby on a nursing schedule. Feed ON DEMAND!!!
• Beware of the results; you’ll have a very happy baby and simultaneously boost your milk supply! )
• If your milk supply is on over-drive, no need to pump more than once a day. I always recommend pumping at least once a day in order to start a reserve “freezer stash”.
• Invest in a deep freezer and pump a lot before your baby starts solids
• (the first six months is when you naturally produce the most milk before your baby starts solids)
• Working Moms — In order to build up your freezer stash and have milk for a year to come or if you plan to go back to work, pump, pump, pump!
• Milk can be stored in a regular freezer for 4-5 months and in a deep freezer for up to a year. I use the ‘Medela milk storage bags’ and labeled them with date and ounces.
• Be sure to freeze in varying increments because once you defrost you cannot reuse or reheat. I stored in 2oz, 3 oz, 4oz, 5oz and 6oz increments.
• Be careful of blocked milk ducts if you plan to try to sleep through the night. Xander is 11 months old and I still haven’t night weaned him for a couple of reasons: a) to keep him happy and well fed b) to keep my supply up. He goes to sleep at 6:30pm, I pump at 11pm before bed to add to my freezer stash and then he wakes at about 3am to nurse.
• It’s also a time of bonding for us when I go in and cuddle him in the middle of the night. I love our middle of the night feedings as they are so peaceful and tender and all about cuddling, love and true nurturing.
• Your baby will not want to wake up in the middle of the night forever, so my thought is to enjoy it while it lasts.
• Look at things positively instead of negatively. If you see it as a bonding time instead of a dreadful duty you will wake up happier.
• Please don’t make the mistake of having your hubby do a middle of the night feeding while you sleep. This is a sure fire way to lose your supply and get blocked ducked and/or mastitis.
• This goes for any time of the day your baby gets a bottle. Please have your nanny tell you the exact time she’s giving your baby a bottle and pump at that exact time so you’re on the same cycle. I can not STRESS how important it is to be on the same cycle.
• If you get blocked ducts and engorgement freeze cabbage leaves and put them inside your bra for instant relief. Our freezer was stocked with frozen cabbage for months!!
• Whenever your baby gets a bottle you must pump!
• I still nurse Xander on demand and believe it’s always the best way. At eleven months sometimes he wants to nurse after four hours and sometimes after two, but I always take his lead. It’s far less rigid and more organic and natural to allow your baby to let you know when they’re hungry. I do pretty much always offer him the breast every three hours though and he lets me know whether he wants it.
Co-Sleeping helps build milk supply and is a great bonding experience!
I believe in co-sleeping for the first six months. There are many ways to co-sleep. There are co-sleeping attachments for your bed or co-sleeping bassinets you can put in the middle of your bed. Or you can go the old fashioned route and just have your baby snuggled up against you, with the covers pulled down of course.
• I tried them all and eventually when Xander was 2.5 months old went the route of snuggling. He slept nestled in my breasts for six beautiful months and it was an amazing experience. Sure, I didn’t leave my house at night for that time or have plans with friends or see a movie or do anything but nurse and be with my baby but nothing can ever take that away from us. Hands down I will do it again with our next baby.
• Six months is a perfect time to transition your baby to the crib. By this point, the baby will be on pureed solids and will be able to sleep longer stretches and will not be too overly attached to co-sleeping.
• Yes, of course it will be a slightly difficult transition, but co-sleeping for the first six months is invaluable for your milk supply and for meeting baby’s needs by easily nursing all night long without having to get out of bed. —It’s easier on mom and baby!
• I also use ‘More Milk Plus’ supplements and ‘Fenugreek’ when needed. They can really help to boost your supply but must be taken regularly.
• Of course, eat oatmeal EVERY day and drink a dark beer at night, these are both GREAT for your milk supply. Limit the beer to one though.
And lastly, words of encouragement: DON’T GIVE UP!!
• Breastfeeding is not without challenges but it is SO worth it! I had severe blocked ducts, engorgement & mastitis. I had to go on antibiotics twice.
• I had a lactation consultant come to the house three times to help relieve my engorgement and help educate me on what to do. I did a ton of research. I refused to give up.
I promise there is another side to the madness at the beginning and it does get easy and becomes second nature. It will be something you will always fondly remember and cherish and something no one else can give to your baby. This is what we were meant to do as mothers. There is simply no comparison to a mothers milk. It will make your baby healthier, stronger & smarter. Just say YES to breastfeeding!!!! xoxo