5 Things that helped me succeed with breastfeeding
I've been breastfeeding Astrid for just over two and a half years! Here's a few things that I attribute to successful breastfeeding.
1) Skin-to-skin contact
We started skin-to-skin right away and still do it a couple years later! I'd often wear a robe and just left it open while she breastfed. You can slide baby into most low-cut stretchy shirts too! Just make sure their heads are out, airways are clear, and that you do this while sitting. If I have a mother ask me for advice on their milk coming in, I always jump to laying together skin-to-skin.
2) No baby hats!
Smelling your newborn's head releases all kinds of good bonding feelings. There's a reason you want to keep kissing that little head! Get a few hats for the cold windy days, but other than that leave that little head bare for kissing and smelling.
3) Keep formula out of the house in the early days.
This is a tough one now that you get unsolicited samples in the mail! That can of formula can be mighty temping at 4 AM when your baby just WON'T SLEEP and the boobs aren't working. Chances are you've got a 24 hour store within ten minutes of you. If you really need formula, you can likely send someone to the store for it. Or take the baby to the store yourself, and maybe that little creature will finally fall asleep from the movement of the car. We donated all the formula samples and coupons we were sent before the baby came, and it helped keep me strong during moments of weakness!
4) Have peers ready to help
Support groups, lactation consultants, doulas, midwives, mom friends, family - all can help you learn to breastfeed. I had a friend offer help, and it took me a couple days before I called on her. She showed up with a basket of eggs and gave a few latching tips - that was the first time that I realized it feels very different when a baby is latched correctly. (Thanks Carli!)
In the early days, you're in a kind of hormone fog. Often you need to hear something from several different sources before it will be understood! We all learn differently... Videos, reading articles, books, infographics, having a friend help you latch, seeing a professional - what works for me might not work for you. So have all these different options ready to go before birthing, and don't be afraid to ask for help! Set your "village" up early.
5) Water and fluids
If you're pregnant for the first time and reading this, lemme tell you - you are going to be FREAKING THIRSTY. My husband would get me a glass of water and ten minutes later I'd be asking for more. He finally set me up with a Camelbak, haha. I didn't have any daily requirements set up - just drink when you feel thirsty.