I’m an old hat at nursing now, having been doing it for nearly 3 years non-stop. But those earlier days could have been a lot easier with hindsight.
1. Breastfeeding is natural, but a learned skill.
If someone had told me, before I started nursing that while breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, it’s something that mommies and babies need to practise at together, I would have spent so many less hours sat in a rocking chair crying because I thought I was doing it wrong.
Once we learnt how to breastfeed, life became very easy – but I didn’t know the learning phase is also as normal and natural, as the babies who latch on like they’re old hands.
2. Not all advice is equal
Well meaning family, friends, midwifes, and random passing strangers all had nursing advice to give. I was told everything from “You’re holding him wrong” to “He’s got a harelip” to “His attachment is poor” to “just cuddle him, he’ll figure it out for himself” all the way to someone bodily handling my breast and baby, and forcing them together.
As a new mom, I was wearing my training wheels still, and hadn’t developed the ovaries of steel I sport today. If someone offered me advice today, I’d probably smile serenely and ignore them – or correct them if their advice was inaccurate.
Good advice comes from qualified lactation consultants they are the only formally trained people who can give practical breastfeeding advice.
3. Drink lots of water
This was actually sage advice from my Grandmother, when she saw I was struggling a little - water helped maintain my supply, and helped me feel well overall.
4. Breastfeeding stimulates after pains
Your baby feeding tells your body to make your uterus contract, to help get back to it’s original shape. The pains are more intense with each subsequent child, as your uterus has more contracting to do I personally would loved to have been informed of this fact before embarking on my nursing journey!!
5. Pregnancy books aren’t all you should read
I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled across a good book while I was pregnant with my first child, that told me that breastfeeding was important to read up on. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know now how wonderful, healthy, and amazing it is.
As pregnant moms to be, it’s so easy to forget that after the birth, there’s a whole little life form to raise, we tend to be so involved in the 9 month journey we’re on. Breastfeeding might slip by the wayside as an afterthought.
Learning as much about nursing as you possibly can while pregnant, really sets you up for a successful breastfeeding relationship – as you will know when you need to ask for help, and hopefully trust yourself more.
There are some fantastic books on Breastfeeding, and my favourites would include “Breastfeeding Naturally” by the Australian Breastfeeding Association “Well Adjusted Babies” by Jennifer Barnham has a great section on breastfeeding in it, and The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding published by the La Leche League.
6. The Baby Weight Charts are designed for bottle fed babies
Nothing struck fear into my new mother heart like the words “Oh, he hasn’t gained much this week”
Nothing destroyed my confidence in nursing more than worrying if my child was “getting enough” – then luckily I met a wonderful lactation consultant who pointed out that the averages for baby weight gain are based on bottle fed babies.
Breastfed babies tend to be (but are not always) leaner and weigh less. Low Supply is such a rare condition that is over-diagnosed, based on a baby’s weight gain.
Before assuming you have a supply issue, please seek out the advice of a qualified lactation consultant – as they’re the only ones who can truly give you sound breastfeeding advice.
7. The breastfeeding journey ends too soon
Oh boy, does it end too soon… I had to wean my first son when he was 2.5 as I was tandem nursing, pregnant, and hideously painful nipples.
My second son weaned much too early in my view at 18 months old – as my milk has changed recently to colostrum. I’m hoping with all my heart he might want to take up nursing again when his new sibling arrives – but the journey is his. (Sad as that may be for his mommy!)
Are you after more breast feeding resources? We’ve got plenty!
Photo by Fiona Rogerson at www.evokeart.com.au (yes, it’s Me!!)