Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Five Ways to Make Your Breastfeeding Experience More Positive

World breastfeeding week ends today.

I have breastfed my three kids for a combined total of thirty-one months. Almost three years.

While I am one of those people that really love breastfeeding, for the most part, it definitely comes with its ups and downs.

This far into breastfeeding, I wanted to share a bit of my journey, and a few words that might help a mom struggling with hers. I won't be sharing breastfeeding tips exactly, I am not a lactation consultant, and there is plenty of great information out there from people that are.

But here are some of the ways I try to think about breastfeeding that have made it pretty successful for us.

1. I trust my body.

With Jerome, I was the most worried about production and latch. I was a new mom, with a very tiny newborn, and I wanted to make sure we had a successful breastfeeding journey.

It went a lot less smoothly than it could have.

For the others, I have been a lot more laidback, and overall, this has made the entire experience more natural.

I think, statistically, there are very few woman who really cannot produce enough milk for their baby. 

With Jerome, there were so many times I worried my milk was drying up. I would feel like he wasn't getting enough so I would pump, just to check how much I could get. This only caused me to worry more than I needed to - especially since pumped milk is not an accurate measure of milk supply.

I think this is when a lot of moms offer formula, worried their babies will fail to thrive. And obviously, this comes from the very best of intentions.

However, the best way to produce more milk is to let your baby nurse.

The emptier your breasts, the faster your milk production will be, this is why babies know to cluster-feed.

Our bodies, like the bodies of other mammals, and most every mother throughout history, were designed to create milk to sustain our babies.

Just as we need to trust our bodies for a positive birth experience, we need to trust our bodies for a positive breastfeeding experience.

2. I breastfeed as soon as I can after my babies are born.

For Jerome, this was shortly after I was out of the tub and skin-to-skin with him in the hospital bed. For the other two, it was before the cord had even been clamped.

Ideally, the success of your breastfeeding journey starts within that first hour of your baby's life. This is when it is so beneficial to connect with your baby, to help both of you recover from birth, and to jumpstart your baby's feeding reflexes and milk production.

3. Breastfeeding takes a lot of patience.

When Jerome was in his first few months, he would nurse for an hour at a time because he was such a drowsy nurser. He would eat a little and then fall asleep and I would have to completely undress him in order to wake him up.

Ignatius, our third, plumped up really quickly because he cluster-fed all the time. We spent a lot of time sitting on the couch.

In every breastfeeding story, there has to be a lot of patience on mama's part.

Breastfeeding takes time, it requires a certain amount of slowing down and (for most women) sitting down until baby is satisfied. And for busy moms, this can be really difficult.

Whether you have a baby who likes to snack, or one that falls asleep at the breast. Whether you have a baby who just seems to need the security of being snuggled up next to mom, or one that seems to eat a regular amount, it all takes patience.

4. I watch my baby, not the clock.

In other words, I follow my baby's cues. Even if it feels like he just ate and shouldn't be hungry.

If it's not a diaper, if he isn't wanting some time to move and stretch on his own, if he isn't settling down for a sleep, he is either hungry or needs the comfort of being at the breast.

I nurse as often, and for as long, as my baby needs me to. Full babies are happy, and healthy, babies, and that is what it's all about.

I trust that my baby knows what he needs.

5. I use breastfeeding as a chance to connect with my baby

“the child will receive not only the food to satisfy his hunger but also the loving presence of the mother. He will be offered information as to how to fill an empty stomach and how to enjoy a human relationship with its many sensory inputs (such as a face to observe, a voice to listen to, the warmth of bodily contact), which become food for the mind.” ~ Dr. Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being

I have found there is no better time to connect with my baby, especially when they have other siblings, than when I am nursing. Every single nursing session isn't this beautiful bonding experience, obviously. Sometimes we are in a rush or there are a lot of other things happening around me.

But when I get the chance to just snuggle in with my baby, to stare into their content little eyes, this is when I most get to connect with them. After all:

Mother's milk is liquid love.

It can be easy to take the time spent nursing as an opportunity to read or scroll social media. And sometimes I do. But at least two or three times a day, I try to put away any distractions possible and just be present with my nursing baby.

I believe breastmilk offers the best nutrients possible, (although I one hundred percent do not judge those who choose not to do it) and this is part of the reason I choose to breastfeed. But at the end of the day, the choice is about so much more than that.

On that note, if you are interested in reading my birth stories with each of the boys check out Jerome's here | Benedict's here | and Ignatius' here.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I would also love to hear any suggestions for posts you would like me to write about. And if you are interested in following along in our daily adventures, follow us on Instagram where I post daily.

God bless,
Olivia Fischer

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