I have been breastfeeding Charlotte for 10 months now. Within the first 6 months, I realized something crazy. It has been amazing to me how little many medical professionals – including our ob-gyn and pediatrician – know about breastfeeding! Thank goodness for lactation consultants, the La Leche League, and other moms. So, here is my advice on breastfeeding. I am not a medical professional. I am just a mom. However, I have been successfully breastfeeding for ten months, and have had some really painfully struggles along the way. Hopefully, you all can benefit from my experiences. I plan on writing several articles on breastfeeding, so here’s number one.
The first thing that we learned in breastfeeding class is to identify your support system. Know going in who you can call when you need something. Breastfeeding wasn’t always promoted the way that it is now, so many of our mothers fed us formula. My husband and I were both formula babies, so I couldn’t really ask our moms questions. I often rely on other moms, LLL online, the breastfeeding board over on The Bump, and the local lactation consultant at the county health department. Kellymom is also a really, really (yes, two reallys!) helpful website.
The next thing that I did was set a goal. Later, if there are problems (hello, bleeding nipples!), you can keep this goal in mind. My goal was six months. As we approached that, my husband and I talked about how great it would be if we never had to use any formula – ever. We decided to stick with it, and we’re still breastfeeding! Keeping the benefits of breastfeeding in mind also helps to get through the rough patches. Those include:
Lower risk of obesity later in life
Lower risk of cancer – in mom and child
Lower risk of speech issues (which has something to do with using the muscles in the jaw)
Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of all of the benefits.
((Mom – don’t read this part!!)) Another advantage of breastfeeding is that ovulation – and therefore menstruation – is often delayed. I still haven’t gotten my period back! We’re super careful, but I regularly pee on a stick, just in case. I don’t want to be one of those ladies from that horrible reality show. You know the one.
Yet another benefit is that nursing helps your uterus to contract. While the cramps are a little painful, it’s because your body is trying to get back to normal. It also burns a lot of calories – at least 500 a day. (Hello, pre-pregnancy jeans!)
The next step is to get informed. Learn as much as you can. Learn what is normal and what is not. I can help you with that part! I plan on writing several articles with breastfeeding information, so check back for them!
Finally, trust your body. Trust your baby. That has been the golden rule of breastfeeding for me. Trust in the process. Getting all crazy and stressed will hurt your supply. Take a deep breath, and believe in your heart that your body is capable of doing this amazing thing – and your baby is wired to let you know what he/she needs.
Here are more breastfeeding resources that I have found helpful:
Dr. Sears: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/2/T020100.asp
Dr. Newman: http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/newman.shtml
AAP Policy Statement: http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;115/2/496#SEC6
Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/