You have heard about the benefits of breastfeeding and want to make sure your baby gets the best. But then you’re not so sure if you can do it. Or where to start! Your friend has told you it hurts, or your colleague at work never managed to breastfeed after a couple of weeks. You’re feeling a lot of uncertainty surrounding breastfeeding and coupled with the anxiety of planning for your baby’s birth and parenting.
Breastfeeding is natural, yes. But it is not always easy. Think of it as a dance that both you and your baby are learning at the same time. There are bound to be slip ups, and a few hurt toes and thoughts of “I can’t do this!” but with some practice and persistence and lots of support, you’ll realize that you have started dancing quite well together. Not just that, you’re practically gliding across the dance floor!
Here are four action steps that you can take to ensure that your breastfeeding dance is as smooth as possible for both you and your precious little partner:
1. Feed on demand – Breastfeeding works on a demand and supply principle. The more milk the baby drinks, the more you make. New mums are often overwhelmed at how much baby wants to be at the breast, especially in the first few days and weeks (it seems like practically all.the.time). But this is very typical newborn behavior and ensures that your body and breasts are in enough demand to keep up with baby’s growing appetite.
2. Room in – Have baby next to you at all times starting from right after birth. Even though you may be unfamiliar with newborns and their strange ways, rooming-in allows you a rapidly paced learning experience into figuring out your newborns cues and facilitating feeding on demand. You’ll soon learn to predict your baby’s needs and have a biologically synced schedule with your little one that will allow for breastfeeding to continue successfully.
3. Skin to Skin – Lots of naked skin contact between you and baby allows for the flow of the oxytocin or the love hormone which in turn stimulates a let down or milk flow. At least a few times a day, nurse with your bare skin in close contact. Lot of bare skins cuddles work too, and daddy can join in and bond with the baby, when mummy needs a break.
4. Be informed about typical newborn behavior and what to expect – Newborns have a way of throwing us off in the early days with their unpredictability and their tinyness. They cry, they feed, they sleep, and they cry, .. and then who knows what comes next? But really, they’re only doing what they are biologically and naturally programmed to do. Having a decent understanding of how their unique brain works, why they do what they do, and how it affects and benefits breastfeeding is handy information to have. You are able to empathize with them better (wouldn’t you agree that the world outside is a poor stand-in for the blissful womb they just left) and respond to their needs better, and know what is normal and expected and what is not.