“I thought breastfeeding was supposed to be easy”

I often encounter the sentiment, ‘I thought this just happened naturally,’ repeatedly during my work as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in our breastfeeding clinic at The WOMB. In a society inundated with instant access to information, where we are bombarded by messages from sources like Google, Best Start, and Baby Centre emphasizing that ‘BREAST IS BEST,’ the pressure to adhere to this expectation can be overwhelming.

But what if breastfeeding proves to be more challenging than anticipated, to the point where giving up seems like the only option? How do we navigate the societal expectation that failing to breastfeed equates to ‘failing as a mother’?

What if there’s a way to feel empowered and successful in your breastfeeding journey, regardless of the challenges you face, through the power of support, information, and love?

Having frequently heard the lament, ‘I wish I had known these tips before I had my baby,’ from mothers in our breastfeeding clinic, I present to you 10 invaluable tips that can enhance and bring joy to your breastfeeding experience.

  1. Embrace Skin-to-Skin Contact: Initiate skin-to-skin bonding immediately after birth and continue for the first few weeks. This practice not only encourages more frequent breastfeeding as your baby cues naturally but also helps you become attuned to your baby’s feeding cues, fostering confidence and a quicker response to your baby’s needs.
  2. Keep Your Baby Close: Avoid unnecessary separation from your baby unless medically indicated. Rooming in together enhances breastfeeding success, providing the same benefits as skin-to-skin contact.
  3. Feed Frequently: Nurse your baby at least 8 times in 24 hours to establish a robust milk supply. Frequent nursing aids in weight gain and prevents issues like jaundice and low blood sugar. Understand that your newborn’s stomach is small, requiring smaller, nutrient-rich feeds of colostrum, which can be hand-expressed and given by hand, cup, or spoon if needed.
  4. Recognize Feeding Cues: Learn to differentiate between early and late feeding cues. Responding to early cues, such as stirring, mouth opening, lip licking, and turning the head, ensures a more peaceful and joyful feeding experience.
  5. Watch Your Baby, Not the Clock: Allow your baby to feed on demand without restrictions on the length or frequency of feedings. Babies eat intuitively, and feeding on demand contributes to their happiness and health.
  6. Ensure a Comfortable Latch and Position: Breastfeeding should never be painful. A good latch ensures comfort for both mom and baby and facilitates effective milk transfer. Explore various breastfeeding positions to find one that suits you, promoting relaxation and reducing tension.
  7. Signs of Adequate Feeding: Track weight gain, diaper output, and your baby’s mood after feeds. A softening of your breasts, contentment, and an overall happy demeanor indicate your baby is satisfied.
  8. Understand Growth Spurts and Cluster Feeds: Recognize that babies go through periods of increased feeding during growth spurts and cluster feeds. These are normal occurrences that satisfy your baby’s growing needs and boost your milk supply.
  9. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to seek help if breastfeeding challenges arise. Peer support groups, friends, family, La Leche League, Public Health, and private lactation consultants are valuable resources. Early intervention can address challenges effectively, and you’re always welcome in a supportive environment at The WOMB.
  10. Cherish the Bond: Beyond nourishment, breastfeeding nurtures a special and intimate relationship between mother and baby. Enjoy the unique connection it fosters and savor the moments with your little one.

Want more information and tips on how to do all this? Get more at a prenatal breastfeeding class! Join us at The WOMB for our next class or contact your lactation consultant for one-to-one support. For more information or to register, go online. 

Anita Arora is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at The WOMB: The World of My Baby and sees clients in their homes privately and in clinic. Anita’s aim is to help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals in a non-judgmental, accepting and natural approach. Anita lives in Oakville with her supportive husband and her 2 wonderful children.

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