Breastfeeding is probably the most talked about thing you will do as a mom! So many opinions, how to’s, questions, unsolicited advice and products! It’s all very overwhelming especially when you just gave birth and are trying to breastfeed for the first time or even the second or third. Let’s be honest, being a mom is hard work, emotionally, mentally and physically. Even if it looks like you are just sitting there nursing, the amount of energy and calories it takes for your body to give your baby food is a lot, not to mention all the other things it takes to have a newborn. So shout out to all my super mama warriors, you are all doing amazing!
Those first few weeks of transition for you and baby are usually a blur once you have gotten through them but while you are in it, they are some of the most difficult and longest weeks of your life. Mainly for lack of sleep but for a lot of moms it’s having difficulty breastfeeding. I’m here to tell you IT’S OK! YOU ARE DOING GREAT! DON’T STRESS! Whether you stick with breastfeeding or decide to give formula, you and baby will be just fine!
Here are some tips that I found worked for me while trying to get through breastfeeding with both of my daughters. Hopefully some or all can help you. So let’s get into it.
I know it’s easier said than done but trust me don’t stress. Not only is stress in general not good for you it will actually make breastfeeding much harder and you will likely produce less milk. You feel it, baby feels it and that is not how you get milk flowing or milk production up. A way to take your mind off of questioning if you are doing it right or if you are producing enough is to distract yourself. I would look at pictures or videos of my baby or watch cute or funny videos or movies. Make sure no matter what, you aren’t setting any unrealistic expectations for your body. And please do not compare yourself to any other mama, everyone is different.
DRINK TONS OF WATER:
Drink so much water that you when you think you had enough for the day drink some more LOL, but seriously I mean the amount of water you consume is directly related to amount of milk you will be producing so it is super important. I have a 40 oz hydroflask that I refill 3 to 4 times a day…that is a lot of damn water. I run (literally) to the restroom so many times a day but my milk production is up and my skin is so hydrated so there is an upside for sure.
EAT NUTRIENT RICH FOODS:
Because what you are eating directly translates to the food your baby is getting try to stay away from unhealthy foods, and things with little to no nutrition. Please eat to your hearts content otherwise. If you feel hungry even after you just ate and if you are hydrated, definitely listen to your body and get those calories in that your body needs. You are fueling yourself and a growing baby.
DO NOT WORRY ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS:
This is a hard one for me, even as I write this I only half believe this. I am working on it though. On the one hand I feel so empowered by what my body has done, created life, birthed a baby and sustaining that baby all with just my body, I mean c’mon mamas that is effin AMAZING! On the other hand I still do feel the pressure to “bounce back” and look a certain way. Especially when I hear so many moms talk about how they lost the weight so fast because they breastfed and all the weight just melted off. Well that definitely did not happen with my first and it ain’t happening this time even though I am exclusively breastfeeding (insert eye roll here). My body simply does not work like that. This is considering that I am eating fairly healthy and super plain because my daughter has such a sensitive stomach. I had to eliminate so many foods from my diet, such as eggs, all dairy, pork (gosh I miss bacon) and corn. Basically all my favorite foods with I thought would for sure help with weight loss but nope that did not do the trick. I just need to tell myself that this weight loss journey will be slow and I need to be less concerned with that and know that I will get back to my pre baby weight. I am just going to have to work hard, be kind to myself and be patient with my body.
EAT FOODS THAT HELP WITH MILK PRODUCTION:
There are a lot of foods that you can eat that can stimulate milk production. There are teas like Mother’s milk tea, lactation cookies and recipes (my fave is this one here), lactation decaf coffee which I just discovered and I am obsessed with. There are also a list of foods that you can eat to help too, like oatmeal, fenugreek, brewers yeast, garlic, dark leafy greens, etc. I found that eating these foods daily really helped my milk production.
This one is hard for me because I hate pumping but it really works to help build up a supply. With my first I would pump two to three times a day after feedings. This time around I have noticed that my milk supply is better and I only pump once to twice a day. What I found that works the best is the Haaka. Let me tell you how amazing this little manual breast pump is. It has been the reason why I have not needed to pump as much. I know it doesn’t work for everyone but it has been a such a great addition to my collection of tools that I use for making more milk. I usually put it on the opposite side when Aliciana is nursing and I will have it there for about 15 to 20 minutes and I collect anywhere from 3-4 ounces in one sitting. I have two just in case I fill one up. Highly recommend this product. One other tip about pumping is to use pictures or videos of your babes while you pump if you are not near them, to one, put you at ease and remind yourself why you are doing this and two, in hopes of triggering the same reaction from your body that you would get if your little was right in front of you.
DON’T LET BABY SNACK FEED:
This was a huge struggle for me with my first baby. I would literally nurse what felt like 24/7 and I still wasn’t feeling like she was full and I was definitely not producing enough milk. Let me tell you it is such an awful and defeating feeling not being able to sustain your baby. There were many times I almost gave up. Thankfully my husband was very encouraging and never let me quit. What I know now that I did not know then was that not emptying the breast completely, could be why milk supply is suffering. Now I ensure that Aliciana empties each side completely even if that means I have to wake her up if she falls asleep. This way she is satiated and more content and therefore less fussy. It has worked out much better this time around. All of this takes practice and is very exhausting so hang in there mamas you are not alone.