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Dos and Don’ts to Successful Breastfeeding!

 

Published by Stylish mamas.

Date: 17/06/2016.

 

When it comes to breastfeeding, most women usually start off unsure if they are going to do it and as time draws closer and reality starts to kick in, those who truly want to do it know that they are going to do it or at least give it their outmost dedication for them to be successful. Those who are usually still sitting on the fence by week 37 stand very little chance of succeeding because like most things if you decide to breastfeed half-heartedly you are definitely not going to go far because it sure isn’t something to be taken lightly.

 

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Dos and Don’ts to Successful Breastfeeding vary from woman to woman but the majority apply to all. That is why I wish I had known certain things before I started breastfeeding just to prepare myself both physically and mentally before the time came. It is because of this that I thought of sharing a few dos and don’ts that I learned along the way and hopefully will help someone out there!

 

1.Do set mini goals.

Some people find the whole process of breastfeeding daunting and can’t bear to think of doing it for so long. It’s like moving from a different set of challenges (pregnancy) to another and the thought of this scares some people. Set mini goals and take each day as it comes. When I first started breastfeeding, my aim was to do it for a month (believe it or not) and when I got to a month I had gone through so much to get there that I couldn’t bring myself to stop after just one month. I decided 6 months was more reasonable and decided to go for that. Fast forward 15 months later that is when I decided to finally stop. I don’t think I would have made it that far if I had started off thinking that I was going to breastfeed for that long. Small and reasonable goals helped me to stay focused and made everything seem achievable.

 

2.Don’t start off half-heartedly.

I have already mentioned this above but I will say it again because it is important, don’t start off half-heartedly because that is already accepting defeat before you have even started. You have to be all in and be sure that you definitely want to do it and won’t give it up without putting up a good fight! You will need those boxing gloves and with the right amount of support around you, you will do it! (For that extra motivation think… “Oh it’s on like donkey Kong!” or “bring it on!”:))

 

3.Do what you can.

Often we find ourselves comparing to what others are doing and fall into that trap of feeling insignificant when in the actual sense we are doing a brilliant job! Every woman’s experience is different and you don’t have to feel pressured to live up to other people’s experiences. This is YOUR experience, enjoy it and live it your way! As long as you are doing your best that is all that truly matters.

 

4.Don’t expect things to go to plan.

Like most things (your labour included) things don’t always go according to plan and it’s always a good idea to be flexible and have a plan B. Don’t expect things to go according to your every little planned detail because life doesn’t work that way and you may be in for a rude awakening if you think otherwise.

 

5.Don’t expect a smooth ride.

This is the part that most people leave out when they talk to you about breastfeeding especially if this is your first time. Don’t expect a smooth ride especially in the first few weeks because this will be your most testing period. Exhaustion, sleepless nights, CONSTANT feedings and sore nipples are just a few to mention. If you can get through this, you will be good to go without any doubt (considering that there are no other external factors to prove otherwise). You have to be persistent and expect anything to happen. That is the simple way to put it.

 

6.Do give yourself a break (and a pat on the back).

Breastfeeding comes with a whole set of different challenges, some are easier than others but still very challenging so do give yourself a break. For example, when someone is babysitting your baby you can’t just up and go somewhere without taking into consideration 2 main things. A) How long will you be gone for and will you need to pump? If you are going somewhere for a good few hours, chances are you will need to express in order to keep up your milk supply and avoid engorgement (ouch). B) Do you have expressed milk for the baby and will she take a bottle? It’s always a good idea to keep a frozen stash for moments like these (if you don’t want to supplement with formula). With that said, some babies are notorious for refusing to bottle feed when they are used to breastfeeding which means that you can only go so far and for so long. Sounds impossible but you will figure something out. Believe me, mothers are amazing at figuring things out! All that creativity hidden inside you just comes out of you like there’s no tomorrow! You got this! :)

 

7.Don’t expect it to happen naturally.

As natural as it may be, it doesn’t come naturally! You and your baby will both have to work at it to get it right. This can prove very challenging especially if the baby is struggling to latch on properly because this can lead to sore nipples and there’s no pain like trying to breastfeed a baby with sore nipples! The pain is intense and you have to keep doing it every 2-3 hours a day. Not fun.

 

8.Be realistic.

When you decide you are going to breastfeed, be realistic about your expectations and ask yourself why you want to do it. It’s a very big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken very lightly. Can you do it and will you be fully committed? If not then my advice would be to seriously re-evaluate your decision and think of why you are even attempting it in the first place because your chances of succeeding are very slim. Harsh but true.

 

9.Don’t substitute breastfeeding with bottle feeding.

As much as it is important to give yourself a break every so often, it is also important to keep breastfeeding your baby when it is feeding time. It is proven that you will have a better chance of succeeding if you maintain your breastfeeding as opposed to substituting it with a bottle. The advice can somewhat seem conflicting but what you need to remember is that the more you breastfeed the better your chances of succeeding as you and your baby will figure things out pretty quickly and also it helps establish that amazing bond between you and your baby. It can be hard sometimes trying to find that balance especially if you are back at work but just do what you can depending on your circumstances.

 

10.Do feed your baby on demand.

Unlike formula fed babies, breastfeeding babies have to be fed on demand and this can be very challenging for anyone who is breastfeeding whether a first timer or not. Because breast milk is especially made to suit your baby’s specific needs and is easy to digest, breastfeeding babies can seem like they are CONSTANTLY breastfeeding especially in those first few weeks. Hence the most common question…Is s/he getting enough milk? Seems to be breastfeeding ALL the time! Answer is of course s/he is unless if you are in that very rare minority of women who physically can’t produce enough milk. Please don’t confuse this with your baby’s constant feeding. This is where most women throw in the towel because they think the baby isn’t getting enough breast milk. This is not true, of course you have to work at it and initially your baby needs to feed a lot to help kick start your body into producing breast milk and the more s/he feeds the more signals you will be sending to your body to make more milk. So everything is connected and you have to understand this to make sense of certain things otherwise it will seem like a daunting task. You have to follow your baby’s cues when it comes to breastfeeding and the more you breastfeed the more milk you will make. This usually tends to regulate itself after a month or two so when your breasts aren’t leaking as much or don’t seem that full anymore, it’s because your body now knows how much your baby needs and is producing just the right amount! Amazing stuff or what? :) My advice is to keep going and don’t despair, it too shall come to pass! Because you have to sit down to breastfeed, it can seem like this is all you do all day every day and for most mothers (especially those who already have one or more kids) this can seem like fighting two wolves! (Each one of them wants a piece of you and not one of them is willing to wait!:) ). You just have to battle on and soon enough you will see that light at the end of the tunnel. Just think of all those mothers who have had more than one child and have managed to breastfeed them all! It’s achievable! :)

 

11.Don’t beat yourself up.

If for whatever reason you are struggling to make it work and you have given it your all, don’t beat yourself up about it. The important thing is that you went in 100% committed and you gave it your best shot. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control and this may mean that you will have to supplement with formula or stop breastfeeding all together. If this is the case, pat yourself on the back, look back and appreciate the time you spent with your baby trying to make it work, take one or two lessons from the experience and match on. You are a brilliant mother for even trying and no one should ever make you feel otherwise. If you weren’t and if you didn’t care you wouldn’t have bothered trying and you wouldn’t be so torn up about it! Be proud and move on, you have more amazing moments waiting for you and your baby rather than dwelling on something that you couldn’t do. I say get that camera out and move on to being that amazing mamarazzi you have always been! Your baby isn’t going to hold that pose for so long! :)

 

12.Do seek professional help.

If you think you have tried everything and nothing seems to be working, please seek professional help before giving up. Don't hide away or try to sort things out all on your own. Its ok to ask for help and you don't need any more unnecessary stress because having a new born baby is stressful enough as it is! So many women feel so discouraged when things aren’t going well that their only thought is to stop breastfeeding. Please don’t do this. There are so many amazing breastfeeding experts and lactation consultants that sometimes all you need to do is to pick up that phone. And the sad truth is that sometimes it can be something so small that you are missing and all you need are those expert eyes to show you the way! Things like holding your baby in a certain way or how you are sitting can impact on how your baby latches. Small things like that can make a massive difference and all it takes could be someone pointing it out to you and voila! Eureka! I remember with my first baby, I tried to hold her the conventional way of breastfeeding because I thought that is how you had to do it. Unfortunately for me, my baby had other ideas and her latch was way off. It took 4 PAINFUL weeks of breastfeeding, torn and bleeding nipples, 3 Lansinoh nipple cream tubes and A LOT of tears to get it right. It turns out she didn’t like to be held that way and it was my midwife who suggested that I try holding her like a rugby ball under my arm. I had to hold and support her head with one arm, get her to latch and have her stomach resting against the side of my body where she was breastfeeding from. Sounds funny and weird but it worked! It was like seeing things from a different perspective. I never would have thought to do so myself and it was only after I sought out some professional help that I came to realise that there are different ways of doing things and it’s ok to do things differently!

So, I hope that this will prove useful to someone embarking on this amazing journey and will have this as their go-to list when they need a reminder with one or two things. If not, I hope you had a great time reading this and hopefully i made you smile or chuckle a little! Have a great day! :)

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