I recall they day of my child’s birth in vivid detail. After my c-section I remember being in the recovery room with my newborn daughter—and of all the things that had happened that were swiftly flowing through my mind that day, one of the best and most amazing experiences by far was breastfeeding for the first time. As she was feeding, she stared at me so sweetly. She was doing what came so naturally to her, as I held her in my arms. But as natural as it is, its definitely a skill that takes time to perfect.
Breastfeeding is a great bonding experience for you and your baby. Most doctors and nurses in the hospital encourage mothers to breastfeed. But the reality is, no matter how much you read about it before hand, attend classes on it or talk to a lactation consultant about it, breastfeeding is a learning experience that needs to be perfected over time. So rest assured that almost nobody gets it perfectly right the first time.
It was not easy at first for me either, but my daughter and I have learned some things along the way. Here are my top four:
1. Un-swaddle Your Baby
When my child was not swaddled, breastfeeding was a lot easier. I found she nursed best when in her onesie or diaper. Keeping your baby swaddled can make it restricting to access the nipple and they may not be able to get a good latch. Also, it creates a better bonding experience when you and your baby are skin-to-skin.
2. Nipple Cream Is Awesome!!!
Breastfeeding hurts. Your nipples will get sore, dry and cracked. To help with the dryness and cracking, you can use nipple cream. Nipple cream is a must. There are various creams, butters and ointments to choose from at your local grocery store or pharmacy. If you are finding that your breasts are particularly sore though, a heating pad might also help.
3. Pumping Is Always An Option
As I said before, breastfeeding hurts. Your breasts get rock hard and your nipples can become dry and cracked. If you feel it hurts too much to breastfeed your baby, you can always pump, store your milk and feed the baby by bottle. According to the Affordable Care Act, check with your insurance company, because a breast pump might be covered. You might even be able to get an electric pump for free. When you pump often, you will start to build a supply of milk for your baby. The other great thing about pumping is that you will know exactly how much milk your baby is getting.
4. If You Need Help, Ask
Sometimes breastfeeding is difficult for some women and babies. There are many places you can go to get help. Your local hospital should have lactation consultants and classes on breastfeeding. There are also support groups on breastfeeding as well. For example, you can find local La Leche League programs in your area by going to lllusa.org.
One thing to keep in mind though, is that all babies and mothers are different and not all mothers are able to breastfeed. That is not only totally OK and acceptable, but can also lead to just as healthy kids growing up as those who are breastfed as infants. These were just four things that helped me, so I hope that they can help you too!