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7 Things You Should Know Before You Start Breastfeeding

by Amanda on September 27, 2007
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Feeding,Pregnancy

Starting to breastfeed your baby can be the most frustrating and difficult two to three weeks of your life. I personally found it more painful than childbirth. Here are seven things that helped me get through those first few weeks.

1. Have a vision.

When I first started to nurse I had a lot of pain and difficulty breastfeeding my daughter, Ace. I talked about what I was feeling with a friend who was just finishing her first year breastfeeding her baby. She painted a picture for me about how she found joy in nursing, how easy feeding her son had become, and how she loved the connection that she had with her son. At the time I thought she was nuts, but I clung to that picture of the future. I had hope that nursing was going to get easier.

2. Knowledge is power.

breastfeeding-manual.jpg Breastfeeding is easier when you know the biology of your body and your baby. Also, knowing how to hold your baby and the different holding positions will help you and your baby learn this new skill faster. Go to a breastfeeding class! This was by far the most informative class that I took in preparation for my new baby. In addition, don’t leave the hospital before you meet with a lactation consultant. I had learned how to hold the baby in class, but having just given birth I was having difficulty remembering what they taught me. I was thankful for the reminders. Finally, read books about breastfeeding, search websites and learn as much as you can!

3. Remember the benefits.

During the first few weeks of nursing I asked my husband to make a giant poster of all the benefits of breastfeeding, so I could read them while I was enduring the pain. I would have him recite all the benefits to me again and again. I would even list them in my head. Remembering the advantages of breastfeeding will help you stay motivated.

A few benefits of breastfeeding are:
- Your immunities and antibodies are passed to the baby making them less likely to become sick
- Saves you money
- Less likely to be a SIDS victim
- A greater bond with your baby

For more information about the benefits of breastfeeding check out the La Leche League and Breastfeeding.com.

4. It is a sacrifice.

Know that breastfeeding is a sacrifice. Yes, you will have to watch what you eat. Yes, you will have to feed almost every hour to three hours during the day. Yes, you might have a uni-boob when wearing certain nursing bras. Yes, you will have to juggle feeding your baby in public places or going home to feed. But in the end, the sacrifice and hassle is all worth it.

5. Have support.

Your husband, family, friends, Lactation Consultants, Pediatrician, La Leche League meeting and forums are all invaluable forms of support. Take your husband with you to breastfeeding class! After going to class my husband knew how to support and encourage me. Just having him change our baby and bring her to me made my life a lot easier. Talk with friends and family who have breastfed and gain insight from their experiences. I found it extremely comforting to know that my friend had experienced the same pain I had, but was able to get past it and nurse her daughter for ten months.

Visit or call a Lactation Consultant if you are having trouble. I thought I was doing okay the first week of breastfeeding, but then the second week brought soreness and an underweight baby. The Lactation Consultant was able to show me how to fix my position, how to unlatch Ace without any pain, and really encouraged me to feed at least eight times a day. A week and a half later, I was not sore anymore and Ace had caught up on her weight.

The La Leche League holds meetings around town that you can attend. Visit LaLecheleague.com and check out the forums. You can read other moms’ questions and answers. I posted a question in the forum and got several responses right away.

6. Get a Brestfriend!

breastfriend-pillow.jpg Seriously. I LOVE my Brestfriend. I tried to use a Boppy pillow for the first week of nursing, but the Boppy was a pain to prop up with extra pillows to move it up to the right height. Also, Ace would slip in between the Boppy and myself, because the sides are rounded. The Brestfriend has a strap and back support to hold it in place, which makes it easier to use in bed. In addition, the Brestfriend pillow is flat on top and flat around the sides, so Ace does not fall in between the pillow and me. My arms were sore from labor and Ace felt like she weighed a thousand tons. The Brestfriend supported my arms and wrist. The Boppy is nice for holding my baby in my lap, but nursing became significantly easier when I started using the Brestfriend pillow.

7. Hang in there!

The breastfeeding class I attended told us that if you can get through the first 2 to 3 weeks, then the rest of breastfeeding would be easier. It took me 3 and half weeks until I crossed that magical bridge into Easy Breastfeeding Land. Those three and half weeks were a lot of work, energy, and practice, but the whole experience was worth the effort. Ace and I are now breastfeeding pros.

You may also be interested in reading:

La Leche League

Dr. Jack Newman
San Antonio Lactation Center
How to Make Breastfeeding Difficult
Another Mom’s Experience Learning to Breastfeed
AskDrSears on Breastfeeding

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