As natural as breastfeeding seems, it takes time for moms and babies to work out a rhythm. Here are five tips to try to remember during your first month postpartum.
1. Be gentle on yourself. You’re a mother now. You deserve a trophy for giving birth to another beautiful human being! I remember one of my close friends postpartum crying to me, ” I am so NOT CHIC!” We laugh at her words now, but it’s true, you don’t feel chic. There are bodily fluids coming out of every orifice, you are tired and you still look pregnant. BUT, while you may not feel like yourself, breastfeeding is beautiful. It’s arguably among the most beautiful experiences in this whole world if you can manage to be patient with yourself.
2. Look at breastfeeding this month as your new “full-time” job. You are getting to know your baby and your baby is getting to know you. Every baby nurses differently. Learn to recognize hunger cues such as: smacking lips, opening and closing mouth (rooting) and sucking on hands or objects. Babies don’t have watches or know how to tell time, so don’t focus on the clock when it comes to breastfeeding. There will be days where you feel like all you’re doing is nursing. There will be times that your baby wants to “cluster feed” (times when a baby is fussy and wants to nurse often). These times will pass, but for now, go with the flow.
Learn your baby’s preferable nursing position by trying all different positions. My saving grace was the side-lying position. The more you practice, the more you will succeed and gain confidence. If you work hard at this new full-time job for one month, it will pay off. It will become second nature, and by the second month, it won’t even feel like a part-time job.
3. Channel your inner kangaroo. I’m a big proponent of kangaroo care, where mothers and fathers hold a new baby skin to skin. Hospitals that encourage kangaroo care typically have their mothers or fathers provide skin-to-skin contact with preterm babies for several hours each day. However, skin-to-skin contact is encouraged for all babies, including term babies. It can stabilize the baby’s heart rate, improve breathing, improve sleep quality and quantity, decrease crying and lead to more successful breastfeeding.
4. Don’t obsess over quantity. This is our job! We follow up with you and your baby often in your first month postpartum to monitor your baby’s growth. If your baby is not gaining adequate weight we will help you and promise not to let this important piece slip through the cracks!
5. Get the help you need. No doubt you’ll have breastfeeding questions in your first few days and weeks. Give us a call or make an appointment. We are here for you when you need us.
Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Brennan charms babies, kids and parents alike with her kind way of caring for children. She is a certified lactation consultant and part of our Chicago Breastfeeding Center team.