Nursing is one of the most powerful bonding activities for a baby and a new mom. The overwhelming feeling of joy, empowerment and pure love during these special moments is one a mom never forgets as long as she lives. But we can’t sugar coat it—breastfeeding is hard as hell. Between getting baby to latch, producing enough milk and dealing with the constant pressure and scrutiny of those around you (which, by the way, may be more harmful than we know), many new mamas are shocked to learn how much nursing takes out of you, emotionally and physically.
But, as any breastfeeding mom will tell you, powering through is so worth the struggle. If you set yourself up for success with a strong community and the right gear (hello, high-tech nursing bras) and other resources, you’ll be well-equipped to reap the many joys and health benefits of breastfeeding with fewer of the struggles. Here are some of our best tips to start you off on the right foot.
1. Lean on Other Moms—Ladies, we cannot stress this enough: it takes a village. Not necessarily to feed, water and change diapers, but to support you in your moments of insanity. Find a community of nursing moms wherever you can—the local breastfeeding center, Facebook groups, online forums or even the playground. Note that many local hospitals and organizations like La Leche League host breastfeeding support groups that can help you along the way.
2. Get a Good Nursing Bra—Make sure you put a good nursing bra on your registry or research and buy one yourself. The most important feature a nursing bra should have is an opening that lets you feed without taking off your entire bra or a strap. Our bras feature a clip-down, double-opening cup design for easy access plus a supportive, super-comfortable fit as your body is changing. We also have a unique nursing bra with a built-in feed tracker so you can keep track of sessions easily each day. Consider investing in a comfy nursing-friendly robe and pajamas, too.
3. Plan to Eat More—Your body needs energy and nutrients to produce all that nourishing food for baby, so add about 300 extra calories to your diet to compensate. Just make sure to add healthy, whole foods to your diet and resist the urge to overcompensate with processed or fast food.
4. Don’t Push Yourself Too Far—Your nursing friends have probably referred to breast milk as “liquid gold,” but don’t let that stress you out. One mistake many new nursing mamas make is pushing themselves to the limit while they’re on maternity leave. This can cause all kinds of woes, from clogged ducts and mastitis to physical and emotional distress. While you’re in the first few months, worry about feeding baby rather than stocking the deep freezer with milk.
5. Enjoy One-on-One Time—In baby’s first few days, don’t be afraid to tell the doctor, lactation specialist or even your partner (politely) to buzz off if you’re overwhelmed. Sometimes, latching comes down to creating a good bond between you and baby—nobody else. Sometimes, the pressure and information overload you receive in the hospital can stress you out more than help you.
6. Remember: It Doesn’t Come Natural—We’re often fed the unfortunate lie that—since it’s one of the most natural things a woman can do—breastfeeding is supposed to be an innate instinct. That’s not true, plain and simple. You have to learn to nurse, and that often takes a lot of research, demonstration and trial and error once baby comes. Don’t be discouraged if things aren’t going how you thought they might. There is a steep learning curve, and you’re entitled to it.
7. Try Different Positions—The standard baby-in-lap hold may not be the best one for getting your little one to latch or eat. Consider other options, such as the laid-back breastfeeding positions, if you feel like the typical holds are hindering your progress. Different positions can make the process easier and more comfortable for you while supporting baby’s natural feeding responses.
Always Do What Makes You Comfortable
Whether you breastfeed exclusively, introduce the bottle immediately, stop after a month or keep going until your little one’s first birthday, what matters is that you have a happy, healthy baby no matter what. If you’re not comfortable breastfeeding in public, don’t! If you are comfortable breastfeeding in public, by all means, do! It all comes down to what makes you and baby—and nobody else—comfortable and happy. We wish you all the luck in this exciting and rewarding journey!