3 Things You can do to have Breastfeeding Success

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three things you can do to have breastfeeding success

Hello beautiful,

I remember when my first baby was born almost 15 years ago. I was  24 years old, happy, scared, exited, terrified, overjoyed and had a feeling that could be called blind faith. I kept telling myself to TRUST in my natural instincts, to TRUST that God would guide me to be a good mom and do what I needed to do so that my baby would live and thrive. As a new mom I was also intrigued and a little nervous about breastfeeding. I had done some research (not much available online in 1997) and had found a wonderful tea that would  help ensure that my milk supply was abundant. My doctor had coached me in preparing my body and I was ready ( or so I thought).  When Nicolas was born (through c-section) I almost died because there was a problem with the anesthesia, but I made it. I was very dizzy and nauseous, but all I wanted was to be with my baby and try to feed him because I had requested that the nurses restrain from giving him formula. When I saw him all dressed and  sleeping in a warm blanket as he was handed to me, I felt an overwhelming happiness, and a bit of panic as well because now the time had come to breastfeed him. As I placed my baby to have his first meal, I realized that he was awake and had started moving his face from side to side in quick movements looking for something…. his mama’s milk. Well, he found it and immediately started drinking, or should I say trying to drink. I had no milk. As far as I could tell there was nothing coming out and he was starting to get upset as he was probably VERY hungry. I got worried. I asked the nurse and my mom about what I was doing wrong. That was the beginning of the real lessons in breastfeeding, with hands on practice and experience. After applying their advice I became a successful breatfeeder.

Here are 3 things that worked for me and that you can do to have breastfeeding success:

1. Drink plenty of liquid

Just before the birth of the baby, as well as after the birth, drink plenty of liquid. As you get closer to your due date make sure you consume at least five 8oz glasses of water or herb tea* every day. I know it’s hard to drink a lot of liquids when you are super pregnant as the baby will be pushing your bladder and you will want to go to the bathroom many times a day, but believe me: if you want to have plenty of milk for your baby this is a needed action. When you go to the hospital (or at home if you are having a home birth) make sure you take a thermos with warm or cold herb tea and a big bottle of filtered water that you have easy access to after the birth of your baby. If you don’t like plain water, I suggest adding fresh lemon juice to it (juice of half a lemon per 1 little of water). Remember I told you that even though I had lots of herb tea before and right after giving birth my milk was not immediately showing up? Well, it took about 2o minutes, after my baby starting sucking, to start coming out (the colostrum that is, because the actual milk comes after) So, be patient and don’t give up.

A few wonderful recommendations for herb teas that are specially blended for milk production are:

Mother’s Milk by Traditional Medicinals (organic) (this is the stuff I took with all of my 4 babies. You can read the reviews at Amazon by clicking on the image bellow)

Milkmaid Tea by Earth Mama Angel Baby (organic) ( I haven’t tried this one but it had great reviews, which you can read at Amazon by clicking on the image bellow)

Nursing Support by Yogi ( I haven’t tried his one either, but it also has great reviews, which you can read at Amazon by clicking on the image bellow)

* Make sure the tea doesn’t contain the following herbs as they stop milk production: Mint, Sage, Parsley, Lemon Balm, Chickweed, stinging nettles and oregano. The above teas do not contain these ingredients.

2.  Choose to stay calm, no matter what.

Although stress will not stop milk production once you’re already breastfeeding, it can certainly slow the flow. However, when you are just starting to breastfeed, it’s possible that stress can stop the flow all together and prevent you from continuing in your efforts. In part, this was my problem the first time I breastfed. I was so busy worrying if I was doing it right, that I forgot to enjoy the process and give out love to my baby through every cell in my body. When I was reminded of this, my body relaxed and I felt the surge of colostrum flowing down. It was amazing.

We know that emotionally when we don’t manage the way we react to stress factors we become overwhelmed and discouraged, and as we increasingly feel weak and sad we loose the will to persevere. Many moms, when they don’t know how to manage their emotional reaction to the many real stress factors that can be present during and after childbirth, completely give up trying to breastfeed their newborn, and quickly opt for the easy way out, because they think they just can’t do it. Well, unless we have a medical condition or breast/nipple malformation that prevent us from nursing our baby (and in many cases there are solutions for that too), we can absolutely be successful if we learn to handle the stress factors in our life in a way that leaves us feeling hopeful, powerful and optimistic.

Some ways for new moms  to effectively react to stress factors while breastfeeding are:

  • Focus on your baby. Look at him, gently touch his hair, arm or hand. Admire his features, listen to his soft sounds, feel the joy and protection he feels to be next to you, be happy that your body can create the perfect food for him. If he is crying, be patient, as you relax so will he, specially when your milk comes through.
  • Have some privacy. Although there is nothing wrong about feeding your baby while others are present, being alone with your baby gives both of you a more intimate and nurturing experience. Whenever possible, excuse yourself and find a comfortable, peaceful place in which you can relax and dedicate the moment to your baby.
  • Don’t rush. Relax mama. You have the right to take some time, many times during the day, to feed your baby. It is your right and your responsibility. Believe me, our kids grow up so fast. We must relax and enjoy the moment, be fully present and invest our time in our child. She needs you to be fully present. I know sometimes we are just in a hurry and we must get things done, and that’s okay, sometimes. Make the usual feeling you have about feeding your baby a relaxed and positive one. You can chose this reaction. Remember you are the master of your emotions.

breastfeedingPhysically, when we are stressed out, our body will almost always react in a negative way.  Although stress can have a positive effect in certain situations (it keeps us alert and ready to avoid danger), it typically creates a tension buildup, that if not consciously relieved can weaken our immune system, which basically means that our body becomes weak and will be able to have optimal performance.  I remember  breastfeeding while being stressed out, and it definitely had an impact on the flow of my milk. This might not be the case with every mom, but at least this was real for me and also for all the moms that I have spoken to about this. The moment I would start to consciously focus on thoughts that would make me feel happy, and ignoring those thoughts that made me feel angry or sad, I began to relax and feel the flow of my milk. It was amazing, every time.

These are some books I recommend for moms who want to learn more about stress management:

Becoming a Calm Mom: How to Manage Stress and Enjoy the First Year of Motherhood by Deborah Roth Ledley (click on book to check out Amazon reviews)

 

Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life by Debbie Mandel (click on book to check out Amazon reviews)

3. Find the best position for you and your baby

(Copyright information: The following images and information are from the La Leche League website, a perfect resource for learning about Breastfeeding)

Laid- back breastfeeding, or Biological Nurturing

laying back breastfeeding

Laid- back breastfeeding, or Biological Nurturing, means getting comfortable with your baby and encouraging your own and your baby’s natural breastfeeding instincts. See biologicalnurturing.com for further information.

Dress yourself and your baby as you choose.

Find a bed or couch where you can lean back and be well supported— not flat, but comfortably leaning back so that when you put your baby on our chest, gravity will keep him in position with his body molded to yours.

Have your head and shoulders well supported. Let your baby’s whole front touch your whole front.

Since you’re leaning back, you don’t have a lap, so your baby can rest on you in any position you like. Just make sure her whole front is against you.

Let your baby’s cheek rest somewhere near your bare breast.

Help her as much as you like; help her do what she’s trying to do. You’re a team.

Hold your breast or not, as you like.

Relax and enjoy each other.

 

Cradle Position

cradle breastfeeding

The cradle position is most commonly used after the first few weeks. The cross-cradle position (see below) gives you more control.

To nurse your baby while cradling or holding him across your lap, he should be lying on his side, resting on his shoulder and hip with his mouth level with your nipple. Use pillows lifting your baby and supporting your elbows to bring your baby up to nipple height especially during the first few weeks. Support your breast with either the “U” hold” or “C” hold as described in the “Breast Support Techniques” section below. Your baby’s head will be on your forearm and his back will be along your inner arm and palm. When you look down, you should see his side. His mouth should be covering at least a half inch of the dark area around your nipple. Be sure his ear, shoulder and hips should be in a straight line. As a newborn, your baby’s head and bottom should be level with each other.

 

Cross-cradle Position

cross cradle breastfeeding

During the early weeks, many mothers find a variation of the cradle position, called the cross-cradle position to be useful. For this position, your baby is supported on a pillow across your lap to help raise him to your nipple level. Pillows should also support both elbows so your arms don’t hold the weight of the baby; they will tire before the feeding is finished.

If you are preparing to breastfeed on the left breast, your left hand supports that breast in a “U” hold. You support your baby with the fingers of your right hand. Do this by gently placing your hand behind your baby’s ears and neck with your thumb and index finger behind each ear. Your baby’s neck rests in the web between the thumb, index finger and palm of your hand, forming a “second neck” for baby. The palm of your hand is placed between his shoulder blades. As you prepare to latch on your baby, be sure his mouth is very close to your nipple from the start. When baby opens his mouth wide, you push with the palm of your hand from between the shoulder blades. His mouth will be covering at least a half inch from the base of your nipple.

 

Clutch or Football Position

clutch hold breastfeeding

This is a good position for a mother who has had a Cesarean birth, as it keeps the baby away from the incision. Most newborns are very comfortable in this position. It also helps when a mother has a forceful milk ejection reflex (let down) because the baby can handle the flow more easily.

In the clutch position you support your baby’s head in your hand and his back along your arm beside you. You support your breast with a “C” hold. He is facing you, with his mouth at nipple height. Your baby’s legs and feet are tucked under your arm with his hips flexed and his legs resting alongside your back rest so the soles of his feet are pointed toward the ceiling. (This keeps him from being able to push against your chair.) Pillows again help bring the baby to the correct height.

 

Side-lying Position

side-lying breastfeeding

Many mothers find lying down to nurse a comfortable position, especially at night. Both mother and baby lie on their sides facing each other. You can use pillows behind your back and behind or between your knees to help get comfortable. A pillow or rolled blanket behind the baby’s back will keep him from rolling away from you. The baby can be cradled in your arm with his back along your forearm. Having his hips flexed and his ear, shoulder and hip in one line helps your baby get milk more easily. Some mothers find that practicing with this position during the daytime is very helpful.

Find more details and support for breastfeeding at La Leche League.

And here’s great book about breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher  and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett (click on book to check out Amazon reviews)

Okay mamas, that’s all for now. I hope the information and resources were helpful to you, and please remember that you CAN do it. I have 4 kids, and I have breastfeed a total about 5 years and I am so happy I did it. So happy.  If you need help you can contact support groups at La Leche League in your area (they are all over the world, yay!)

What are your experiences with breastfeeding? Let me know.

Have a wonderful breastfeeding time!

Nayyan

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