I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding. I try not to be too “in your face” about it, but I also know that one of the biggest obstacles to successful breastfeeding is lack of education and support. I want to do my part to normalize breastfeeding and to help other women succeed.
Why do it?
Why not? If that isn’t enough, here are a lot of really great reasons to breastfeed:
- Babies who are formula fed are at higher risk for all kinds of diseases, obesity, lower IQ, etc. Why would you put your baby at risk for all those things?
- Breastfeeding decreases the risk of SIDS. The risk of SIDS is even lower if breastfeeding is exclusive for the first six months.
- Breastfeeding is great for mom, too: lowers your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other things.
- In case authority figures are your thing: breastfeeding is recommended by The World Health Organization, The American Academy of Pediatrics, unicef, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among others.
- Helps you lose the baby weight! (Hey, it’s not as serious as the rest of the stuff, but it can’t hurt, right?)
- 101 Reasons to Breastfeed – that pretty much sums it up!
The best thing I can do is direct you to people who have devoted their time and effort to promoting breastfeeding. They know a lot more than I do!
- Kellymom.com (Great website full of evidence-based info about breastfeeding)
- Nursing Is Normal (Beautiful video of moms nursing)
- Breastfeeding Arts (Blog supportive of breastfeeding – has some great info)
- Why “can’t” some women breastfeed? (Great thoughts on what goes wrong – hint, it’s not because they actually can’t, it’s because they get bad advice)
I breastfed Addie for almost 20 months. We had some struggles at first, but it was an amazing experience. I learned a lot along the way! Here, in no particular order, are my tops tips for a successful breastfeeding relationship:
- Don’t put baby on a schedule! At least not at first. Babies need to be fed on demand. This is the AAP’s recommendation and the advice of all breastfeeding experts. Plus, the more you nurse in the first few weeks, the higher your supply will be the entire time you’re nursing. Women often worry about their supply, so give yourself a boost at the beginning and nurse all the time!
- Your supply will fluctuate. You will have days (maybe even a week or more) when it feels like you have no milk and baby must be starving. Barring some serious problem, your supply will come back. It’s sensitive to baby’s needs, so apparently baby just wasn’t that hungry. Just make sure you’re drinking enough water, eating enough fat (now is not the time to go on a diet) and not stressing out about it. Give yourself a couple weeks and you’ll be bitching about how hard your boobs are all the time because you have too much supply.
- Please, for the love of god (or more importantly, your baby), do NOT get breastfeeding advice from books or websites like What to Expect When You’re Expecting, The Baby Whisperer or On Becoming Babywise. Just don’t do it, ok?
- Before or after a nap is a great time to nurse. When baby is really little just nurse her to sleep. You’ll both love it. And she won’t need to do it forever. Trust me, you will move past it when she’s ready. And when she gets older, before or after a nap is the easiest time to nurse because she’s the least likely to get distracted and refuse to eat.
- Learn how to nurse side-lying in bed. It’s wonderful.
- Get comfortable nursing in public. It’s natural, it’s beautiful and it’s best for you and baby. Honestly, most people hardly notice and if they do they’re not going to sit there and stare at you. If they do stare at you, give them the death eye or start making loud comments about how some people can be so rude. You have a right to nurse your baby wherever you need to.
- If baby is spitting up a lot and seems to have reflux, consider cutting out dairy. When I did that, Addie stopped spitting up almost immediately. I kept dairy out of my diet until she was over six months and she never really spit up again. But you have to really cut out ALL dairy, and beware, because dairy is in everything. So you have to read labels and be careful – you won’t be eating many baked goods or packaged food, but hey, that’s probably better for you anyways, right?
- Remember that many (if not most) doctors are NOT lactation experts. If your doctor gives you breastfeeding advice, take it with a grain of salt and then check with the real experts. Lactation consultants are certified by the IBLCE.
- The best time to pump is in the morning – that’s when your supply is highest. And even if you can’t get much when you pump in the morning, don’t freak out! Baby is much more efficient and can get much more milk.
- Don’t be lured by formula companies’ claims that you need to supplement with formula. It’s incredibly rare that a mother actually can’t make enough milk. Especially if you’re nursing all the time from the beginning. Just remember, formula companies want you to fail: that’s how they make money.
Advice on Night-Weaning
Adeline has never been a great sleeper, so I’ve read all the baby sleep books. One piece of advice that really helped us was to night-wean. She was completely night-weaned by about 9.5 months and she started sleeping better immediately. So here’s what we did:
- Around five months we started to put her back to sleep without nursing some of the time. That was challenging at first, but after a few weeks she started to get the hang of it.
- By about six months she would wake up at pretty regular times for her night nursings, so then we decided to slowly eliminate the nursings, one at a time.
- By seven months she was down to three nursings, so I just cut out the middle one. That was probably the toughest part. She was into a schedule so she didn’t want it changed. It was a rough couple of weeks but finally she stopped waking for that nursing.
- Once she was down to two nursings we took it even more slowly. She was waking at about 1:30 and 4:00 for her nursings, so I followed Dr. Ferber’s advice on cutting them out: when she woke at 1:30 I would put her back to sleep without nursing and wait at least 30 minutes to nurse. If she wouldn’t go back to sleep at all I would keep trying until 2:00 and then nurse. If she did go back to sleep, I would just wait until she woke on her own and nurse her then. Same thing with the 4:00 nursing: I would wait until at least 4:30 to nurse. Then each night we would push it back another half an hour. We kept doing that until the second feeding dropped out into the morning feeding. So at that point she was nursing just once at about 4:00. Then we did the same thing until that nursing dropped out as well. It took about a month total (we took a break when we were on a vacation and just kept the nursings where they were). But it really seemed to go well – at no point was she overly upset about what was going on. It was slow and gentle and everyone was happy. Yay!