The girlfriends' guide to breastfeeding
Posted on Aug. 6, 2014 (
World Breastfeeding week is August 1 to 7. We think that’s worth celebrating, so we asked a panel of mothers, and one of our lactation specialists, to share their breastfeeding experiences and advice.
Breastfeeding is different for everyone
Breastfeeding is a unique experience for every mother and baby. It takes time to figure out how to get your baby to latch properly, which way to hold them and how long they take to eat. These factors can also change from day to day. Your baby may decide they don’t like being cradled while feeding after all, or that they only want to lay on their right side.
Deb Minklein, RN, a lactation consultant at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, encourages mothers to ask for help with breastfeeding.
“That early support makes all the difference. Managing breastfeeding at the beginning makes for an easier and more enjoyable process once mothers go home,” says Minklein.
Lactation consultants at MultiCare’s Family Birth Centers offer help for new breastfeeding moms. MultiCare Women, Infant, Children (WIC) Nutrition Services also provides support, including education, resources for breastfeeding questions, early infant support and assistance to breastfeeding mothers returning to work.
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy
Here’s what your girlfriends aren’t telling you. Breastfeeding can be a challenge, and guess what, it hurts.
“I assumed because it was a natural process that it would be easy. It wasn’t always,” says Marce, a Tacoma mom.
It can be painful when your milk comes in and your breasts become engorged. And it can hurt when your baby latches. In addition to learning how to hold your baby while they feed or how often to feed them, moms can get frustrated about breastfeeding, especially when running on only a couple hours of sleep.
As Jen, a mom from Puyallup, puts it, “Your nipples will bleed and peel. Your boobs will swell. Your baby will latch like a pitbull.”
Be patient. It will get better.
“Both the mother and baby are learning how to breastfeed. Your baby is learning to latch and eat and you are learning how to read baby’s behavior,” says Minklein. “It can be a hard learning curve, but it gets easier.”
Here are some tips from our panel of mothers to help make breastfeeding easier.
- Be sure to have nipple cream and ice packs to help soothe tender skin.
- Get a breast feeding pillow that wraps around your waist. It’s a life saver, making it more comfortable for you and for your baby to feed.
- Create a breastfeeding station at your house. Keep water, burp cloths and a breast feeding pillow close at hand.
- When you get frustrated, remember that any amount of breast milk you provide your child is better than nothing.
Breastfeeding helps your baby thrive
Breast milk provides the best source of nutrition for infants. Research shows that babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months are less likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including:
- Childhood obesity
- Ear infections
- Lower respiratory infections
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Type 2 diabetes.
Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding, with a decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers. Breastfeeding also burns extra calories, helping you lose pregnancy weight faster.
Breastfeeding is more than a food source for your infant. The physical closeness and skin-to-skin touching when breastfeeding develops your bond with your baby and makes them feel secure.
“The bond I had with my children while breastfeeding was so special and reminded me to take a breath, relax and remember to slow down,” says Maple Valley mom Jessica.
“Keep a camera close by,” says Sherrilee, a Tacoma mom. “Some of the most precious photos I have of my children are of them snoozing or gazing at me after breastfeeding.”
Deb Minklein, RN has been a lactation consultant at Good Samaritan Hospital for nearly 20 years. The MultiCare WIC Breastfeeding Helpline is available for breastfeeding questions, 253-848-0826. Trained staff members, including Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), are also available at individual clinics for new mothers and infants to receive advice and assistance.
Posted in: Women's Health
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