7 Easy Tips: Keep These In Mind If You Start Breastfeeding

Throughout the first week of August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week.  Although it’s been happening since the dawn of history, breastfeeding has not always been championed by medical personnel and society in general. It’s hard to believe, but there was a time, not that long ago, when mothers (at least in the developed world) were encouraged to bottle feed babies almost from the moment they were born.

Thankfully, that approach is long gone.

Mothers are not only encouraged to breastfeed, there are plenty of supports in place to help them achieve it smoothly and comfortably because it heightens the bond between mom and infant. Breastfeeding in public is now “permissible” in all 50 states, so thankfully, society has come a long way since the 1950s.

In this post, we offer a few suggestions to bear in mind when you begin breastfeeding. They will help make your experience, and your infant’s, comfortable, cozy, and ever so nourishing for the little one!

1. Don’t panic if it takes a little time.

Unfortunately, breastfeeding has, in some circles, become like a competitive Olympic sport, with some women boasting on social media about how easy, painless and quick getting started was for them. While it’s wonderful that some mothers have an uncomplicated beginning to nursing, it makes other women who don’t have an easy time feel like failures. If you are struggling a little at first, remember – that’s totally normal! Very few babies, despite what you may read on social media, latch on from the instant they are put on their mother’s breast. It can take a few hours or days, even, to smooth out the process, so don’t worry if you and your baby need a bit more support. Many hospitals now have lactation specialists on staff, who can help you find just the right position for the baby and get them comfortably latched on.

2. It’s important you’re relaxed and comfortable.

Both of you need to be in positions that foster easy breastfeeding. Some mothers find that lying in bed, with their baby facing them, is a relaxing way to nurse. Others prefer to sit up and hold their baby close, after tucking their nipple into their baby’s mouth. There are not really any wrong poses; it depends entirely on what works for you two, and which position promotes the easy flow of milk.

3. Take good care of your skin, particularly around your nipples.

Naturally, a baby nursing can cause your skin to dry out and even crack. Using a good moisturizer every few hours goes a long way to helping your skin stay soft and supple. It stays more comfortable for your baby, too!

4. Have a quiet spot designated for you and baby.

Many mothers enjoy nursing in a rocking chair, with the lights low, in peace and quiet. Sometimes, of course, you can’t have an ideal environment like that in which to feed your baby, but create one at home and retreat to it whenever possible. Quiet helps you and baby both relax.

5. Feed as often as your baby demands.

Newborns should be fed whenever they “ask,” usually by crying or signaling you in another way. Some babies do an opening and closing motion with their mouths that lets mom know they’re hungry; others suck on whatever toy or soother is close at hand. You will quickly learn your infant’s signs of hunger, even anticipate those signs, and should breastfeed as often as they ask, especially in the first few months.

6. Don’t worry about leakage – it happens to everyone!

New moms worry, sometimes, about milk leaking through their bras and staining their clothing, particularly in public. Try to adopt a humorous approach to these minor mishaps, and forget about it! If people are embarrassed because your milk has leaked through, they need an attitude adjustment! If all else fails, you can purchase reusable nipple pads to help prevent leakage.

7. Breastfeed until you and your baby are ready to stop.

You’ll know when that is, so don’t let exterior pressures (like your job, or “Aunt Annie’s” comments!) influence your decision. Plenty of working moms continue nursing; they simply use a pump to provide their baby with enough milk until they come home. It can be tricky, yes, but it can be done, especially if you have a supportive partner and a nanny at home to help.

World Breastfeeding Week was founded in 1991, by the Alliance For Breastfeeding Action. (Contact them at: (http://waba.org).  Their headquarters are in Malaysia.

The group is dedicated to advocating for breastfeeding on “a global scale,” and each year it hosts numerous activities in communities around the world to foster understanding of, and advocate for, the rights of mothers everywhere.

Some states (like New York) have committed to building areas in public spaces, like government offices, in which nursing mothers can feed their babies with a modicum of privacy. But there is still room for growth: it was only four years ago that Australian senator Larissa Waters caused a stir by feeding her infant while addressing Parliament. The episode caused an uproar in international media, but Ms. Waters reacted with aplomb. She noted that it is absurd that breastfeeding her child prompted news crews from around the world to comment. She noted to a local newspaper, “Women have been breastfeeding since time immemorial.”

They have indeed. And now, fortunately, it is viewed by the majority as the most natural, healthy and best way to begin a little one’s life.

How times have changed – and thank goodness for that! So, during the first seven days of August, do something to celebrate your breastfeeding self, or your partner, or even a friend. Offering support and praise is sometimes all a new parent needs, and what better time to offer it than during World Breastfeeding Week?