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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to have a successful Nursing experience.

I have thought a lot about nursing lately. I LOVE it. But I'm not an LLL member. I do think more women could breastfeed if they understood some basics of nursing, if they had more support from family/work/friends/etc...These are just my opinions. ( I highly recommend The Nursing Mother's Companion if you need more info!) :)

So I compiled a little list of basics that I think help with nursing. These ideas probably won't help if you have real problems with milk production, but are things I've found helpful.

1. BE dedicated. If you don't really care about nursing and aren't willing to do it even if it hurts or is hard, then you may not be successful. It's ok if nursing really isn't for you. Do your homework, make an informed decision, and then feel good about what you decide.

2. Let the lactation specialists in the hospital help you. Seriously, they know what they're doing. I nursed my 1st child for 14 months, and still found them to be helpful the 2nd time around.

3. Supply and Demand is important. Your baby most likely does not need formula supplements (unless there are severe medical problems, but your doctor will help you know what to do if nursing is important.) Pump in the hospital, especially if your baby is too sleepy to nurse much. Stimulating with suction helps your body know to produce milk.

4. Don't diet too soon. I'd say the first 8 weeks you shouldn't worry at all about losing weight. Just eat when you're hungry and drink lots of water. When you do start dieting, don't cut too many calories too soon. Cut calories slowly and your milk supply should be fine.

5. Don't train for a marathon. If you don't have enough calories for YOU, then you won't have enough for your baby's milk. Exercise is essential, but don't over do it. Make sure when you exercise that you replace the fluids lost.

6. If you are worried about milk supply, there are lots of things you can do. Pump after each feeding for a few days, or pump in the middle of the night if your baby is sleeping through the night. Fenugreek or mother's milk are good herbal supplements you can find at any health food store that can enhance your milk supply. You can also take hormones, but from what I understand, it's probably better to just use formula (hormones can cause you to have anxiety and depression, which I think is worse for your baby!)

7. Don't feel guilty if it doesn't work. Formula is specially designed to meet your baby's needs. It's not quite as "perfect" as mother's milk, but really, your baby will be just as normal, intelligent, and attached as if you nurse them. It's nobody's business what you feed your baby.

8. Edited to add: Skin to skin contact is a great way to bond and can also help with milk supply. Seriously, even if you think it sounds weird, it works. I sometimes feel sad thinking that I had to wait like 3 hours to nurse my first baby. My second was put right up on my bare chest and she nursed a few minutes later, when she felt like it. I think this helped my 2nd nursing experience go a bit more smoothly.

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