Trust Your Body AFTER Birth
When I teach the most important lesson I want any of the students to learn is to trust their bodies. If you can do this one thing you can have a wonderful labor and birth. This trust in yourself and your abilities to mother will transfer over to breastfeeding once your baby is born.
There are a thousand things that can possibly go wrong with breastfeeding- many of them peculiar to our culture surely. I am by no means a lactation specialist so I won't talk about any of them. But one thing I notice constantly with new mothers is that they simply don't believe that they can breastfeed their baby.
This is really not surprising considering that the entire birth practice in this country from inception to birth is often tearing down mothers and telling them that an expert needs to help them with everything from fertility to getting their baby out for them and then breastfeeding and parenting.
Feed your baby on demand
First- feed your baby when it is hungry! This is so simple but can be so hard for many reasons. One reason is that there are so many baby training programs out there telling you how and when to feed your baby.
OK ladies- I have had three kids in the last 5 years- I rarely get a full nights uninterrupted sleep and haven't in a long time. I know this is hard and I have had many night time breakdowns. That being said- babies need to nurse very frequently for only a short time. Usually these frequent feedings are simply your baby telling you something-
Just like labor talks to you and tells you to move, sway, relax etc, your baby talks to you by crying or fussing or rooting. Listen to them. This seems like a long time when you are in the middle of it- but it does not last forever.
You have enough milk!
Now- if you are feeding your baby when it is hungry (this might be every 30 minutes or every 3 hours- they are all different and they change from day to day) then you should be making enough milk.
RELAX! Just because your baby wants to eat again does not mean you are not making enough milk. You are most likely doing fine your baby just needs you again or is trying to increase your supply by nursing. This is OK. This is natural and it does not mean you are not producing enough. Frequent nursing is your babies way of increasing your milk supply. Just like the baby participates in birth by moving and turning, it also participates in eating. He is not just a passive onlooker. He will help you make more milk.
Take Care of You
Those first few weeks after the birth will probably leave you tired and maybe a little sore. This is not a bad thing. This is natures way of telling you (or shouting) that you need to slow down, relax and just focus on feeding a new baby. Listen. The more you rest the first couple of weeks the better you will feel in six.
Sleep with the baby when you can, let people help you, have lots of healthy snacks around and drink lots of water. Taking care of yourself will help you make enough milk. And staying home a little bit will save you the trouble and challenge that going out in public and nursing in public can bring in the early days.
I vividly remember taking my 3 day old baby to the Dr for his well baby check up. Of course I couldn't even fit into a bra, and in the waiting room my milk let down. I was absolutely soaked. And to top it all off- very new to breastfeeding and just couldn't get him to nurse- especially in public and especially under a blanket. (And a little plug for home-birth and the midwife visit! YEA!)
We have all been there- it can be hard. Relax, believe in yourself, trust your body and your baby. Count those wet diapers, drink your water and find supportive women to surround yourself with. Remember- it takes two weeks to become good at nursing so give yourself a break and just do your best.
LLL International has wonderful info regarding La Leche League groups in your area and problems with breastfeeding.
Dr Sears Books and Harvey Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block video have great ways to calm and love your baby when they need you but don't necessarily want to eat.