By Vera Armstead
Breastfeeding provides incredible benefits for babies from curating individualized nutrition based on their needs to providing antibodies to prevent sickness. Breastfeeding not only physically benefits babies, but it also emotionally meets their needs. Babies respond positively to the skin to skin contact that breastfeeding gives, they may nurse for comfort, and some parents may notice a deepened relationship between the breastfeeding parent and the child. While the benefits of breastfeeding are largely discussed, it can also be difficult and emotionally draining for the breastfeeder, especially during the periods of cluster feeding (when babies eat at least once an hour during the day while experiencing a growth spurt). If breastfeeding is a goal for your family, it is important to engage in self care in order to sustain your journey. The following tips can help keep you on track with breastfeeding: 1. Utilize a Support System You may have heard the common phrase “it takes a village to raise a child.” I would argue that it takes a village to successfully breastfeed also! If you have a partner or co-parent, it can be a major help to have them present during feeds to help you with positioning, keep you awake during nighttime feedings, and burp the baby afterwards. This is especially relevant during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. 2. Be prepared Take an infant feeding class. Knowing the correct feeding positions, pumping techniques, nursing frequencies, and bottle feeding methods is essential for breastfeeding success. If time or money are barriers, research your community’s local hospitals and resources for new parents. There are also multiple free and on demand breastfeeding classes online. Joining breastfeeding support groups on Facebook or in person will also help with emotional and educational support by learning from other parents who have similar experiences. If your baby doesn’t have a perfect latch on day one, has a tongue tie, or struggles to gain weight, this can add additional stressors to your family. Utilizing information from a breastfeeding class or support groups will build your confidence and prepare you for any issues if they arise. Breastfeeding may seem as simple as putting nipple to mouth, but in reality there are more intricacies! 3. Reward Yourself Breastfeeding takes a lot of time and energy! Adding up all the time it takes to feed and store milk, it amounts to as much as a full time job. To keep yourself motivated throughout your breastfeeding journey, reward yourself with gifts here and there. Tree of Life has one of a kind breastmilk jewelry created with the breastmilk customers themselves pump! Something like a breastmilk ring is the perfect memento to signify all of the dedication and love you put into feeding your child. With options as low as $60, it is the perfect reward! 4. Prioritize alone time While it is exciting to have a new addition to your family who you love and care for, it can be easy to get caught up in all the tasks of tending to your little one. Make sure to get fresh air between feedings, even if it is just for a few minutes running a simple errand or going to the store. Make sure to eat ample meals throughout the day, and allow a friend or family member to watch the baby while you take regular showers. Try meditating to keep a level head throughout parenthood’s ups and downs. Remember, breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing. There are a variety of formulas on the market that are safe and beneficial for your baby to consume. Even if you’ve breastfed your baby one time or five thousand times, your little one will still experience the incredible benefits from your liquid gold.