Breastfeeding can be wonderful -- emotionally and physically -- for both mother and baby. Here are six ways you can dedicate yourself to breastfeeding:
1. Enlist the support of your partner and family. They may have conflicting feelings about your breastfeeding -- it takes up a lot of your time, and may make them feel out of the loop. But you can educate them on breast milk's many benefits and let them know that breastfeeding is something you want to do and are happy to do. They can lend a hand by burping the baby afterward or helping you get settled into a comfortable position. If your partner wants a chance to feed the baby or other relatives want to babysit, you can pump and let them give breast milk in a bottle.
2. Find a breastfeeding friend. Just like it helps to exercise or diet with a buddy, having someone to talk to about nursing can make it easier. You can problem-solve together, but also talk about the joys of nursing, which are things your husband or family members may not be able to relate to. You can find other breastfeeding moms at new-mother groups and La Leche League meetings.
3. Take it a month at a time. The American Academy of Pediatrics wants you to try breastfeeding for baby's first year, but those 12 months can seem like an epic stretch to a brand-new mom. You may be better off setting small goals and congratulating yourself as you hit each one: "I made it through the first six weeks!" and then "I've done it for three months!" followed by "I can keep going to six months." By that point, you may have discovered that it's easier to just keep breastfeeding than to make the transition to bottles and formulas and the work and expense they entail.
4. Don't second-guess yourself and start formula. Some nursing moms become convinced that their baby is not getting enough on breast milk alone, or that they somehow need nutrition from formula. But if your baby is gaining weight at each pediatrician visit, she's getting enough milk. And while formula is nutritious, it's not as good for your baby as breast milk.
5. On the other hand, don't hesitate to supplement with formula if you need to. If your pediatrician is concerned about baby's weight gain, or you need to return to work and can't pump at your workplace, then supplementing with formula is fine. Many moms do a combination of breastfeeding and bottlefeeding with formula.
6. Remember: Breastfeeding keeps getting easier. As your baby gains head control and gets big enough to sit up without so much of your support, holding her in position will be simpler. It sounds impossible to a new mom, but eventually you'll find yourself talking on the phone, reading, or even typing on the computer while you nurse! Plus as your baby begins eating solids, you'll find yourself nursing less. Instead of feeling as if you spend most of the day breastfeeding, your nursing sessions will become sweet little respites during busy baby days.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; La Leche League
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.