As mothers, our bodies were naturally designed to breastfeed. However, for many it may not come easily or prefer not to. Nursing is a highly beneficial experience for mother and baby when things are going smoothly. While researching the topic to bring you the best tips, I found that there isn’t one single way to remedy any issues, but rather a handful of tips that will hopefully make for a positive breastfeeding experience.
The following suggestions are intended to guide you in the right direction. If you’re experiencing serious issues, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant for help and advice.
5 General Tips for a Healthy Breastfeeding Experience
1. Nurse/Pump Frequently
It’s plain and simple, the more you breastfeed, the more milk you produce. If you feel your baby hasn’t nursed enough from either breast, pump until you feel your breast is emptied. When emptied, this stimulate milk production. Pumped milk can be offered to Baby in a bottle by your partner or other caregiver while you grab a few minutes of quite and rest.
Also nursing on demand ensures that Baby is getting fed when it needs and wants it the most.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of fluids is recommended for any healthy individual but even more so for nursing mothers. Water flushes toxins from your body and keeps you from becoming dehydrated which can have a negative impact on your milk supply. Water is not the only way to take in fluids. Try to include more vegetables, fruit, broth based soup, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and milk. Limit caffeinated drinks as they can have a dehydrating effect.
3. Rest, Rest, Rest!
Rest is a crucial part for recovering after childbirth. The body needs time to heal and recuperate. Exhaustion leaves new moms physically drained and irritable which is certainly not the ideal situation for a breastfeeding mom. It’s highly recommended to “sleep when baby sleeps”, but as a veteran mom, I know that’s not always possible. If you can’t actually sleep, try another activity that relaxes you, perhaps a warm bath or reading for a few minutes.
Remember that milk you pumped? Hand baby over to your partner so that you can take a few more minutes to yourself while your baby is fed.
4. Eat Healthy
Whatever you eat, Baby is taking in through your breast milk. Focus on fresh, healthy, and nutrient rich foods. Starting a diet is not ideal while nursing. Cutting back on calories can deplete your milk supply. In fact, you should try to increase them by up to 300-500 calories turning to nutritiously filling choices. Small meals through out the day are ideal for keep you satisfied and your milk supply going.
While there isn’t any food that is proven to increase milk supply, many mothers claim that fenugreek and oatmeal (not served together!) have had beneficial effects on their milk production.
5. Don’t Stress
Just don’t! Everyone hits bumps in the road while breastfeeding. You’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I would have given up on nursing with my first child if it wasn’t for my incredible lactation consultant. You may be exhausted the first couple of weeks but as your baby grows, you’ll eventually have more hours to sleep. Worried you’re not eating healthy enough? Your body will naturally provide Baby with essential nutrients it needs.
What works for some mothers, may not work for others. Trust your own body and instincts. Do what feels right for you and Baby. Nursing is a beautiful experience. Try not to overthink it. Just milk it for all it’s worth!
Image courtesy of The International Breastfeeding Symbol.