When it comes to breastfeeding people will volunteer all sorts of advice--you could hear everything from pumping before your baby is born to roughing your nipples up while you're still pregnant. But in all honesty, much of what you'll hear is totally subjective and may work for some women, but could actually make things harder for others. What you really need to know are the basics--things that will help you ensure that both your body and mind are as prepared as possible. These seven tips will help you succeed at breastfeeding with as little stress as possible:
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Do your research. Whether you're already pro-breastfeeding or you're just trying to make an informed choice, make sure that the information your taking in is well-balanced. You can read as many tips as you want, but you have to remember that your baby and your breastfeeding relationship will be unique, so there should be no hard-and-fast rules. Get information from varied sources including those from real-life moms who have had real-life experiences. Blogs are a great place to start.
Build a support system. Know which of your friends has breastfed and if they would be willing to help you out. Of course you want to take advantage of the nurses and the lactation consultant at the hospital, but once you're home you'll still need help and you'll still have plenty of questions. Fellow moms are brimming with practical know-how. If you don't know anyone who fits the bill, see if there is a free breastfeeding support group in your area and if not, you may want to find the number of an independent lactation consultant.
Stock your house. Have everything you'll need for nursing in your home before your baby is born. I suggest a nursing pillow, lanolin cream, nursing tanks and nursing pads, and I strongly recommend having healthy snacks stocked in kitchen. You will need to eat and drink A LOT (probably after each nursing session) and you won't have much time to prepare food.
Nurse as soon as you can. You need to make sure that your nurse and doctor know that you want to nurse your baby as soon as possible after delivery. Your baby will be ready to eat as soon as he's born and this is the best time to signal to your body that it needs to start producing milk. Make sure your labor partner knows as well, that way if you forget he/she can remind you.
Be very clear with hospital staff. Make sure you make it explicitly clear that your baby should not be fed anything other than breastmilk. And if you don't want your baby to have a pacifier, make sure they know that too. Standard procedure at most hospitals is to soothe babies with pacifiers and to feed them formula if they are in the nursery.
Take care of yourself. Get as much rest as you can, when you can. Don't worry about counting calories, drink plenty of water and do whatever you need to do to stay relaxed and comfortable. Your bodily functions will start to shut down if you are too hungry, too tired or too stressed, and that means you'll have a harder time producing milk.
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