by Shaun Derenzo @thebreastfeedingmomsclub
Motherhood is one of the most exciting things any woman experiences in her life. From pregnancy to birth to the postpartum period, each season allows us to discover the incredible things that our bodies can do. With that, there are challenges as well. One of the trickiest parts to navigate when you enter motherhood (even if you’re 4 babies in) is breastfeeding.
When I first became a mom at the young age of 20, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my son, but didn’t know much else past that expectation I set for myself. That lack of knowledge about breastfeeding was not bliss, but rather the thing that allowed me to have a very short-lived breastfeeding journey.
Ultimately I wound up exclusively formula-feeding my one-month-old baby. This is something that I regret to this day, but also something that posed many lessons for me in my subsequent stages of motherhood. I am now 25 and have been exclusively breastfeeding my daughter for the past 9 months!
I continue to learn so much about breastfeeding through my experiences, and my passion for it has led me on the path to becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor.
With that being said I would like to share with you:
5 tips for navigating a positive breastfeeding relationship with your baby and yourself!
#1 Create a relaxing environment!
The goal is to create an environment that will inhibit a relaxing breastfeeding journey. I love this tip because it has a lot of creative leeway for the individual. It also forces you to envision what breastfeeding your baby looks like before the baby is born. This can be a very helpful tool for mental preparation.
It can be anything that makes you feel comfortable, calm, and happy! This can be a reclining rocking chair, a soft nursing pillow, a whole nursery room with colors you love, and all the cute baby things. It can even be as simple as keeping a sound machine or your favorite candle next to your bed and ready to use for when you are nursing!
Creating this soothing environment for you and your baby during feeding times is such a key aspect in the successful initiation and duration of your breastfeeding journey.
#2 Educate yourself about breastfeeding
Watch educational videos and take a class on the basics of breastfeeding. Key takeaways are: how to properly initiate it through positioning, latch, and bonding techniques. This can be done prenatally or after you’ve had your baby.
It’s never too late to learn more! Having this knowledge on breastfeeding will certainly increase your chances of breastfeeding success, especially in the early postpartum weeks when breastfeeding is typically still being mastered for you and for baby.
#3 Keep it simple
When it comes to breastfeeding it is easy, especially for first-time moms, to get really wrapped up in all these new and pretty products on the market. This can just add stress to a mama who already has so many things to prepare for.
Keeping this in mind, my next tip is YOU DO NOT NEED ALL THE THINGS. To me, this means not buying every pump, pillow, and potion on the market to assist you with your breastfeeding journey. Most women will find that they spend extra money on products that oftentimes aren’t even useful for their specific needs around breastfeeding.
For example, there are many pumps on the market that seem like essential… hands-free, dual pumping, and multiple modes… however, unless you become an exclusive or routine pumper, then a simple manual pump is usually (not always) all that you need to keep a supply. Also, you truly won’t know what products will be best to assist you in your breastfeeding journey until you are breastfeeding. So, please, Mama, save yourself time and money by keeping it simple and only buy what you KNOW will support your specific breastfeeding needs!
#4 Create a support system
I truly believe feeding your baby with your body is the hardest and most rewarding job of taking care of your little one. There is so much that goes into making this new relationship work once you enter the postpartum period. However, it is not something that you have to do alone!
One of the most beautiful things about breastfeeding is that you get to choose every aspect of the journey, including who is there to support your decisions. Knowing who your support person is through birth and beyond is my next tip for having a successful breastfeeding experience.
Once you decide who this person is — your partner, mother, sibling, neighbor, etc. — then you have to start making it a habit to communicate to them about each step of your journey, your changing needs along the way, and when something is not working well for you. They are there for YOU. To support what you need and your breastfeeding goals. Make sure you are on the same page with this person so you do not feel alone during this time.
#5 Team up with a Lactation Specialist
My last tip for breastfeeding success is to work with a lactation specialist if you are having problems with breastfeeding or you do not have anyone to support you on your journey. Additionally, the specialist will assure you when it is going well!
As moms, we are so quick to doubt our abilities on all fronts, leaving little room for confidence in raising our babies. This is truly sad to me and getting help from a lactation specialist can be very reassuring, even if there is no major problem with breastfeeding. They exist in this world and are here to help and support your breastfeeding needs! Whether it’s an IBCLC, CLC, or breastfeeding counselor through WIC, they can be an invaluable resource that gets you to where you want to be when it comes to feeding your baby!
As a young mom of two who has breastfed successfully and not so successfully, I hope you’ll take these breastfeeding tips for beginners and use them for your benefit. I have learned so much by keeping an open mind and trusting the connection between my baby and myself. I’ve learned to be confident in all my abilities as a mother through breastfeeding and that is something that I will be forever grateful for. You can do it too, Mama!
Article written by: Shaun Derenzo
“As a mother of two young ones, all things breastfeeding have inevitably become part of my life and something I am very passionate about. I hope to spread this passion to other mothers through education and support. Thank you for being here!“
Follow her on IG @breastfeedingmomsclub