The term breastfeeding can stir up many emotions for a mom: proud, pleased, indifferent, sensitive or depressed. Proud and pleased because their journey was triumphant. For other moms, they may not care to talk about it because their experience wasn’t the best. The truth of the matter is having an educational dialogue about a topic like breastfeeding, can be life changing. Literally.
The benefits of breastfeeding for mom AND baby are no secret. Though scientifically the best option of nutrition for baby, some mothers are not successful when it comes to breastfeeding. There are many factors but I think the main reason they do not succeed is because they didn’t have the support. My phrase of “support” is not a blanket statement. Support can mean several things, and these are my top 5 tips for breastfeeding moms to get that support so they can be successful:
- Engage a lactation consultant to help the journey go more smoothly. Let me give you a quick analogy: If you have a toothache, who would you set an appointment with? If you feel like it is hard for you to read a book without squinting, who would you call to see if your vision has changed? In the same way, if breastfeeding is painful or difficult, lactation professionals can be contacted to improve success for both mom and baby.
- Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand. You must move milk to make milk. This means the more you empty your breasts, the more milk you make. When you empty your breasts every two to three hours (or more frequently if baby is cluster feeding), you are sending a message to your body that you need to make more milk. Full, semi-hard breasts are not good. This is informing your body to slow down on production and that it is making too much. The emptier your breasts feel, the better!
- Steady production is improved by water and food intake. Breastfeeding moms should drink half of their body weight in ounces of water for hydration to produce milk and eat super foods (such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, oats, fruits, vegetables) to keep a steady production. Don’t waste money on “marketed supplements.”
- Every time you feed your baby, you are lowering your personal risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease and developing type 2 diabetes. If you love a breastfeeding mom, words of affirmation can go a long way in encouraging moms to keep going because breastfeeding is NOT easy.
- Consider pumping. If the thought of having a tiny human on your breasts makes you uneasy or if their latch is a problem, it is completely normal to exclusively pump and feed baby through a bottle (or sippy cup).
The breastfeeding journey is not an easy one for many moms but be encouraged that there are many local resources to help, including several breastfeeding consultants at MetroFamily’s Bump, Baby & More expo for new and expecting parents this Saturday. Find out more and register at www.metrofamilymagazine.
Jillian Whitaker is a huge advocate for mamas and their well being, prenatal and postpartum. Jillian is also a news reporter for Better Black News, a media outlet highlighting positive African American news and bringing awareness about issues within the African American community. Most importantly, Jillian is a mama to a 19-month-old little boy, Janori. You can follow Jillian and her news team on all social media platforms @betterblacknews or visit their website www.bbmg.tv.
Photos by Madison Gutel Photography.