The First 6 Weeks of Breastfeeding and 6 Successful Strategies to Follow
Guest blogger, Wendy Wright, is a lactation consultant and founder of the 16 Minute Club.
Developing a healthy nursing relationship with your newborn is crucial during the first six weeks of their life. Being sleep deprived and recovering from birth can make these first six weeks the hardest. Here are six strategies to keep in mind for the best breastfeeding success.
- Have a Lactation Consultant on Speed Dial: It is important to find a lactation consultant you like a trust before you give birth. They can be your rock during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. The lactation nurses at the hospital can be a good resource too, but the problem comes when there are too many nurses telling you to do different things. It can be overwhelming and not very helpful. This is why it is good to find one consultant beforehand that you can rely on for help while you are in the hospital and when you return home. Many consultants are more than happy to answer texts and questions all day long because they have a genuine love and care for new moms and babies. Don’t be afraid to ask for help constantly.
- Attend a Breastfeeding Support Group: Another helpful resource is a breastfeeding support group or a La Leche meeting. This is a great way to get any questions answered and to find new moms who are in the same boat as you. There are many women and articles that make breastfeeding look easy and painless, and that is not always the case. These group meetings will help motivate you to get past the hard weeks and remind you of the amazing reasons for breastfeeding in the first place.
- Don’t Think About Supplementing Yet: Majority of babies go through a growing curve during their first month of life. Many hospitals will want to push supplementing right after birth because of jaundice or a lower birth rate. If the hospital is being too pushy, inform them that you are going to make an appointment with the baby’s doctor so that she can better access if there is a need to supplement or if the weight loss was just due to extra fluids from birth. Many doctors will also recommend supplementing if the baby has not grown by the two week mark. Again, it is important not to give in, but to instead ask if you can return at the baby’s six week mark to better assess the growth and need for supplementing. You can say that you prefer a second opinion from a different pediatrician. In some cases, supplementing is essential. However, for most new moms and babies, they just need the first six weeks to get the hang of things.
- Nurse without a Schedule: Schedules are a great thing for moms and babies, but they really should not be thought of until your milk supply is fully developed and the baby has grown a bit more. For the first six weeks, the word “schedule” should be thrown out of your vocabulary. Your baby will be going through a lot of changes the first six weeks, which requires a lot of nursing. As hard as it seems, it is just best to relax and nurse as much as possible.
- Nourish Yourself: You are doing an amazing thing for your child by giving them the best milk. It is so important to remember to nourish yourself properly during this time. You need the best nutrients to help you heal from birth and produce the best milk. Soups made from homemade bone broth and healthy vegetables and meat can help keep you hydrated and provide you with the necessary vitamins and minerals you need. Another great and easy meal for mom’s health and milk supply is a smoothie made with coconut milk and coconut oil. Coconut milk will help hydrate you, while coconut oil provides your body and milk with much needed healthy fats. Stay away from sugar and processed foods, which can make your energy crash once the added sugar has left your blood stream.
- Have a Good Support Team: Your spouse or partner can be valuable support for you during the first six weeks, but don’t just assume they know how to support you. Take your spouse or partner to lactation support meetings so that they can better assist you in breastfeeding. If people come over to visit the baby, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Any visitor can get you a glass of water, make you a quick meal, or do a simple chore. Most people will want to help, but they just don’t know how.
These six strategies will set you up for breastfeeding success during the first weeks. Remember, your only job is to take care of yourself and your baby, so don’t worry about laundry, cleaning, or other tasks that can wait.