Breastfeeding is not only a fantastic way to nourish your children from birth and beyond but it can also help mom and baby form a bond that can last a lifetime. Whether you nurse for a month or several years, you may initially have moments of doubt about your ability to breastfeed. Regardless of the amount of reading and research you do before giving birth, there will always be some aspect of breastfeeding you wish you had known.
Here are the five things I wish I had known from the outset.
1. The beginning is not effortless
I knew I definitely wanted to breastfeed my newborn. I figured it would be as simple as holding her in a cradle position and letting her do the rest. I was very wrong. Not all newborns latch by themselves and mine needed some encouragement to start suckling. Even then it took quite some time for breastfeeding to become second nature to us and even longer for breastfeeding to stop hurting altogether. Essential to our success was support from other moms and my drive and determination to prevail.
2. Pain indicates a problem
Breastfeeding is not always easy and will take work, but it isn’t supposed to hurt when your baby nurses. If it does, something needs adjusting and you may want to enlist a specialist to help fix the problem, sooner rather than later. I thought pain was all part of the process, but in hindsight, I should have adjusted my baby’s latch earlier.
3. Newborns nurse frequently
When first born, a baby’s stomach is approximately the size of a cherry, so her desire to nurse, what seems like all the time, is completely normal and likely not a cause for concern. As long as your baby has an output of wet and dirty diapers you are both on the right track. It didn’t bother me that my life revolved around my little one’s nursing schedule, but it would have been nice to know beforehand.
4. Breasts can leak uncontrollably
The extent that my breasts would leak and spray came as a surprise to me and a year later it still hasn’t fully subsided. Beyond wearing breast pads to absorb the milk, there is not much I can do to prevent leaking. However, I could have benefited from knowing how to make nursing more pleasant for my baby, who was constantly being hosed by my overzealous supply.
5. Babies do not need to nurse on both sides at each feeding
In the beginning, I thought I had to offer my baby both breasts every time she nursed. I was wrong, and for a while this led to her not getting enough fatty hind milk which, has a higher fat content that babies require.
To help with some of the first-time glitches, here are some local breastfeeding resources:
La Lèche League International strives to provide mother-to-mother breastfeeding support with encouragement, information and education. To find one of their welcoming leaders or groups, visit lllc.ca/find-group-quebec.
IBCLCs are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who can help with any number of breastfeeding problems. To find a certified lactation consultant in your area, visit ibclc.qc.ca/trouver-une-ibclc-13.
Health and social service centres (CSSSs) have breastfeeding clinics with experts who can answer questions about breastfeeding. To find a meeting near you, contact your local CSSS, or visit santemontreal.qc.ca.
Many Montreal hospitals have breastfeeding departments and on-site specialists ready to help new and expecting mothers. Find out more by contacting your local hospital.
Melons & Clementines, a café/store that sells breastfeeding clothes and accessories, offers on-site workshops and lactation consultants. For more information, call 514-482-5248 or visit melonsetclementines.com.