Your due date is fast approaching and you are all geared up for baby. You have all the gear, tons of parenting books, and the baby’s room is painted and decorated. You are the most prepared mom-to-be ever. Even so, there are some things that all new moms fumble their way through and end up learning the old fashioned way: through experience. So, to help you along the way, here are some things about breastfeeding that those parenting books may not have told you.
The Right Bra is Essential
There is one thing that all new moms wish to avoid: post-pregnancy sag. The right nursing bra is key to helping prevent breast sag after pregnancy. Don’t pick out the first bra you see in your size, but really take your time to make sure you get the right fit. You should expect that your breasts will grow 1 – 2 sizes while nursing, so keep this in mind while shopping. The ideal bra should have a wide band that fits snuggly under the breasts and cups that support you but not too tightly. Underwire wire bras can lead to constricted flow and clogged ducts so should be avoided. If you are not sure about how to pick the right fit, visit a maternity shop and get a professional fitting, it is worth the extra effort.
Leaks Are Going to Happen
It doesn’t matter if it is night or day, leaks are going to happen. Be prepared for this by having a ready supply of absorbent nursing pads you can tuck inside your bra. Pads are available in both disposable or reusable form and work well to keep an untimely leak from becoming a potentially embarrassing moment.
Finding the Right Latch Can Be a Pain
And I mean that literally. Things can get painful while you and baby are getting the hang of latching on. Many new mom’s and their baby struggle with an incomplete latch when first starting out, which causes a pinching of mom’s nipples that can lead to sore or cracked nipples. Knowing what a complete latch should look like can help you to avoid this: when your baby is completely latched your nipple and at least half of your areola will be sucked into baby’s mouth. If you think a latch is complete but you still feel pinching after 60 seconds, something isn’t right and you need to break baby’s seal by gently pressing your finger on your breast near his mouth and then try again.
Nursing Can Cause Cramps
That’s right, sometimes nursing can cause uterine cramps. This is due to that fact that nursing stimulates the body to produce oxytocin, a hormone which causes uterine cramping. So feeling crampy in the first couple of weeks of nursing is not a cause for concern, and can actually have an added side benefit: cramps help shrink your uterus back down to its normal size, getting you back into your pre-pregnancy clothes faster.
Engorgement is Awful
Seriously, it is. Many pregnancy books describe engorgement - which happens a few days after birth when the milk supply comes in - as being mildly uncomfortable. The truth is that engorgement can be quite severely uncomfortable and you need to be prepared for that. It may be too painful to wear a bra or a shirt and you may find yourself lying in bed with nothing on, scared to move. To help with the discomfort, try taking a warm bath or shower, waking up baby to nurse, or pumping if your breasts are too swollen for feeding. The good news is that engorgement should correct itself once your supply adjusts to your baby’s demands.
Breastfeeding is the best option for feeding your baby, but it doesn’t always come easy for new moms. Though you may experience some struggles at first, hang in there - the benefits far outweigh the struggles.
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