Beginning to breastfeed : Tips from my own experience

I noticed that I have promoted myself as a breastfeeding advocate but I am yet to make one dedicated entry about breastfeeding itself.

So...breastfeeding. The first thing that came into my mind, when I decided to have a baby. I am grateful that I am becoming a mommy in the information age, because nowadays breastfeeding awareness is well on the run. More and more mothers are going back to basics, or as they say it, doing the natural parenting. Information about natural parenting and breastfeeding is easily available anywhere, offline or online.

However, as natural as breastfeeding could be, it does come with its own set of challenges. Some mothers even thought that it is as simple as ABC, just open up and let the baby have her milk. But then my friend, like everything else, there is nothing wrong to PREPARE for the breastfeeding journey, as it may help set expectations and reduce frustrations.

Well before I continue, let me just say that I am talking based on my own experience. This entry is not some sort of professional opinion, however, I believe that experience is actually an effective way to learn, and I am willing to share what I have learned so far.

1) Gather as much information as possible
Start by understanding the importance of breastfeeding, and WHY is it the best choice for your baby’s nutrition. Understand the benefits that it brings to you, baby and your spouse. Understand what options you have when you decide to breastfeed, especially if you are a working mom. Believe me, if there is a will, there is always a way. I could go on and on about this, and there is a lot of information outside there, from why breastfeed to when to start weaning. Google it up and you will get a lot of sources like Baby Center and Susu

2) Ask!
Do not be shy to ask. Ask your mom, ask his mom (a bonus if they were a breast feeder themselves). Ask a friend, or more friends. However funny your question could be, just ask. Its good, especially to eliminate myths like “Do I get flabby if I breastfeed?” or “Doesn’t the milk go bad if you keep it too long?” Join breastfeeding support groups, like the one I joined in Facebook below:

Kump. Ibu2 Menyusukan
The Breastfeeding Advocates Network

They may be strangers to you, but they all share the same goal, to breastfeed their babies and help each other.

3) Prepare physically
Our body starts to prepare itself for milk production during pregnancy. Hence, some women started leaking colostrum in their final months of pregnancy. As for me, I did not have any. A friend told me that it is OK to start massaging the breasts just to get it ready for production, but do not overdo it as it is also said that hormones released during breast stimulation could trigger contractions. The point is, find out what you can do to prepare yourself not only during the final stage of pregnancy, and also right after delivery. Find a good breast therapist, as she may be able to help you to massage and get the milk flow going by encouraging the milk ducts to open. This will be a good relieve and help reduces engorgement, especially a few days after delivery when the milk supply starts to build up. I was really grateful that the therapists that I hired for confinement was good at this, else I could have gone miserable with the engorgement pain.

4) Prepare financially
The milk does not cost you anything, but the expression of milk and storage does. So, prepare by surveying the breast pump brands they have to offer out there, making sure that it fits your budget and your breastfeeding plan. If you are a stay- at-home mom, chances is you may not need any. If you are working, consider your time flexibility and storage options. From there you will be able to work out what grade of breast pump you need (the higher the grade, the more efficient) and also how much storage solution you need to have.

5) Be solid of your choices
Once you make up your mind, convey it to your spouse and your potential caregiver (like your mom or his mom), as well as to your doctor and the delivery team. To your family, let them know that you need their support. To the hospital team, let them know that you want to breastfeed your baby and ask them to help you with it.

6) Choose wisely
If possible, choose the right hospital to give birth in. All of our Government Hospitals are Rakan Bayi (Pro-Breastfeeding), so you do not have to worry. I heard that they really go the extra mile to make sure you breastfeed your baby. If you are opting for a private hospital, make sure that they are Pro-Breastfeeding. It is sad to say that not all OB/GYN are breastfeeding advocates, and not all hospitals provide a Lactation Consultant. My hospital was not the right one for me as it was not Rakan Bayi, so choose the right one for you.

7) Sign up for a breastfeeding class
I missed out this one too. I just relied on my readings and verbal information, so if you have the chance, sign up for a breastfeeding class (together with your spouse if he is willing to). Natural parenting centers like Sara Kids (TTDI) and government hospitals do offer this kind of classes.

8) Prepare mentally – Prepare for the worst case,do not get obsessed, and try to stay positive
When you are done with all other preparations, the most important thing, I shall say is your mental readiness. It all goes back to your determination, and your perseverance. Always try to stay positive, and try not to get too obsessed with it. The reason I am saying this is that some mothers tend to get too carried away, up to the point that they missed out that the real goal is to nourish the baby. In confinement especially, it is important to keep your emotions in check, so do not get too frustrated if you have some difficulties with breastfeeding. Take a breather; take it one step at a time. If the worst case happens (low milk supply, mastitis, or inverted nipples, etc), just bare in mind that the baby still needs to be nourished.Prepare yourself that formula may have to be given, just as a supplement, while waiting for you to get back on track. You can always try again. Nothing is perfect, not everybody is lucky, but we all have a second chance. After all, formula milk is not poison, it’s just a second best.

9) Work with your baby
I love to say that breastfeeding is a team effort, and the star player is you and your baby. Babies do have their own way of telling us their needs. Listen and take cues from your baby, and you both will be happy. I love to quote @NurturedChild from my Twitter favourites list:

“Breastfeeding is not black and white, and there are no hard and fast rules. If it’s working for you and your baby, then it’s good :)"


harzharun said…
setuju sgt2 dgn point no 8!

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