While breastfeeding is something most mums want to give a go- the thoughts of it can be very intimidating. But fear not, here are some top tips for Midwife Avril Flynn on making your breastfeeding journey a little easier.
1. Preparation is KeyWhile we may be told breastfeeding is a 'natural', this does not mean it isn't a skill. With any skill, the more you know going in can help. Make sure that you do a Preparing to Breastfeed' course while you are pregnant. Arrange a meeting with your lactation consultant in your maternity hospital. Read breastfeeding literature and books and also make sure you do some positive visualisations- as with anything heading in saying 'I can do this' will always stand to you.
2. Make some new Breast-Friends
Whether you join a local breastfeeding support group (Google those in your area), speak with friends, sisters, cousins, others who have fed, or find a support group online, talking or meeting - getting peer support from people who are on their own breastfeeding journey can be invaluable. Ultimately, having the knowledge base and being able to laugh and cry at the same things can make things much easier.
3. Ask for Help
You wouldn't dream of learning how to drive a car without lessons, so why do we assume differently for breastfeeding? There are qualified experts in nearly every county in Ireland and in every maternity unit who have spent hours studying and need to re-certify every few years. Theses Lactation experts can answer questions, observe feeds, diagnose issues and find solutions. A list can be found here www.iblc.ie.
4. Be Kind
While breastfeeding is worthwhile, it's tough as much as it's fantastic. There are, like any worthwhile endeavour, always highs and lows. But we can be our harshest critics, and the language we use in our own heads can have a profound effect on our experience. So turn the 'I can't' to 'I can', turn the 'I'm not good at this' to 'aren't I amazing for a trying'. Just to give it a go , every feed is a win. Well done you!!
5. It's a Marathon, not a sprint
Like any skill, when you start something, it's awkward and difficult. Some people take to it very quickly, but for most, it takes a while. Breastfeeding takes about 4- 6 weeks to become established. If you can keep going, then usually at that point, it becomes a lot easier and then one day, baby just latches, and you do it reflexively, and it is amazing. If possible, try and keep going till then, and all of a sudden, the effort stops, and the wonderful experience takes over.