So you're about to be a new Mom. And you plan to breastfeed. Scratch that - you WILL breastfeed! My top reasons to breastfeed:
1. Losing a lot of quick weight. (Although some women don't lose those last few pounds until they quit nursing.)
2. Not having your period (should this be #1??).
3. Not having to fix, warm or clean bottles (if you are feeding directly).
4. All the health benefits for your baby. And this means it will be less likely that you will have to take care of a poor sick baby (which is heartwrenching) or pay for doct0r visits or medicines.
5. Environmental benefits - no formula to process, package or ship.
6. Emergency benefits - as long as you can get any food and water for yourself, you can probably breastfeed your baby (as opposed to needing specialized formula).
SO - Here are some handy tips from someone who had a few hiccups along the way.
1. Plan to have help. Maybe your sister with 3 kids, your doula, or the lactation consultant at the hospital can help make sure your latch is comfortable and help you understand what to expect. Taking a class is helpful, but you won't really be able to "practice" until the baby is born. Breastfeeding may not be perfect at first - both of you have to learn how to do it, and it may seem at first that it isn't working. Certainly, for the first 3 days my baby didn't want to feed - he just wanted to sleep. But hang in there, because your baby is born with extra fat reserves to give him some time to learn how to do it, and time for your milk to come in.
2. Have a nest. My nest was a LaZboy with a Boppy, with a view of the backyard and the TV and access to a handy side table which contained the following: burp cloth, large water glass, remote control, home and cell phones, magazine, book and snack. In the early days, all these items were essential because each feed might take 30 minutes plus a nap of 30 minutes - now I just need a glass of water and the remote control :).
3. Understand what you are getting into. Know the advantages and disadvantages of nursing. And be prepared to spend up to half of your day nursing in the first 6 weeks. (i.e. 30 minutes times 8 feeds = 4 hours). By 5 months, it may be down to only 1 1/2 hours - (6 feeds times 15 minutes), probably about the same time as bottlefeeding would be. Luckily, time you spend nursing can also be time you spend talking to a friend or reading a book - aside from the time you spend looking down at your precious angel.
4. Be ready to log. In the first 2 weeks, we kept track of every feed, pee and poop of our little fellow, to make sure everything was on track. When he wasn't pooping "on track", we called a lactation consultant to make sure everything was ok.
5. Have your supplies ready. There's not a lot to get, but it is handy to have a Boppy, breast pump & bottles, nipple pads (for the first couple of months), and some Lansinoh cream (use after every feed at first - just as a soreness prevention).
6. Drink lots and lots of water. This is very important to both keep up your supply and to avoid constipation.
Breastfeeding has been a great experience. I know that it's not for everyone, but I also know that many people give up before they even try. So - I hope these tips will make it a little easier for you to stick in there! Happy feeding!