Support is the number one factor to a successful breastfeeding relationship. Having those closest to you supporting your decision to breastfeed, for as long as you choose, can help you keep going when things are challenging (and it is very likely to have at least one challenging moment).
If you attend a breastfeeding class during pregnancy, I encourage your partner to join you. You can both learn the basics, positions and latch techniques. In those sleep deprived middle of the night feedings, your partner can help remind you of the tips you both learned in class. Even for me, as a certified lactation counselor, I had a difficult time getting an ideal and non painful latch at first. I tried to assess myself but could honestly only remember 2 things at a time. I was able to speak to other lactation professionals who reminded me of one or at most two gentle tweaks I could make to improve the latch and hold. Once I got one tip mastered then i could move onto the next. It took some time and a few days of adjusting before we found our groove. Having another set of eyes, and a less foggy brain, can help support you in the early days.
HYDRATION! Have your partner, any family or guests refill your water glass. You should always have a glass of water within arms reach of your nursing area. Even better is a refillable (medium to large) water bottle with a straw. You’ll be able to grab it one handed and sip from the straw as you nurse. Breastfeeding triggers a thirst response right around when the let down happens. Aim to drink a glass of water every time you nurse.
Also ‘nursing area’ tip is to have everything you need ready before you sit down to nurse. I like to set up nursing stations in the primary areas that you will be spending time with the baby. That may be in the baby’s room, the living room, and your room. Items you’ll want on hand are your full water bottle, nursing pillow(s) if you’re using one, burp cloth, snacks, phone charger and phone and anything else you use while nursing (breast shield, lip balm, and breast pump are just a few suggestions).
One moment that makes almost every new mother anxious is nursing outside of the home for the first time. Bring a friend or your parter to a casual, quiet place for the first times out of the home can be helpful. You may wish to bring an extra swaddle or a nursing cover if that makes you feel more comfortable. If that’s not your thing, certainly don’t feel obligated to cover up! I never have and 6 months into our nursing journey have yet to encounter any nasty looks or comments.
Positive words of encouragement go a long way as well. Keep positive when things are challenging. Be her biggest cheerleader without being pushy. Some days are better than others. Some days involve more tears than others. Some days seem to last forever. But they are only some days. It gets better. It gets easier. YOU CAN DO THIS!
I hope these few little tips help you and your support team (partner, family, friends) on your breastfeeding journey with your new little one!