Establishing a good milk supply
So you've just had your baby and you want to nurse. As a first time mom I well remember the awkward feeling trying to learn how to nurse a baby. It did not come easily for me when I had my first. My son lost weight for the first three weeks, and only after much prayer and perseverance on my part did we establish a good nursing relationship.
I'm currently nursing our fifth baby and so far everything has gone just beautifully. Here is what I do to get off to a good start:
1. Do NOT set a schedule! It is absolutely critical when trying to establish a good milk supply that you nurse whenever the baby wants to nurse, and avoid any sort of schedule. That pretty much means the first few weeks you sit and hold the baby and nurse. Now is a good time to grab a great book, or find some encouraging blogs to read. Or read aloud to your other children!
2. Avoid pacifiers or bottles. You don't want to confuse the baby with artificial nipples when trying to establish your milk supply. Let your baby nurse for comfort as well as for nourishment, it will really help build your milk supply. I've introduced pacifiers after a month or two if needed, but by then most of my babies would not take one. Deborah has yet to like one, she acts like I'm choking her when I've tried it!
3. Drink lots of water. Everyone says this but it really is true. You need lots of water to sustain a great milk supply. Keep a water bottle by your chair and drink, drink, drink! I ask my two oldest children to refill my water bottle throughout the day for me as I nurse.
4. Use a good nipple ointment to avoid cracked nipples. Nothing hurts more than nipples that are open and bleeding. I've had that happen before due to thrush and I've never felt more like screaming from pain than during that time. I've always used lanolin but I really dislike how sticky it is. Before having Deborah I purchased Natural Nipple Butter from Earth Mama - Angel Baby brand. It was wonderful! I put it on frequently as it wasn't a bother to use, and I even used it Deborah's hands and feet when they were dry and peeling.
5. Have a nursing pillow close by. While not necessary, a nursing pillow can be very useful during that season where you do little else but nurse. My favorite one is called My Breast Friend (this happens to be the same one Michelle Duggar uses). I've used a boppy before, but I feel this gives a lot more support for both you and the baby.
6. Supplement as needed. If after doing all these things your supply is still low, use some herbs God has given us for the breastfeeding mom. Fenugreek, blessed thistle and alfalfa are the ones commonly used. The Bulk herb store has a tea you can drink called mama's milk tea that has excellent reviews.
7. Pray, pray, pray! Sometimes that is the only thing that gets you through. With our oldest son we had tried lots of different things, but one day it just all came together and he started nursing and gaining weight. I really feel that God blessed us in that. We had done all we could and it still wasn't working. So don't forget to pray for God to guide you and bless you if you are really struggling establishing a milk supply.
Snuggle and hold that wee one close, they grow so fast! Nursing is a wonderful time to sit and gaze at your little one, talk to them, and pray for them. Yes, at times it can be trying as you feel so stuck to your baby all the time. There is no break and you are the only one who can keep the baby satisfied. But it is very worth it as you are giving your baby the nourishment God designed for it!