A lot of new mothers know what the books say about how to boost milk supply. They know the experts’ tips by heart.
You don’t breastfeed if you have milk.
You have milk if you breastfeed.”
Most likely, you have read or know about frequent nursing, lactation consultants, and spending time skin to skin with baby. But making breastfeeding work can still be a huge struggle, even if you are well educated on the subject. Even if you have checked everything off the “boost milk supply” to-do list.
Because unfortunately the most important thing is usually NOT ON THE LIST!
New mothers need help. All. the. time.
First, in order to do everything on the list, you need people around you who are doing everything else. I really think that if SUPPORT FOR MOM were first on the list, maybe mothers everywhere wouldn’t feel like their breasts are somehow broken. Maybe they would not feel bad about asking for help if they knew that HELP is the secret to boost milk supply and deepening your connection with your baby.
In real life, many new mothers hear comments like, “Are you nursing again? Maybe the baby isn’t getting enough milk.”
In real life, new mothers have to find time to cook healthy meals and stay hydrated. How can they do that AND lie in bed all day naked with their babies?
In real life, there is laundry. And more laundry. How can you boost milk supply if you are busy folding clothes?
The laundry routine is a full time job.
In real life, messes happen, especially if you have toddlers.
Choosing between cleaning up after your toddler (especially when safety is an issue) and nursing your newborn, is a really tough call.
In order to make more milk, though, it’s best to choose nursing. But how can you do that? You need a village, literally. You need people who…
Do stuff for you
You may need to lie in bed for two days naked with your baby in order to up your milk supply. In order to do this you may also need one or more of the following people: a partner who does laundry and buys food, friends who take older siblings, a grandmother who makes lunch, and more friends who hold the baby while you shower.
Remind you that you are not crazy or disorganized
Spending time around other new mothers who are going through the same thing will remind you that the problem is not you. After all, you are normal. Your breasts are normal. Second best is a book or blog or Facebook group full of people sharing their stories. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League is a must-read if you are determined to breastfeed. It is full of inspiring stories written by other mothers. Other mothers will remind you that this is not easy, and it’s not your fault, it’s just the nature of life with newborns.
Know about breastfeeding
A lot of well-meaning family and friends and even pediatricians may be vocal about what you should do to boost milk supply. But experienced mothers and doctors are not necessarily breastfeeding experts. Lactation consultants, midwives, and postpartum doulas are up to date on research and will be able to offer correct information. Real experts will know and refer to the World Health Organization’s guidelines for breastfeeding. They will also refer to the World Health Organization’s growth charts.
Don’t judge you
Your house may be messy. Maybe you need a shower. Perhaps you feel that your baby is sucking the life out of you and if you don’t put the baby down right now you will throw him down. Later, you want to keep breastfeeding for the third hour in a row. Or you feel like supplementing with formula. Maybe you don’t want to use a breast pump. Maybe you do. Surround yourself with people who are totally 100 percent okay with ALL of this.
As a matter of fact, let’s slightly modify that quote the experts’ tip.
You don’t breastfeed if you have milk. You have milk if you breastfeed around the clock and you have people around you who make you food, build your confidence, and remind you that you just had a baby and it is totally fine for you to stay in your pajamas all day. But if you want to take a shower that’s cool too.
What kind of help did you receive in those early postpartum days? Were you reluctant to ask for help?
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