Breastfeeding on demand. What does this phrase conjure up in your mind? A peaceful mama nursing her babe on a sunny afternoon, or a frazzled mom with giant bags under her eyes, falling asleep in her gliding rocker at 3:49am? Breastfeeding on demand is the best way to ensure a good milk supply, a well-fed baby and a strong attachment between mom and baby. However, it can be exhausting to nurse on cue day and night. Here are 5 ideas that can help make breastfeeding on demand easier.
Rolling over to pop a nipple in your baby’s mouth is FAR easier and much less disruptive to everybody’s sleep than getting out of bed, going down the hall to the crib, nursing in a rocking chair, transferring your sleeping baby back into the crib and creeping back out of his room and down the hall to your own blessed bed again. It is important to know how to co-sleep safely, but once you know how to get a good latch and how to safely set up your sleeping arrangement, co-sleeping is one of the best ways to get more rest.
2. Eat well
Making milk takes lots of energy, so fill up on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, oatmeal and other whole grains, as well as foods with healthy fats like avacados and salmon. The early months with a newborn are not the time to be thinking about regaining your pre-baby figure, and anyway, breastfeeding will eventually burn up that extra baby fat and turn it into milk.
3. Ask your partner to take the baby for a few hours
Another good way to make breastfeeding on demand easier is to ensure you get a consecutive 3-4 hour chunk sleep every day. When a newborn is feeding every 2 hours, this extra hour or two can make all the difference. When Bea was a newborn, my husband often took her out for a walk or bounced her in the kitchen during the early evening hours of 6-10pm while I got a head start on my night’s sleep. When she eventually got really hungry he would bring her to me and I took over for the night, but having those few hours ahead of time made a world of difference for me.
4. Resolve any breastfeeding issues quickly
Breastfeeding on demand can be difficult enough emotionally and physically even when everything is going well, but if you’re struggling with an inefficient latch, cracked nipples, blocked ducts or other breastfeeding issues it can quickly feel unbearable. Having a good latch and quickly resolving any breastfeeding issues is crucial to breastfeeding on demand, so read up on breastfeeding during your pregnancy and don’t hesitate to call in a qualified lactation consultant if you need help getting breastfeeding established once baby is born.
5. Ask for help with everything else
If the dishes are piling up and you’re running out of clean nursing bras, don’t be afraid to ask for help with the housework. Anybody else can wash dishes or do laundry, but only you can breastfeed your baby. It’s an important job, so don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your breastfeeding relationship over other things. If your family, friends or partner aren’t available to help, consider hiring a postpartum doula to assist you with basic household duties or entertaining an older child for a while.
Breastfeeding on demand is different for every mom and baby pair. Some babies cluster feed in the early evenings, while others feed every 2 or 3 hours like clockwork. Whatever your particular baby’s nursing style, try to make the frequent feedings relaxing and enjoyable. For me, I kept a good novel and a plate full of chocolate chip cookies on the table beside my nursing chair. I also have a fond memory of one particular 5am feed when I was sitting up in my nursing chair before I learned how to co-sleep, feeling quite peaceful and connected with my baby despite the lack of sleep. Then she smiled a little newborn sleep grin up at me. My world changed in that moment.
I’m delighted to have a guest post up at HoboMama today! Click on over to read my best tips and tricks for air travel with babies and toddlers.