So what would I say were the most important things to help with successful breastfeeding?
SUPPORT!!!Without support the chances that you will succeed with breastfeeding are lower than someone who has a lot of support.
But what do I mean by support? Well a supportive partner is a must! Someone who will help around the house when you find yourself stuck with a demanding and hungry baby who just wants to nurse. Who will bring you endless drinks and snacks whilst you maintain your own energy levels. Who is encouraging of your breastfeeding, but who doesn't make you feel guilty if for whatever reason you have to give up breastfeeding earlier than you planned and approves of your wanting to breastfeed instead of making snide comments trying to get you to give up.
Other support can be friends and family, who know to be supportive and not to be judgemental with your choice.
But the biggest support can be from your midwife, any lactation experts. La Leche League and Association of Breastfeeding Mothers
With my son, my firstborn, I breastfed him fine at hospital and after a couple of days there establishing our nursing I was allowed home. However the first night home he refused to latch on and screamed all night because he was hungry. I had been so adament I was breastfeeding him that I had refused to buy any bottles or formulas and with all the shops closed I didn't know what to do to help my hungry baby. I kept offering him my breast, kept trying to encourage him, but he didn't want to know. And to make matter worse my milk had come in and my breasts were engorged! The following morning we rushed to the shops and bought him some ready made formula which he gulped down and finally went to sleep. He must have thought we were the worst parents ever for starving him!!!
I felt like such a failure that I couldn't feed my own son. What kind of mother was I? Why couldn't I feed him? I tried once more when my midwife came to visit us but he still refused to latch on and she couldn't help either and from that day on he was bottlefed. I didn't have any support at all, not even from hubby who didn't want to go through another night of hell like we had had, and I didn't know of anywhere I could turn to for support. I had never heart of the La Leche League (LLL) or the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM). Both have telephone helplines you can use for advice and guidelines.
When DD1 was born, again I wanted to breastfeed, but this time I wasn't as optimistic. DD1 was a difficult delivery that ended in an emergency c-section. She was 2hrs old before I got to see her and try to nurse her and then I spent the night in ITU having a blood transfusion whilst she spent the night in the nursery. They did offer to bring her to me for feeds during the night, but I was pretty out of it and said to give her formula. The following morning we were reunited and I started breastfeeding her. However she was poorly with jaundice and an infection and I was still not 100% from her delivery and the blood transfusion but I still tried. But one day she spent 7 hours on the breast only to then guzzle 2oz of formula and I began to think that maybe the blood transfusion had affected my supply and when I mentioned it to a midwife she agreed and no one mentioned talking to a lactation specialist or a breastfeeding supporter, not even after the pediatrician had told me that breast was best and I should be breastfeeding her! In fact I don't know if the hospital had one, and still don't to this day. So from then on she became a bottlefed baby. I often look back and wonder if things could have been different, maybe I should have persevered, maybe I should have spoken up and asked to see a breastfeeding supporter, but at the time I didn't even know there were such people. Then to make matters worse, DD1 suffered from reflux from formula and by the time she was 2wks old she had lost over 10% of her bodyweight and had to have a special formula which was gentler on her tummy.
When I was pregnant with #3 I was tempted to not even try with breastfeeding since it hadn't worked out with my first 2. But I thought it wouldn't hurt to try! However she was a lovely and easy natural delivery and took to the breast like a pro. When my milk came in a few days later I struggled a little but the midwife I had then (who sadly retired a few weeks later) managed to get her to latch on and work through the problems so she successfully breastfed until she was 2yrs 8mths and I was heavily pregnant with #4.
By the time I was pregnant with #4 I had already made friends online with some other breastfeeding mothers and had actually started a Yahoo Group to help with support. Through the group, I met a lovely lady who was a breastfeeding councilor with the ABM. It was thanks to her I had support when I developed Gestational Diabetes for the first time in 4 pregnancies and worried it would affect my supply and if it would affect the baby if I breastfed. She gave me her phone number and told me I could contact her at any time if I was struggling, so those early days in hospital when I had to wake her to feed her as DD3's body tried to deal with the loss of the extra sugar that had been passing through the umbilical cord, I got lots of support and encouragement from her. In fact I got more help and support from her than I did from the hospital! She also helped me when I had trouble expressing with a pump (both a manual one and an electric one) and told me how to do it by hand (unfortunately that didn't work either).
Now I am considering training to be a breastfeeding councilor myself so that I can help support others who want to breastfeed as there is still a lack of support in my town.
So now it's your turn... tell me what are the products you can't live without? What would you recommend other nursing mothers invest in?