The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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It's normal to feel overwhelmed by breastfeeding problems, especially when you're recovering physically from childbirth, adjusting to first-time parenthood and getting to know your baby. Here are some tips to make it easier.
If You're In Pain: The best solution is to seek advice from a lactation consultant, Kendall-Tackett says. "Pain from breastfeeding is not normal and is an indication that something--usually quite fixable--is wrong," she says. A lactation consultant might demonstrate how a simple adjustment to the baby's position can help prevent or relieve sore nipples, explain how chilled cabbage leaves can relieve engorgement or give tips on speeding recovery from a breast infection.
If You're Exhausted: "When moms are tired, they are more prone to breastfeeding difficulties," Kendall-Tackett says. So in addition to following the tried-and-true advice to sleep whenever the baby sleeps, learn how to breastfeed while lying down so you can get the rest so critical for establishing your milk supply (see "The Holds" below for tips on this and other breastfeeding positions). Also consider sleeping within easy reach of the baby; many moms say that getting up to fetch the baby and then returning him to his crib adds to their fatigue. Finally, line up someone to help with meals, errands and household chores for the first few weeks, if possible. Your mother, in-laws and spouse are great in this role, but you also might want to hire a doula.
If You're Overwhelmed Or Frustrated: For women who are accustomed to following a schedule, a baby's inconsistent nursing patterns require a major readjustment of expectations. But the payoff is well worth the effort, according to pediatrician Sears. "Breastfed babies do not schedule easily and they wake more often at night, but remember that the more you put in, the more you get out," he says. "Breastfeeding is a lifestyle choice."
Today, I'm happy to report that all my breastfeeding bugs have been worked out, and I thoroughly enjoy the tranquil, special moments I spend with my son. I wouldn't trade my decision to breastfeed for anything in the world, and I'm happy that I stuck with it.
As you and your baby learn how to breastfeed, know that it will get easier. Your experience and confidence will grow, and in just a few short weeks, you'll be a seasoned pro.