I am an almost 40 year old female physician. Can you guess what the hardest thing is that I have had to do in my life? Go through medical school and residency….no! Give birth naturally without medication….no! Raise three boys…..okay maybe! But without a doubt one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life is breastfeed my boys.
In the movies they make it look so easy and natural. I’m sorry, it is anything but that. Please don’t get me wrong, it is the best thing you can do for your child, but it is painful, annoying, and life consuming!!
The top thing that I would like you to know about breastfeeding is that its okay if its hard to do. Its suppose to be hard. It can take about a week for your milk to come in, and once it does you have to be consistent and work hard to keep production up. In the beginning there can be a lot of cracking of the nipples, and it can be very painful. Give it time, and sunlight. By the end of the second week things should start getting better.
What I generally want moms to do is try to breastfeed at least every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night. If the milk is not removed from the breast then your body won’t know that it has to be replaced, and your supply can go down. This is especially important the first few days after giving birth. But its okay to give your baby a little bit of formula here and there, if that means mommy gets some rest its well worth it. The more rest mom gets the more milk she produces!
Its also important for moms to remember that their personal nutrition and fluid intake can effect their baby. The more liquid you drink, the more liquid you produce. Some moms ask me if they have to drink milk to produce milk, I would actually prefer water. And if you’re not eating then you won’t have any calories to give to your baby, so mommies eat up!
I know in the beginning I said that breastfeeding was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. What I didn’t say is that it was also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Don’t give up hope if its hard in the beginning, I’ll be there to help you with any questions or concerns that you may have.
~ Dr. Pooja Prasad