You've heard (and I'll say it again), breastmilk is nature's perfect milk for human babies. Breastfeeding is normal, natural, and healthy. It's also possible for most mamas and babies. Many modern cultures have a big problem – a woman's body is so sexualized that something like breastfeeding is classified as “immodest.”
I myself prefer to nurse modestly – I am modest by nature (I think I'd die in a pair of short shorts!) and I want to keep myself pretty covered when out and about. That naturally extends to nursing my babies. I'm never going to be a mama who “lets it all hang out” when nursing (well, maybe at home). But I do think there's incredible value in breastfeeding in public – and without a blanket covering you and your baby.
Sure, arrange your clothing to give some cover, but you want people to know what you're doing. In the early newborn days when you're both getting the hang of things, you might want to be home more. But when you and baby are pros, nurse out and about. It helps other mamas, and it helps defeat the stereotype that breastfeeding is doing something taboo or even indecent. Mamas-to-be, our daughters, our granddaughters, and our sons need to know that nursing a baby is just that – feeding a baby. Natural, normal, and okay.
And, of course, I love beautiful breastfeeding pictures – so I share these pictures today to inspire you and to remind you that nursing is natural, it's wonderful, and it grows healthy babies!
This picture is just precious – a sweet newborn baby and mama. Wearing a top that you can pull down easily makes nursing a snap, especially when you're relaxing around the house.
Breastfeeding isn't just for newborns! Older babies and toddlers also thrive on breastmilk. Did you know that the composition of your milk actually changes as your baby grows? That continues on past the first year – the magic doesn't just go away when your baby hits his or her birthday!
Breastfed babies are often chubby in the early months, when nutrient-dense mama's milk helps the pack on the adorable baby chub. Many breastfed babies lean out once they start getting mobile, but “sturdy” is the norm through toddlerhood 🙂
It's true that you can breastfeed a baby anywhere – and don't have to haul anything extra along to do it!
Tandem nursing is possible when you have a baby and a toddler! It's safe to nurse through pregnancy (though if you've had miscarriages or are carrying multiples, you may decide to wean, and that's okay). Pay extra attention to your nutrition since you're eating for three! Tandem nursing is really helpful in many ways – including having a breastfeeding pro bringing in your milk (and taking care of extra!).
Even cultures and belief systems that value female modesty understand that breastfeeding is normal, natural, and okay for moms to do. It's not unusual to see mamas fully dressed in religious garb while nursing their baby. World leaders in conservative religions have also been making a point to let new moms know that breastfeeding is not only okay, but encouraged – even in the holiest of places 🙂
Get the hang of breastfeeding while lying down – it makes a huge difference in the amount of rest you can get as a mama!!
“Laid back breastfeeding” is something just being explored by lactation consultants and researchers. Though knowing good breastfeeding positions is really helpful, it turns out that babies (even newborns) instinctively know how to do things. And these laid-back positions are helpful for tired mamas, too 🙂
Expecting two? You can breastfeed too 🙂 Nursing twins may have its challenges, so get help with positioning (and a nursing pillow made for multiples) in the early days. You'll get the hang of breastfeeding just like singleton mamas.
Breastfeeding is a time of special bonding between mama and baby – and it's also a great way to help a cranky little one drift off to sleep.
This picture is just so breathtaking – love those sweet baby eyes. I had to include it!
That sweet little baby grin is enough to make those first few weeks of “getting the hang of it” all worth it. Babies are comforted by nursing – a natural way to help your baby calm down, relax, and connect.
Breastfeeding isn't all about mamas and babies. Support from Daddy is really helpful too. Dad, let Mom know that you appreciate the work she's doing to breastfeed your baby (or babies!). Offer to help by getting her a snack or a glass of water. And I'm sure she won't mind if you help out with burping, diaper duty, and get in some skin-to-skin baby snuggle time, too.
Nursing your newborn right away in the hospital is a great idea. Remember, though, that babies have just been through a lot – it's normal for a baby to be alert and want to check you out, or want to rest, for a little after birth. Most babies are interested in nursing by about an hour after birth.
Once you're feeling confident with breastfeeding, it's a nice time to relax. Sometimes you'll just want to gaze at your baby, of course. But it's also a perfect time to read a book or magazine and just have some “down time.” Enjoy the little breaks your baby gifts you with 😉
Sometimes, though, you just can't help gazing at that perfect little person!
Remember that breastfeeding is the gold standard even for toddlers. The World Health Organization recommends nursing for 24 months, and after that for as long as you and your little one desire.
Sometimes baby will fall asleep nursing, but sometimes you'll have a wide-eyed person interacting with you and observing what's going on around her!
When I was babysitting I had a toddler fall asleep in my lap while rocking him. When his mama arrived home, she said that I will really treasure that moment with my own babies. She was right – and having a baby fall asleep nursing is even more precious. Seeing that relaxed “milk drunk” little body is one of the most rewarding mothering moments <3
Baby often wants to look at you and interact – the distance from your face to baby's during breastfeeding is an ideal space for intimate connection with this new little person.
Nurse your newborn early and often to establish a solid nursing relationship. This also helps your baby clear meconium (which built up in baby's intestines during pregnancy) and clears up transient, normal jaundice in the first couple of days of life.
It doesn't matter how old you are when you become a mother – you can breastfeed your baby successfully, giving you a close bond with your little one.
Don't forget to try a variety of positions and find which ones work well for you!
Enjoy this special time with your little one – it will be over before you know it. There's something so nice about the ease of nursing baby to sleep 😉
Newborns can breastfeed regardless of breast size, something many moms worry about. The amount of milk made doesn't have a relationship to breast size. Good nutrition and frequency of breastfeeding make the biggest difference.
It's normal for a newborn to want to nurse 8-12 times in a 24-hour period. Wake your baby to nurse at night if he or she is sleeping for longer than 3 hours or so in the early weeks. You can keep the lights dim to help baby understand night and day.
Home birthed babies should also be nursed early and often in the newborn days! Again, it's normal for all newborns, regardless of birth place, to take a little time before they want to nurse. The “golden hour” is more likely to be preserved during a home birth, where procedures are on hold while mama and baby bond (you can ask for this at the hospital too). Baby rests, observes, kneads at your skin, nuzzles, licks, etc. – and probably does all of this before he or she is ready to nurse. Don't worry – all these things boost oxytocin levels, which helps your uterus firm up. Baby is also skin-to-skin during this time, which regulates his/her temperature, heart rate, breathing, and even blood glucose. It's a beautiful, safe time! Babies usually nurse within an hour after birth.
You can breastfeed your baby anywhere – at home, at the part, at mommy-and-me classes – even at seminars!
Breastfeeding is important for older babies too!