If you’ve not yet had your baby, you may not know that breastfeeding is a skill you have to learn. It’s natural, yes. But so is my hair, and that’s certainly had a learning curve. So, when clients are learning to breastfeed, I will recommend that they follow the breastfeeding BASICS, an acronym I learned from my ProDoula training.
BASICS stands for:
Soothe your breasts
Be patient with yourself, and your baby. This is a process that your baby has never done before, and even if you’ve breastfed another child, this baby’s needs are different, your body is different, and your life is different.
Be gentle with yourself along the way.
Affirm yourself for making decisions that are right for you and your child. You’re a good mother, and you will figure everything out. You can absolutely do this, and you have everything you need, or will reach out for help. This is true no matter how long you breastfeed, or if you change you mind.
Soothe your breasts, and not only your baby. Care for your body, and appreciate that it is able to produce food for your child. When your nipples are sore, take care of them. And if your breasts are achy or overfull, don’t ignore it.
Get information from sources that you trust. You can reach out to the lactation services at your hospital, to your postpartum doula, to friends and family members who have breastfed or to peer support groups. There are resources available to you as you learn this skill.
Aim for comfort. Breastfeeding should not cause you pain when everything is going well. If your nipples are uncomfortable, this could be the sign of a latch that is not quite right. If your position is uncomfortable, consider trying another one. There are breastfeeding pillows, nursing bras, lactation consultants and other aids that can improve this experience for you.
Serenity is key. Many of us have an idea of breastfeeding as a peaceful, natural process. It certainly looks that way in pictures. But it doesn’t always go that way, especially at first. Stay calm, and remember your goals. If you plan to breastfeed (whether for six weeks, six months, a year, or until the baby weans themselves), you will have plenty of support.
These breastfeeding BASICS are a good start, and can keep clients grounded when they’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by charting dirty diapers, or finding the perfect position.
If you’ve breastfed, what did you do to make it work for you and your baby? How did you get through the challenging days?