The Breastfeeding Journey
All moms have been there. The excitement of getting the positive pregnancy test, ultrasound of your baby, finding out the gender, and registering at your favorite baby store. You go through the mood swings, the weight gain, the aches, and finally you’re in labor and they place your baby on your chest. Then comes that startling thought, “What now?”
Just as pregnancy is an exploration of emotions and life-altering changes, the preference one faces in feeding their infant can be a very intimate one. I’m excited to be featured on small fry blog today and offer a few of my insights into our choices as Moms, particularly how we will feed our newborns. I’m an advocate of breastfeeding, but I think it’s important to be prepared on your options, regardless of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. As a lactation specialist, my role is to support and facilitate the choices mothers make in how they want to feed their newborns. Education in regards to nutrition for your infant is vital.
“You’ll figure it out.”
The moms that give this advice are probably among the lucky few that breastfeeding came easily for both them and their infant. Or the newborn difficulties are just far enough in their rear-view mirror for them to adequately remember their own struggles.
“Just ask a nurse at the hospital”. Most first-time mothers are surprised to learn that not the doctor, but their nurse is the one providing most of the care and support during labor. For most busy hospitals, the L&D nurses may not have time to help you latch your newborn.
“Make sure to see the lactation specialist right after delivery” This sounds perfect! It is a great decision to be seen by a specialist to ensure things are going well. Even if this is your intention, if you wait until your baby is born and the delivery is outside regular hours, there will not be a specialist on hand.
As a lactation specialist, I’ve found these 3 tips to be the most beneficial for mothers as they begin their breastfeeding journey:
1) Take a prenatal breastfeeding class.
I would recommend planning to take a breastfeeding class in addition to a prenatal class. Make sure the course is taught by an IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant). This credential ensures the professional is up-to-date on the latest research and interventions. I would recommend a refresher course whether it’s your fourth baby or first, as unforeseen problems can occur. A recent client sent me this message after delivering baby #3, “Wish I would have gone to one of your classes. I am STRUGGLING with breastfeeding.” I’d also recommend taking the class earlier rather than later in the pregnancy. I’ve had several clients put it off and then get too busy at the end or deliver 3 weeks early.
2) Develop a support system. Make sure you have 2 people you can count on for support, encouragement, and questions. These people should know your preferences and goals with delivery and feeding so they can provide the best support possible. This is imperative not only for your feeding choice, but as a Mom in general. Ask these people up front if they can be there for you. It could be your Mom, sister, neighbor, best friend, lactation specialist, or someone you met in your prenatal classes.
3) Don’t panic!
Most moms are distraught and hopeless if their baby doesn’t latch on within 5 minutes and have milk spilling from their baby’s mouth. While I feel it is important to put your baby to breast within the first hour of life, if the first feed doesn’t go as you had hoped, don’t give up! Remember what you learned in your breastfeeding course, call a specialist, and draw strength from your support system. Just as your pregnancy was a process, so is breastfeeding!
Make sure to join us inside our confident breastfeeding courses for more breastfeeding tips and tricks from the experts.
XO, Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC, Founder