Congratulations! You’re having a baby and are about to embark on one of the most beautiful experiences of motherhood – breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is such a wonderful thing to give to your baby. And as a lactation consultant I’d like to make sure your experience is a smooth sailing one. Getting off to a good start can make a world of difference in creating a long lasting and enjoyable experience. I am often asked “and just how do I do that.” Well, I’ve put together a few ideas to think about and look for early on which may help you figure out if you could use some help.
1. Proper Latch & Positioning. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. There’s no “oh just grin and bare it” in breastfeeding. If it’s hurting something is wrong and needs adjusting. I can help you figure out what positions work best for you and your baby by showing you different positions and good latch mechanics. Remember, this is a learning curve for both you and baby. You’re getting to know each other. Patience and good positioning can make a world of difference in long term comfort and success.
2. Creating an abundant milk supply. For most women milk production is the simple economics of supply & demand. The more you nurse effectively, the more milk you’ll produce. Your new normal is holding your baby skin to skin, nursing every 2 – 3 hours, limiting separation (this means hospital staff, well meaning grandparents, siblings, family & friends, etc), gazing at your baby and taking in all the cute goodness that is your newborn. That together time supports a beautiful hormonal picture for building a strong milk supply and creating good mother/baby bonding.
3. Is Baby Getting Enough Milk. It may look good on the outside but learning to trust milk is getting into baby’s belly is a huge step toward success. Look for usual markers of a thriving baby, like the number of diapers you’re getting in a 24 hour period (around 6 wet and 4 poop ) and early weight checks. Once let down has occurred and milk is flowing, listen for a good “suck, suck, swallow” pattern. We even use a scale here in the office to do “before & after” weights which gives some moms peace of mind that their baby is transferring good amounts of milk each feed. Remember too that the body language of a satisfied baby can tell you a lot about how well things are going.
4. Trust and belief – the first weeks can be overwhelming. You’re flooded with joy, elation, doubt, and a rush of hormones. Remember to trust your instincts. If you feel something is not working right, trust that – get help, find support. If all is going great, trust that too. You will get into a rhythm and stride as a new mom. It gets better, easier, more familiar. Hang in there and believe.
5. Resources – before you have your baby, know what your local resources are and where to turn for help. Consider taking a private prenatal breastfeeding & newborn class too. Understanding what changes lay ahead and what the first few weeks may be like can help get you through the enormous transition to motherhood.
Any questions, give me a call. I would be happy to schedule a consult for you if you would like to sit down, discuss goals and/or go over any problems you may be experiencing. The visit is covered under most insurances, and if I see you in the pediatric office where I work it may be a simple co-pay and perhaps a follow up visit or two is all that’s needed in solving problems early . Early support and effort to work out problems will really help you get off to a best start. Don’t hesitate to get help.
(edited from a piece I wrote for the Fall 2013 Newsletter for the pediatrician’s office where I work)