We are often asked what moms can do to help prepare themselves for breastfeeding, so we wanted to share 10 helpful suggestions...
1. Take a breastfeeding class before your baby gets here. Breastfeeding is all about
confidence. Taking a class will give you a fundamental understanding of what is happening
during pregnancy and after childbirth to prepare your body to breastfeed. You will also learn
proper feeding techniques and begin to understand what a good latch looks like. Initially,
breastfeeding is a learning experience for you and your baby. Taking a class will help to alleviate doubt and ensure that you have the knowledge and confidence to offer your baby the healthiest start to life. (Make sure to bring your husband, partner or birthing assistant.)
2. Get Started Early! Offer your baby the breast during the first hour after delivery. This is a
great time for “practice” while you and your baby are in a state of “quiet alertness” before
newborn sleepiness occurs two to three hours after delivery. Early stimulation at the breast
will aid in milk production and ensure that your baby returns to his newborn birth weight
quickly. In the hospital it is best to practice “rooming in” with your baby so that you are able to nurse on demand. It is also important to delay the newborn bath in the hospital until you have had a chance to offer your baby the breast several times. Research now tells us that delaying newborn bath will decrease the amount of time the baby is away from the mother and increase early milk production. Early bathing has been shown to wipe away protective amniotic fluid and vernix, a protective lotion on the baby’s skin now known to contain antibacterial properties. Wiping off and bathing removes smells and scents that the newborn is accustomed to and can interfere with an organized latch during feeding.
3. Feed on Demand. Watch your baby for feeding cues! Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. After delivery, your milk producing hormone levels are very high for the first few weeks. You should have an over abundant milk supply as your body is unsure of how much milk you will need to sustain your newborn. Nursing on demand will regulate your supply, decrease engorgement and establish sufficient milk production early on while your hormones are responding to your growing baby. Responding promptly to newborn feeding cues will also cut down on the fussiness of your baby, ensure adequate weight gain and teach your baby “empty” and “full”.
4. If you are feeling overly tired or overwhelmed seek support within your family and friends
to rest between feedings. Let it go! Laundry, house cleaning, etc may have to wait. Over-
extending yourself can lower your immune system response and inhibit overall milk supply.
5. Get help early. Remember what you learned in your prenatal breastfeeding class. Watch for signs that things are going well and call for help early. Looking for pediatrician? Looking for a lactation consultant? Just like finding a good pediatrician before the birth of you baby, having a reliable lactation consultant to call will ensure that you have access to the support you need while nursing your baby. Peaceful Beginnings offers reliable, consistent, knowledge-based, individual lactation plans by a certified lactation consultant for moms at all stages of their breastfeeding experience.
6. Try to avoid artificial nipples for the first three to four weeks. Bottles and pacifiers given too early without a medical reason or given without the consistent support from a lactation
consultant can interfere with milk supply as these are times that your baby is not stimulating
milk production from you. If you have to supplement or it is recommended by your doctor or
pediatrician, especially early on, for poor weight gain, low milk supply or other medical
conditions, be sure to call the lactation consultant for a plan to maintain and promote your milk supply while offering your baby what he/she needs to continue to thrive.
7. Practice baby wearing. Babies are fussy for many reasons; hunger, wet diapers, sleepiness,
over stimulation or immature digestive systems. Most babies have periods of fussiness during the day that can last for a few hours. During the first year of life, newborns and babies are developmentally and physically incapable of independence and are looking to their caregivers for a since of security and affirmation. Research now tells us that babies who have their needs met early on are better adjusted and independent as they explore their world in toddler years and later childhood. Baby wearing reduces fussiness as baby’s needs are being met while parents maintain a since of mobility and continue bonding throughout their day. Skin to skin contact promoted during baby wearing can also help to maintain and stimulate your milk supply while regulating your baby’s body temperature and your hormone levels.
8. Be flexible. Try different positions while feeding your baby. Sometimes repositioning is all
you need to cut down on sore nipples or pain during feeding. Keep an open mind about how long you plan to nurse your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends
breastfeeding for up to 1 year. The World Health Organization recommends Breastfeeding until 2 years of age. Babies fair much better when they are nursed exclusively at least for the first six months of life. Supplements and cereals can interfere with milk production and also cause problems for baby’s immature digestive systems. Breastfeed as longs as it is right for you and your baby. Remember, weaning should be gradual.
9. Establish a “going back to work plan”. Talk to your co-workers and supervisors about your
plans to pump at work before your maternity leave. Discuss the possibility of returning to work on a Wednesday or half days in the beginning to slowly move back into a work schedule. Talk to your caregivers about feeding times and care of your baby early on. Establish times and a place to pump that is convenient for you and your work schedule. Good planning will help to alleviate anxiety and ease the transition from home to work while offering your baby a healthy start.
10. Surround yourself with people who support your decision to breastfeed. Attend support
groups before your baby gets here. Experience the joys and transitions of other mothers during their breastfeeding journey. Observe them breastfeeding and talk to them about their experience. Establish your feelings to breastfeed your baby within your own family.
Communicate the importance of your decision so that they can assist you after delivery.
We hope these tips help! As always, reach out to us if you have personalized questions or need lactation support.