Written by Megan Tucker
While we all know the benefits of breastfeeding for mother, baby and family, NO ONE ever says it’s easy! What are a few things that can help early on? Let’s break down some Breastfeeding Basics.
Education BEFORE baby arrives is key. While it is a natural process and both baby and mama are armed with instincts, statistics show that mamas are significantly more successful with breastfeeding when prenatal education is completed. There are many ways to achieve this which includes private classes, hospital provided classes, virtual classes, books, online tutorials and even small handouts that cover the basics. ANY information you can arm yourself with prior to giving birth will help you feel more confident.
Statistics also show that people around a mama who understand and support her goals make a huge difference in the outcome of breastfeeding. Partners, grandparents, friends, spouses, you can make a HUGE difference. However, they often feel helpless. What can you do? Fill mama’s water bottle (hydration is key to milk production), grab her a snack, assess your positioning to make sure she is sitting in a way supportive to bringing baby to the breast, burp and change baby, hold baby and help gently wake them up. (Next to mama is a baby’s favorite snuggly, safe spot to doze. Expect a struggle the first few weeks keeping baby awake while nursing but they’ll wake right up when handed off to you.) Tidy up so mama can focus on themselves and baby (it is a struggle for some to rest when they see mess around them).
Establishment of supply
It takes about 3-7 days for full milk production to kick in after your first baby. Knowing how to help promote this and a plan if milk isn’t coming in as quickly as you’d like will be key. A lactation consultant will help with this. Once your milk comes in, maintaining that supply is key. (Did you know you establish your breast milk supply blueprint for your entire journey in the first 8 weeks?) Remember that equal time on each breast is not the focus once milk comes in but rather focus on emptying the first breast before moving to the second (I like to call it ‘dinner and dessert’).
Remember that at the end of the day, I want a mama to feel supported through this experience. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and be ok with this! Fed is best and there isn’t just one way to do that. A good lactation consultant can help you reach your goals whether it is breastfed, bottle and breast, exclusively pumping OR formula fed. There is nothing more wonderful for me than helping families find what works for them! Don’t compare yourself to others, mama. Find what works for YOU and your team.