Have a Successful Breastfeeding Journey
This is a guest post by Lindsey Shipley, RN, Childbirth Educator, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, cancer survivor, mom of 3, and founder of Lactation Link.
Throughout my many years in the pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding world, I can confidently say that there are ways to ensure you and your sweet baby have a successful breastfeeding journey!
Of course there can be setbacks or roadblocks that are unexpected, but we mamas know --- we can figure out a way around (or over or through!) them! I’m here to help YOU ensure a successful breastfeeding journey!
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Here are my top ten tips to help you as you prepare for your first or tenth (!!!) birth:
1. Take a breastfeeding class during your pregnancy -- “You’ll figure it out” doesn’t come in handy when your baby is in your arms and you aren’t able to figure it out, or the hospital lactation consultant is out of town!
2. Make sure you have at least 2 people you can call on for breastfeeding support. It has been shown that women with a support system are able to breastfeed for a longer amount of time and are more likely to meet their breastfeeding goals!
3. Visit several pediatricians and ask their opinion on breastfeeding. Having a breastfeeding advocate as your baby’s healthcare provider will help your confidence as a breastfeeding mom. This also gives you a person who can advocate for you once your baby is born in the hospital (since they will come to check on your baby!)
4. Get help to master the latch-on, as the majority of problems come from a poor latch. Pain, inadequate supply, and jaundice are just a few side effects from improper latch. If you have pain that lasts longer than ten seconds when baby latches --- most likely it is an improper latch! Use your finger to break suction and try again! Aim baby’s nose to your nipple - it's like a magic way to ensure they open wide enough!
5. Feed frequently to ensure good milk supply and proper weight gain. Every 2-3 hours or sooner! Especially for the first few weeks -- be okay NOT being on a schedule! Enjoy the cuddles and connection that comes with breastfeeding and don’t over schedule yourself. Your job is to feed you and your baby!
6. Learn how to hand express milk. Something every mom should know how to do! It can help with enticing the baby to latch, keeping them latch, and ensuring your milk supply. You can start breast massage and learn how to do this at 37 weeks!
7. Think twice before using a nipple shield. While it’s a tool in specific instances, many women are recommended to use them unnecessarily. Oftentimes well intentioned hospital staff will give a new mother a nipple shield too quickly! Try meeting with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) BEFORE using a nipple shield!
8. Plan to take it easy the first 6 weeks postpartum. Taking your time and slowing life down will be good for you, baby, and your breastfeeding goals!
9. Think ahead for easy menus, cleaning help, carpools, and toddler activities. Stress can have a negative impact on milk supply. Obviously, you will have stress during this time -- so try to mitigate what you can! I always made sure my favorite menus were in our kitchen with my favorite dishes circled for easy ordering (plus a freezer full of freezer meals!). We don’t want anyone hungry!
10. Get help sooner rather than later. The fee for an IBCLC lactation consultant to help you is a small investment to save thousands on formula and healthcare costs. Even better -- take that class beforehand and you might not even need a consultation!
Extra tip -- TRUST YOURSELF and set a breastfeeding goal! You have that mama's gut and intuition already flowing through you -- you were made to do this and I know you will be successful with whatever you decide your goal is!
I’d love to see you over @lactationlink on Instagram and hear your breastfeeding goal and to answer any questions you might have! Can’t wait to chat more!