Breastfeeding may come with some bumps along the road. Many moms are concerned about how to get baby to latch, how often to breastfeed, or how to find the support they need. New moms might be concerned about how to navigate all the advice given to them.
Here are 5 tips for getting off to a good start and finding breastfeeding success.
Take a breastfeeding class.
One the best ways to reach your breastfeeding goals is to take a class prenatally. A good breastfeeding class will explain how to position your body, your baby and how to help baby latch. Education fills your tool belt with tips and resources for when bumps come along such as engorgement or clogged milk ducts. A good class will prepare you in ways to start breastfeeding despite setbacks such as an early delivery or birth complications. A class will also help prepare you to use breastfeeding tools such as a breast pump.
Utilize skin to skin contact.
Immediately after birth and in the first days and weeks of baby’s life, skin to skin contact is the best way to help initiate breastfeeding. Laying baby on your bare chest lets baby know that your chest is their home. Babies are wired to breastfeed and being on your bare chest allows them to find the breast on their own, with little effort from you. Using skin to skin can also help increase your milk supply and calm baby when they are upset.
Help baby latch on deeply.
While baby is laying on your chest, wait for a wide, open mouth. Then gently guide baby onto your nipple. This breastfeeding technique can help baby get a good, deep latch. A shallow latch will be painful for you and will prevent baby from draining the breast completely. A deep latch will be comfortable for you and help baby get the most milk out. Efficient milk removal will ensure you maintain a healthy milk supply.
Frequency is key.
Some might suggest you put your baby on a schedule. While it might seem desirable to plan out baby’s feeding time, babies have small tummies that need to be filled often. Putting baby on a feeding schedule can interfere with a good milk supply and baby’s growth. Your baby will give hunger cues when they need to be fed such as a rooting motion or sucking motion. Keep in mind that babies need to be feed 8-12 or more times a day. Frequency can change from day to day, and will increase during growth spurts.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
We are not meant to parent alone. Mothers of the past mothered along with a village of family members and lifetime friends. We are still in need of that same village. You can build it around yourself with at least 2 people you can go to for breastfeeding support. One can be a friend who has breastfed. Another could be a breastfeeding support group or a lactation consultant. Many common issues that come up with breastfeeding can be solved by meeting with a trained lactation consultant. The issues are not always solved immediately but by meeting and making a plan together, you can reach your breastfeeding goals.
Remember that breastfeeding is a new skill for mom and baby and with the right preparation, you can get started with all the tools you need to learn together.
This article was provided by: Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC. Lindsey is a mom of 2, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She owns Lactation Link, a private practice offering breastfeeding support through her breastfeeding video classes, blog, and online support forum. She also offers in-home (or hospital) lactation support services as well online lactation support services before and after baby is born. Lindsey’s goal is to empower women through education to reach their goals, whatever they may be.