I’m going to share my favorite simple tips for a great start!
I understand that looking for straightforward answers can drag you down the ‘google’ rabbit hole. Speaking to friends and family can be dizzying with varying advice. And even professionals will sometimes offer different approaches.
I often hear, “I keep hearing different answers to my questions!”. Yup! It’s not you! There can be more than one ‘right’ answer. Finding the best answer for you requires an individualized approach. If it’s a breastfeeding question of any complexity, ask an IBCLC! Others are well meaning and may or may not have the right answer. And what worked for their baby may not be right for yours.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC’s) are trained in current evidence based information in Lactation and take continuing education regularly. I happen to always be in the midst of a webinar or headed to a conference (Pre-covid). We also happen to be a tight knit group of practitioners. We pool our collective wisdom and bring it to you.
The other reality of lactating (and parenting) is that the ‘right’ answer or advice for a one day old baby is different for a three day old baby and certainly different for a one week old and so on. Then there are specific details unique to your situation that may alter these answers. When seeking your answers, an IBCLC can support you in areas of basic education and complex situations.
My personal motto is “Knowledge is Power”. (credit-Thomas Jefferson)
I have noticed that the more I know, the less I worry. I can also act sooner to prevent a real problem. This is absolutely essential in breastfeeding. Basic education on the normal expectations for the first few weeks (and beyond) helps us immensely as parents. We show more resilience during those middle of the night cluster feeding sessions when we have learned about them ahead of time. We can reach out for skilled support at the first sign of an issue. This can prevent problems from compounding and worsening and brings us to a resolution much faster. If you are familiar with some basic warning signs, you can reach out and prevent such issues as slow weight gain and low milk supply. See my blogs on “What’s all this about Tongue Tie?” and “How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk” https://www.lactationconsultantathome.com/blog/previous/2.
So how do I start off strong in my journey??
I highly recommend a breastfeeding class prenatally or a prenatal consultation with an IBCLC to prepare for birth.
Ask for help often in those early days when you may have access to help. Hit the call button and ask for the nurse or lactation consultant especially if nursing is challenging or painful. Don’t let anyone tell you that nursing is supposed to hurt in the beginning. It’s not!!
Keep your baby in your room at the hospital and at home. You will see and hear their early feeding cues and be able to respond to them faster. Breastfeeding more often will result in a higher milk supply sooner assuming other factors are normal. This strategy also results in easier latches when your baby is less frantic
Limit those visitors! You can end up ‘entertaining’ them when you are exhausted, uncomfortable and really wanting to bond and nurse your baby.
Sleep anytime you can fall asleep between feedings!
Stock your pantry with high protein, higher fat healthy snacks to munch on during nursing sessions.
Remember your baby will often need to be held by you or your partner/family between feedings. They crave closeness and this is normal! Skin to skin contact is best.
Schedule an in-person or virtual consultation with an IBCLC postpartum if you are still having challenges. IBCLC’s are specialists in Human lactation. We are trained specifically to work with the lactating parent and baby as a couplet and assess and create a care plan. If you are concerned about your journey and not getting answers from your providers, seek guidance from the experts.
Get off Google!!!! Most of the answers you will get are wrong and upsetting! Most of the time, when I do this myself, I come away thinking I’m dying of some terrible disease. Here are two reliable resources for basic information: www.kellymom.com and https://www.llli.org/
I can’t overstate how helpful a breastfeeding class is for expectant parents. I always observe that those who have taken one are more relaxed and flexible facing their nursing journey no matter what the circumstances. They feel empowered and more able to accept the truly unpredictable nature of having a new human being in their lives. A prenatal consultation with an IBCLC will cover all of these basics plus individual concerns.
Knowledge is power!!
Congratulations on your new journey!