I’m assuming by now you have read all the books on parenting and expecting, hopefully, attended your birthing and infant care classes too. But …. how much time have you spent preparing for breastfeeding? I know what you’re thinking….believe me. I was a new parent too and I thought, ‘check the box….yes to breastfeed’. I figured how hard could this be? Its natural, convenient and the whole meals on heels suited me perfectly. What I quickly learned is that the actual practice of breastfeeding was very much different than the expectations I had.
The good news is that I wasn’t alone and you won’t be either! I promise you that at some point in every mom’s experience they find themselves muttering “…what the ???” It’s completely normal to feel, well, like you have no control of what’s happening. It’s hard to grasp all the information and actually make it work for you. Understand that your little love is working very hard too. It’s as much as an experience for them as it is for you.
Sure, breast is natural, BUT breastfeeding is a LEARNED experience between mom and baby. It takes patience, practice, perseverance, and a positive attitude right from the start.
So what does that mean? How can you ensure success from the start?
Look for feeding cues
Are they sucking their hands, rooting, or even crying? All good signs to feed so go for it! Sit back relax and think positive thoughts. If your last feed was challenging, let it go and don’t dwell on it! DO NOT look at the clock and time your feedings now. Just start tracking basic info as in what time they fed and for how long. Expect 8-12 feedings to start.
Get your mature milk in as quickly as you can
How do you do this? Feed often, every1-3 (1-1.5 is the norm for the first 48 hours) hours and ask for a pump. You can pump after a feeding session for extra stimulation. Some hospitals only provide pumps to c-section moms or under other circumstances. However, you can bring your own.
Perfect the latch
The latch is a learned process and will become easier but initially, it’s a tricky to get the timing correct. The best tip is to make sure you get your baby’s mouth open as wide open as possible. DO NOT proceed unless you have a gaping wide mouth. Your visual is a baby shark. Would a baby shark barely open their mouths and nibble? Heck no! I promise you when they are hungry they will definitely open wide for you so try to notice the difference right away. Also, contact a Lactation Consultant before delivery and inquire about in-home consults for when you and baby are home.
If your baby is hungry and your mature milk is not in, you will be asked about your feelings on supplementation. Know what your plan is. If you want to introduce formula you can and use syringe, finger, cup or bottle. If you choose this route, just keep introducing your breasts first and pump after a feed as well. We don’t want your body to get the wrong signal and start slowing down production when we need to speed up! Also, you may want to research the milk bank as a donor breast milk option. Many hospitals have accounts with the milk bank and you should be given this option as well. Inquire ahead of time with the hospital you are delivering at and have an account established.
Take each feed as they come and do not expect perfection at the start. Some will be amazing and some will test your commitment. It’s ok! Don’t let the difficult ones be your downfall! You’re both learning and in time you will be totally synchronized.