I find nothing is as sweet as looking down at my baby suckling and watching her littles eyes stare lovingly back me. It makes my heart warm all over! While enjoying this moment, I think back to my first breastfeeding experience with Little Man and how far I have come in my journey with this ancient mothering skill. I remember watching his newborn “pecking” they placed him on my chest! I felt so lost, so afraid of this little being who so desperately wanted nourishment from…me. Would I figure out how to do this right? How do I hold and support him? What if it hurts like I’ve heard from other moms? Something I thought would come naturally scared me to death! Thankfully, I managed to fumble through it and learned some valuable things along the way…
Breastfeeding Bootcamp for the Expectant Mom
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Learn what you can about Breastfeeding before your baby’s born
Read and research before you go into labor! Breastfeeding is beautiful. Breastfeeding is natural. However, for many women (including me), breastfeeding is not intuitive. It is a great comfort to be familiar with things like a good latch looks like, how to prevent and treat sore nipples, nursing positions to try and what to expect when your milk comes in.
Start with a good breastfeeding reference book you can keep on hand. I found La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding a great place to start. It has information on everything from good latches to benefits from breastfeeding and lots of strategies for thriving at breastfeeding even in unique situations. I keep my copy nearby to refer to even now! Another highly recommended reference book is The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Higgins. She does a great job with problem-solving in breastfeeding and discusses breast pumps in detail.
There are TONS of videos on the internet with breastfeeding information. FYI …you have to be careful what ones you choose for appropriate content and a knowledgeable instructor. Some of my favorite videos on signs of a good latch and effective drinking are from Dr Jack Newman at Breastfeeding, Inc.
Kellymom.com is another awesome, free evidence based website with tons of articles on everything from hunger cues from an infant to how to hand express milk to breastfeeding premature babies. Kelly Bonyata, the website owner and main contributor, is an international board certified lactation consultant and a mom of 3.
Sign up early for a breastfeeding class. Often hospitals and birthing centers offer a breastfeeding class you can take while expecting. Most are taught by lactation consultants employed by the hospital. You can also look into breastfeeding classes offer by independent lactation consultants and doulas. While a hands-on class is optimal, there are good video tutorials you can purchase that provide the same type of course information and are usually less expensive.
Surround yourself with positive support
Attend a breastfeeding support group while pregnant.
La Leche League has free support groups all over the US and the World. You can contact the groups’ leaders to find out detail about the meeting time and location. Here is a link for the LLL support groups in the USA. Most meetings are focused on a few topics that are rotated, but questions are always encouraged. Leaders can also be contact for immediate breastfeeding concerns.
Many counties in the US also have WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors who organize meetings and do one-on-one counseling. They are trained by the USDA Loving Support Program which has a different philosophy from LLL so you might receive differing advice on such things as when to introduce solid foods and, depending on the county, they may service only women currently enrolled in the WIC program. Lastly, check your local hospital for free breastfeeding support groups. My county hospital has one that meets weekly and is led by lactation consultants.
If in doubt, find help
If something just doesn’t seem right, get help! You’re experiencing a lot of pain with breastfeeding. Your baby is having difficulty latching. Your baby’s pediatrician is pushing for formula supplementation. Make a list of trusted breastfeeding moms and breastfeeding advisors or specialists ahead of time. LLL Leader can provide free advice over the phone. Many times, hospital-based lactation consultants can do free phone consultations. Independent International Board Certified Lactation Consultants have offices in many cities in the US (check with your moms’ groups or ask local doulas for recommendations). There is support and help if you take the time to look for it.
A breastfeeding relationship with your baby is a wonderful bonding experience that can last for as long as it is mutually desired. It may not always be smooth sailing, but it is so worth it in the long run! Thank you for your visit today to mom2mom.info. Please leave a comment.