We have all probably heard that breastfeeding is the “Gold Standard of infant feeding.” This statement is backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organizations, and National Institute of Health, among many other supporters. The benefits of breastfeeding are countless for both mother and baby. So why does it have to be so hard?
This is a question I asked myself a lot in the first few days of being a mom. I read all the books and took the class, but still, there I was crying and feeling like a failure. I did not come from a family of breastfeeding women and really only had the support of my husband. There were many times I felt like giving up, but was lucky enough to have someone invite me to a breastfeeding group where I got encouragement and support to help through those trying times. Because of the struggles I faced with breastfeeding, I decided to become a Lactation Consultant and help other moms through their breastfeeding journeys. I call it a journey because there will be joys and triumphs, but there can also be valleys you must go through.
I want to give you some helpful tips to avoid “booby traps” along your journey. Let’s start at the beginning:
The first hour after delivery is crucial to breastfeeding success. Studies suggest that latching your baby or hand expressing during the first hour after delivery increases your milk supply long-term.
Skin-to-skin contact is also super important in getting your breastfeeding journey off to a good start. It will help your body to make milk and encourage your baby to go to the breast. (I know all your visitors have anxiously awaited the arrival of your baby but you cannot get the first hour back. So, I encourage parents to not allow visitors into the room until after the first feeding is completed.)
Did you know baby’s get overstimulated? A newborn has to adjust to life outside in a short period of time and all that extra noise, lights, and being passed around can over-stimulate them. Babies cope with stimulation by sleeping and it can often be hard to rouse baby enough to feed. Avoid this booby trap by feeding baby first, and then allowing visitors to hold your baby.
“Second night syndrome” is part of the transition period for you and baby. This is the time when baby wants to cluster-feed (eat frequently) and can be extra fussy. Mom is also feeling the effects of the first 24 hours (exhaustion, soreness, hormones, etc.) and this can often be a difficult time. Just remember, this is a normal part of transition. Cluster-feeding during the this time is not an indicator of inadequate supply. Feed your baby on cue (hands to mouth, rooting around, etc.) for optimal milk supply and satisfied baby.
If you have questions or concerns, always ask your nurse or provider. In Maury County we are lucky enough to have a hospital where all the staff on the Labor and Delivery, and MotherBaby Units are now trained to educate and assist with breastfeeding.
Okay, so you made it through all that and you are headed home. Now what? There are many resources in Maury, and surrounding counties, for breastfeeding moms. Some of those include support groups, outpatient lactation appointments, and in-home lactation appointments. Also, Tennessee has a 24 hour breastfeeding hotline that is free of charge (855-4BFMOMS.)
Your breastfeeding journey can be a beautiful thing. Remember, it is YOUR journey and may not look like others. It is important that you talk with your provider, nurse, and/or lactation consultant about your goals and questions. It is their job to help you develop a plan to meet YOUR goals. If you had trouble with a previous journey, just know that your new journey can be different. Breastfeeding takes determination and support. Make a plan and surround yourself with others who will help you walk through the valleys and celebrate your triumphs on the other side.
If you have questions regarding breastfeeding or need assistance you can call Maury Regional Medical Center Lactation Services at 931-490-7074 or contact one of the many other resources attached.