As we near the end of National Breastfeeding Month, we felt it appropriate to go out with a bang! We know, and love, the benefits of breastfeeding and agree that it’s most definitely the optimal choice. But, we also recognize that whether breastfeeding, pumping, or bottle feeding, every route comes with its own challenges, especially when establishing feedings with a newborn or newborns! By providing some reassurance, tips, and tricks, we want to end the month on a high note and let you know, you’re not in this alone!
The FIRST thing I want you to know…
Is that no one has it all figured out. Yes, NO one. Breastfeeding, pumping, bottle feeding, and feeding your babies in general is such an emotional journey filled with high “highs” and low “lows”. As moms (AND dads) we’ve really got to get away from being too hard on ourselves. Easier said than done, I know. I’ve definitely fallen victim to “Mom Guilt” more times than not. Whether you’re able to breastfeed for a short or long period of time, pump, or formula feed, the very most important thing you can do for your littles ones is to be informed, make sounds decisions, and do what’s best for your family.
The NEXT thing I want you to know is….
Doing Skin-To-Skin with your babies immediately after their birth and then throughout the first 2 hours of their lives has shown to be immensely beneficial in many different ways. Doing so can have a profound effect on their ability to initiate breastfeeding and form a good latch, jumpstart your milk production, as helps them better adjust to their new surroundings. Skin-To-Skin also helps to regulate their vitals and mood and is also the perfect opportunity for both you and your partner to bond with your babes. If your littles are or were in need of a higher level of care immediately following their birth and this wasn’t possible, don’t fret! The benefits of Skin-To-Skin as still seen throughout those early days and beyond.
Ask for support. Whether it be from a lactation consultant, doula, midwife or nurse support in those early hours and days is especially essential. One thing to be aware of, often times in a hospital setting opinions and guidance can vary from shift to shift, leaving you feeling like a deer in headlights. Listen to your intuitions and to your babies, advocate for how you’re feeling, what’s comfortable, and ask A LOT of questions. Most importantly, remember everyone’s new at this, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
The most common thing we hear from seasoned mamas, myself included, is that they didn’t advocate for themselves, and ultimately their littles as much as they wish they would have. So, speak up, no question is a bad question, and if anyone ever makes you feel that way, they are certainly not the right support person for you and they are not attune to your needs.
Follow their LEAD…
During the first few days, weeks, and months of your babies’ lives it’s going to feel a bit chaotic, and this is totally normal. Just think about it, you’re new at this, and so are your babies, so naturally it takes time for everyone to get in sync. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be attune to your babies cues and communication. If they’re acting like they’re hungry, chances are they probably are, even if the clock says they’re not. Catching these cues and meeting your babies’ needs is essential to establishing healthy habits and routines early on.
DON’T over complicate things…
As a rule of thumb, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Meaning don’t jump the gun to use devices like nipple shields, or creams. Give your baby and your body the opportunity to figure things out on their own with your guidance. For the first few days or so, especially when your babies are latching on, you may experience some discomfort; BUT, this should not be consistent. If you’re experiencing cracked or dry nipples as well as consistent pain during breastfeeding, there’s a good chance that your babies aren’t latched on correctly. In this case it’s a good idea to talk with your pediatrician to make sure there isn’t any other factors at play.
The GOLDEN ticket…
Lastly, we know how easy it is to become stressed out worrying about not being able to produce enough breastmilk for your little ones. Because, let’s face it, if you’re a mama of multiples or a singleton, this is a natural concern and it’s important for us to talk about it in a bit more depth. In fact it’s also one of the biggest reasons mamas report for discontinuing breastfeeding 2-6 months after the birth of their baby. If you’re committed to breastfeeding, whether exclusively, or a mix of pumping and bottle feeding we absolutely want you to know that the biggest factor in keeping your supply up as well as increasing your supply is nipple stimulation. Yes, I said it, nipple stimulation. Nipple stimulation, whether bringing baby to breast, pumping, or manual stim causes your milk producing hormone (prolactin) to increase, as well as increasing your milk delivery hormone (oxytocin) resulting in more of that liquid gold goodness! There’s so much information out there about what to eat, what to drink, what not to drink, what supplements you can take, etc. And the truth is, if you’ve ruled out all medical or physical issues or concerns, it really is as simple as trusting in your body to produce what your babies need, and supporting it to do so through consistency.
Go with the FLOW…
Literally. You and your littles are going to learn something new from each other every day. Try not to be too rigid in your thinking, focus on the things that truly matter, and let the rest slide. After all, the newborn phase goes by OH so fast and if you blink, you may miss it!
For more information and support on breastfeeding, pumping, and bottle feeding make sure to check out our signature prenatal classes available on demand at https://babytalkco.com/education/online/
Maggie Price MA, CLC | Founder of www.babytalkco.com