Are you ready to breastfeed? Here's how, with Evymama's own breastfeeding preparation instructor, Angela Grant-Buechner, RN, IBCLC
Are you really ready to Breastfeed? What can you do BEFORE baby is born?
What have you heard about breastfeeding? Is it natural, healthy, convenient and free? Sure, Public health flyers will remind you all about that.... What about painful, exhausting, hard and stressful? You don't see that on any posters, but that's what many expectant mothers hear from their friends!
Well, which is it? Is breastfeeding a calm, enjoyable bonding experience or a gauntlet of pumps, cracked nipples and babies with excess weight loss?
Honest answer? It can be both.
It is very common to have at least a few struggles with breastfeeding, especially in the first week.
Whether it’s a painful latch, a sleepy baby, constant crying or someone telling you that baby isn’t getting enough milk. There are lots of challenges you might encounter, because most of us didn't grow up in a village where all the mothers were topless and sat around a fire breastfeeding all day. If we had, more of us would find breastfeeding natural, instinctive and easy....but for many, it's not. It's something you need practice, help, and time to get good at. Also, there are some great tricks that can make a big difference if you know about them ahead of time, so you can know what to expect and what to try before any trouble starts!
Learning about breastfeeding BEFORE your baby is born, is actually very helpful. Although there’s nothing like the real thing when it comes to actually practicing latch, and holding a real-live baby! Knowing what is normal (like REALLY frequent feeding so baby can tell your body how much milk to make) and what it’s supposed to feel like are really good to know ahead of time. Trying to Google “what is clusterfeeding” or “How to breastfeed a sleepy baby” after 30 hours labour is not as much fun as you might think!
First, take this class at the new Evymama location in Toronto!! Preparing to Breastfeed
Seriously, SO MANY issues that women have with breastfeeding stem from not knowing what to expect, how to prevent nipple pain, and what to do if baby is not latching, is too sleepy to feed well, or when baby is losing too much weight.
Here are a few to get you started….
1. Learn about Hand Expression
If there is ANY reason a baby is having trouble breastfeeding in the first few days after birth, hand express your colostrum every 2-3 hours for 10-15 minutes. You might only get a few drops but it signals your body that you're still 'IN' for becoming a breastfeeder and that you would like to request a great milk supply even if baby isn’t feeding well right now. We can figure a lot of things out later about a deep latch, nipple comfort and excess weight loss if your body is reminded to continue making milk. This video is a great tool.
2. Spoons are made for babies too!
If your baby isn't able to get colostrum out of your breast the 'usual' way because he's tongue-tied, sleepy, it hurts you or he just won’t latch, then use a spoon! First, read #1 and watch that video. Now hand express right into a spoon & give it to the baby! Spoons are easy to use, hold small amounts (which is usually all newborns need anyway....seriously!) and you can express your thick colostrum right into it so you don't lose your 3 precious drops in the pump valve thingy!
3. Take off your shirt and hold your naked baby
This one seems simple and obvious once you learn about how much 'skin-to-skin holding' can improve breastfeeding outcomes. Most parents however, think they're supposed to immediately put their new baby in all the cute outfits and hats they've had washed and waiting for this moment.... I don't blame you, that outfit IS super cute, BUT if your baby is having trouble waking up, calming down, latching, or is cold, I promise that the science here is right. Mama's chest is the place to be. Put your feet up, get comfy and hold your baby.
4. Keep trying, and get help.
Ask for help, ask for more help, then if you still need help, find different help... (Yes, I do home and hospital visits!)
Breastfeeding takes practice. Learning about a few 'normal' things can make a big difference in your confidence too. The sooner you find help the better, but even if things aren't perfect right from the start, try these things and your breastfeeding career really can continue almost always with the right information, if you are a bit stubborn, and just a little bit lucky.
Angela Grant Buechner, BA, BScN, RN, IBCLC is a Registered Nurse • Lactation Consultant • Birth Doula • Postpartum Doula • Newborn Care Specialist • Educator in Toronto