This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together, which really brings forth the collaborative nature of breastfeeding. When I think about the components that shape a mother’s breastfeeding experience, the first thing that come to mind is support. Who is part of her ‘Dream Team of Breastfeeding Support’? Her partner? Her family and friends? Her doctors and midwives? Her lactation consultant? Her local and online community? All of these connections shape how we view ourselves as a breastfeeding mother and how successful we feels about ourselves and our experience. Since not all of us are fortunate to have a huge system of in-person breastfeeding support, online support can be critical.
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing stories of triumphant breastfeeding mamas and their biggest supporters who helped them reach their personal breastfeeding goals. If you would like to share your breastfeeding story and thank your biggest breastfeeding cheerleaders, check out the details in our recent blog article.
Here is Stephanie's story.
It has truly taken a village to help me be successful in nursing both of my babies! I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but, after the birth of my first son, my passion and commitment to it were a surprise to even me. I was also caught extremely off-guard by the difficulties both of my boys encountered as we began our breastfeeding journeys together. Tongue ties, lip ties, low weight gain, low supply, poor latch, pain/cracking/bleeding, overactive letdown, and more were all hurdles we had to cross. There is absolutely NO way I could have made it to 13 months formula-free with my first son and still going strong and formula-free at 6 months with my second without these amazing people.
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing stories of triumphant breastfeeding mamas and their biggest supporters who helped them reach their personal breastfeeding goals.
This story is from Dawn.
I have to thank my hospital TEAM for my breastfeeding success!
When I gave birth to my son 5+ years ago, it wasn’t what any first time mom would like to experience. I was having problems with maintaining my blood pressure and when my little boys’ heart rate dropped too low, I was rushed into an emergency c-section. It was an extremely frightening process that didn’t even enter my mind as a possibility. The months that followed were hard. We struggled at finding a proper latch and feeding became such a difficult task, I dreaded it.
It never occurred to me that our difficulties at latching could have been because of the birth experience .
There are few things that I really focus on when a pregnant mama asks what she should know about breastfeeding before her baby is born. One, it is incredibly beneficial to take a prenatal breastfeeding class to learn about positioning, latching, following baby’s feeding cues, and how to tell if your baby is getting enough. Most importantly, though, when it is all whittled down to the core, in my mind what helps a mom reach her breastfeeding goal has all to do with support! When mamas share with me why they stopped breastfeeding, the most prominent theme is lack of support and assistance when breastfeeding challenges became complicated.
So here’s the deal - breastfeeding is something you learn on the job. In really supportive jobs, we usually have professional development at the start, as well as throughout our employment to keep us up to date and provide needed support. Parenting is definitely a full time job, yet we often have to seek out our own unpaid professional development, to have our questions answered and continue the learning process. This ‘professional development’ can often be challenging to find, as well as not all support is equally beneficial.
What tips do you have for surviving the first few weeks of breastfeeding?
Maren: Lots of skin to skin to get those endorphins going so you can take advantage of all that delicious oxytocin (which will make you want to keep breastfeeding, even with things might be tough!) Take advantage of all of the support you can – it will help normalize the experience so that you feel totally confident in your decision to breastfeed. And know ahead of time that there is definitely a learning curve, but it only gets better and better, so hang in there!
Amanda: Make sure to talk to your partner about how you need him/her to support breastfeeding and encourage you, even when you get discouraged and feel like giving up!
Jamie: Get the latch correct right away! Take advantage of the lactation consultants at the hospital and ask for a referral even if you don’t think you will need one.
Andrea: Trust your body! Skin to skin, lots of water, and lots of rest.
Heather: Surround yourself with at least one supportive person. I would never have made it through those weeks without the support of my husband.
Alicia: Hire a postpartum doula.
Juli: Surround yourself with women (and men!) who support breastfeeding. It gets easier – it is definitely worth pushing through the tough parts in the beginning!
Billie: Make really good friends with the lactation consultant and local breastfeeding support group before delivery. They will be able to offer so much support in those first few weeks. Trust your supply. Make sure you are comfortable!
Monica: I went to classes and read books, which helped, but nothing prepares you for the real thing. Get help early, if you need it. Hiring a lactation consultant was the best thing I did. Keep telling yourself you will try it for one more day and one day it will become second nature. Coconut oil worked wonders on sore nipples.
Christine: OMG… best advice I got was to rub breastmilk around your nipples after every nursing session! My cracked tatas healed within 2 days of doing that!
Chelle: If it hurts and you are dreading the next nursing session, don’t just tough it out! Get help ASAP before it gets worse or turns into an issue that makes you quit! Take a prenatal class. Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean you will naturally know what to do.
Sarah: Don’t expect anything else from yourself. Set up what you can ahead of time and find someone else to do everything else that needs to be done. Establishing your breastfeeding relationship is your job.
Jen: Get a Netflix subscription and ignore the dirty dishes!
Danielle: Don’t do anything but rest, breastfeed, nap, and eat. Nothing else matters right now.
Abbey: Celebrate every success, no matter how small it seems!
Desiree: Find support! And be patient…it’s not always easy, but it’s most certainly worth it!
Sofia: Learn the basics! Before birth is possible! Proper latch, how milk supply works, most common myths about breastfeeding, how to know if your baby is getting enough, why it is REALLY important to feed on cue rather than a schedule, why baby doesn’t need ANYTHING else but your breastmilk, etc.
Amanda: Don’t give up! Get help and support! Spend as much time as you can with your baby (in bed if you can.)
Priscilla: Relax. Don’t listen to anyone that’s not helpful. Determine your own needs for comfort.
Joanna: Expect to care for your baby and get others to help with meals and housework.
To find an international board certified lactation consultant, visit www.ilca.org
Here are a few more articles on our website, specifically dealing with breastfeeding a newborn:
This is a question I hear quite often, so I thought I would share my favorite tips, as well as share the amazing comments we received from our Facebook page when we asked our fellow breastfeeding mamas!
My Top 5 Pieces of Advice Every Woman Should Have Before She Breastfeeds:
1. Find a lactation consultant in your area before you have your baby.
No one should have to google this information at 3:30 in the morning when you feel like your nipples are going to fall off. Instead, spend a few minutes on the computer, in between your stroller and diaper research, to find an international board certified lactation consultant who seems like a really great person. Check out her Yelp reviews and ask your friends who they would recommend.