In a perfect world, I would make CERTAIN my mamas, who want to breastfeed, are equipped with the knowledge and tools to do so immediately after birth through to the end of their breastfeeding relationship/goal. Sadly, there are many hurdles that women face the moment they have their babies—the biggest one being lack of education prior to the start of nursing. Below I will impart the wisdom I have learned from experience and ongoing education.
The Importance of the Golden Hour
No matter how baby comes out (and emergency C-sections can but don’t always present a challenge during this time frame, depending on hospital policy), the first 60-90 minutes are the most important when establishing the first latch. Baby recognizes mom by left-behind amniotic smells and is most alert and ready to make his or her way towards the breast. Your hormones throughout pregnancy that made your areolas so dark? They coursed through your body to make your breasts easier for baby to find! They’re like targets! What I’m trying to say is babies are smarter and stronger than we give them credit for. If we allow them to have an hour after birth on mother’s chest, they will usually latch on their own with almost no help at all. You can watch videos of this on Youtube. It’s incredible.
Miss this window of time? It’s ok. Don’t fret. Baby becomes sleepy and may just need a little extra support to latch when he or she awakes. That’s what Lactation Consultants are for!
It is empowering and extremely helpful to know how to hand express. You’ll never have to panic if you lose your pump or a part breaks or if baby goes on a nursing strike. Like any skill, practice makes perfect. It took me months to perfect this. Also another great job for a Lactation Consultant!
You might have been told that milk comes in a supply and demand way. This is true. If baby isn’t eating, your breast doesn’t know to make milk. Feeding baby often helps the breasts empty and get the message to make more milk. Babies also nurse for many other reasons than hunger. They nurse for comfort, for sleep, belly aches, to bond and more. Breastfeeding is also helpful to mama.
Breastfeeding releases Oxytocin, which studies have shown help reduce mood disorders.
Warm compresses and dangle-feeding for clogs
Before I discovered that my body didn’t respond to electric pumps, I got golf ball sized clogs on the regular. I sought help desperately and often. The best piece of advice I got was—at first sign of clog, slap a warm compress on the breast, massage, then dangle feed. Read more at Kellymom, my fave resource.
TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT
There is no doubt about it—Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things to do and our culture makes it harder by silencing and shaming women. The more we talk about this, the less of a stigma it may become. Exposure is the first step to challenging this norm.
Please remember, mama, it aint easy. You’re doing great!
Have more questions on feeding your infant? Send Rae a message.