Breastfeeding is a broad topic, this is where this blog comes in. This monthly series by Le Leche Leader Bec Taylor, who shares her ever growing knowledge on the subject will be beneficial for soon to be parents.
“If only I knew all this before I started nursing my baby!” is a lament we often hear from new mothers at La Leche League Series Meetings. Many mothers belatedly realize that the most helpful time to learn about breastfeeding is during pregnancy.
If you, or someone close to you is pregnant and planning on breastfeeding, these tips could help get breastfeeding off to an easier start.
1. Be informed. This can mean different things to different people but could include:
- Going to an LLL Series Meeting while you are pregnant so you can get correct, up to date and realistic information from mothers who have been there and can share the realities of a breastfeeding relationship.
- While you are at an LLL Series Meeting, you will learn much about breastfeeding–what’s normal, what to watch for, and how to overcome any problems you might run into. You’ll also develop a supportive network of other breastfeeding mothers which can make a difference to breastfeeding success.
- Be brave and ask questions during LLL Series Meetings – this is your chance to get to know your local Leaders, who can be a helpful resource after your baby is born.
- Empower yourself for success by researching how medical interventions during birth impact breastfeeding and write a birth plan accordingly. Mothers who are alert and active participants in labour often have an easier time initiating breastfeeding.
- Know what early hunger cues are so your baby is relaxed and calm when latching-on – getting a stressed, hungry baby to attach well to the breast is very difficult and frustrating for both the mother and baby.
- Almost all mothers worry that they aren’t making enough milk for their babies. Learning about normal weight gain and how to count wet and dirty diapers before your baby is born is really helpful in putting your mind at ease.
2. Be a breastfeeding advocate for you and your baby at birth.
- Make arrangements with your midwife or doctor to give your baby the chance to breastfeed as soon after birth as possible. The earlier and more often a babyhas the chance to breastfeed after birth, the more easily breastfeeding is established.
- Ensure the staff at the hospital know that you plan to breastfeed, so that they will avoid giving your baby formula (sugar water or a pacifier) unless it is truly needed.
- Rooming-in with your baby (instead of having your baby cared for in the nursery) can also be very helpful because it allows you to breastfeed whenever your baby shows early signs of hunger. Try breastfeeding in a variety of positions to find out which one works best for you.
3. Communicate openly with your family and friends about your breastfeeding goals.
- As much as possible, share all this information with the people in your life that will be helping you the most with your baby. One of the most critical factors in breastfeeding success is the positive and unfailing support of a spouse or other primary caregiver of your child.
- Talk with female family members and friends about their breastfeeding experiences as it may affect how they support you during your time as a nursing mother.
- You can find many articles, tear-off sheets, and pamphlets from La Leche League International in Simplified Chinese on the LLL China website at: http://www.muruhui/org/ so family members and ayis can be just as well informed as the mother.
4. Trust your instincts.
- No one knows your baby better than you do. If you feel like something is wrong – you are in pain or are worried about your baby’s health – ask for help. If you are being pressured by well meaning family or friends to do something that doesn’t feel right, trust yourself to make the right choice for you and your baby.
5. Look after yourself, Mama!
- Let go of expectations for yourself, especially in the first few weeks, if not months. Breastfeeding an infant on cue (which is what all babies biologically expect and need) is a full-time job, especially while you are getting the hang of it! The chores and errands can wait, and most certainly be outsourced to ayis, friends, family members or your spouse.
- It is important to know that some mothers experience challenges in the early days of breastfeeding, but that almost every problem can be overcome with good information and support. LLL is only a phone call, text or email away and we are always willing to listen and give information so you can make the decision that will work best for your family.
La Leche Leader, Bec Taylor, is a woman of many hats – WAHM to two children under 5, Masters of Teacher Librarianship student, scrapbooker, avid reader, wife and a painfully eternal optimist. Australians by birth and travellers by nature, Bec and her educator husband have happily lived and taught overseas for most of their adult lives. Bec is blessed to live in walking distance to both her parents as well as her brother and his family. It is her pleasure and privilege to support mothers through her role in LLL.
Photos: Daquella Manera, Daily Cloudt (flickr)