As a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and Certified Birth Doula (DONA) I have helped to support and prepare hundreds of families to be successful with their plans for feeding their baby.
Today I wanted to share my Top 6 Tips that I feel help all families prepare for successful breast/chest feeding.
- Get as much information as possible prior to birth. This might include taking a prenatal childbirth class that also includes breast/chest feeding and caring your a newborn baby OR a stand alone class that covers essential content for feeing your baby. If you can’t get to a class, then here are a few of my favourite books from my own bookshelf:
- Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Newman (2014)
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Wiessinger and West (2010)
I also frequently share the following video with all of my prenatal students to review prior to our discussions on breast/chest feeding. The video beautifully demonstrates the elements of a successful latch and what to look for.
2. Spend time with family/friends that are breast/chest feeding. Many Lactation advocates point to the lack of visual demonstrations of babies actively feeding at the breast/chest. Hanging out with other people who are feeding their baby helps you observe the behaviours between baby and parent. I always encourage members to visit their local La Leche League meeting (which take place monthly) at some point in pregnancy to meet other families and to listen to other peoples experiences and how they are overcoming any challenges. Peer to Peer support is often an overlooked and under-utilized strategy, but it certainly contributes to success and longevity.
3. Partner Support. Prior to the birth of your baby you and your partner should have a discussion regarding your plans to feeding your baby and how they can support breast/chest feeding. A good class will teach your partner not only the benefits of breast/chest feeding, but how they can actively support you- especially in the early days and weeks. Learning how to support positions, motivating you on the long nights when you feel tired and defeated and making sure you are well- fed and hydrated are just some of the ways partners increase success.
4. Skin To Skin. In almost all situations a baby and the birthing parent can and should, spend a good hour or more skin-skin immediately after the birth. This simple act helps to stabilize a newborns core temperature, regulates breathing, reduces stress and encourages all babes to follow their instinctive behaviour to breast crawl for their first feed.
5. Set up Support. Most people plan their birth and spend a lot of time thinking about things that are important to them. However, fewer people plan for support in the early postpartum period. Having a plan in place that identifies who you can turn to for help makes breast/chest feeding easier. I always encourage my families to consider putting a little extra money aside before they go on maternity leave so that finances are not a barrier to assistance. Although there are many free and drop-in resources available, sometimes the 1-1 support of a Lactation Consultant is just what you need to keep you and your baby happy and content.
6. Practice Makes Perfect. Be patient with yourself and your baby. You and your baby are learning a new skill, tuning in with each other’s needs and navigating new territory. If you run in to any challenges at any time reach out for help.