Re: Questions about Breastfeeding
Welcome and congratulations on the baby to come!
I think a lot of first time moms-to-be focus too much on products- the pillows, the creams, the teas- and not enough on the non-material things that can actually help breastfeeding get off to a good start. Since the PPs covered the products so well, I hope you won't mind if I answer the question you didn't ask, and talk a bit about those non-material things.
Tips on getting breastfeeding off to a good start:
- A better birth usually means easier breastfeeding. I strongly advocate avoiding induction of labor for non-medical reasons (things like scheduling convenience, baby being "ready", baby being "big", having "your" doctor instead of some random person, etc.) because unnecessary induction can be the first step into the cascade of interventions, where one intervention necessitates another which necessitates yet another and another. This cascade often tumbles into interventions like episiotomy or c-section that can impact a mom's ability to breastfeed.
- Know your labor pain management options and choose carefully among them. Narcotic pain relievers will cross the placenta and often cause babies to be born lethargic and unwilling to nurse. Epidurals can cause maternal fever which is indistinguishable from infection and result in baby being taken to the NICU. This isn't to say you must have a natural birth in order to nurse successfully- nothing could be farther from the truth! It's just that it's a good idea to go into birth informed and ready to advocate for yourself and your baby.
- Assuming baby and mom are both healthy and strong after birth, have your newborn delivered immediately onto your bare chest. Your baby will warm up best when skin-to-skin with you, and may latch on within a short time of birth. Nursing as soon as possible not only gives baby her first dose of colostrum, but it also speeds the delivery of the placenta and helps stop postpartum bleeding.
- Delay all routine newborn procedures until after you and your baby have had a chance to nurse and cuddle. Things like eye ointment, a trip to the baby warmer, footprints, bath, weight and other measurements- those can all be safely delayed for at least an hour.
- Room in with your baby. When babies room in, moms learn their babies' nursing cues faster, mom's milk comes in faster, and babies learn to nurse faster. There's less chance that a "helpful" nursery worker will interfere with breastfeeding by slipping your baby a bottle or pacifier.
- If you choose to send the baby to the nursery- and with a healthy baby it should be a choice rather than something that happens automatically- make a sign for her bassinet that says "I am a breastfed baby. No bottles or pacifiers, please. Bring me to my mom every time I cry, or every 2 hours if I don't."
- Avoid artificial nipples (bottles, pacifiers) for the first several weeks after birth. Babies latch onto fake nipples differently from how they latch onto the breast, and that confusion can cause difficulties in latching onto the breast.
- Do not supplement with formula "just until your milk comes in". It's normal for babies to lose weight after birth (up to 10% of birthweight is normal), and a tiny newborn tummy needs only a few teaspoons of colostrum until milk comes in, something which typically happens 2-3 days after birth but which may take as long as 5 days. Not only is supplementing usually unnecessary, but it also delays milk production, which is stimulated by frequent demand from a hungry baby. If supplemental feeding is necessary, it should be ordered by your baby's pediatrician, and not by a nurse.
- Nurse on demand, or every 2-3 hours, whichever comes first. If you have a non-demanding or sleepy baby, it's especially important to wake her to feed!
- If you run into trouble, make sure you have access to a lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC. A lot of moms feel embarrassed to ask for help with something that is supposed to be "natural", but remember: natural isn't the same thing as easy!
Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"