Welcome to my first blog post!! I am often told by new families how shocked they are at how hard breastfeeding can be in those early days. This is often because they are not prepared! Read on for my top 5 ways to prepare to breastfeed and meet your breastfeeding goals!
1. Prenatal Education – Many first time parents opt for Prenatal Classes; these classes go over what to expect during labour, how to cope and baby care in the postpartum period. If you’re lucky part of that post-partum class will cover breastfeeding. Labour and birth will last, on average between 24-48 hrs, however feeding your baby will occur every 2-3 hrs for (hopefully!) 6 months or more. Prenatal Breastfeeding classes are helpful because they go into greater detail about what to expect in that early post-partum period. Topics should include; how to tell if your baby is getting milk and what to do if they are not. How to optimize the latch and what is normal (2nd night anyone??) and what is not normal (pain).
2. Know where to get help – As you approach your last trimester it is good idea to know the breastfeeding resources in your community. This could mean the public health clinics in your area, private lactation consultants that can visit you at home, or your local La Leche League. Yes, free resources are great, but are often not available on the weekends or holidays. Let’s also talk about levels of care, which brings me to…….
3. Breastfeeding Support – Levels of Education – The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential is the gold standard for breastfeeding support; this certification requires 14 health science courses as a pre-requisite, 90 hours of lactation specific education and between 300-1000 hours of clinical education. In some cases those hours are directly supervised by another IBCLC, sometimes it’s on the job hours that are counted. Even within the IBCLC credential there is a lot of variation, so be sure to ask lots of questions!
4. Ask for help early– Having qualified support see your baby at the breast and answer your questions and concerns can set you up to meet your breastfeeding goals. If you feel you are still struggling then seek out more or different help. Often I get a call that a family wants a visit after they get out of the hospital for jaundice however, having an assessment of the breastfeeding before this happens can prevent difficulties in this area. And if supplementation is needed, there are ways to do it that help preserve the breastfeeding.
5. Arrange your support system early – In the final weeks before you meet your baby, think about what you want post-partum to look like; do you want people to come by or would you rather your partner and yourself spend some time alone as a family? Having meals made and in the freezer, gift certificates on hand or friends available to bring meals by that first week post-partum can be so helpful. Then you can focus on feeding and resting. Line up some of your ‘must watch’ shows on Netflix!