If you've checked out the rest of our postpartum series, you’re prepared for everything from foods to moods, from sleep to sex; now get ready for the letdowns...of breastmilk, that is 😉
Call it a rude awakening, but after carrying and delivering your baby you will need to keep them alive and thriving...which means LOTS of around-the-clock feedings and everything that goes with them! Welcome to the starting line of the mama marathon...
Mama Pro-Tip → Don’t quit on a bad day! This is so important, we even have it printed inside the Cocoon!
Mama Pro-Tip 2.0 → If all you are having are bad days, take a look through this and next week’s tips for some suggestions, but the most important thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself...a well-fed babe and a pain-free mama are ultimately the only goals. If this looks like supplementation or a transition to a formula journey, that is absolutely ok 💖
Build a team of BREAST supporters
Make your plan (and share it!)
- Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What’s my ideal breastfeeding goal? 1 month, 6 months, 3 years? Everyone is different; there are no wrong answers.
- Do I want to exclusively breastfeed, or is pumping and bottle-feeding more my speed?
- Make sure you share your goals with your partner, your birth team, and your babe’s care provider -- you’ll want them in your corner!
Ask for encouragement (especially on your hardest day!)
- Think about and relay what encouragement looks and feels like to you...ask for what YOU need.
Find IG accounts that give tips on breastfeeding...and make sure you’re following us to get connected to our community.
Deputize your experienced mama friends -- solidarity and community will get you through challenges, plus it’s nice to have a group who appreciate the humor in dropping food on your nursling’s head or accidentally spraying them in the face when they unlatch during a letdown 😆 or can cry with you over spilled milk (you might not find that one funny yet…)
Find a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician or family practice doc for babe -- can’t stress this one enough; your baby’s care provider can make ALL the difference in your breastfeeding journey. They will be the one tracking baby’s growth and milestones and you will see them way more than your OWN care provider, so they need to be part of your support system!
Is there a La Leche League chapter in your area? They offer in-person meetings and support from volunteers who are trained to assist...plus they’re free!
Hire a postpartum doula to help you in those first few weeks...they are “experts in normal” so this can be a great first step to instilling confidence and getting a baseline of information.
Seek out a lactation consultant (more on this below) for more professional and hands-on advice and assistance.
Take to Google! Type “breastfeeding support + [your city]” into the search bar.
Breastfeeding laws...know your rights
It’s legal in all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) to breastfeed in public, so don’t let anybody tell you differently.
Your health insurance most likely covers the cost of a breast pump as well as the cost of hiring a lactation consultant!
Pumping laws for working mamas vary state by state but if you’re in doubt or fall outside the legal requirements of your location, talk to your supervisor or human resources department. No mama should have to pump in a bathroom!
There are many different types of professional breastfeeding support; check out a summary of your options (as well as some other resources) here. An IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), is considered the gold standard since they are required to complete the most rigorous training and highest number of service hours.
If you are birthing in a hospital, they likely have a lactation consultant on staff. Schedule them to come in ASAP after the baby is born to make sure you are starting off well from the very first latch.
Setting yourself up for success from minute 0
- Stay together after the birth → put this in your birth/postpartum plan, so your birth team knows you want to room in with your baby. For mamas who have a belly birth, dad or partner can be the one to stay with baby while you move to recovery.
- Skin to skin → also called kangaroo care, this is a great way to promote bonding and set yourself up for a good milk supply (plus, delicious newborn snuggles = LIFE)
- Get expert help (as soon as you can, ideally within 1-3 hours of birth) even if you don’t think you need it → see note above about lactation consultants
- Establish a solid latch → HUGELY important...a good latch will help your supply and save your nipples! Watch this video for a helpful visual and how-to.
- Be patient - this is new for you and babe. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s easy.
- Feed the baby on demand → the more you nurse your newborn and have them empty your breasts, the more milk you will make...basic supply and demand! This means around 8-12 feedings in a 24 hour period; check out our post on how to navigate this!
Mama Pro-Tip → BE FLEXIBLE. Things change quickly and MOST IMPORTANT is making sure your baby is happy, thriving and fed.
KellyMom → evidence-based info on breastfeeding and parenting; SO invaluable!
International Breastfeeding Centre → home of the sage wisdom of Dr. Jack Newman, who has been helping breastfeeding mamas for almost 40 years
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding → the La Leche League’s bestselling guide is incredibly comprehensive and designed for all types of mamas
AMMA Mamas Share: What helped you succeed with your breastfeeding journey?
- Support and education from wise women
- Believing I could and that my baby was eating enough
- A lactation consultant and perseverance
- A friend sending me a video of her daughter nursing to show me how to get my baby on
- My pump!
- An iron will and tongue tie assessment
- Jack Newman’s All-purpose Nipple Ointment
- Constant encouragement from my friends & family
Next week we’ll chat breastfeeding terms and how to troubleshoot if things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped...stay tuned, and keep that mama milk flowing!
*gif by Robin Eisenberg