“What should I know about breastfeeding?”
Of course, every woman is unique AND each breastfeeding journey is, too. It’s good to be cautious of advice that is applied like a cookie cutter to each and every person. But in this case, I feel confident that these three things will help every mother-baby breastfeeding pair.
- Skin to skin, immediately after birth if possible, if not as soon as possible, and lots of it. This is NOT just a “nice to have” or bonding moment. This is science. There are too many studies supporting the importance of this one act to cite here. Skin to skin isn’t just for in the period immediately following baby’s birth but for anytime. New mothers have found it especially useful when breastfeeding is not going as smoothly as she’d like, or when baby is fussy. Yes, partners and babies benefit from skin to skin, too, but it isn’t the same as with mama.
- Watch, listen and respond to your baby. Parents ALWAYS know if breastfeeding is working well or not, and that instinct should be encouraged, listened to and acted upon. Common questions, especially in the early days of breastfeeding include: “How do I know when my baby is hungry?” “How do I know my baby is eating?” “How do I know my baby is eating enough?” And “How do I know when my baby is full?” The answer is: watch and listen to your baby. It’s true that there are common signals most healthy, full-term babies display and we can look for those. We can work on developing a relationship of trust that involves non-verbal communication between us and our babies. Just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating!
- Seek help. There IS help available. You are not ever alone as a new breastfeeding mom. It might take a little bit of research to find the help that suits you and your needs best, but it is out there. Support can be found in person, on the phone or online in nursing mothers’ support groups, meetings, at the hospital or birth center, through your OB or midwife’s office, with certified lactation counselors and international board certified lactation consultants. Ask your friends, google or doctor, pediatrician or midwife for their help, too!
What about you? What three things would you tell a new breastfeeder?