5 things you should know about breastfeeding before giving birth

Written by: Barbara Hardin

When you're pregnant, how breastfeeding will work for you won't be apparent until after your little one greets the world and screams for food. You won't know whether your baby will latch easily, how much milk you'll produce, or whether it'll hurt a lot or not at all. But there is still plenty you can do while pregnant to get prepared and educate yourself about how to feed your baby.
 
Barbara Hardin, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with The Mother's Milk Company, clears up some of the myths about breastfeeding, as well as how to overcome the typical stumbling blocks, below. She'll also be leading a workshop about breastfeeding with Breastfeed Chicago's Katrina Pavlik at NPN's Preparing for Parenthood: Workshops and Expo on Feb. 20. Register today to learn more from Hardin, as well as from experts on CPR, car seat safety, baby gear, infant sleep and more!
 
What are some things an expectant mom can do now to make breastfeeding easier when the time comes?
It can be good to talk with other new moms about preparing for motherhood. If you ask them about breastfeeding, here are some things you may hear:
1. Take a breastfeeding class. The workshop I'm leading at Preparing for Parenthood is a great place to start.
2. Read a good book about breastfeeding, such as Nancy Mohrbacher’s Breastfeeding Made Simple: The Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers. You will learn about baby’s instinctive behaviors and what normal breastfeeding looks like.
3. Learn about the benefits of being skin-to-skin with your baby. It’s a wonderful way to care for him (or her) in the early days after baby’s birth and also supports breastfeeding.
4. Identify one or more IBCLCs who provide in-home care just in case you need help once you are home with your newborn.  
5. Contact your insurance company to learn how to get coverage for IBCLC services and how to obtain a breast pump. The Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance cover these services.
 
What are the biggest stumbling blocks moms have when it comes to breastfeeding?
It’s important to realize that babies expect to be held most of the time, and they feed frequently—8-12 times a day! Thinking of yourself as baby’s habitat and having unrestricted contact with your baby in the early days and weeks after birth can go a long way toward making breastfeeding easy. Also, having a supportive network of family and friends to help take care of you, the new parents, can ease the transition to parenting. 
 
Many cultures have a “lying-in” period when mom is relieved of all responsibilities except for caring for her baby. In our culture, moms are usually expected to maintain their pre-baby responsibilities after baby is born. So, help those around you learn how their support is vital to helping you achieve your infant feeding goals. And go easy on yourself! There are breastfeeding support groups, as well as NPN new moms groups, available. Find them, and connect to your tribe or your village to give you the information and ongoing support you need. 
 
Do you think moms put too much pressure on themselves to breastfeed? Is there a point at which you recommend a mom stop if she’s having a lot of trouble breastfeeding?
While most moms are able meet their breastfeeding goals, as an IBCLC, I often see moms with difficult breastfeeding challenges. Sometimes these difficulties seem to be or can be insurmountable. It is always ok for a mom to decide that she wants to stop breastfeeding and to feel supported in her decision. It is the IBCLC’s role to give a mom information, strategies and options about her breastfeeding situation. It is the mom’s choice to decide how to go forward.
 
While exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is recommended, breastfeeding does not have to be an all-or-nothing process. Partial breastfeeding or partial breastmilk feeding can be viable options. Knowing this helps some moms continue to do some breastfeeding. I always support a mom’s decision about how to feed her baby, whatever choice she makes. My role is to help make it an informed choice.
 
What are your thoughts on the recent findings that there’s no need to “pump and dump” when you’ve had a drink or two?
The last thing we want to do is put unnecessary restrictions on what a breastfeeding mom “must do” or “cannot do” which may cause her to shorten the duration of breastfeeding. It is widely accepted in the medical literature that moderate and responsible use of alcohol does not cause harm to infants. There are, however, some cautions moms should be aware of. You can find a number of reliable sources of information to turn to for guidance on alcohol use and breastfeeding. 
 
What recommendations do you have for expectant moms who are planning to work full time but also want to continue breastfeeding? 
First, keep in mind there is plenty of time to prepare for going back to work after baby is born. In the early weeks, focus on getting breastfeeding off to a good start and establishing your milk supply before you begin to store milk for your return to work.
 
You’ll find it helpful to talk with other moms in your workplace who have continued to breastfeed after returning to work. These moms will be able to share some of the ins and outs of your workplace. Find out if there is a designated area for pumping milk. If there is not, ask your employer to provide a suitable place to pump. Know that you have rights under the law to provide milk for your baby once you have returned to work. 
 

Barbara Hardin, RN, IBCLC, is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who has been providing in-home breastfeeding care and support to moms and babies for the last 28 years. Her aim is to help breastfeeding families understand the nature of the breastfeeding relationship, not just as a source of nutrition, but also as a means to provide loving care that can meet all of baby’s needs. As a lactation consultant, she help parents to understand normal infant behavior and feeding patterns and assist mothers and babies in overcoming breastfeeding challenges to best meet their personal goals and expectations for infant feeding.

 

Posted on January 20, 2016 at 3:07 PM