Breast is best…Breastfeeding is good for my baby…Breastfeeding is good for me….Breast milk is the perfect food for my baby….Breastfeeding is good for the environment…Breast milk will help my baby be healthy….Breast milk will help me be healthy….Breast feeding is…Breast milk is….
The positive benefits of breast feeding and breast milk are well-known, well-researched and well-documented. In Oregon, more than 90% of women plan to breast feed their baby. For most women, the decision of how to feed their newborn is made while they are pregnant and put into action once the baby is born.
Each of us makes decisions differently, whether it is about buying a new chair, planning a trip or planning a baby. In deciding how they plan to feed their new baby, some parents will do exhaustive research or spend hours talking with friends, family and medical professionals. Some will meet prenatally with a lactation consultant.
Others will approach the task casually, planning to just “see what happens.”
The unfortunate statistic in some reports is that, regardless of how the breastfeeding goal is decided, 32% of the women in this country will not meet their breastfeeding goal. For those women, the information and slogans, like those listed above, form a refrain that circles their minds and brings frustration and sadness when they feel themselves and their babies falling short of the goal. The question is asked, “What could I have done differently?”
As a nurse and lactation consultant with over 40 years of experience, I would like to offer my best advice.
1. Educate yourself about the physiology of milk production.
2. Educate yourself about your body’s strengths and possible challenges for milk production.
3. Look at a couple of well-researched, well-respected authors as resources either online or a book. Here are examples of online resources:
Here are examples of written materials:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding La Leche League publication
So That’s What They’re For! By Janet Tamaro (This is one of my favorites because it is written with humor and accuracy)
4. Meet with a lactation consultant before the baby comes if you have any concerns or would be most helped by the one-on-one conversation. If you have experienced difficulty with a previous baby, it is definitely helpful to have a well-thought-out plan and support before the baby is born.
5. Know your resources. Who is the breastfeeding specialist you can call? Is that person located in your OB office, pediatrician office, in the community or your circle of family and friends?
6. When the baby is born, plan:
a. Immediate and continuous skin-to-skin holding.
b. Minimal interruptions for all of you in the first two weeks after birth. (Only helpful people bringing food are allowed in)
c. For the term baby, unlimited, frequent feedings whenever you see your baby’s feeding cues.
d. Contact (in person or by phone) a professional with breastfeeding expertise in the first week just to check in.
The most important time for you and your baby to establish a great breast feeding relationship is in the first 14 days after delivery. What happens in the first two weeks can have a significant effect on your breastfeeding future.
Most of us know and understand that breast milk is the best food for our babies. The information we need is who can help us make it happen!
Debbie Jensen RN, BS, M.Ed., IBCLC, has 40 years of experience as a nurse and lactation consultant.