As you prepare to welcome your new baby, these are some tips that can help you get breastfeeding off to a great start and keep you on track.
1. Be Committed
Consider why you want to breastfeed and commit to sticking with it. Write down your reasons or share them with friends/family. If challenges come up, use these reasons as motivation to get help and work through them.
2. Get Educated
The more you understand about breastfeeding and the more resources at your disposal, the easier it will be to navigate this new experience. Read books, attend a class and ask friends about their experiences.
3. Learn About Your Birth Place
Take a tour and ask how they support breastfeeding mothers. Ask about lactation support after you go home. Find out schedules for weight checks, clinics or support groups.
Also, interview health care providers for your baby in advance (typically Pediatricians or Family Medicine Physicians). Ask about their approach to breastfeeding support. In-house lactation consultants or support groups are great signs.
4. Lots of Skin to Skin
Skin to skin contact between mother and baby allows frequent feedings, promotes milk production and helps you bond. Immediately at birth, hold your baby skin to skin. Stay together for at least an hour and until after the first breastfeeding. Continue to hold your baby skin to skin often in the first days and weeks.
5. Get Support
Caring for a baby and learning to breastfeed can be challenging. Having supportive friends and family is a huge help. Support from professionals is also essential, especially if you are struggling.
6. Avoid Bottles or Pacifiers
To avoid nipple confusion and encourage milk production, it is best to skip bottles and pacifiers for the first 4-6 weeks or until breastfeeding is going well. If it becomes necessary to supplement, use expressed breast milk instead of formula, and look into feeding baby using a spoon, cup, syringe or supplemental nursing system.
7. Say No to Free Formula
Having formula readily available may tempt a well-intended friend or family member to give baby a bottle in place of breastfeeding. It may also discourage you from working through difficult spells by providing an easy alternative.
8. Ask for What You Need
The team of people supporting you can help best if they know how. This may involve taking care of diapers, burping, holding, or rocking baby back to sleep after feeding. It may be bringing you food or water. At times, you may simply need an emotional boost by venting frustrations or hearing an encouraging word. Don't be shy about asking others for help.
9. Ignore Negativity
You will probably get many opinions and/or advice about feeding your baby. Ignore uninformed or unsupportive comments and do not let them affect where or when you breastfeed your baby.
10. Take One Day at a Time
Every day with a newborn is different. You will have good days and challenging days. Be patient, keep working and know that breastfeeding gets easier over time. It is worth it!