If you think about it, such a seemingly simple and natural act has about a thousand moving parts. If one of those parts is off, then breastfeeding can be challenging for the mother and baby. Here are some ways you can prepare ahead of time for breastfeeding your baby:
- Read a quality book on breastfeeding and have it on hand.
- Bookmark quality websites with articles by topic and with videos..
- Line up a lactation consultant ahead of time and meet with her. A lactation consultant is as important as your baby's pediatrician, and you need to feel comfortable with her. Interview the lactation consultant as you would your own doctor or your baby's pediatrician. Schedule a preliminary meeting with her while you are pregnant. Most IBCLC's can help you assess any physical issues you may encounter breastfeeding ahead of time and help you come up with a plan to navigate this after the baby's birth.
- Have support at home on hand. Plan on having support in all forms, family, friends and a postpartum doula are key in helping you heal, rest (really rest), stay hydrated and fed so you can focus on you and your baby.
Sometimes women are surprised that after a week or two of difficulty they have a physical abnormality that will not allow their bodies to make enough milk. For others, traumatic birth or infertility treatments contributed to breastfeeding difficulties. Some women learn that their baby has a lip or tongue tie or a high palate or a small mouth, all of which can make for a difficult start. If this or any other issue occurs that makes your breastfeeding efforts not go as planned, take it easy on yourself. Talk to your support network and tell them how you feel about this. Sometimes your closest supporters may not know how deeply your disappointment goes and how frustrating and exhausting it can be to find the solution. It's also hard to let go of your initial intentions to feed your baby exclusively from your body. Pull your support close to you and talk out each scenario. What is working for you now? What are some reasonable goals for the next day, week or few weeks? What can you continue to try in hopes that things will be better? What decisions can you make that will help you nourish and enjoy your baby now? Preparing yourself for breastfeeding and asking these questions with those who support you can help you start working toward reasonable goals that will have you enjoying your infant and your time postpartum.
Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher IBCLC FILCA and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett PhD IBCLC
Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding: Revised Editionby Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman
The Womanly Art of BreastfeedingJul 13, 2010by Diane Wiessinger and Diana West