Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has everything your baby needs to grow. And it’s all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
The midwives encourage and support our parents to meet their breastfeeding goals. It is best to plan for breastfeeding during pregnancy by taking childbirth or breastfeeding classes. The classes can help new parents to prepare for the possible difficulties experienced when first starting to breastfeed. Classes often cover many helpful topics like:
- Breastfeeding positions
- Signs of a good / poor latch
- How partners can help the breastfeeding mother
- Increasing supply
- Pumping when you go back to work.
Once baby is born, lactation consultants can help with any issues that arise with nursing. A lactation consultant is a certified healthcare professional that understands the ins-and-outs of breastfeeding. Many nurses, pediatricians and medical professionals are certified, but private lactation consultants often conduct in-home visits and can be covered by insurance; all you need to do is make a phone call.
Lactation consultants are excellent resources for all new nursing mothers. Many times a few visits with a lactation consultant early on can prevent issues from arising. Reasons to call a lactation consultant include:
1. Your nipples are sore – This is one of the most common reasons moms stop nursing. Sensitivity is expected after delivery, but painful, cracked, or bleeding nipples means somethings wrong with the latch. Call a lactation consultant.
2. Your baby loses 10% or more body weight – A bit of weight loss after delivery is normal, but more than 10% might mean there’s a feeding issue. Your doctor might refer you to a lactation consultant.
3. You’ve had a breast reduction or augmentation – Neither of these procedures means you can’t breastfeed, but you might face some additional challenges. A lactation consultant can give you guidance.
4. You’re having latch troubles – If your baby is having a hard time latching on to your breast or staying on for long periods of time, call a consultant. Sometimes you just need a change of technique or position.
5. You had an unpleasant breastfeeding experience in the past – Failure can be defeating, especially when you’re an exhausted parent. If you had trouble in the past, speak up early to head off the problems.
6. You are concerned about your milk production – If you think you aren’t making enough milk, a lactation consultant can determine if that’s the case and give you some tips to increase your production and make sure baby gets it all.
7. You are breastfeeding multiples – Nursing twins or triplets is a whole different ball game. You’ll need some special strategies that your doctor or mom friends can’t provide.
8. You are going back to work – You’ve mastered breastfeeding, but now you have to figure out how to pump and safely store your milk. A whole new challenge!
9. You had a complicated delivery – Not all difficult deliveries affect breastfeeding, but some do (like ones with significant blood loss or high blood pressure). A lactation consultant can help you through these complications.
10. You have questions – It’s impossible to determine every eventuality, so it’s important to use a lactation consultant as regular resource. You might have questions about biting, introducing solid foods, introducing a bottle, how breastfeeding affects sleep, how to clear up thrush, when to wean, or a million other things. It never hurts to ask!
Every baby is different and nursing a new baby is a learning curve for both mother and baby. Even a mother that has successfully nursed before may find it necessary to seek help with a new nursling. The key to successful nursing is to ask for help early and repeatedly as new issues arise.