Establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship and keeping it going for as long as the mother and child desire includes several key factors.
Ask about breastfeeding policies at the facility where your baby will be born. Is it an accredited “Baby-Friendly” hospital or birth center? What do they offer for breastfeeding support? How about your doctor’s office policy? Your childcare provider? What is your workplace policy?
Does your healthcare provider and childcare provider have research-based best practices in nutrition and infant development or is based on their personal experience?
Look for breastfeeding classes before your baby is born. Fathers and primary support people like grandmothers and aunts are highly encouraged to attend to learn nutrition principles such as the actual serving size appropriate for newborns: only one teaspoon needed per feeding on the first day of life!
Start skin-to-skin immediately after birth. All of baby’s senses are especially primed to be at the breast learning the process of latching and breastfeeding in the first two hours of life. Remember it’s a skill development process. Be patient!
Get assistance and practice repeatedly. Seek out the services of a lactation specialist or consultant if you need help. The amount of milk a mother will produce is critically dependent on the number of feedings that take place the first couple weeks after birth.
Avoid feeding formula unless there is a true medical need. Bottle feeding may seem like quick fix for breastfeeding frustrations, but if breastfeeding is your goal, don’t fall into this temptation. It often makes breastfeeding much more difficult in the long run.
Rooming-in, as it’s called in the hospital setting, simply means keeping mom and baby together as much as possible. Frequent stimulation of the breast is especially critical in the first couple of days after birth to encourage milk production. (The most common reason mothers cite for giving up breastfeeding is concern that there wasn’t enough milk.)
Watch the baby, not the clock. Breastfeeding moms and babies learn clear communication cues and body language related to hunger and the impulse to stop eating when full.
Avoid artificial nipples for three to four weeks or until breastfeeding is well established. Early use of artificial nipples when baby is still learning to breastfeed can cause bad habits which become problems with latching and nipple pain.
Identify community resources for ongoing breastfeeding support. Parenthood comes with many challenges. Help is available in the form of health professionals, WIC nutritionists, peer breastfeeding counselors, mother support groups, family members, as well as an abundant choice of reputable websites and social media outlets. Learn more about San Juan Regional Medical Center breastfeeding support groups, click here