It is a privilege to have Erin write for the Indy FertiltyCare blog this month on the topic of breastfeeding success and needless to say, how she approached the topic surprised AND delighted me!
However, I suppose that is not all there is to it. While breastfeeding is natural, it does not always come naturally. So here are my must haves for breastfeeding success; they may not be tools, but they will be a great resource to a new breastfeeding mom.
- A Great Breastfeeding Class: All new prenatal moms need to take a good breastfeeding class. This class should set you up to be confident on your breastfeeding journey. Also, as your class should be taught by a lactation professional, you also will have them as a resource if you run into trouble. Not only is it important to have a professional you can call, it is just as important to actually call when you need to. It may seem unnecessary to say, but moms often run into trouble in those early days while still recovering from birth and are extremely exhausted. They often can’t be bothered to reach out. But the sooner the better for getting help and staying on the right track with breastfeeding. It will save you time and trouble in the long run.
- Breastfeeding Supporters: Another big help is to be able to surround yourself with people who are supportive of your decision to breastfeed. Sometimes those closest to a mom can be disappointed in losing out on the bonding time that comes with feeding the baby, but there are so many other opportunities and roles that supporting family and friends can fill. When we were expecting our first child a friend advised my husband that since I would be in charge of the “ins”, he was in charge of the “outs.” It might not be glamorous but it is a very crucial role nonetheless! What is the saying, “there are no boring jobs just boring people.” ;)
So now you are saying: “yes, but we do need some things like a breast pump and nursing tops? Well, now I will explain why you do not really need those.
- Hand expression vs. pumps: Your breastfeeding class, if it’s worth its salt, will show you how to hand express. Pumps aren’t the panacea that they are made out to be and often times it is more useful to hand express. For example, when moms are dealing with engorgement, it is best not to pump as you may drain out too much milk telling your body to make more when if fact you need less. So in that case you would hand express to comfort. Similarly, the gentleness of hand expression may be more effective for even moms who need to express milk when going back to work. Before investing in an expensive pump, give hand expression a try.
- Layers instead of nursing tops: Nursing tops aren’t always the most flattering items of clothing. Wouldn’t you like to wear whatever you please, now that you are no longer relegated to maternity wear? I would argue that by simply wearing a camisole or stretchy tank under your shirt, any top can be turned into a nursing top given that it isn’t too tight. The camisole gets pulled down under your breast to nurse and your shirt pulled up. That way you can still be comfortable without being limited with your wardrobe.
- Nursing bra vs regular bra: Finally, it is really handy to have a really great fitting nursing bra so this the one tool I may have to concede to needing. However, it may be really hard to find a good fitting bra postpartum, nursing or otherwise. If you have a good fitting regular bra, and I stress it has to be a good fit, you can work with that. By good fitting I mean you have to make sure there is no pressure, from straps or wires, on your breast tissues and milk ducts. (This is important as any blockage of milk flowing can cause inflammation or infection.) Milk ducts can surprisingly be found outside of your obvious breast area, for example, they can reach up under your armpit. Once you have a great fitting bra, if it is not a nursing bra, when feeding simply unhook it at the back and allow the shoulder strap to come down allowing the bra cup to come down under the breast. Be sure to completely clear the breast area, again we don’t want to accidentally put pressure on on any milk ducts, before nursing. Finally, if you have a great fitting regular bra and don’t want to fuss with unhooking your bra you can convert it into a nursing bra. Follow me on Facebook for more info on how to do this.