Many moms tell me they never realized how hard breastfeeding would be. The truth is, although breastfeeding is the best and most natural way to feed your baby, it isn’t always the easiest way…in the beginning.
There are so many factors that may influence your breastfeeding success, including what you learned in prenatal classes, how your labor and delivery went, or who was supporting you during those early days at home.
UNICEF and the World Health Organization have published 10 Steps for Breastfeeding Success meant to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding moms. Here’s my interpretation of what these 10 steps mean for a new breastfeeding mom:
- Make sure the facility you choose to deliver at has a written policy on breastfeeding that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff. At Intermountain Healthcare, our policy states a well newborn should be placed skin to skin with mom immediately after delivery or as soon after as possible. Our policy also includes breastfeeding the infant within 30 minutes to one hour after delivery.
- Be sure the facility you plan to deliver at has properly trained healthcare staff who possess the skills necessary to help you succeed at breastfeeding. Besides the wonderful International Board Certified Lactation Consultants employed by all Intermountain facilities, each RN working in an Intermountain facility caring for moms and babies is also given additional training in breastfeeding support.
- Be sure you know and understand all of the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby as well as yourself. Do everything you can to be committed to breastfeeding. Remember breastfeeding is 98% commitment and 2% technique.
- Express desire to initiate breastfeeding within 30 minutes after the birth of your baby. Explain to visitors (who will likely be excited to see the new little bundle of joy) that you will be spending that first hour after delivery breastfeeding your baby. Ask your nurse to support you in doing this.
- Ask for help with latching correctly, and request to see a lactation consultant during your stay. If you are separated from your baby after delivery for medical reasons, ask for a breast pump to be brought to you as soon as possible.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby have a diet of purely breast milk for the first 6 months. Unless there is a medical reason, your baby needs nothing else.
- While in the hospital, refrain from following your mother or mother-in-law’s advice to send your baby to the nursery to be fed with a bottle at night. Sleep near your baby. Intermountain facilities encourage moms to room with their newborns whenever possible.
- Watch for the earliest signs of hunger and feed your baby frequently. Watch your baby, not the clock. If the baby acts hungry, feed him or her regardless of how long it has been since the last feeding. Remember to listen for the sounds of swallowing to be sure he or she is eating. Allow your baby unlimited access to your breasts in the first two weeks.
- Avoid any artificial nipples or pacifiers while learning to breastfeed. Intermountain lactation consultants recommend waiting at least two weeks before offering a pacifier or bottle.
- Attend a mother to mother support group. These support groups are usually free of charge and are especially helpful for the breastfeeding mother who finds herself without significant support from her own family and friends.