Written by Paola Vallerino, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
From one mama to another, breastfeeding is a journey. For some people that journey is smooth sailing. For others it’s challenging, tiring, and maybe even a little scary.
When it comes to breastfeeding, it’s important to remember that it’s a learned skill. And like all skills, it requires some training, practice, and a little trial and error to get it just right.
The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be for your unique feeding experience with your baby. If you’re considering breastfeeding your little one here are five tips to help support and prepare you for your decision.
1. TAKE A BREASTFEEDING PRENATAL CLASS
Allowing babies to follow their instincts through biological nurturing and baby-led latching is one approach that’s actually very easy. However, there are many cases when a baby may not latch or will latch in a way that causes pain. In a prenatal breastfeeding class, you’ll learn about different approaches, positions, and techniques that will teach you how to help your baby latch painlessly. Learning about these different approaches beforehand can also help ease any anxiety you may be feeling and give you more confidence in your breastfeeding journey.
2. CHOOSE BREASTFEEDING-FRIENDLY HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS
When it comes to breastfeeding support, board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLC) are the only healthcare providers recognized to lend qualified help in the clinical management of breastfeeding. Build your support circle by choosing a midwife, OB, doula or family doctor that works with an IBCLC and is up-to-date on feeding support, so that they won't give you any advice that would put your breastfeeding journey at risk, and can refer you to an IBCLC when necessary.
3. JOIN A MAMAS SUPPORT GROUP
People that join a support group with other moms are more likely to have a happy and successful breastfeeding journey. Community matters, and it’s harder to quit something you’re endeavouring to do when you have a group of people supporting and encouraging you. It’s also critical to lean on this kind of support during the challenging times. Having a judgment-free space where you can vent and share your experiences, while learning from the experiences of other moms, will help you overcome the obstacles that may come along the way.
4. HAVE A LACTATION CONSULTANT BY YOUR SIDE
When we become mothers, we sometimes feel like we have to know how to do everything perfectly for our children. But when you bring your new baby home you’re faced with a lot of new realities. Your home feels different, you feel different, and your daily routines are completely thrown off tilter. You’re also dealing with a lot of hormonal changes that bring a whirlwind of emotions ranging from intense joy to intense sadness. When taking all this into consideration, it’s important to let go of the reigns and allow people to help you. For mamas who choose to breastfeed, you’ll find comfort in having the support of your lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can answer any questions and address any concerns you may have to give your breastfeeding journey the best start. If you hit a bump in the road, having someone to call on can make the difference between quitting or pushing forward.
5. AVOID BOTTLES AND PACIFIERS FOR THE FIRST 4-6 WEEKS
A key tip to help you successfully breastfeed your baby is to keep it as natural as possible. Introducing bottles and pacifiers in the early days, can interfere with establishing your milk supply and your overall breastfeeding experience. Whether it’s a painful latch, a fussy baby, or your milk supply dropping, there's always a better option before considering bottles or pacifiers. Call your lactation consultant who can help you work through each situation that may arise along the way.
Motherhood is an unpredictable adventure - I'm a mama myself so I know! I’ve had the concerns and the questions and the challenges too. But you don’t need to figure it all out on your own. It truly takes a village not just to raise a child, but to support a mama.
In your motherhood endeavours remember to make sure you express your desire to breastfeed and surround yourself with people who can hold your hand along the way. Our team is here to support you as well and ready to play our part in guiding you through a successful breastfeeding journey.
*Canada Public Health- https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/breastfeeding-infographic.html