It is one of the first very personal questions that nosy aunts, grandmothers, friends, even coworkers ask. “Are you going to breastfeed your baby?” You have every intention of doing just that. It is the healthiest and most natural way to feed your baby and you want to be sure that they have every benefit possible. You have researched, read books, taken the new mothers classes, and you are determined to make this work. You have endured labor and birth and here is your shining moment. You put your baby to your breast for the first time and it happens! Or, at times, it doesn’t. Women struggle with breastfeeding every day and many give up because they weren’t sure how or where to reach out for help. We are here to help by providing the necessary resources if you need them.
A lactation consultant is an allied health professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. In laymen’s terms, they are the experts when it comes to learning how to breastfeed your baby. Lactation consultants are there to help you with questions and concerns and have invaluable tips to make the process of learning go a little more smoothly. These professionals can be found in hospitals, physicians offices, and private practice. They can teach you skills in order to master the latch technique, help with low milk production and try and calm painful nursing. Lactation consultants have worked with many women facing similar issues and problems. So many women are not aware that lactation consultants even exist in hospitals until after their baby is born. Start looking even before your baby is born. When looking for pediatricians, ask if they have a lactation consultant on staff. They are incredible resources while you are at the hospital but can be very helpful once you are home. Many women leave the hospital unsure about breastfeeding and hope it will get easier once they are in the comfort of their own home. When you are several days in and still encountering the same problems, it is time to reach out to a professional. If you want to speak to a lactation consultant, and haven’t already, contact your hospital or pediatrician (if one is on staff) and ask to schedule an appointment. Some consultants will even come to your home in order for you and your baby to feel more comfortable.
La Leche League
Seven mothers founded this international non-profit breastfeeding advocacy group that has been around for more than 50 years. This was around the time when infant formula was pushed on many women instead of the natural act of breastfeeding. They are a support group dedicated to providing education, information, support and encouragement to women who want to breastfeed their babies. La Leche League meetings are aimed at sharing information with other mothers, most who have gone through similar struggles with breastfeeding. They are there to assist you and share their stories so that you don’t feel so alone.
Not only can you meet face to face at a local meeting, but La Leche League also gives new mothers important information on their website and lets you connect with other mothers through online forums. This is especially helpful when you wake up in the middle of the night to breastfeed and have questions and concerns. These forums are only a click away!
We have all read the books about baby’s first year of life, but many new parents skip over the wonderful informational books on breastfeeding. You may think that it will come naturally, and to some it does, but for many it can be a very painful and difficult process. Try and be proactive and read as much as you can about the breastfeeding process before the baby arrives. We understand that nothing will give you all the answers until they are here, but why not educate yourself as much as possible? Here are a few recommendations to get you started.
Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers This is a comprehensive guide to breastfeeding that reviews seven laws of breastfeeding that will hopefully help you to overcome (or avoid) breastfeeding obstacles. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding This was the original book of the La Leche League. It has been tweeked to be relevant to present day women with breastfeeding challenges. It looks at all types of mothers, whether you stay-at-home, work (at home or outside), are single or are a mother to multiples. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers A doctor and La Leche League leader connected to write this book of answers to help new mothers overcome hurdles involving breastfeeding. One caution before reading is that the opinions are sometimes strong and very pro-breastfeeding.
Your Support Team
Not only are there professional resources available to you, but there are also many other people that can help. Ask other friends who are mothers themselves; they may have wonderful advice to pass along to you. The one thing that you have to remember is that you are not alone in this. Connecting with other mothers is a wonderful way to feel supported. You may find out that they are having similar issues or have the same questions. If you don’t have many friends who have children, join a mom’s group in your area!
Asking for help
We know that this is easier said than done. You are trying to be supermom but sometimes you are going to need to take a break. If you don’t get enough relaxation, stress can cause your milk production to be even less. You need to make sure that you are getting enough rest, eating healthy foods and getting enough fluids to maintain your strength. Because you need all of these things, you are going to require help. If your partner offers to help you, ask them if they can make sure you have healthy snacks in the house. If someone close to you offers to watch the baby for a while, take this opportunity to take a nap. Don’t feel like you are not being welcoming – they came to see that sweet bundle of joy! Take a break, have a cup of tea and relax – your body will thank you!
Keep up the good work and know that you are not alone in these challenges. There is so much information and support out there just waiting for you to take advantage of. You probably aren’t told enough so we are telling you once more – you are doing an amazing thing for your baby by breastfeeding!
Looking for Un-Nursing Wear?
If you need to add some nursing clothing to your wardrobe, but don’t want to spend money on pieces you’ll only wear for a short period of time, then head on over to Melody Lane for the best in regular clothing that is versatile enough to wear before, during, and after breastfeeding! They offer trendy, classic, and comfortable clothing that is hand-picked for all the life stages women usually experience. With nothing over $100, always free shipping, and new styles featured every season, Melody Lane makes sure your “fashion meets life”.
Source: Definition of lactation consultant by Wikipedia Photo Credits: Title image by Ashley Sisk Photography Lactation consultant photo adapted from U.S. Department of Agriculture (CC by 2.0) Book photo by Daniel Lobo (CC by 2.0) Helping hands photo by Sam Caplet (CC by 2.0)