Tip #1 Create informed and flexible goals! Everyone can agree that the number one goal is to feed your baby and ensure they are at a healthy weight. As you are making your plans, whether that is to breastfeed exclusively or to supplement with breastmilk (yours or someone else’s), it is always great to have a backup plan. Exclusive breastfeeding is like eating farm to table for every meal. We would all probably benefit, but that doesn’t always happen and that’s okay! Have a backup plan that you feel good about if breastfeeding isn’t going the way you expect in the first few weeks. You can start expressing and collecting colostrum in plastic syringes around 36-37 weeks so your baby has food stored for the first few days of life. You can research and buy a formula that you feel good about in case learning to latch properly takes time, this way you have a backup plan handy, eliminating stress. Another option would be to find a local milk bank with donor milk that’s available if you want to ensure your baby has a breastmilk alternative to yours. You can create informed and flexible goals by taking a breastfeeding class before your baby is born and/or talking with a lactation counselor beforehand to lay out your goals and understand what you’ll need to do in the early days and weeks to establish a good milk supply.
Tip #2 Build your village before baby is here and try these resources! The most sustainable and successful breastfeeding relationships are able to flourish because there is a network of support around the mother and baby. Partners can educate themselves about breastfeeding so they can be an informational resource in addition to providing emotional and logistical support. Find a lactation counselor in your area so you know who to call when you’re having issues. Research breastfeeding circles and La Leche League meetups nearby, which will help you troubleshoot, meet breastfeeding families in your area, and provide emotional support and encouragement. You’re not alone in your journey, and talking with people who can empathize will help get you through the challenging days.
Tip #3 Learn how to hand express. Many people who plan to breastfeed will get an electric pump, (which is typically covered by insurance). However, an electric pump is not the only way to get milk out. A helpful tip to know is that hand expression is the next best way to get milk out, second to your nursing baby, which means your precious time will be spent more efficiently! You can get milk out using hand expression, an electric pump, or a manual pump- consider all of these methods as different tools, and each tool giving you more options and flexibility. Hand expression is great when you’re engorged and just need a bit of relief, when you are not near an outlet or don’t have an electric pump with you, or when you just don’t feel like cleaning pump parts!
Guest post written by Samantha Hom, doula and breastfeeding counselor at New York City Birth Village. NYCBV is committed to preparing their families for a breastfeeding relationship that will work best for them. We offer a private in-home Breastfeeding and Newborn Care Class to create informed breastfeeding goals and all of our doulas have breastfeeding training. Visit our website to learn more about birth and postpartum doula services and our classes. https://www.nycbirthvillage.com/