Breastfeeding is undoubtedly, indisputably one of the best decisions a mother can make for her baby. For some, breastfeeding can be overwhelming and confusing for the first few weeks postpartum, but rest assured that it is a rewarding experience for you and your baby. If you’ve made the decision to breastfeed your baby, or you’re considering this option, here are some tips to help you get off to the best start possible:
1) Enroll in a breastfeeding class, or consult with a lactation specialist before the baby is born. Check with your local hospitals and birthing centers as most offer a breastfeeding class that women can take before the baby’s arrival. The class will offer advice from trained lactation specialists on what to expect and what you need to know, while demonstrating proper techniques. You can also find great support by visiting http://www.lalecheleaguestlouis.org/
2) Breastfeed Immediately and frequently after your baby is born. When that special day arrives for the birth of your baby, make sure you communicate to the staff of the hospital or birth center you’ve checked in to that you will exclusively breastfeed your baby. Proper arrangements will be made with the lactation specialist onsite to give you hands-on guidance and advice. As soon as your baby is born, assuming you and the baby are healthy, nurse immediately. Experts advise women to nurse within the first hour of the baby’s life postpartum because this is when the baby is most alert for the first three days of his/her life. Breastfeeding immediately and then frequently, usually every one to two hours during the first few weeks of baby’s life, ensures an adequate supply of breast milk.
3) Do not purchase a breast pump, bottles, or pacifiers before your baby is born. In today’s society a lot of women return to the workforce as early as 6 – 12 weeks postpartum. Whatever your circumstance, in order to continue providing breast milk for your infant, you may choose to pump milk while being away from the baby. Breast pumps are very expensive and cannot be returned or exchanged after purchase even if they are unused. Sometimes circumstances arise that prevent women from being able to breastfeed. Purchase a breast pump only after you’ve established a healthy breastfeeding regimen with baby and you’re certain the pump is necessary.
You do not want to introduce your baby to bottles or pacifiers until a healthy milk supply has been established, usually no sooner than 4 -6 weeks postpartum. Every mother’s nipple is different and every baby’s preference is different, so resist the urge to stock up on any particular bottle or pacifier until your baby has taken well to it. Most women try to find a bottle and pacifier nipple that most resembles their own nipple; and a bottle that is specifically designed with a slow flow to mimic breastfeeding as closely as possible.
Remember, choosing to breastfeed is a decision that will impact your baby’s life for years to come. Be proud and confident of this decision, and be prepared so that your breastfeeding experience is enjoyable and effective for you and your baby.