All You Need To Breastfeed Your Baby
First Coast Doulas knows that all you need to breastfeed your baby begins with you!
I see it literally every day. Well-meaning people giving bad advice on breastfeeding that leads to mothers spending unnecessary money and time on “things” to help them breastfeed their babies. These ideas are well meaning, but bad. They also create a false hope that if they buy and do all these things they will be able to breastfeed. Sometimes mothers choose to switch to formula when they could have otherwise accomplished their goals of breastfeeding their infant.
That’s not to say choosing formula is a bad thing. It isn’t. There’s no right or wrong way to feed your baby, just different ways. We all feed with loving intention and to me that’s a win. As a postpartum Doula if it appears our clients are struggling with breastfeeding, I always ask first, “Do you want to continue to breastfeed?” There is a fine line between encouraging and pushing, and we always remain supportive!
So here is a quick list of bad, but well-meaning advice along with a list of good ideas, links, videos, and resources.
Well-Meaning, Bad Advice;
- Buy a breast pump to see how much milk you’re making. Pumping, while helpful in some situations, is not a good indicator of how much milk your baby is getting while nursing. Your baby transfers milk much more effectively than any pump. A better indicator is wet and dirty diapers and just being in tune with your baby.
- Feed your baby as soon as they cry. Nope. You want to avoid waiting until they cry when possible. Crying is the last cue that your baby wants to breastfeed. Look for other cues, like, smacking their lips, putting their hand to their mouth, and opening their mouth and moving their head back and forth. Most of the time if you baby is awake in those first couple of weeks they will want to suckle at the breast. This is your baby’s genius way of ensuring he has a milk supply to nourish him.
- Feed you baby for ___ minutes on each side every ____ hours. Wrong! Feed your baby for as long as your baby is suckling on the breast. When they stop, stroke their cheek and if they start to suckle again keep them there until they no longer respond to the stroking. Then offer the other side if they show cues again. Many of our clients breathe a sigh of relief when we tell them, you don’t have to focus on the clock, focus on your baby. Babies need to suckle at the breast a lot in those early weeks to establish their supply. It’s a supply and demand concept, the more your baby demands by sucking, the more your breast supplies the milk needed.
- Buy nipple shields and cream now because breastfeeding hurts. WOAH! No way, breastfeeding doesn’t have to be painful. If it is it’s most likely because baby doesn’t have a correct/deep latch. Knowing how to get a good latch is key. There is an excellent video below that demonstrates breastfeeding, what a proper latch looks like, how to get that latch, and also shows a variety of cultures and different size breasts and nipples, all perfect for breastfeeding.
- In addition to the things I already listed I can’t leave out special teas, supplements, cookies, etc. As a rule you don’t NEED any of these things to breastfeed your baby. There are exceptions to all rules, but as a rule you don’t need to run out and stock up on these things. They can be costly and create doubt.
Good Advice to Consider;
- Familiarize yourself with what breastfeeding looks like. Watch other moms breastfeed their babies. Ask a friend, family member, or co-worker you know who breastfeeds if they would let you sit with them while they feed their baby. The United States has gotten so far away from feeding babies from the breasts that many people have never seen this done. That is changing, but it’s still stigmatized or seen as taboo. Don’t be afraid, many are more than happy to help out another woman who wants to feed her baby with her breasts.
- Find a breastfeeding support group in your area, like La Leche League, there may be more than one, Jacksonville has several.
- Stay skin to skin with your baby as much as possible in the first six weeks of life, NOT just when feeding your baby. This may mean that some visitors may need to postpone their visits or expect to see your breasts. Here’s some science behind skin to skin.
- Get the contact information to one or two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants in the area that come recommended. If you need that recommendation don’t hesitate to contact us! Contact them and ask questions like, Are you available around my due date? Do you make house calls? How do you feel about x, y, and z?
First Coast Doulas wants you to know that you’re equipped with exactly what you need to feed your baby without any equipment to buy or books to read, period. That’s the bottom line. Women have been feeding their babies from their breasts since the beginning of time.
Remember breastfeeding is more than just a way to feed your baby. It’s bonding, comfort, nourishment, and so much more!