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6 Things You MUST know BEFORE Breastfeeding your infant

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Why is it sometimes so difficult for new mothers to breastfeed as long as they desire?  Working with many expectant and new mothers, I have noticed commonalities in new mothers that play a huge part in influencing their success with breastfeeding.

I still find it hard to believe that our culture is fine with models that have cleavage down to their belly buttons yet, some of us are shamed when we nourish our children in public. Breastfeeding is natural and is no doubt THE BEST, most perfect food for our children.

I was so proud and excited to see two mothers nursing their babies while I attended story-time with my youngest at my local library.  They were not timid, hiding under a blanket, just feeding their hungry children.  ♥ ♥ ♥  Even more impressive was that one of the mothers nursed her infant, than switched to nursing her toddler!!

I always breastfeed my children whenever necessary.  But I was not immune to feeling a little self conscious about accidentally showing my nipple or wondering what others might have been thinking.  I just tried to be as discreet as I could, but honestly we shouldn’t care!!  I know in my heart that I should not give a s**t what others think!!  I have been guilty of denying my 3 year old from nursing in public.  (If you have ever nursed a toddler you know that it is much harder to be discreet.)  Our culture also believes that nursing a toddler is not OK for whatever reason!   Research supports that there is no limit to the benefit of mothers milk for her child, no matter what their age.

It will take many more mothers nursing in public to help breastfeeding become the norm that it should be!  Keep up the great work mamas!  Nurse your babies whenever and wherever you want.  I want my children to see nursing as a natural and normal activity.  We should not hide ourselves or feel ashamed while nursing.

In my experience, I hear from many mothers that desire to breastfeed, but not able to for as long as they desire.  I don’t need to tell you that breastfeeding is best for baby, but why is it sometimes so difficult for new mothers to breastfeed as long as they desire?  Working with many expectant and new mothers, I have noticed commonalities in new mothers that play a huge part in influencing their success with breastfeeding.

Tips to improve your breastfeeding success:

1) Go to a Breastfeeding Support Meeting BEFORE you have your baby

(La Lache League (internationally) and locally the Breastfeeding Resource Center have regular support group meetings)

Going to support meetings before you have your baby allows you to develop relationships with other new moms and gives you more insight on what to expect.  They are usually FREE and really worth the time and effort to get there whether before delivery or after.

I recommend going prior to having your baby though because there are many “unknown’s” after having a baby like how will you feel emotionally, physically, and the challenges with getting an infant ready to go out.

I remember trying to leave the house the first few times with my first baby!!  It was not what I expected.  I got her in a clean diaper and outfit.  I managed to get myself dressed, go to the bathroom and brush my teeth!  Yeah!!  This is success already!   Then I notice she needs a new diaper.  She then starts to fuss, maybe she is hungry?  I nurse her for at least 20-30 minutes.  Then she poops and needs another change.  OK.  All clean.  Can we gather the ginormous diaper bag and go to the car?  Nope, she spit up and soaked her outfit.  Time to change her clothes.  I think we can go to the car now, I just have to figure out how to strap her down into this car seat!!  Now it is at least 45 minutes later than I had hoped to leave the house…If you have had a baby, you can probably relate;)  If you are expecting your first, you will soon find out how challenging being a new mother really is!  Don’t worry though, it gets easier to make it out of the house as you get used to it.

2) Surround yourself with positive and supportive people

In order to successfully breastfeed, you want to have lots of supportive people around you.  If your mother, partner, friends and in-laws are supportive of you breastfeeding, then you are more likely to have an easier time.

It only takes one comment (even a well meaning one) that can make a new mother completely doubt herself.  New mothers are often emotionally fragile, struggling with lack of sleep and the  re-balancing of hormones, that one statement can cause her to completely doubt her body and abilities as a new mother.

Share your expectations of your family and friends before you birth your baby. Let them know that you are certain that you are going to nurse your baby and are looking for their emotional support.

I include many ways that those around you can be supportive below.

3) Realize the impact of stress on nursing

Mothers who are perfectionists often put more demands and pressure on themselves and tend to be the moms who have a harder time breastfeeding or have low supply issues.  All new mothers need more help that they will likely admit.  In our culture, unfortunately asking for or admitting you need help can be seen as a sign of weakness.

PLEASE NEW MAMAS…Ask for help BEFORE you need it, and MAKE SURE THAT YOU ACCEPT any HELP CURRENTLY BEING OFFERED!!  You were never meant to do this alone!!

This is not the time to turn down support and love from family and friends.  You were not meant to parent alone or even with just a partner.  Remember the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child?”  Well it is true!!  Feel free to share the tips below with your friends and family to reduce stress make your breastfeeding experience more successful.

Great ways friends and family can support and reduce stress for a new nursing mother:

  • Offer food and water often

  • Have a nursing pillow, remote and/or favorite reading material next to a comfortable chair so mom can comfortably nurse for as long as baby needs

  • Bring over a healthy meal (either fresh or one that can be put right into a crock pot or the oven when desired)

  • Stock the fridge with healthy, easy to grab snacks like nuts, fruits, veggies, salads, yogurt, smoothie ingredients, etc.

  • Offer to take the baby so mom can take a shower or go to the bathroom (the little things we take for granted before having kids)

  • Wash and fold a load of laundry while you visit

  • Wash dirty dishes and put away clean dishes

  • Ask mom if there is anything else you can do for her or baby

4) Proper nutrition is key

Eating nutritious, whole foods and plenty of healthy fats is essential to making your milk abundant and healthy for your baby.  Either stock your freezer with meals before having your baby (here is a great post to give you some ideas) or sign up for a meal train or similar service.

I recommend organic when possible.  Fewer chemicals for you and your baby are always a good thing, especially because your baby is more susceptible to toxins due to his small size.  If you can only choose some organic foods make sure you look at these lists to decide which foods are worth the investment for organic because of high pesticide residue and which are not as critical to get organic.   Poor nutrition can also contribute to low milk supply issues.

Think salads, fruits and veggies, whole grains, protein (meat/dairy/legumes/nuts/beans), and fats (grass fed butter, avocados or avocado oil, nuts/seeds, pure olive oil, coconuts, coconut oil, wild pacific or Alaskan fish, cod liver or fish oil).

5) Keep the formula away

Companies that sell baby products can receive your info in order to market directly to your potential needs, therefore, as your pregnancy progresses, you will notice coupons and samples coming in the mail.  Also it is very common to get a care package of samples from the hospital after you deliver your baby.  Companies know that if you use their product, it creates brand loyalty and you are more likely to continue using the same product.

Some hospitals are banning these samples in order to more successfully encourage new mothers to breastfeed.  Research shows that nursing is more likely and will last longer when new mothers are not given free formula samples at birth.   Hospitals that do not give formula samples are called baby friendly facilities and you can see the complete list here.

6) Breastfeeding takes dedication and persistence and isn’t always easy

Expect that breastfeeding will NOT feel and just be “natural” right from the beginning.  For some mothers it is, but for many it takes dedication, persistence and hard work.  Do not be afraid to ask for help or hire a lactation consultant.  Although not all lactation consultants are able to solve all problems, they are a great resource.  Ask for recommendations from other moms so that you have someone to contact BEFORE you NEED it.  You are best to be prepared and have one in mind in case you need help.

Hospitals often have lactation consultants on staff as well, but you usually have to ask for them.  Go ahead and have one come in and give you advise even if you think you are doing OK.  Better to nip problems in the bud when they are easier to deal with.  Think of it like a wellness breastfeeding check-up. Bad nursing habits can form quickly and are hard to break the longer they remain.

How long is breastfeeding important?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states they recommend EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding for the first 6 months with continuation until at least one year of age or longer if mutually desired. (The full AAP Statement on Breastfeeding and the use of human milk can be accessed here.)  

The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 2 years of breastfeeding.   I always recommend continuing as long as it is mutually working for both mother and child.  There is no limit to the benefit of mothers mild for children.  I always wondered why it is more accepted in our culture to give a child milk from a mother COW than to give milk from his/her own HUMAN mother.  That makes no sense to me!!

“I brought Klaus to Dr. Tara because she specialized in pediatrics and Klaus was having nursing troubles and frequent gas pains. "He had a tongue tie surgery, but still does not latch well, does not open his mouth wide, occasionally his tongue clicks while nursing and he was really gassy.   NOW he is nursing better and hasbetter digestion and gas pains are diminishingHe also sleeps better and I am happy with the progress he has made!!”   -Klaus’s Mom

If you are still having problems…

Chiropractic Care can have huge benefits for nursing babies

A lesser known benefit of chiropractic care is the positive influence it can have on a baby’s ability to effectively latch and nurse.  I have cared for many babies with nursing trouble like poor latch, low supply, preference to nursing on only one side, ineffective suck, tongue tie and poor tongue movement.  All of the children I have treated had improved  nursing following chiropractic care.  For some babies, even correction of tongue/lip tie is not enough to improve nursing.  I have had several cases where chiropractic avoided the need for lip or tongue tie correction and where chiropractic had a greater positive impact improving nursing than the tongue tie surgery.

“I brought Logan to Dr. Tara  because I was having difficulty with him getting enough milk while breastfeeding and he was not gaining much weight“After one month of chiropractic care he has been nursing effectively, able to transfer more milk, and is gaining weight.  I no longer need to pump milk to supplement my breastfeeding which makes me happy!”   -Logan’s mom

Forward this email to your pregnant friends and family!

And check out my website resources page for more tips and articles for new moms!

-Dr. Tara


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