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Breastfeeding

5 Secrets To Breastfeeding Success

5 Secrets to Breastfeeding Success

5 Secrets To Breastfeeding Success

5 Secrets to Breastfeeding Success

We have all heard about breastfeeding and the benefits it can have for baby. There are posters in hospitals and waiting rooms and WIC offices. Yet when it comes down to actually breastfeeding exclusively for the recommended six months (and six more after solids are started), success rates are low. Why is it it that something we all know we should do seems so hard to accomplish?

There are lots of reasons to love breastfeeding and strive for success. It is great for baby, has health benefits for mom, and helps promote bonding as well as encouraging mom to sit down and relax multiple times a day. But one of our favorite things about breastfeeding is that no matter how your birth goes, breastfeeding matters. Whether you have a natural home birth or a scheduled cesarean, the breastfeeding relationship can be healing and joyful.

Here are five secrets to breastfeeding success that can help you be successful in reaching your nursing goals.

1. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful.

While it is true that some pain is a little normal some for the first few days of nursing, this isn’t universal. In addition, the excruciating pain that many women experience is decidedly not part of properly breastfeeding. There is a lot to be said for breastfeeding preparation.

Let’s talk about the difference between pain with a problem and slight pain that will disappear. What can be normal is a little bit of pain just when the baby first latches on and milk lets down. Some women describe letdown (when the milk begins to eject) as painful, others as a tingling sensation. Also, the first few days some women describe pain just when the baby latches on but this goes away after a minute or so.

It is not normal for the entire breastfeeding experience to be painful, excruciating, stabbing, or otherwise unbearable. Many women are incredibly dedicated to breastfeeding and will try to “push through” this pain. This is not the solution and will only end in things getting progressively worse. Seek help immediately. This brings us to point number two.

2. People you think can help you with breastfeeding often can’t.

While it is very helpful to have friends, sisters, and mothers who breastfed and are supportive of your decision to breastfeed, this isn’t always enough. Many women who nursed their own babies can’t necessarily teach you how to resolve basic breastfeeding problems.

Let’s say that nursing happens to be painful for you, who will you call? The internet and our friends and relatives can be full of advice, but it is not always good or correct advice. This can range from, “It is supposed to hurt,” to “That never happened to me.” Women even get terrible advice from pediatricians and obstetricians because these medical experts are not necessarily experts in breastfeeding. So who SHOULD you call? Check out number three.

3. Prepare for breastfeeding with support people.

Breastfeeding is often more successful when women have properly trained breastfeeding support at their fingertips before they even give birth.

First- find an IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant) who you can call or visit after the baby. If you never use her, great! But if you need her you won’t be searching. Note that there are many people who call themselves lactation consultants but an IBCLC is the most trained lactation consultant or specialist you will find.

Second, find a good community support organization that trains their volunteers. La Leche League is often the go-to in this situation because their leaders are well trained and their meetings are free and throughout the country. The women attending are often at all different places in their breastfeeding journey from nursing the newborn to adding solids to weaning a toddler or tandem nursing. Seeing this can help gain perspective and learn from their experience. There are other national breastfeeding organizations as well as local groups. Search for those in your area. Your IBCLC should be able to help.

Having phone numbers of these people on hand before the birth is great. Having met them or attended a meeting prior to delivery is even better. This gets introductions out of the way before you have any issues and when you can schedule things more easily. Plus, if you happen to be someone who has no family or friend support, you will be building your future parenting community.

4. Common procedures can interfere with breastfeeding.

Some of the things that are often done to a baby just after the birth can actually disrupt the breastfeeding relationship. Because these interventions are so widespread and so soon after the birth we often don’t see the correlation. What do you need to know that can help you have a successful breastfeeding relationship?

Hold your baby immediately and put them to the breast- That first nursing session shouldn’t begin 5 hours after the birth but as soon as possible. The bath can wait, as can the weighing and grandma holding. Mother and baby and breastfeeding come first.

Beware of shoving things in the mouth of the baby. Many believe that invasive oral procedures can cause infants to reject the breast. They are programmed to want to nurse- don’t distract them, or worse, hurt them, with foreign objects in their mouth. This can include pacifiers in the early days.

While not documented with studies, some also believe that circumcision can disrupt breastfeeding. You can read more about circumcision here.

5. Your birth experience often influences the breastfeeding experience.

A labor or birth that involves pain medication, cesarean section and even pitocin can have a negative impact on breastfeeding.

Studies have found that pitocin can increase the chances of jaundice in the newborn. This matters for breastfeeding because jaundice can cause a baby to be lethargic and tired, so much so that it can make breastfeeding problematic.

Many different types of pain medication have been associated with trouble with breastfeeding and have been correlated with weak suck in the infant which makes it harder for them to empty the breast and nurse appropriately.

Cesarean section has a significant association with lowering breastfeeding success also. It is clear that common birth interventions can have a negative impact on breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is about as natural as life gets. That doesn’t mean that it always comes easy or can’t benefit from some preparation and knowledge. Arm yourself with support, knowledge, education, people, a great birth and nursing soon after the birth to make your transition to parenthood that much easier.

newborn breastfeeding

Newborn Breastfeeding and the 10th Day Growth Spurt

newborn breastfeeding

Breastfeeding success has always been an important goal for Birth Boot Camp and breastfeeding education is included in our online and in-person classes through a long and detailed video presentation by Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC. One thing that often throws people off in their breastfeeding journey is the very early days and the confusion and lack of personal confidence that unexpected growth spurts can cause for the nursing mother. We love this guest today from Alex Rounds, an experienced breastfeeding mother and lactation counselor. Our hope is that you will read this and share it with expecting mothers so that they can thrive during the first months of breastfeeding. And, if you are really passionate about breastfeeding, taking her advice and giving mom a gift during this "10th day growth spurt" just might change a life and help preserve a nursing relationship. 

Enjoy!

~

Experienced parents recognize some baby shower gifts don’t end up getting much use. We can’t predict what we’re really going to need until we meet our babies. But there are some things about infants that are predictable, like dirty diapers, sleep debt and growth spurts. We know babies grow quickly by the sheer volume of newborn to 0-3 month clothes on the registry, but the actual implications in terms of feeding aren’t often talked about. So I want to share a proposal that would make a fantastic tradition of giving a 10 day growth spurt gift/IOU to every mom out there. Women Infant and Children (WIC) Director Peter Schlichting brought up the idea with intent to give new moms extra attention and love at a time when hormone levels are dropping and infant needs are increasing as a way to promote continued breastfeeding, but a 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift should be for all moms.

All moms can probably use a little extra attention during the postpartum period, but breastfeeding moms and their newborns may especially benefit from a reminder around the time of the first major growth spurt. The gift of time and companionship when a new mom is home alone with what may seem to be an insatiable newborn can be incredible. In the United States, breastfeeding initiation rates are almost 80% but rates drop to 40% by 3 months (CDC, 2014), a drop largely attributed to concerns regarding milk supply (Li, R., Fein, S., Chen, J., & Grummer-Strawn, L 2008). Often this is misguided: it is not necessarily a supply issue but a growth spurt. If we can help moms get through the first growth spurt, maybe we can help increase breastfeeding rates at 3 months and beyond.

The gift can be anything from a pedicure, massage, lunch date or anything special for the mom. It should be something for the woman, not for her baby, and adaptable to whatever the moms needs are at the time. After giving birth, focus shifts from the woman to her baby, a new mother’s hormones are in flux and if she is like most women, she has lost a little sleep since her darling little one arrived. The combination of a baby with a growth spurt and a hormonal shifts can be rough on Moms to put it mildly, so a little extra attention and focus on the Mom can help her adapt and give Mom the boost she probably needs.

Getting out of the house might be a treat at this stage, but not all women are ready to venture out, so keep in mind your friend’s perspective. If you plan a trip out- you might want to include an hour of your time to help Mom get out the door with her little one, and to offer to drive. For Moms who aren’t ready to leave home, bringing take out lunch from a favorite restaurant or having a home visit by a massage therapist with postpartum experience can be phenomenal. Take the time together to ask how she is doing, if she’s getting enough help and how breastfeeding is going for her.

The first growth spurt usually occurs between 10 and 14 days and comes at an often difficult time for breastfeeding moms. Whether breastfeeding has started off without a hitch or with challenges, the breastfeeding mom may feel that things should be getting easier. But then a few weeks after birth the baby will increase the frequency and often amount of time spent at feedings. Uplifting mother centered support can be the light that helps her get through the frequent feedings that come with growth spurts. When you give her the 10 Day Growth Spurt Gift, talk with her, she how she’s doing, and ask her if she has noticed a growth spurt, and if she hasn’t yet, you can remind her to expect one soon.

Some points that are important to know about breastfeeding that can help Mom, family and friends understand breastfeeding are:

Milk production is triggered by demand. The more a baby nurses, the more milk will be produced.

Frequent feedings are normal for a few days during growth spurts but typically space out within 2-3 days.

Breastfeeding takes more time in the beginning but long term is less time consuming than formula feeding.

Breast milk is easy for babies to digest. It moves through their digestive system with ease. That’s why babies need to nurse frequently. Formula is more difficult to digest.

Newborns should breastfeed 12 or more times in 24 hours. At the same time, it’s important to watch babies hunger cues, and not necessarily go by the clock.

Babies may cluster feed, or feed several times over several hours, then take a break. This is normal.

If your friend who has planned to breastfeed is having trouble or has questions, many communities have La Leche League Chapters (find them here http://www.llli.org/webus.html) which typically hold monthly woman to woman support meetings. LLL leaders, Breastfeeding or Lactation Counselors, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and other professionals who specialize in breastfeeding are great resources too!

A little extra support, a treat, and a reminder about normal developments can help a new Mom when things may seem hard. Let’s do our best to help new moms transition into motherhood. Let’s make sure new Moms know they have a community that cares, who they can lean on, and that there are resources. And most of all, let’s take care of them.

Alex Rounds, Doula

In a nutshell, Alex Rounds is a moderately well-adjusted human being.  She is a member of La Leche League, a Breastfeeding Counselor, and Mom with a total of 8 years personal experience breastfeeding, not all of which were easy.  She has three fun, quirky and ever-challenging sweet kids. Presently, Alex's time is consumed with homeschooling, studying midwifery, volunteering, providing breastfeeding support, and attending birth as a doula.

 

IGT

Insufficient Glandular Tissue and Breastfeeding

 

We are pleased to bring a guest post to you today from Mellanie Sheppard, IBCLC.  Mellanie is an experienced Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant who stars in our breastfeeding DVD, “Breastfeeding: the Ultimate MRE.”  Mellanie is a wealth of knowledge and we are so excited to have her write about the topic of Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT) today.

Read more

Breastfeeding After Reduction Surgery

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An important part of our mission at Birth Boot Camp is to encourage and truly support mothers in breastfeeding.  From day one we have had on staff an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Mellanie Sheppard, and every one of our students receives a two-disk breastfeeding DVD titled: Breastfeeding: the Ultimate MRE.  

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Breastfeeding Resources for New Moms

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Breastfeeding is something that we plan for before the birth of our baby, but few of us prepare like we should.  While very natural, it doesn’t always come easily and arming yourself with resources to support breastfeeding is a useful way to make it more successful.  

There are a variety of ways to prepare and learn about breastfeeding from books to actual woman-to-woman support. Here are a few of our favorites. Read more

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