Breastfeeding is described as the natural way to feed your baby, but it’s a team effort for the both of you that takes practice between positioning, proper latching and generating milk supply. To make your feeding time a pleasant bonding experience, look to the health professionals specifically trained in this subject. Lactation consultants have a wealth of advice to share. Depending upon where you plan to deliver, some hospitals have lactation consultants on staff you can request. You can also get a recommendation through your healthcare provider or use the International Lactation Consultant Association as a resource to find a consultant available in your area. Think of them as “breastfeeding troubleshooters” should you need further assistance. Here are several tips from lactation experts to support nursing moms.
Get Help Right Away
Nursing your baby takes effort but at the same time, it shouldn’t be a struggle. According to Jaye Simpson, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in Sacramento, California, new moms can save themselves the time and trouble by speaking up early. Whether you’re experiencing sore nipples from her latch, or perhaps she’s not gaining the weight she should from feeding, a lactation consultant is a call away to help you early on.
Other Tips to Be Proactive:
- Seek out a lactation consultant ahead of labor and delivery for advice.
- Ask your partner to be present when meeting with a lactation consultant. It’s helpful to have an extra person processing the lactation advice you receive while in recovery.
- Before giving birth, attend a breastfeeding support group to get helpful ideas and see moms nurse first-hand.
Finding a Comfortable Position
Struggling to find that perfect position? You might learn some standard techniques for holding her during breastfeeding, but New York City IBCLC Leigh Anne O'Connor explains the best position is one where mom is comfortable. She suggests the “belly to belly” approach so mom and baby can both experience comfort. The position is exactly like it sounds, her belly is against yours. In addition to comfort, O’Connor advises the position you choose should help baby to breathe well and remove milk from the breast.
A Great Latch Is Essential
For some mothers, latching proves to be a difficult part of breastfeeding and can lead to chapped and sore nipples. O’Connor advises that a deep latch prevents this problem. A good latch starts with her mouth wide open as you hold her close. She also recommends putting your hands at the nape of her neck as you bring her to your breast. She explains that your hand at the back of your baby's head triggers the instinct to resist and chomp down. How do you get her mouth to open wide? Look at where your nipple is positioned in relation to her face. Veronica Jacobsen, a doula and lactation counselor in Richfield, Minnesota suggests pointing your nipple at her nose instead of her mouth. Lifting her head up, she’ll open her mouth wide to latch deeply.
Advice for Your Milk Supply
O’Connor points out the importance of keeping the milk moving to avoid engorgement, swelling or clogged ducts. The more you nurse her, the more milk your body produces. You want to keep that momentum going even if she falls asleep during a feeding. Pump or hand express that milk to remove it and keep up supply. Let her feed for as long as she wants, there’s no time limit.
Avoid Bottles and Pacifiers at First
If you’re committed to breastfeeding her for the long haul, Dr. Laurie Jones, a pediatrician and IBCLC in Phoenix and founder of dr.milk.org, recommends not introducing a bottle right away as you’re learning to breastfeed. She suggests waiting 4 to 6 weeks as an ideal waiting period. Another helpful tip Jones provides is to avoid pacifiers during the first month as they can suppress hunger cues. Do your best to make sure breastfeeding is like second nature to you both before you introduce these items into her routine.