Breastfeeding. We have all formed an impression and an expectation of what we think of breastfeeding. Just the word can cause a mixture of emotions. I felt a lot of different things in my first pregnancy about nursing and I am sure many other mothers did as well and can relate.
The concept of breastfeeding our baby seems so amazing and powerful, yet intimidating, demanding, confusing and frustrating at times. One can easily write a 30 plus page research paper on the endless benefits of breastfeeding. Without a doubt, it is commonly known that it is the ideal food for babies. I will go into detail about the benefits of breastfeeding in another post.
Should you choose to breastfeed, you can easily feel pressured to figure it all out and ensure success. Many moms and moms-to-be can feel a sense of guilt that they are failing their baby in some way if they run into problems. Let me please take the time to say that the most important thing for a baby is to be FED and cared for appropriately and that may not always be breastfeeding.
As passionate as myself and many others are about breastfeeding, it is up to the mother to decide what is best. I know there can be strong feelings surrounding this topic and as a Doula and Infant Feeding Specialist, I can say it is important to support the mother in whatever she chooses and respect that decision. I will discuss more on this topic in detail on a blog regarding breastfeeding vs formula feeding vs pumping vs bottle feeding and so on.
For the purpose of this post, I would like to focus on how you can successfully breastfeed your baby if that is what you choose. The World Health Organization recommendation is to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months and then as nutritious foods are introduced to the baby’s diet, to continue breastfeeding until 2 years old and beyond. Well, that sounds like a tall order doesn’t it? I remember thinking, I hope I can make it 6 months! Based on my 9 years and counting of personal breastfeeding experience, there are three things that I found to be absolutely crucial to make breastfeeding a success:
1- Having the support you need
2- Not comparing other people's comments, stories and experiences to yours
3- Being realistic and open minded
For today’s post we will be focusing on how to have the right support and what is out there for you.
Breastfeeding - Having the Support You Need
The right support is crucial for just about everything in this life and especially with motherhood and especially with breastfeeding. I remember when I was pregnant with my first daughter. Like any mother trying to make a decision, feeding the baby is a huge one to figure out. I remember saying I want to breastfeed but also feeling unsure of how it would go. Would I have enough milk? Would the baby be able to figure it out? Will I be able to maintain nursing with my return back to active duty in the Marine Corps? So much to figure out on top of the overwhelm of becoming a new mother in the first place or even adding another child to the family can be overwhelming also.
You are going to need continual support as you go forward on your breastfeeding journey. This is going to help you get through different challenges and phases along the way from growth spurts, latch issues, reflux, inverted or flat nipples or having a preemie and so on. Whatever issue you encounter, it is likely it can be worked out so you and your baby can continue on with your desire to breastfeed. If you are a person that doesn’t like to ask for help, this is going to be a growth experience for you. Ask me how I know!
As I reflect through my breastfeeding journey, there were so many mamas out there that helped to guide me. I am so thankful that I had them along the way to offer support for a beautiful breastfeeding journey. I wish that for all of you as well. Let’s dive into what different resources are out there to make this happen!
Breastfeeding - Lactation Consultant
Without a doubt, the LC (Lactation Consult) is your best resource but you will only have a few encounters with them at the hospital for those few days you are recovering on the maternity floor. Unfortunately, you are not able to bring them home with you and your new bundle of joy. In some hospitals, you can visit with a Lactation Consultant either one on one or in a support group once you have been discharged.
When you tour the hospital or birthing center closer to your 3rd trimester, be sure to ask lots of questions about what type of lactation support and classes they offer. Also, women in Postpartum recovery at the hospital typically don’t have their milk in by the time they are sent home which is a time you could really use some further assistance. It will be up to you to pursue help. Having the resources now will help you by preparing you for success!
In some cases, insurance will actually cover sessions with a Lactation Consultant. You can also hire them privately for 1 to 2 hours. An average cost would be around 175-200 for 2 hours.
You can explore more about where to find one here: Find an IBCLC Lactation Consultant
Breastfeeding- Infant Feeding Specialist
An Infant Feeding Specialist is usually also a Postpartum doula as well so this could have more bang for your buck and help you in more ways than breastfeeding alone. They are also more affordable than a Lactation Consultant if you are paying out of pocket. They come to your home or wherever you like and help you establish your feeding goals as well as aid in all things breastfeeding.
The IFS (Infant Feeding Specialist) program was created in conjunction with a Certified Lactation Counselor, Childbirth Educator and a 20 year Postpartum Doula. Therefore, an IFS is extensively trained on all ways an infant can be fed and contains a very thorough breastfeeding education. This is a wonderful support for you! You can search for one here: Doulas Services Directory – National Doula Professionals and S and if you live locally, I would be glad to help you as an Infant Feeding Specialist!
Many Postpartum Doulas are also Infant Feeding Specialists! How cool is that?! A Postpartum Doula will come and take care of you and your baby, run errands, do light housework, cook meals, support and troubleshoot breastfeeding challenges and help the mother and baby get good TLC. I will write a post all about Postpartum Doulas to expand on this topic. They are such a blessing. I wish I had one because in hindsight it would have been MORE than worth every penny! Most will stay day or night for you! Just ask! Doulas Services Directory – National Doula Professionals and Support
La Leche League
The La Leche League is a wonderful group of women that offer a lot of mother to mother support. They have a great directory to find someone near you, just click Get Help. They believe that breast milk is the most natural food for babies and assist in building and supporting the relationship to nurture your baby.
They are a great resource for encouragement and information. They help equip and develop the confidence a mother needs to breastfeed.
There are also endless FB support groups as I am sure we have all figured this out by now. It can be overwhelming, so use caution when taking every word as fact in those groups. It would be a good idea to reflect back to these other sources listed above or a trained professional when in doubt or to cross reference the information you received. Some of my favorite Breastfeeding FB groups are:
Milky Mamas Breastfeeding Support Facebook Group
Dairy Queens Breastfeeding Support Facebook Group
Here are some links that will be helpful for you! These websites and groups exist because millions of other mothers are in need of support so reach out and get the support you need!
Remember, it never hurts to ask, so reach out and use the help of the people who are there to cheer you on for you and your baby! Happy Breastfeeding week mamas and mamas to be!
Patricia Cox, D.C.
Dr. Patricia Cox grew up in Miami, Florida. She is a 2006 graduate of Stetson University, and a 2015 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. In between undergraduate school and chiropractic school, she served as an active duty United States Marine from 2006-2010. She is very proud to be a veteran and loves interacting with and taking care of other veterans. She also works very well with children and pregnant patients. Dr. Cox is passionate about getting children the proper spinal care early on to set them up for a healthy life and maintain it through chiropractic and a wellness lifestyle.
Cox Chiropractic Care in Port St. Lucie, treats a wide variety of conditions that effect people of all ages. Chiropractic care isn't only for those suffering from neck pain or back pain. Chiropractic can also help those suffering from ear infections, migraine headaches, sciatica, numbness and tingling to the limbs, car accident injuries like whiplash, sports injuries, and more.