1. Know what to expect.
Knowledge is power! A good breastfeeding class can provide you with much of the information you need to help you meet your breastfeeding goals, such as when to expect your milk supply to increase in volume (hint: not until roughly 3 days after birth) and how to latch. Parents in Hillsborough County are welcome to attend our free breastfeeding class, taught by an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). To register for class, click here!
2. Let your baby latch themselves, if possible.
Healthy, full-term infants are born with the instinct to seek out a breast and latch – all by themselves – right from their very first hour of life. Check out some of the “breast crawl” videos on YouTube for an idea of what this process looks like, such as this video from UNICEF. As soon as possible after your baby is born—and, really, any time you’re having trouble with breastfeeding in the first month or so—lean back, put the baby skin-to-skin on your chest, and let them latch themselves.
3. Keep your goals basic, at first.
In the beginning, you really only need to focus on three goals: weight gain, bowel movements, and no pain. Your baby should be able to gain enough weight and produce enough bowel movements each day to be able to thrive and—here’s the key to this tip—do so without hurting you. That’s it; everything else about breastfeeding is negotiable. Look for your baby to have at least 4 loose, yellow bowel movements, larger than a quarter in size, every 24 hours by the time he is 6 days old or earlier.
4. Take care of yourself – whatever that means for you.
Get as much sleep as you can and, if possible, have a friend or family member around to help take care of you in the early weeks of breastfeeding. What’s good for you (like sleep, a shower, or a good meal) is also often good for breastfeeding.
5. Get help if you need it, and don’t delay in getting that help.
How do you know if you need to see a lactation consultant? See our tips numbers 2, 3, and 4 above. If your baby’s latch isn’t going well, if the baby is having trouble gaining weight or producing enough bowel movements without hurting you, or if you’re feeling like breastfeeding is overwhelming and you’re not happy with how it’s going, get help. Mothers in Hillsborough County can call our breastfeeding warm line any time to speak to an IBCLC: (813) 817-8084. If you’d rather be seen by one of our IBCLCs in person, call our office at (813) 673-4646 ext 1127 to make an appointment for a free (yes, I said free!) consultation with one of our IBCLCs.
Being able to breastfeed your baby is an important goal for many parents. The journey can be difficult, but the benefits for you and your baby are rewarding.
Links to Resources:
Register for Breastfeeding Basics Class
Breast Crawl YouTube Video