How can I prepare for breastfeeding? Will I have help?
When you’re expecting a baby, you will ask yourself many questions about motherhood, fatherhood and life with the baby. This is why prenatal education plays an important role. It helps you get informed and prepare you for the arrival of your baby.
For future parents like you, I think breastfeeding is an important topic to deal with during pregnancy to ponder different options.
I suspect that you have frequently heard stories about breastfeeding experiences from people around you. Some might have been positive, and others less so. However, it’s important to remember that the experiences of others aren’t yours. That is why I often tell future parents that I meet, those hesitating or doubting their ability to breastfeed, “why not try your own experience? No one can tell you how your experience will be. Moreover, you might get a great surprise. Everything you give your baby will be positive, however long it lasts.”
Even if for the majority of women, breastfeeding seems to be a natural and easy choice due to the known health benefits for Mother and baby, for others, reality can be entirely different.
The way you choose to feed your baby remains a personal choice. For women who want to breastfeed, you will see that despite your inexperience, breastfeeding can be learned and developed over time. You need to give yourself time. Never forget that!
For other mothers who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed for different reasons, you have other options. For example, you can pump your milk with a double electric pump, or use a public breast milk bank, or use newborn formulas. Unfortunately, specific situations at birth can sometimes require turning to alternative methods, frequently temporarily, to adjust to the dietary needs of your newborn. Think about a very premature baby or a baby with a defect so they can’t breastfeed directly from the breast after childbirth. Happily, this isn’t the norm.
Many parents ask me how lactation starts after childbirth. Well, it’s the detachment of the placenta sends the message to your brain that you now need to feed your baby. Also, the baby’s sucking will then stimulate milk production and maintain the production over time.
Colostrum is the first liquid that flows from your breasts, and it can even happen during your pregnancy. This thick yellowish liquid is rich in antibodies and protects the baby from many infections from the world outside the uterus. Colostrum is also a laxative and helps evacuate meconium, this sticky forest green substance contained in the baby’s intestine on birth. Colostrum is often called your “first milk,” which will gradually change into bluish-white milk, richer and thicker which is called permanent milk, arriving about ten days after childbirth. This takes place gradually to help the baby adapt to receiving and absorbing something in their gastrointestinal system.
Breast milk has many virtues, besides meeting your baby’s nutritional needs. It helps strengthen their immune system due to the antibodies you give them in your breast milk. It also strengthens the protective barrier in their intestine to help combat viruses and harmful bacteria. Your milk digests easily, and very few allergies are found in this liquid because it’s adapted for newborns immature at birth. Milk changes during the day, changes over time for your baby as they grow. It can’t be imitated; this liquid is white gold!
If you want to breastfeed your baby, I’m sure that you would like a few practical pieces of advice to ensure you have the best chance of ensuring the experience is a good one. Here are a few helpful elements:
When your baby is born, skin-to-skin contact is promoted, encouraged because we have noted that the baby will warm up faster. This close contact with mothers will also help reassure them, gets them close to your breast, your smell.
Also, to help you, maternity ward caregivers will apply the Rule of 5:
- The right time
- The right position
- Proper latching
- Proper nipple latching
- Proper suction
To determine the right time for the first feeding, which often happens on its own, the baby will show signs that they’re alert and are interested in feeding within the first hours after childbirth. They might stick out their tongue, suck their lip or fist, root on your skin, then raise their head a bit then lower it, a bit like a woodpecker. This is how staff, who is there to guide you, will help the baby to approach your breast gradually. You won’t be alone!
Proper support is the best way to help you experience new things, right? This is also the case for breastfeeding.
When a mother has help from her partner, an encouraging environment, warm and helpful support, this can contribute to breastfeeding success. Everyone will work together as a team.
It’s also true that some women will have discomfort, especially in the first days. But trust the process, and solutions exist. However, you need to ask for help from breastfeeding specialists when you feel discomfort to get the right advice. Your discomfort is there for a reason, and health professionals will examine your breastfeeding techniques to identify problems and help correct them. They want to ensure that you have the best breastfeeding experience possible.
I wish you all the best, and cherish each moment, as they will never be repeated.
The Baby Expert