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Episode 101: Preparing for Breastfeeding: Tips for Success

, , , , , April 5, 2023

101

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Welcome back to the Breastfeeding Talk Podcast. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kincer. And I just want to thank you for being a loyal listener and subscriber to the show. We have surpassed 100 episodes now, which is a pretty cool milestone to be celebrating. And in honor of that milestone, I actually wanted to discuss a topic on the podcast that I think will be really relevant to pregnant moms, but also moms who may be even further into their breastfeeding journeys. So if that’s you, this episode is for you. And I’m gonna be talking about the best ways to get breastfeeding help support and care for you and your baby. Because there are just so many sort of, you know, pitfalls and things that people tend to learn after the fact. You know, the reason why I got into the profession is because I was a mom who struggled to get adequate support in my breastfeeding journey. And I really didn’t want other moms to go without that support. And I’m just one person, so I can’t do it all. But through this podcast, I always hope to share things that are inspirational, educational, informative, supportive, encouraging, and all of that. And this episode is absolutely going to be a combination of those things. 

 

So let’s talk about during pregnancy. What are the best ways that you can prepare for breastfeeding? You know, I think there’s kind of some generic recommendations that are good natured. And, you know, certainly not bad recommendations. But we also have to add a lot of caveats to these things. So for instance, one of those recommendations might be to take a prenatal breastfeeding class, which is a great recommendation. But depending on which class you take, that’s going to set the stage for your breastfeeding journey good or bad. So, you know, I’ll just kind of give an example. Right? When I was pregnant with my son, as part of my birth class, one of the things they recommended was to take a breastfeeding class. So I did, I signed up for a two hour class on a weekend, taught by an ibclc. And the things that we did in class were Learn about the benefits of breast milk for infant and maternal health, I learned that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding at least until the age of two and beyond. We watched a video a very old video that I think was adapted from a VHS tape on a baby doing the breast crawl after birth, we held babies and learned what the cross cradle position is, what the cradle position is, and what the football position is. And that’s about it. 

 

So I got a packet that I was sent home with that listed a lot of the benefits of breastfeeding, it talked about the not so great breastfeeding rates, it had the contact information for the lactation consultants, and a few other little tidbits of things like you know, the breast crawl, getting your baby to the breast in the first hour and all of that, that might sound like it’s a really great class. What I’m going to tell you is that it wasn’t for a lot of reasons. One, all of that stuff, I completely forgot once my baby was born. And to no one ever talked about in that class, how to latch a baby, how to know if the latch is good, what to do if the latch is painful or not good. And those were the things that I needed to know immediately post birth, I did not need to know how beneficial breast milk was. I did not need to know how to move my arms to hold my baby in a cradle position or a cross cradle position. In fact, learning those positions, sort of in a vacuum of just me with my pregnant body and a baby doll was completely useless because one I you know, sort of implied that I needed to follow those positions to a tee and trying to remember those after a very long and difficult birth and know where am I supposed to have my hands on my elbows. I was way more focused on things like that than I was about where my baby was in relation to my breast what their mouth should be doing. 

 

That was even taught So it was a massive, massive disservice to me to have me practice some sort of, you know, position that really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with breastfeeding in some ways. Like, there’s so many variations, right? People have different torso lengths, different widths to their bodies, different arm links, you know, different posture. Like, you know, if you’re nursing in a hospital bed versus sitting upright in a chair, it’s a completely different experience. You know, any help with positioning, you know, is something that can generally offer you and the hospital whether or not you even have an ibclc on staff at the hospital, you tend to give birth out. But um, yeah, having to get the baby’s mouth on the breast would have been one of the most important things that they would have covered in that class, to know what that looks like, and also showing a video of the breast crawl, you know, that was very unrealistic for me, as much as I had planned on having a natural birth. That’s not how things had turned out for me. And so, you know, knowing all of these sort of fears, from the birth class, from the breastfeeding class of the ways that medications can affect your baby, which are generally negative. I was never given information about how to get a baby to latch and breastfeed well, right after birth, despite having medications, despite having a long difficult traumatic labor. No one ever taught me those things. And those are the things I needed to know. 

 

And those are the things that the majority of moms need to know, the majority of moms are having medications, you know, during or after their labors, the majority of moms are having very long difficult Labor’s that’s the standard, that’s the norm. And so we need to be teaching to that not some idealized version of breastfeeding, which is that breast milk, you know, and it’s so amazing and gives all these wonderful immune and brain and health benefits to your baby. That does not help me in those first couple of days get the hang of breastfeeding. So I was really disappointed by that. The only thing is that I ended up with severe nipple damage, which was really not something that was taught to me would that was a red flag or a problem. So there was no discussion of you know, what’s normal, and what’s not what to do if you should encounter nipple pain, or any of that, essentially, you know, I don’t even really recall a discussion from the course. And I do recall it pretty well, to contact the lactation consultant if there was a problem, like she had her information on the packet. But I didn’t really understand the ways that she could help me and what her services were. So I didn’t understand really, you know, what are the things that she could do for me beyond the class, and because the class was really covering the normal course of breastfeeding, how things should ideally go, and not what to do when things don’t go that way. I didn’t really think of this person as someone that I would want to reach out to when I was encountering problems. So I didn’t. 

 

And I think that’s a massive disservice to one, this lactation consultant who probably would love to be helping more families, and using her skill set, but to all of the families that she taught. And so yeah, it felt really kind of tone deaf, to be honest with you, in retrospect. And then I remember kind of pulling up that packet that she had given us from the class, when I got home and flipping through it going, there must be some information in here. You know, breastfeeding is really painful might be if he’s crying all the time, you know, just various things, right. And I couldn’t find really any answers to any of my questions in there. So next thing I did was really look for a book, and I got the womanly art of breastfeeding from La Leche League, which is a really good book, that book helped me, I would say, relax and have a better mindset about breastfeeding. So I think there was a lot of value in the book in that way. And there were kind of some little, you know, tear off sheets, in the back of the book that cover, you know, one particular topic, and I think that was a good sort of starting point, as an educational piece. You know, was it a book that really helps me solve my breastfeeding problems? No, it encouraged me to keep going. And it encouraged me to not give up. So I think there was a ton of value in that book. So I’m not dismissing it, but I think, you know, for the majority of moms, they’re probably not going to read a book like that cover to cover. Some might, but I think the majority will not. And, you know, I think that mindset and encouragement and realistic expectations and and the flexibility of, you know, what can be okay, on the breastfeeding spectrum. And, you know, what, maybe is more of a sign of something not being okay, but that you can get back on track. I think those are all really, really important messages. But there may be some moms out there who don’t have the patience, or wherewithal to spend that time sort of reading and absorbing that information and just going, Yeah, I just want to fix, you know, my bruised and bleeding nipples or my baby won’t latch or like all of that, you know what I mean? So, my point is that, you know, somewhat helpful incredibly helpful. No. So I actually did contact a private practice ibclc that my midwife had recommended, she was not available to see me for like two weeks, she lives really far from me, and I guess had an office out of her home. 

 

And so the drive there with a newborn babies seemed kind of crazy to me, like, probably a 40 minute drive. And she could come to my home, but it was like, you know, $100 more or something. So, I mean, this is 10 years ago, and it was gonna cost me like $300, to have her come to my home two weeks from now, it was just like, That’s wild. You know, that’s like a really 10 years ago, considering state of the economy. That was a really, really hefty price tag. There was no discussion of whether or not you know, insurance would reimburse anything or, like, I really didn’t know, I really didn’t know, I didn’t know all the things that I know. Now, I didn’t know all the things that I tend to teach moms now. So I’m giving you those examples, because those are some common pitfalls that I still see 10 years later happening. So most moms don’t take a prenatal breastfeeding class. And again, I kind of don’t blame you, because the quality of information can be really lacking. You know, I think that we’re all pretty much aware that breast milk is amazing and better than formula. But that isn’t really necessarily, the thing that’s going to help you succeed at breastfeeding is having that knowledge, it might motivate you to keep going with it, it might motivate you to initiate breastfeeding. Right. So you know, it may help you make that informed decision as to whether or not you want to breastfeed, but in terms of actually helping you with breastfeeding itself. That’s not useful information. So here’s what I would suggest for you, when you’re pregnant, do take a breastfeeding class, absolutely. Take a breastfeeding class, find one that is going to give you the practical tools that you’re going to need immediately postpartum, I would skip taking classes that focus on the entire timeframe of breastfeeding, I would I would skip, I would really just skip over. I mean, you can you can sign up for them. And you know, go through that information later. But I wouldn’t concern yourself with, you know, starting solid foods or you know, any of that kind of stuff, because it’s just not going to be relevant to what you need in those initial days. Try to only focus on that information that you need during pregnancy to best prepare yourself for breastfeeding. learning things like what are some red flags for low milk supply? 

 

How can you, you know, examine your own health history to see if there’s any potential reasons why you might have trouble with breastfeeding. Things like, you know, asking your your family, their breastfeeding history can be really, really helpful and impactful, you know, deciding on your breastfeeding goals, and putting together a breastfeeding plan. So what do you want breastfeeding to look like? Is it nursing? Is it pumping? Is it a combination of the two? Is it incorporating formula? Are you going to be separated from your baby and need to pump? What kind of pump Do you want? You know, all of these questions are things that you really need to think about ahead of time. Because one, you can register for a lot of these products that might be relevant. But to having that plan for infant feeding is no different than having a birth plan. It may not go according to plan. But part of the plan is writing out your ideal scenario and your goals. And then also writing out what to do if any of those things are not happening. Like you’re encountering some speed bumps and some roadblocks and some problems. what course of action are you going to take next, being prepared for you know, sometimes the inevitable, will be really, really helpful for you. So already coming up with a resource list of lactation consultants that you can work with, whether it’s virtual or whether it’s in person, if insurance coverage of those services is important to you start with asking your insurance company what they cover, in network out of network for lactation consultants for breast pumps for breast pumping supplies. Oftentimes moms don’t realize that milk storage bags, extra pump parts, flanges, bottles, those can all be something that’s covered under your lactation benefits through your health plan. Certainly your HSA account can be used to purchase those things or an FSA account. But actually having insurance coverage and reimbursement for some of these supplies and how you go about getting that coverage, how you go about getting coverage and reimbursement for out of network lactation services. 

 

Those things are all very, very important. Inquire with your employer, if you will be going back to a job. What are their you know, pumping breaks? What are the laws around what’s required for you? How are you going to try to work those times into your days? You know, all of that is is information that you need to be thinking about before you have this baby so that you have some idea of you know what those realistic expectations are? What are the things that you need to have in place immediately after the birth And then really looking into things like the hospital, you know, does the hospital have ibclcs? on staff? Do they have them there on weekends? Do they have them there in the middle of the nights? Do they have non ibclc lactation supporters, so they call them typically lactation nurses, they may or may not have some sort of certificate of some sorts from a class that they’ve taken. And so, you know, what does that care look like? What are your options outside of the hospital for lactation support, you know, gathering that list, again, like I had mentioned, and so just, you know, really understanding what your what’s available to you, sometimes connecting in a local mom’s group or searching like a subreddit, for your locality. Those sorts of things, you know, you can really try to ask questions about, you know, hey, who’s delivered at this hospital? And, you know, what was your experience with getting breastfeeding support? They’re asking for the things you should, you know, advocate for, for yourself. So if you’re struggling, you know, with breastfeeding in the hospital, or you’d really just like sort of a breastfeeding checkup, you know, learning how to say to the staff things like, Hey, do you have any ibclc is here? If you do, I would love for one to come and see me. Is that possible today? If you’re going to be there tomorrow, is that possible tomorrow, and just really getting those concrete answers, you know, okay, you don’t have ibclcs are ones not available, because I delivered on the weekend, who here has some training that can assist me with breastfeeding, asking them if they have a list of people or services that they recommend, once you leave the hospital, some do, some will absolutely not give you a list. It just sort of depends. So and then, you know, researching your pediatrician, Most pediatricians, if you are a first time parents, you don’t have, you know, establish relationship with a pediatrician already, because you have other kids, they will do prenatal sort of interview appointments with you. So you can sit down at their desk and ask them questions. You know, ask them what their experiences are with supporting breastfeeding babies. 

 

And you know, what they typically do when there are problems? What are their recommendations? Do they have a lactation consultant in their office? Do they have one that they refer to? What do they, you know, who and what do they typically refer out for? If there are feeding problems that they can’t manage themselves? Those are all really great questions to ask ahead of time. Because then, you know, because then you aren’t hit like a brick wall with Oh, my gosh, my pediatrician is just handing me a can of formula and doesn’t know anything about breastfeeding. Right? Like, if you could stick with that pediatrician, that’s fine, but just know like, Okay, well, this is not going to be the person that’s able to support me, maybe it turns out, they have some extra education and breastfeeding. Maybe it turns out, they they have a lactation consultant comes into their office one day a week, and you can see them, you know, if you don’t ask, you don’t know. And so these are all really, really good questions, to think about and incorporate, and whatever, you’re doing prenatally to prepare for breastfeeding. So on the flip side of that, you know, he kind of was talking about courses to look for which, you know, this episode may very well serve as a little bit of a prenatal course for you. You know, we do have a program and I will just mention it briefly, the nurture collective, you can check that out at the nurturer collective Dotco. Essentially, what we’ve done there is, is broken out all of the various sections of it. So there’s a, you know, sort of prenatal preparing to breastfeed section, which covers a lot of things that I’m talking about here in this podcast, That mistake as well as a breastfeeding buyer’s guide products that we’ve seen, our clients generally do very well with that we know our high quality made with integrity, work great for for the majority of people who need or want to use those things. 

 

And so we’ve got even some special discounts in there, just depending on you know, the the relationship you might have with those types of companies. So lots of great information, but then also we break it out by like, the first few days after birth, the first week after birth, the first two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, and then so on and so forth. So what’s kind of cool about that is that you can pick and choose your own adventure, you can get that information to prepare for breastfeeding right now. And then when you need the rest of it, as your baby gets bigger, or maybe you’re encountering a specific problem, you can go to that section and go through that course or that module, and you know, get that targeted information without having to sit there and like, you know, watch a two hour sort of recorded course and fast forward through it and find what you need. So, anyway, I’m just sharing that because, you know, we designed that, you know, with the shortcomings of other, you know, typical average breastfeeding courses in mind. So, you know, the other thing is just to consider what are you going to do immediately after birth. I think that watching as many videos as you can, that are examples of good latches, bad latches, how to get a good latch for your baby, those things can be very, very helpful. If you have a friend who’s breastfeeding, I would highly recommend that you ask if you can observe, I would also highly recommend that you go to something like a volunteer, you know, breastfeeding support organization meeting, while you’re pregnant. So you can see what it looks like for other moms to just breastfeed. 

 

So let’s say League, breastfeeding USA, sometimes hospitals support groups have breastfeeding meetings and things of that nature. They’re a little bit chaotic a lot of the time, but you can certainly go places where you’ll just see breastfeeding in action, you know, what does that really look like when someone is breastfeeding their baby who’s a newborn, maybe a three month old, whatever it is, there’s so much that we learned through osmosis of observation and experience, right? Just, you know, introducing yourself and saying, Hey, I’m just here to learn and kind of see breastfeeding in action. So you know, I’m just here to kind of absorb and pick up information, ask any questions that you have, you know, asking other breastfeeding moms questions, you can learn so much, right? That’s the the value and things of like a community, a place where you can ask questions, a support group is, you know, somebody who’s really going through it and knows all of the nuances and the pitfalls, and maybe even has a parallel experience to you. They can tell you the ways that they’ve successfully navigated those things, which, you know, may or may not apply directly to your situation. But it can give you an idea of, if you’re on the right track, or how to recognize problems and ways that you can overcome any struggles or challenges that you’re having, you know, as much as we have expertise as lactation consultants, and we’ve typically been through it ourselves as well and supported so many moms and babies through this, there’s a lot that another mother can really offer you from a peer to peer perspective, that is not, you know, so I guess instructional or counseling as maybe something that we do as professional lactation consultants. So I’d highly recommend if you’re able to connect with any peers, especially ones that have been, you know, successful at breastfeeding, definitely try to stay away from the ones who have not, because, you know, it’s, it’s okay to hear their experiences, obviously, and and learn from them. But having examples of things that are really more aligned with your goals, and those things being successful and going well, can be a lot more informative than examples of the contrary. So that’s just a thought for you. But you know, really, I would just say, the most important thing is learning how to advocate for yourself, you’re going to be encountering the healthcare system along the way through OBS through hospital through pediatricians through potentially others. And you know, even from your prenatal appointments with your OB or your midwife, depending on what type of care you’re receiving, you know, ask them if they do a breast exam. 

 

This is typically not done. I actually did not know that until some recent discussions with with patients and on social media, we kind of asked and did a poll about this. I had the opposite experience. But I would ask, you know, will you do a breast exam? And if you are going to do a breast exam, what are you feeling for? Is it just changes to the breast tissue during pregnancy? Is it screening for insufficient glandular tissue a condition that causes you to have difficulty producing a full milk supply? Is it looking for, you know, breast cancer? You know, any anything else? Like just find out, you know, what it is that they’re able to assess for? Understand that some providers, most providers will not know how to assess for glandular tissue, in terms of lactation. And that’s okay. That’s okay. But just, you know, a thought of, you know, hey, is there any way that I can find out? You know, if that is an issue for me? Or is there anything in my health history that you’re seeing that could potentially, you know, limit my ability to have a full milk supply? Those would be really good questions to ask. And if your provider doesn’t know, ask them, How can I find out?

 

You don’t have to accept their answer as the final answer. And that that’s it. There’s just no way to get this information. Ask them if they know of someone else who might be able to give them this information. Maybe they can confer with a colleague. Maybe they have another suggestion for you. Maybe they would refer you to somebody, maybe they would suggest you meet with an ibclc prenatally, who knows right, but you don’t know until you ask these questions. So I would really advocate for if it hasn’t happened already in your prenatal care, getting that breast exam and then asking questions as they’re doing the exam. You know, what are the things that you’re checking for? What are you noticing? Sing, you know, is there anything here that would be a concern for lactation because I do plan on breastfeeding. You know, we just really state your intentions and any questions or concerns that you might have, and go from there and go from there, I wouldn’t expect miracles necessarily, but the more that you understand about your providers level of knowledge, and you know what their suggestions would be if they have some gaps in their knowledge regarding breastfeeding and lactation, the more that you can look for, you know, other providers or support networks or sources of education to, you know, really give you that information that you’re looking for, to better prepare yourself. If you’re a book reader, I would recommend getting some sort of book on breastfeeding, I think the womanly art of breastfeeding can be a decent place to start, I think that if you’re going to be someone who goes back to work full time relatively quickly, it may not be the best book for you. There are definitely some other ones out there specific to pumping, I generally would say, even though they’re older, and a lot of these books have just not been updated in a long time. But Nancy Moore Bakker is a lactation consultant who has a lot of different books out there. And I think that her, her writing is really, really accessible. And I think that she has some good practical tips that even if you are reading her materials, and you know, realizing, okay, this is maybe not the most up to date, the same principles do generally apply. And she’s got some pretty solid information. So that’s an excellent place to start. And I would just really, you know, go through and choose your sources wisely. 

 

And, you know, I don’t think you need to obsess over it, I don’t think you need to read five books about breastfeeding before you have your baby or anything like that. But, you know, see which one maybe resonates the most with, you have it on hand, if you get a chance to go through some of it, I don’t necessarily think you need to read it cover to cover but you know, read those sections that are most relevant to whatever you’re going to need to know right after giving birth, and then any specific concerns that you might have. And then anything else you do is kind of extra and bonus points. So let’s spend a little bit of time talking about once you have the baby. And once you’re home, there’s a lot of big things that are happening. And it’s multiple episodes to talk about this. In fact, I would definitely go back in and listen to several episodes on on more specific topics and deeper dives on some of these things, whether it’s, you know, mental health or your you know, your body and all of the changes that’s gone through just by virtue of being pregnant and giving birth and then healing postpartum. But you know, you went through a major life event. So there are some big psychological impacts, obviously, huge physical impacts, you know, your body has a lot of healing that it needs to do, no matter how your birth happened, no matter how long that labor was, no matter how great your pregnancy or terrible your pregnancy was, you have a lot of healing to do. And now on top of all of that physical healing, you’ve got a baby to take care of, you’ve got a baby to try to produce milk for to feed, you’ve got probably less sleep happening, right? There’s a lot of things. So you’re trying to what take care of yourself, take care of your baby, you know, maintain, you know, harmony with other relationships in your household and beyond. And, you know, maybe you’re going back to work, like there’s a lot of moving pieces, depending on what’s going on in your life. And I think that considering those logistics ahead of time is going to be really, really, really important. So depending on your breastfeeding goals, if it’s nursing, if it’s pumping, like whatever it is, you know, and the duration of that and all of that, you really, really need to clue anyone who lives in your household. 

 

And you really need to clue them in to what those are, and say, Hey, I don’t know exactly what this is going to look like, once the baby is here. Here’s what I would like, this is what I’m planning on this is what’s important to me, and I need your support with that. So here’s like a few common little things, for instance, that all they’ll kind of, you know, give you. One is that in those early days of lactation, the second your milk starts flowing, you might be incredibly thirsty and even hungry, like all of a sudden it’s going to hit you so hard. You are going to want to have water with you all of the time. It’s you’re just going to be parched. Even just you know after birth, right? You really need to, you know, increase that hydration, especially if you’ve had medications and things like that as well. So, hydration is so important to healing. It’s important to your milk supply. You know you don’t have to have anything fancy electrolytes are always great for healing and milk supply, but you don’t need any special brands of anything. You don’t you know really need to overcomplicate it, you don’t need it for every beverage. So just you know, take it with sort of a grain of salt if you will, but knowing that just sort of letting your partner or if you have Have another family member there or someone else that’s going to be, you know, helping to take care of you or your household or anything like that, they might need to bring you some water, when you sit down and you are trying to latch that baby, or they’re latched on, you’re not going to get up and go get some water. And you’re going to be just dying. So you know, having someone just thoughtfully bring that water to you or know that you’re going to be asking for that is great. Having frequent snacks on hand so that, you know, it takes a lot more calories to make breast milk than it does to grow a baby during pregnancy. So pregnancy, typically, you need about an average 300 calories a day with breastfeeding, it’s at least 500 more of an average is like 800. 

 

So that’s a lot more calories that you’re going to need and your blood sugar. Being stable is really important for lactation as well. So you don’t want to experience any, you know, big spikes, it’s not necessarily great to eat gigantic meals, and then go a really long time and be super, super hungry. Try to you know, kind of keep some healthy snacks, easy to reach easy to prepare foods, you’re gonna be spending a lot of time breastfeeding, by the way, so whether it’s pumping, whether it’s nursing, you know, in those early days. Realistically, if you’re going to do this full time, you know, in terms of you know, getting a full milk supply or working towards one or what have you, you’re going to spend about 30 hours a week on breastfeeding. That’s a really good benchmark and average. For some of you that’s a full time job. Others you may consider that a part time job, but either way, it’s a lot of hours, those are hours that you don’t have to prepare food, you are also healing postpartum. And so that is not something that you should be primarily responsible for. Things like laundry, cleaning all of that, again, your body is healing. And those things are going to be very difficult for you to try and keep up with during this timeframe. So having a plan, whether it’s a different set of expectations, whether it’s getting some extra help with those tasks, those things are going to be really, really important to you in those early days postpartum. And it’s so much easier to ask for this help. Right after you’ve had the baby, as opposed to down the road when you’ve burnt yourself out. And the babies older, and the novelty of a newborn has worn off. I promise you, if there’s anything that people want to do, it’s one see your cute little baby, but to help you out immediately postpartum. That’s a very common thing that people love doing. Now, here’s the other important one, right is that when you ask for help, people sometimes have different ideas of the help that you really need. And so they think it’s helpful to hold the baby for you or to feed the baby for you. It’s typically not.

 

And here’s, here’s the deal, right. So like, if you have to pump that milk for someone else to give that baby a bottle, you did not remove labor for yourself, you did not buy yourself any more time back, because you’re still having to get the milk out of your breasts. So whether or not it’s with your baby directly at the breast or the pump, typically takes up a similar amount of time. So what is helpful though, is like if you need to take a shower, or you just need to, you know, not have contact with this little baby for a little while and you need some time to yourself, then yes, having someone else hold that baby rock, that baby go on a walk with that baby, all of those things is great. But feeding the baby doesn’t really do any favors. And here’s the other thing, maybe you’re thinking while ye can just skip that pumping session, and they can just feed the baby a bottle. Well, if you don’t have milk expressed, it’s going to be formula. And even if you do have milk Express, because you’ve done that previously, going longer stretches of time without removing milk from your breasts, especially in the first two weeks postpartum can sometimes negatively impact your milk supply. So we don’t want that to happen. If you have an oversupply, that’s a different story. And you really won’t know until you’re on the other side of this and have your baby. And if you’ve already have your had your baby, you obviously can, you know, tell if you have oversupply under supply, or it’s just writes like Goldilocks, but you really don’t want to skip feeding sessions, you know, you can, obviously someone else can feed the baby a bottle, and that’s, that’s totally fine. But again, you don’t want to go long periods of time without removing milk from from your breasts. So the way that lactation works is actually fairly simple to some degree. 

 

But then there are some complexities beyond that. And it’s supply and demand. You’ve probably heard this numerous times already. But the more milk that you leave in the breast, the fuller the breast, the more signaling that happens to those glands in your breast, that they don’t need to make as much milk because there’s already a lot of milk there. So they should slow down milk production, they should overall produce less milk. And that is not the signal that we want to be happening again unless you have an oversupply, but you should be working with a lactation consultant to make sure that you don’t swing in the opposite direction. So really that frequent removal of milk is very, very important. What does this mean for you? It means that you cannot sleep till have hours at night, totally sleep through that and not remove milk and expect to breastfeed your baby with a full milk supply. That’s not realistic in the newborn stage. And it’s not really realistic anytime in the first year. So just so you know, I don’t think most people plan on sleeping 12 hours a night, you know, you can work your way up to eight hours a night later on, depending on your biology and depending on your baby’s needs, but that’s not typical for most moms. So it’s not that you’re gonna be totally sleep deprived forever. But yeah, let’s have realistic expectations. You know, in those first few weeks, it’s going to be every two to three hours, your baby’s probably going to be waking up anyway. And or, you know, if you’re going to nurse, if you’re going to pump, you need to be doing that middle of the night, milk removal is so important for your hormones for lactation, it’s important for your overall milk supply. It’s also important so that you avoid things like clogged ducts, Blubs mastitis, all of those undesirable things, right, and gorge meant, you know, profuse leaking, all all of that kind of stuff, we don’t want you to encounter more complications, because milk has gotten backed up in the breast. So that’s really, really important. So having your partner you know, having you pumping, your partner gets up in the middle of the night, so you can get more rest, sometimes is a viable solution. 

 

For you to go from getting like maybe we’re going up every two hours to every four hours. That’s a potential like solution, right. But if you’re hoping to get six, eight hours of sleep, in the first couple of weeks, that’s probably not great for your milk supply, and not necessarily a realistic expectation to have. So trying to tell your partner Hey, offering to feed about a bottle for me is probably not the best suggestion. But what is the best suggestion would be things like when the baby wakes up and cries, go ahead and change their diaper and get them all ready and bring them to need to nurse or if your exclusive pumping or something like that, you know, prepare the bottle, clean the bottle, clean the pump parts, like if they can do all of that other labor and just leave the pumping and the nursing to you. That’s incredible. But if you also have to wash all the pump parts and the bottles, and you know all the things like it’s a lot, it’s a lot, right, setting yourself up for success with things like grocery delivery, you know, that’s another errand that you don’t have to run or someone else takes care of that errand for you. Little things like that, that you just take off of your plate, because again, huge transition, huge shift in emotions, healing, sleep deprivation, you know, adapting to this new life at this new family member, getting to know this little human who’s their own unique individual person, you know, kind of navigating the ways that your, you know, intimate relationships might be changing. I mean, there’s so much here that goes on during this timeframe, it can be wonderful and magical, it can be overwhelming, it can be all of those things at once. You know, even if you know something happens, where you’re experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, you know, and how to navigate that. And what are those signs that you should look for educating yourself on those things ahead of time, you know, trying to use some screening tools to see is this something that maybe it’s going on, for me talking to your doctor about those things is really, really important. So all of that is a lot for you to manage. It’s a lot of emotional labor, it’s a lot of physical labor. So the more that you can delegate to other people, the better off you’re going to be. What I see too much of the time is that moms are still trying to do it all. And what happens is breastfeeding tends to get the blame. It’s like the scapegoat, you know, well, if only I wasn’t breastfeeding, then life would just be so much easier. Well, possibly, yes, possibly. 

 

That’s true for you, right. So if you’re not willing to change other things in your life, your daily schedule, your lifestyle, what have you, you want things to go back to the way they were before you had the baby, then delegating the feeding to someone else would allow that scenario to come to fruition for you. For moms who are breastfeeding as important to them, typically, that’s not how they want to do things, right. So realizing that some other things are going to have to either not be done, be delayed or be delegated. So there’s the three Ds not be done, be delayed or be delegated to someone else, so that you can get breastfeeding off to a good start. And it’s not always going to be this intense. It’s not always going to be 30 hours a week, it’s not always going to be this demanding. Breastfeeding will become something that ideally gets woven into your daily life if you do not stop to breastfeed your baby when it’s well established when things are going well when your baby is older when you’re you know healed from from pregnancy and birth. Right so you learn how to nurse in a carrier you’re you know, just able to nurse your baby on the go or you know, it doesn’t take as long for your baby to nurse because they’ve gotten more efficient. The brass store, you know pumping is something you’ve really gotten dialed in and it’s it’s faster now it’s easier now and you respond really well to the pump because you’re RDS used to it, I mean, whatever it is, right? So there’s a lot of ways that breastfeeding ultimately becomes a time saver. Where as you know, formula feeding will always take up the same amount of time, pretty much, right? I mean, formula, you have to give increased quantities over time. So it’s not like the feedings typically get any shorter in duration, you’ve still got, you know, all the bottles to wash and the formula to buy and all of that. So it’s kind of the same time commitment from start to finish, where’s breastfeeding is more of a time commitment in the beginning, but far less of one as it goes on. And the other thing to think about too, is that, you know, you really are not supposed to get back to life as normal immediately postpartum. I understand that, you know, everyone has different circumstances, sometimes that is just not realistic for some of you out there. So trying to find ways to, you know, navigate that and manage that. But it is a time for your body to slow down, it is good for you to lay down and to sit and to rest and recover after, you know, all of these major changes that your body and mind have been through. 

 

And breastfeeding actually helps facilitate that for you. So instead of looking at breastfeeding, as this limitation to all of the things that you have to get done in this growing to do list, you can look at it as that time to reset, that could be time for yourself to just, you know, do some be be to yourself, be quiet, catch up on something, if it’s reading, you know, something on your phone, whatever it is, right? That that could be your reset time, your time that is just for you and your baby to connect to, you know, just take a deep breath, to really slow down, stop going at that crazy pace, and just have a few moments to just be that is typically the thing that breastfeeding moms come to find that they love most about breastfeeding, the longer that they do it. Like we’ve gotten members in our program, the nurturer collective, and that is like their favorite part of breastfeeding is that, you know, they’ve worked all day and pumped at work and they come home. And you know, they just get to sit down and connect and nurse their babies. And it’s like, Oh, my goodness, finally, you know, just that quiet time, the world stops being so busy. And you know, you’re forced, you’re forced to relax, right? So for some of us that are like maybe really busy and you know, type A personalities or what have you, it can be a real gift that, you know, instead of seeing it as a frustration as a limitation as an obstacle to everything else around you, it can be something that you become really grateful for to be something that you begin to look forward to. And I would try to position it that way. And you know, breastfeeding is not always easy in the beginning, right. But it’s like, once you get the hang of it, once things are, you know, sort of rockin and rollin and things are going well, that becomes the real gift of breastfeeding. Very rarely do I hear moms that are more season’s breastfeed errs, you know, they’re a few months into it say that the reason they love breastfeeding is because of all of the health benefits for their baby. I mean, I think that’s a very common reason. But the other big reason is that they love that time, that quiet time, that connection time, that time where they slow down, they feel more relaxed, the hormones of breastfeeding make you feel more relaxed, it can be so incredible. And one of the most enjoyable things about nursing, especially without connection with your baby, they become more awake and alert as they get older. And more interactive. Maybe they smile at you, they play with your hair, sometimes they yank on your hair. So watch out for that. But it can be one of those most rewarding experiences. 

 

So just you know, considering all of those things, you know, what do you want to plan for when you’re trying to get breastfeeding off to a really good start or to overcome problems. Be prepared with resources, come up with a plan, write down your goals inform those around you, whether it’s the pediatrician, your birth provider, your OB, your family, and your home, your friends and family outside of your home, your workplace. You know, really make sure that everybody understands what your plan is, what your goals are, and the ways that they can support you and those things. Because if you don’t communicate that they’re sort of left to assume they may offer unsolicited advice, they may not really know how to support you. So the more ways that you can inform them as to how to support you, the better you’re going to be supported by everything and everyone around you. So I would really encourage you if you’re looking for ways to prepare for breastfeeding. You know, learning more about what breastfeeding is actually like, if you’ve never done it before is always great. And like I said, exposing yourself to people who are currently breastfeeding videos of it. That’s always wonderful. Obviously positive good examples are going to be more helpful than negative ones. Joining something like the nurture collective where you have that peer to peer support, you get support from experts, you know myself, we have The ibclcs on our team and other you know, breastfeeding specialists, so educational modules, video videos, guides, you know, plan templates for you to fill out more access to resources, recommendations, all of that, you know, can be so invaluable for somebody. Any other kind of breastfeeding class that will, you know, answer those questions that you really shouldn’t get answered. And anything that you have connecting prenatally with an ibclc. 

 

And doing an appointment is not out of the question. You know, it’s something where we will go through your health history, we will go through any previous breastfeeding history you have any family history that you might have, we will go through your goals, we will make direct specific recommendations to you for products that you need ways to initiate breastfeeding, answer your specific questions, and then typically kind of be a little bit on call for you after you give birth. So unless you have a planned, you know, induction or C section date, you generally don’t know when you’re having the baby. But there’s some sort of estimated timeframe. Of course, you know, preemies do exist, right. But when you already have that established relationship, you’re already an established patient, and so much easier to get you in quicker to troubleshoot things, you know, between appointments to, you know, give you connect you with, you know, any other referrals or anything that you might need during that time, because we have your consent, we have your health history, and we know a bit more about your goals and your situation. So we can just, you know, get you the help you need a lot faster in that sort of sense. So just some thoughts for you, as you’re preparing to breastfeed, if you’re already into this journey. And you’re wondering, okay, well, how does this really apply to me? Just thinking of those questions, you know, to ask your healthcare providers about is really important. You know, if if the pediatrician says things to you like, well, your baby’s not getting enough. So I recommend using formula, and they give you some sort of supplementation plan. You know, one of the first questions I would say to ask is, why would you not recommend pumping? Why would you not recommend ways to increase my milk supply first and see how that goes? Maybe formula as a stopgap measure, but how do I know when I’m able to wean off of that formula supplementation, great, if they don’t know, which they’re typically not trained on because they’re there to treat children, not moms. But if they don’t know ways to support you in lactation, then ask them if they have any referrals for lactation consultants, or other providers that could possibly be helpful to them. If they don’t, I think it’s totally fair to let them know that that would be something that you would really appreciate, you know, as the parent of one of their patients that if they had some more resources for when these problems arise, I think, you know, letting them know, that would be really, really great in a non shameful angry way. That’s generally going to get your point across a lot better, but really advocating for yourself and say, Okay, I understand, you know, that you’re recommending using formula, I would like to see if I’m able to supplement with my own breast milk. So, you know, let’s try that first. If I’m not able to get enough, then you know, I think formula is is okay to use. But, you know, from there, I’d like a plan of, you know, how do I not use this for forever, if that’s a possibility? 

 

So having those open, honest discussions about what your goals are asking questions, you know, why are you recommending formula? How long do you plan on using this for just those forward thinking questions, you know, how soon do I need to follow up with you or somebody else to make sure that things are on track? You all of those are really, really great questions to ask. You know, pediatricians that push solid foods too early. You know, if they’re telling you, Hey, your baby’s four months, it’s time to start solid foods.

 

That’s really outdated advice, generally not very healthy. We should not be doing that with our babies. So I would say, Okay, why are we recommending something that has not been an evidence based practice? For quite some time? Is there a medical need for my baby to be starting solid foods at four months? If they need additional calories? Why would we not be getting those from some sort of infant milk, whether it’s breast milk or formula? And so you know, just really asking those questions, and trying to get as many detailed answers as you can. Because you want to feel comfortable with your providers recommendations, your provider wants to give you recommendations that you ultimately follow. And so if you don’t feel like you’re gonna follow those recommendations, I would, you know, certainly let them know and ask questions like, Hey, I don’t feel comfortable giving my baby solid foods at four months, because that’s not what’s currently recommended. And, you know, I’d like to understand more about why you’re suggesting that for my baby. Is this something you suggest for all babies? If it is, that’s a bit of a red flag that this person is probably not really up to date on infant feeding, and potentially maybe even being influenced by some commercial interests? I do see that quite a bit with baby food companies, unfortunately. 

 

So if you’re getting handouts that are branded with a baby food manufacturer, name and logo, then You probably have a pretty good idea of where your doctor is getting their information from, which is not up to date science and evidence based practice, you can always look into the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. You know, they have sort of protocols and guidelines for pretty much everything, solid foods, allergies, breastfeeding, and you can review those recommendations yourself, they’re pretty easy for the Layperson to read. And, you know, you can always discuss those with the pediatrician, you know, why are you suggesting deviating from you know, the AAP, American Academy of Pediatrics, you know, protocols on this particular issue, try to understand what is different about your baby’s individual care, that, you know, really wouldn’t apply to the majority of babies, if there is a suggestion that you’re feeling like is off, and maybe you’re uncomfortable with, so I would advocate for yourself, and that way, you know, if you’re truly having disagreements, or not getting good explanations, or you don’t feel like you’re getting evidence based care from your child’s pediatrician, you know, it’s absolutely okay to get a second opinion. It’s okay to consider changing, you know, I think sometimes it’s a personality issue. Other times, you know, it’s a training issue. And so, you know, there are quite a variety of pediatricians out there. They are all different people, they all have different experience, they all have different training. Yes, there are some standardized things. But I think it’s totally fine for you to want to seek a second opinion, what I don’t think is fine, is to have a bad experience with one doctor, and then write them off is an entire category of people to say, Well, I’m not going to go to a pediatrician anymore, because they don’t know anything about breastfeeding. Well, maybe yours doesn’t, okay, but there are others that do. And so I would really say that it’s not a good idea to discontinue while checks, or, you know, all of those types of things. And, you know, if you want to see a general practitioner or a family doctor, they can also treat babies, of course. So that may be a viable option. 

 

But going to other types of providers like chiropractors and things, they’re not primary care providers, they really don’t work with infectious disease, they’re not there to track milestones and growth and development, and many of the important things that pediatricians do. So whether or not yours can help with feeding whether or not you want them to help with feeding, I would just say that if you are having a negative experience, it’s okay to look elsewhere. But don’t write off that level of care altogether. And that also goes for lactation consultants, you know, I don’t know what it is about our fields that seems to be unique. But if somebody has a bad experience with a lactation consultant, be it in the hospital, be it in our private practice or an outpatient setting. They seem to think that we’re all the same. And we’re not, we are absolutely not all the same. It’s really, really frustrating. Many of our clients have already seen other lactation consultants by the time they get to us. And sadly, but also, obviously, it’s a nice compliment for us. And we feel really good about the care that we give. So many of our clients will say things like, Well, I wish I just met you from you know, from the very beginning, I wish I had worked with you and not, you know, these other lactation consultants, or you’ve told me things that no one else has, has said, you found things, you’ve explained things in a way that I finally understand. And it’s like, wow, you know, unfortunately, the level of care is not standardized. There’s a lot more variety in the field of lactation than a lot of other fields. And it’s not good, it’s not good for families. And you know, it’s not good for for the profession, because then you know, families kind of walk away from a negative experience or an unhelpful experience and go, Well, why would I hire someone else as a lactation consultants can be the same thing. Or families are convinced you know, that I’m not learning anything new that I couldn’t find out on YouTube and Google and mom’s groups. Wow, that’s a red flag. That is probably very much like a, you know, your lactation consultant does not have the skill set that you need to troubleshoot things. If you’re not finding any new answers than what you’ve been able to find. You know, just kind of, you know, searching the internet yourself. That’s a red flag. There should be an actual clinical assessment and clinical treatment plan that your ibclc is giving you. And do make sure you’re actually meeting with an ibclc if you’re meeting with a CLC, CLDC, CBS, any of these other acronyms that can come after someone’s name for meeting with anybody other than an ibclc. They are not trained in clinical lactation care. They are trained in breastfeeding, education and counseling, and that is really it. So there’s a big difference in somebody who has a board certification is actually a health care provider. Hinton’s when going an ibclc and somebody who has a certificate and they’ve taken an exam, and they’ve gotten some, you know, coursework under their belts. 

 

Huge, huge difference. It’s like a canyon that divides, you know, kind of those two camps of lactation supporters. So you know, if you are having what I would consider medical problems with breastfeeding, things like low milk supply, oversupply reflux, colic tongue tying on launching baby, you know, why mastitis, clogged ducts, nipple damage, you know anything that would not be considered normal unhealthy breastfeeding, then you really should be seeing an ibclc. And so making sure that you are seeing one, making sure that they do have an adequate skill set to help you, you may not have one in your local area that’s able to work with you in the way that you need them to, you may not have one at all in your local area. That’s why telehealth exists. We do telehealth we’ve worked with clients all over the world. In fact, someone on our team lives in another part of the world and is bilingual. That’s Gina, she was on the podcast not too long ago. She’s incredible. But you know, there are so many options for you know, virtual care that really are very, very similar to getting in person care. In fact, most of the time, we talked about this a bit in the episode where Katie Hearn on our team was on the podcast, even more recently than Gina, so check out her episode. But we talked about this how, you know, as really good lactation consultants, we do not want you to do the work for you, we do not want to lapse that baby for you. Because when you leave our presence, we want to make sure that you know how to watch that baby yourself, that you know how to do these things on your own if we are doing it for you. And now you’re supposed to go home and do this eight or 12 times a day on your own. And you don’t feel like you know how to do this, we have taken away your self efficacy, we’ve taken away your ability to improve breastfeeding, right? Like we don’t want to do that for you. So a lot of people think, 

 

Oh, well, virtual care is not as good as in person care. And I’m like, there’s not a whole lot different that we do in person with you, we’re closer, and we can see more accurately. And we can, you know, help guide you physically with our hands and, you know, maybe visually demonstrate things, you know, with a little more detail and nuance. But we’re not doing the work for you, we are not going to pump milk for you, we are going to teach you how to pump, we’re not going to latch that baby for you, we are going to teach you had a lab that baby, we will examine Of course, their oral function, and all of that and their oral anatomy, but we can also teach you how to do that and walk you through that assessment and guide you and give you our professional clinical observations on that all without being in person with you. So just some important considerations for you to make, as you go about trying to improve your breastfeeding journey prepare for it all of that. So yeah,

 

I would just say that, you know, breastfeeding is the thing that is advocated for, it’s this thing that we know, we’re supposed to try and do, it’s this thing that is, you know, really kind of the the goal that we’re all supposed to have. But very often the reason why people first fall short of those goals are, you know, not not having good expectations about what the climate is really like for getting support, and education, especially when there’s challenges, not knowing ways to advocate for yourself, not knowing how to set yourself up for success with, you know, delegating, deleting, delaying other things that may, you know, be barriers to breastfeeding for you. So, if you can even just mentally think about those things and kind of just go through, you know, kind of your routine and your lifestyle and all of that. And just think of ways like how can I make sure that I’m optimizing my breastfeeding experience and my you know, increasing my chances of being successful and meeting my goals. That’s a great mental exercise to do maybe something to journal about maybe something to discuss with your your partner, or family member or friends. Because that kind of planning and that kind of thought process goes a long way for you to succeed at breastfeeding. And I believe that you get to define your own breastfeeding success. I don’t think it looks the same for everyone. You know, successful breastfeeding is not never pumping and nursing your baby at the breast and nursing until they’re five years old. That’s not what successful breastfeeding looks like for everybody. It can be for some people might not be for you. So maybe it’s exclusive pumping, maybe it’s combo feeding, maybe it’s, you know, breastfeeding until six months, whatever it is. I think that it’s always unique to not just you but you and your baby. And you two are this you know, connected dyad that you’re two totally different humans. And even if you’ve done this before with another baby, you haven’t done it with this baby. And so just you know, reminding yourself of those things that everyone is different, and trying not to match your lived experience with the lived experience of someone else. So I hope you found this episode helpful, insightful, maybe even encouraging and inspirational. And if you did, please stay subscribed to the show. We’ve got weekly episodes coming out for you every Wednesday, and I’m excited to see what the next up 100 episodes holds. We’ve got some incredible guest speakers, experts, moms sharing their personal journeys of breastfeeding and some more solo episodes coming your way. So thanks for listen Winning. And if you’ve enjoyed the show, leave us a review on Apple podcasts. You can also leave us a star rating over on Spotify. We’ve got some polls and q&a over there for every episode that you can answer as well.

In this episode, Jacqueline shares the best ways to get breastfeeding help, support, and care for you and your baby. She shares her best tips for breastfeeding success and how to find the right providers. 

Jacqueline dives deep into preparation for breastfeeding and how to prepare prenatally. She also shares how to get started breastfeeding and the importance of breastmilk. 

 

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Best ways you can prepare for breastfeeding
  • Tips on preparing for breastfeeding
  • How to find lactation support and what questions to ask
  • How to get started breastfeeding

A glance at this episode:

  • [2:35] Breastfeeding class and its benefits
  • [6:58] Nipple pain
  • [14:34] How to prepare for lactation support
  • [17:52] How to prepare for breastfeeding prenatally
  • [20:12] Advice for other moms who are breastfeeding
  • [26:26] Where to start with breastfeeding
  • [30:13] How to prepare for lactation
  • [33:23] The importance of breastmilk
  • [40:02] How breastfeeding can be a time saver
  • [43:27] How to get started with breastfeeding
  • [46:33] Questions to ask your healthcare providers
  • [52:21] Red flags for lactation consultants
  • [55:26] Why telehealth is so important

Related Links:

  • Holistic Lactation Website
  • Discount on Products Use Code ‘PODCAST15’
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  • Book an Appointment
  • ? If you are truly struggling with breastmilk production, check out our Advanced Lactation Formula supplement or consider booking a Low Milk Supply Consultation or Pumping Consultation with us
  • ?If you are experiencing clogged ducts, engorgement or mastitis, check out our Lactation Flow Formula supplement or consider booking a General Breastfeeding Consultation with us
  • ? Looking for more trusted knowledge and a deep dive on how to know what’s what with breastfeeding and how to overcome problems? Check out our support community The Nurture Collective®