Encouraging Positive Breastfeeding Experiences

A few weeks ago I decided to give an Instagram update on my personal breastfeeding journey. At the time, I my son and I had made it two years. This is a huge feat, especially since I am a member of the black community. Because I received such a wonderful amount of positive feedback, I feel the need to transform that update into a blog post. The following are a few tips that helped encourage a positive breastfeeding experience for me and my son.

Have a plan.

Yes I know plans don’t always work out BUT having a plan increases the likelihood of a pleasant breastfeeding experience. When reviewing your birth plan with your care provided, be sure to emphasize your plan whether it be to breastfeed immediately and on demand, every two hours, pump, supplement or only offer formula. Then, when arriving to the hospital or birth center, restate your plan and rest easy knowing that everyone understands your wants.

Skin to skin.

If you are able, it is recommended that you hold your baby, skin to skin, for at least one hour immediately after birth. This helps to build the mother-baby bond we hold so dear to our hearts. If you are not able to hold baby right after birth, be sure to initiate skin to skin whenever you are able. Babies enter the world completely nourished through the placenta and most are not hungry right after birth. However, breast milk possesses a familiar smell to newborns that attracts them to the breast. Even if baby is not hungry, they are likely to smell breast milk and latch on their own. Isn’t that amazing?!!

Your Colostrum is Enough

During pregnancy, mothers develop their first milk called colostrum which secretes after baby is born and continues to be produced for the next few days. This first milk is small in volume but tremendous in benefits! So, even if your breasts do not feel full, you are still creating colostrum. What’s more, baby’s stomachs are only about the size of a large marble AND they enter this world completely fed and nourished through the placenta. Although some hospitals will offer formula as a supplement, rest assured that this is not needed unless there are valid medical reasons. Know that you and your baby are all you need to create a successful breastfeeding experience!  

Understand Latching

It is important to understand that no two breastfeeding stories are the same, however many mothers face similar troubles and worries. In some situations, the first latch is dead on perfection and other time, difficult and frustrating. To help baby latch follow these simple steps:

  1. Get comfortable!

  2. Hold baby tummy to tummy, with her nose across your nipple.

  3. Tickle babies upper lip with your nipple until her mouth is open wide like a yawn

  4. Pull baby in close so that she takes in as much breast as possible

  5. Check to make sure baby’s mouth is wide, lips are flared out, and chin is touching your breast

  6. If you feel the latch is too shallow or you feel ANY pain, remove baby from breast from the breast by inserting your finger at the corner of baby’s mouth and sliding it to the other side. Then rest, relax, regroup, and try again.

Know the Signs

It is easy to get caught up in the idea that a mother’s intuition is always present. Rest assured that that was not the case for me and many, many other mothers. It is natural to not be sure if your baby is hungry, full or getting enough milk in general. Below are a few signs to look for when asking yourself these questions.

Signs baby is hungry:

  • Crying, although a sign of many things, can most likely mean baby is hungry especially if baby is dry, warm and otherwise comfortable.

  • Baby opens mouth, sticks out tongue or makes sucking sounds or movements.

  • Baby brings hands to his or her mouth

  • Baby turns towards breast or begins rubbing face on the breast.

Signs baby is full:

  • Closed lips

  • Spitting out the nipple or falling asleep

  • Turning head away from breast

  • Stopping of sucking when latched

Signs baby is getting enough milk:

  • Hearing a “suck-swallow-breath” pattern and seeing baby’s jaws moving in long, slow movements.

  • Softening of your breast and feeling relaxed, sleepy or thirsty

  • Baby seems relaxed and happy when nursing

  • OUTPUT- baby is producing an adequate amount of urine for their age, i.e. 1 wet diaper on day one, 2 wet diapers on day two, 3-4 wet diapers on day three, 8-10 wet diapers from day 5+

Remember, breastfeeding is a learned experience for mother and baby. It is important to remain patient, focused and relaxed! It is okay to take breaks here and there to regroup but remember, you got this!

Failure to Progress: My Body Will Give Birth In Its Own Time

Times Have Changed: Virtual Doula