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Hospital Birth Step #8: Initiating & Maintaining Breastfeeding

Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:19
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Your decision about how to feed your newborn doesn’t seem like it would have any bearing on birthing in a hospital. If you plan to breastfeed, it is essential to make this decision and stick to it once your baby is born in the hospital. Breast milk is far superior to formula, (watch this video to see why).

The key to successful breastfeeding after a hospital birth is making your choices known, and knowing how choices during labor may affect breastfeeding.  Here are some things to think about that may help you in the first few days while you’re getting the hang of nursing.

If you are planning to breastfeed, make sure you inform the staff and explicitly ask that they not give your baby ANY formula or pacifiers. It is also advisable to have the baby room in with you so that you can nurse on cue so that your milk comes in as quickly as possible. Artificial nipples are “easier” to suckle from than the natural nipple as the flow is immediate and constant. If you introduce artificial nipples before the nursing relationship is well established, the baby may become lazy or developnipple confusion when nursing from you since it requires a stronger suck.

Medications used during labor, including narcotics and epidurals, have the potential to cause a newborn to be drowsy and have some difficulties latching. These pain relief interventions can cross the placenta to your baby. I personally did not have this experience, and many moms don’t, but it should be a factor when weighing the risks and benefits of choosing pain relief during labor.

Immediate skin to skin contact and initiation of breastfeeding will facilitate the nursing relationship. Insist on immediate skin to skin contact (have your baby placed on your chest as soon as he/she is born) and initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible.  See if your baby does thebreast crawl . Your new baby may not suckle for long, but the sooner you start the sooner your little one will get the hang of it!

Utilize the lactation consultant. Most hospitals have acertified lactation consultant on staff during the day.  If you are a first time mom breastfeeding (or a mom who didn’t before and wants to now), it will likely help to have one of these wonderful women come give you a hand.  They will watch you nurse and give you suggestions about different holding positions, as well as how to get the baby to initially latch correctly.  Nursing shouldn’t hurt, but it can be uncomfortable at first.  They can help you figure out if difficulties are a problem with your technique. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if you need to ask multiple times.  The time I spent with the lactation consultant in the hospital after my first son was born helped IMMENSELY!

If you want to breastfeed but you can’t (such as baby is in the NICU), request a pump IMMEDIATELY. Hospitals havehospital grade pumps available.  If you can’t nurse your baby on demand, request a pump and start pumping as soon as possible.  While it may not be the way you’d like to feed the baby, it is the next best thing. Especially if your baby needs special care , your baby will benefit from having thecolostrum that was meant for him.  The colostrum has a number of health benefits and its natural origin is far superior to formula. Your baby does not need any more nutrition than colostrum the until your milk comes in, and then breastmilk is all your baby will need for atleast six months.

Let your baby nurse as much as s/he wants to. Let’s face it; you’re in the hospital with nurses to get you whatever you want, no laundry or dishes to do, and a remote controlled bed.  While most people don’t “enjoy” the hospital, take advantage of the time you have here to focus on your nursing relationship with the baby.  The more practice both of you get, the more quickly both of you will get the hang of it.  Keeping the baby on the breast as well as skin to skin will promote your milk production, as well as help facilitate your bonding. Here’s ahandy sign to put on your hospital door, or your front door.

If you are planning to return to work, here are some tips to consider.

Once you’re home, keep nursing on demand as much as you can. Everyone’s milk comes in at different times.  If your baby is 3 days old and your milk hasn’t come in, don’t stress when your best friend says she got her milk 36 hours after birth.  Everyone’s body is different.  If you are concerned about your supply for some reason (your baby isn’t gaining as much weight as the pediatrician is expecting, or your baby is not nursing for very long), consult a certified lactation consultant.  It is rare that a mom simply “doesn’t make enough milk.”  More often, mom’s supplies don’t build up enough (or drop) because the baby is not nursing properly.  Lactation consultants are trained to evaluate mom and baby, and identify a problem that is inhibiting supply. It is also important to keep a diaper log as that can give you and the consultant/physician a better idea of baby’s intake, and your supply.

Surround yourself with supportive people. This goes with everything birth related, but it is especially helpful when you have people who support your choices standing behind you.  Breastfeeding is natural and the best way to meet your baby’s nutritional needs.  Don’t let people with negative attitudes or snide comments about you pumping or nursing in public dissuade you.  If you begin to feel like it is too much work and frustration, join online or real life mom groups where nursing is supported and even promoted.  I found a great deal of support and courage when I connected with other moms who were nursing and facing similar challenges.  You are not alone; the more you support and inform yourself, the more likely you are to be successful.

Everyone knows that “Breast is Best,” but there are some reasons you may not be able to, (or may choose not to) breastfeed such as if you need to take certain medications that transfer to breast milk which are not safe for the baby, (such as antipsychotic medications.) While there are a number of medications deemed “safe” by the FDA and WHO, there are a number of medications that are not safe, or have not been studied enough for these organizations to claim that they are safe.  It is important to remember that even though many drugs are deemed safe, the safest choice is to not take medications unless absolutely necessary.  If you aren’t sure how necessary a medication is, you should discuss the necessity with your primary care doctor, OB/Midwife, AND the pediatrician.  All of them can provide valuable information and insight that will help you make the decision.<br><br> Everyone knows that “Breast is Best,” but there are some reasons you may not be able to, (or may choose not to) breastfeed such as if you need to take certain medications that transfer to breast milk which are not safe for the baby, (such as antipsychotic medications.) While there are a number of medications deemed “safe” by the FDA and WHO, there are a number of medications that are not safe, or have not been studied enough for these organizations to claim that they are safe.  It is important to remember that even though many drugs are deemed safe, the safest choice is to not take medications unless absolutely necessary.  If you aren’t sure how necessary a medication is, you should discuss the necessity with your primary care doctor, OB/Midwife, AND the pediatrician.  All of them can provide valuable information and insight that will help you make the decision.

If you are considering formula over nursing, I would encourage you to do as much research as possible before you finalize your decision. Despite popular belief, formula is not considered second best; formula is LAST on the list of recommended ways to feed a newborn, (behind pumping,making your own formula, or using donor milk).

Go back to Step #7: Planning for Labor

Go ahead to: Step #9: Postpartum Recovery

Go to Birthing Methods Menu

Read 11752 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 09:43

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