What a Lactation Consultant Tells Her Friends About Breastfeeding
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Ochsner Baton Rouge.
Tell Me How You Really Feel.
I wouldn’t be an International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiner (LBLCE) unless I believed in the power of breastfeeding as the ideal way to provide nutrition to your baby. However, I meet women every day who have decided to formula feed, or breast and formula feed.
Sometimes, it’s because a mother has had a bad experience breastfeeding a previous child. Sometimes no one in her family has breastfed, or she doesn’t think she’ll be able to provide breastmilk when she returns to work. Sometimes, she just doesn’t want to.
Regardless of the reason, all mothers have the right to decide how they will feed their babies. My job is to give you the information that will help you to succeed with your decision. Whatever your goals, concerns or questions are regarding breastfeeding, let your lactation consultant know! If we don’t know how you really feel about feeding your baby, we can help you to make the right decisions to lead you to success, whatever your goals may be.
You Will Be Tired. You Might Be Exhausted.
Imagine running a marathon and then trying to learn how to basket weave after. Nope. All you want is a hamburger and a nap. That’s what it can be like trying to learn how to breastfeed after labor and delivery.
Learning a new skill can always be challenging, and you and your baby will be learning together. This is the first thing you will ever teach your baby. Remember to be patient with yourself. Also, it is important that you allow yourself the time to be with your baby, uninterrupted by visitors, at least until after the first feeding. If you have a hard time saying no, ask your nurse to convey the message to your family.
Hand Expression is Usually the Answer.
Hand expression is exactly what it sounds like: using your hands to remove milk from your breasts. In the colostrum phase, this can be very effective, usually more effective than a pump.
Hand expression is useful if you need to provide extra calories to your baby for any reason (such as latch difficulties, babies born slightly early, babies born to diabetic mothers, babies who are large and small for their ages, etc.). Later in your breastfeeding relationship, hand expression can help to relieve engorgement, remove a clogged milk duct or soften your breasts.
Commitment and Support are Everything.
I want to tell you about two women I know very well. They were both pregnant at the same time and both asked me for advice. One told me that she had read every book about breastfeeding she could get her hands on because she wanted to feel prepared. The other told me that she wanted to learn how to breastfeed by instinct, and “I’ll just call you if I need help.” Both women successfully breastfed their babies for a year.
The two things they had in common? They were going to breastfeed, no matter what, and they knew who they could call if they had problems. That’s the secret. If there is no one in your life who can give you advice and support for breastfeeding, consider the resources offered by your hospital. At Ochsner Baton Rouge, we offer prenatal classes and prenatal consultations for free, daily lactation support in the hospital, a monthly support group for breastfeeding moms, pump rentals, a telephone warmline and consults. We can also direct you to even more resources within your community. Call 225-755-4448 for more information. You’re not alone. We can help!
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Genevieve is an International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiner (IBCLC) at Ochsner Baton Rouge. She became a NICU nurse after volunteering as a baby rocker at Ochsner in New Orleans nearly a decade ago. She graduated with an English degree from Tulane University and still spends a lot of time at the library. Genevieve and her husband Dalton live in Baton Rouge with their toddler, Patrick.