I’m pregnant and having a lot of anxiety about breastfeeding. How should I prepare?
A lot of people think breastfeeding is natural. But in reality, those first three weeks are rough.
Breastfeeding is like a dance between mother and baby. The mom has to learn the steps, and each child is different. So, with every child, the mom has to learn new steps.
If you’re struggling, reach out for help. A lot of times it’s just a minor change in the steps, and you’re off.
Thankfully, there are many resources available to help new “dancers” learn their moves. At Hoag, for example, IBCLC registered nurses visit new mothers in the maternity department within the first 48 hours after delivery to answer questions and offer assistance.
The importance of hearing from highly trained lactation consultants can make all the difference in breastfeeding success.
The No. 1 reason why moms quit breastfeeding is nipple trauma. If they know ahead of time what a latch should feel like, it will save their nipples from getting cracked and bleeding. If we can help moms early, they have a higher chance of succeeding.
Among the most common — and helpful — advice lactation consultants offer include:
Get educated. Education gives you strategies to set yourself up for success at home. After you give birth, you’ll have assistance in the hospital and our lactation office is always here for you. But taking classes while you’re still pregnant can help you make an informed decision about whether you want to breastfeed, and how to confidently approach breastfeeding if you decide it’s right for you.
Be patient. Getting it “right” takes some work, even if you’re not new to breastfeeding. One common issue we see is frustration among second- or third-time moms who expect immediate success.
Don’t worry if the baby is not hungry at first. Not all babies are interested in feeding in the first 24 hours. When the baby decides he or she is hungry, you won’t be able to get him or her off the breast.
The Hoag OB Education Department offers online livestream classes every month, including a four-week breastfeeding support group series for new mothers.
We are also introducing a livestream class about the safety of breastfeeding if you have COVID-19. I am particularly excited about this class because it discusses the safety precautions a mother can take if she becomes infected with the disease, as well as information about the importance of continuing to breastfeed with COVID.
As much as we support the natural and beautiful “dance” of breastfeeding, we know that sometimes “natural” doesn’t come naturally. To avoid frustration, anxiety — and injured nipples — please remember there are expert lactation consultants available just a click or a call away who can help.
Karen Daniels has 30 years of experience in maternal child nursing at Hoag — 20 years as a staff nurse on the mother/baby unit and then 11 years as a certified lactation consultant.
(Opening Photo Courtesy of Wes Hicks/Unsplash)