I recently did newborn photos for a colleague who works at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta as a lactation consultant and knowing how many of my clients struggle with breastfeeding, I asked her to write a post on the benefits of breastfeeding. Here are Nicki's top five things she feels any new mom should know about breastfeeding their newborn baby.
Article written by: Nicki Cutrone, Lactation Consultant
Whether you're preparing for parenthood, or in the depths of it, if you breast fed your children or supported your breastfeeding partner, or if you don't know anything about breastfeeding, this list is for you. Here are 5 things you should know- from a Lactation Consultant, about breastfeeding (if you're a human being).
1. Even though breastfeeding is natural; it isn’t easy. You might think that because breastfeeding is a biological norm, it’s something we’re programmed to do without any intervention. The truth is, breastfeeding can take a lot of work- but babies are a lot of work anyway, aren’t they? It’s something you have to be very motivated to do to be successful. If you knew you had to make milk for your baby to survive how would your motivation change? Knowing that we have formula and shared breastmilk to catch us if we fall, gives a blanket of security that can cause us to not reach our breastfeeding goals. That security blanket is both a blessing and a curse! Most moms doubt their milk supply during the first weeks postpartum and lots try to offer formula in case their milk supply isn’t enough. But this can set you up for failure. The best remedy for self-doubt is to seek the help of a Lactation Consultant.
2. Lactation Consultants are like shoes. If one doesn’t fit, try another. Don’t let a single person ruin your breastfeeding experience. Every IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) has a unique experience and perspective. And while we’re all different, our goal should always be the same: to help a family achieve success in breastfeeding - no matter what that looks like. Sometimes a particular experience or personality is just not a good fit, and that’s ok! As a parent, it’s your right to breastfeed your baby and it’s your right to advocate for both of you. While still at the hospital, ask for another Lactation Consultant. If you are at home, go to Zipmilk.org to find an IBCLC in your area. Try again!
3. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing. Every drop of milk is valuable, and chasing it with formula doesn’t change that. Occasionally some women can’t make a full milk supply, no matter how hard they try. And some women don’t desire to make a full milk supply. AND THAT’S OK. Every family gets to choose how they feed their babies. Formula feeding to supplement mom’s milk doesn’t negate the benefits of breastmilk feeding! The first rule of caring for mom and baby is to make sure the baby gets fed.
4. Every single person can breastfeed. It looks different for everyone. No matter the breast size, nipple size, nipple shape- you can breastfeed. Even with mastectomy, breast augmentation, reduction, if you adopted your baby or are transgender- you can breastfeed. We all do it differently.
5. Pumping is breastfeeding too. You can want your baby to get all the benefits of breastmilk and not have any desire to breastfeed. Just like breastfeeding, pumping (especially exclusive pumping) is no easy feat. But it's a great option if you don’t want to breastfeed, have trouble with breastfeeding, or if your baby is unable to feed at the breast. Pumping isn't a second best choice, it's just a great way to feed a baby.
Thanks for reading this list! Please comment with questions
Nicki Cutrone is a lactation consultant and owner of Essential Lactation. For more articles about breatfeeding, check out her blog at thelongwaymom.wordpress.com and follow her on Facebook @ELSalpharetta and on Instagram @essentiallactation. She will be happy to provide advice on breastfeeding