The time is coming! Your baby is almost here! You’ve probably heard about making a Birth Plan to guide those helping you through labor and delivery know what’s important to you for your birth experience. If you haven’t thought about a birth plan, I would highly recommend it! There are websites that offer free templates to get you started. It’s a great way to let the doctors, nurses, and even your partner know your needs and wants for you and your new baby. I would also suggest adding your needs and wants about breastfeeding in your birth plan! This article is focused on tips that help you get breastfeeding off to a good start! You’ll notice that I start with labor and delivery. Many do not realize how much of what happens during labor and delivery can effect breastfeeding in the beginning. The tips below will help get breastfeeding started on the right track!
During Labor and Delivery:
- Move around into different positions. Avoid laying on your back as much as possible, this can slow down labor. Use movement and gravity to help bring your baby down. If you feel like being on the bed get on your hands and knees, again this helps by using gravity to your advantage.
- If you feel like making sounds, make them count by keeping them deep low sounds. Make them come from your abdomen. This helps you feel more in control and focuses. Tell your partner to remind you to go low if they catch you making your sounds are high and in your throat.
- Keep your mouth open and jaw loose. This translates into more opening in the birth canal.
- Avoid I.V’s if possible. Many hospitals put an I.V. in as soon as your admitted. This can tie you down to the bed and make it difficult to move around into different positions as much as possible. You can always get the port in, but not have it attached to the fluid unless absolutely necessary.
- Eat to hunger and drink to thirst. This can help keep your energy up! Pack some energy bars/ snacks.
- The less amount of hospital interventions during labor and deliver the better for breastfeeding after the baby is born. If they want to give you an intervention (like inducing labor with Pitocin to speed things up, break your bag of waters, constant I.V. fluids), I like to tell mom’s to ask the question “What happens if we wait?” this gives the nurses and Dr.’s the opportunity to give you an actual thought out answer instead of a canned answer they tell every mom. This gives you more information so you can make a better decision on whether the intervention is right for you or not. Sometimes interventions are needed, many times they’re not and it’s more about the hospital “moving you along faster”, don’t feel like you need to have your baby by their clock!
- Right after baby is born have them put him/her to your chest skin-to-skin. They can do all the baby checks on your chest.
- Have them wait to cut the cord until it stops pulsating. This allows amazing nutrients (such as Iron) to enter back into your baby’s body.
Within the First Hour:
- Having your baby on your chest skin-to-skin with a light blanket over the both of you allows your baby’s natural instincts to breastfeed to kick in! Avoid swaddling at this time, it’s not needed. Your body helps to regulate your baby’s heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. Letting your baby’s hands be free to touch your breast, smell her hands, move her body around, and root will help her find the breast and tell you she’s ready to nurse. Babies are at their most alert state within that first golden hour! =) Watch this “Breast Crawl” video. I love that it shows the baby’s natural instincts to find the breast and also that it can take time and that’s OK!
- Breastfeed baby within the first hour!
- Babies need very little colostrum in the beginning. Here is a great article with a perfect picture showing amounts vs. the size of a newborns tummy. http://babiesfirstlactation.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/the-newborns-stomach/
- Take advantage of getting help from the Lactation Consultant on staff at the hospital. Keep in mind breastfeeding should not hurt. Get help as soon as possible with the latch if you are experiencing any pain.
- I would suggest putting a sign in your baby’s hospital bassinet “I’m a Breastfeeder in Training! Please Do Not Give Me Any Pacifiers or Bottles. Just give me to my mommy so I can keep practicing! Thank you! Love, Baby”. I’ve even heard of mom’s putting something like this saying onto baby’s onesie and hat to wear in the hospital!
- Room in with your baby as much as possible, keep baby on you Skin-to-Skin as much as possible, and any baby checks done either on your chest or on your partners chest.
- Baby’s first bath does not need to happen right away. Studies show babies use their sense of smell to find the breast. The smell on their hands from after birth helps guide them to the breast.
I hope there is something helpful in here to get you off to a beautiful start with breastfeeding!
Great videos on Positioning and Latching:
Other helpful resources: