When you’re a new parent, it’s so hard to know what to do when everyone is telling you something different. As a Fort Collins Certified Lactation Counselor, I see this all the time – Google is telling you one thing, your doctor is telling you another, and the hospital staff tells you something else entirely. Especially when it comes to breastfeeding, everyone has an opinion with good intentions, and navigating all of it is tricky.
If breastfeeding is important to you, I’m here to help you learn to advocate for yourself and communicate your desire to do so to the hospital staff and your doctor. In this blog, I’ll be covering what to say and what to do if breastfeeding doesn’t go as smoothly as you hoped in the first few days.
But before I do so, know this – if breastfeeding is not for you, no worries. You get to decide what works for you and what doesn’t. I’m here to support you in whatever way you need, even if you choose bottle-feeding. Judgment is not my style, and this blog is only for those who want to breastfeed but don’t know how to advocate for that.
Before you even have the baby, it’s important to make it clear from the get-go that breastfeeding is important to you, and don’t be afraid to stand firm in that decision. There will be people that try to get you to pump or try formula as a stop-gap measure, but the more you advocate for yourself, the more successful your breastfeeding journey will be.
And for the record, all decisions should be made with a careful balance of your sanity, baby safety, and survival. There is no one right way to do things and things might change once the baby is here. But when it comes to breastfeeding, less is more.
As you prepare for the arrival of your baby, make sure to advocate for yourself in the following ways. As a Fort Collins Certified Lactation Counselor, here’s what I’ve found to work the best:
- Get your partner on board – Having a partner that’s just as invested in your breastfeeding journey as you, will be a big part of your success. They can support you as you learn the ropes and help advocate for this method when you’re tired and fresh out of labor.
- Communicate your plans clearly and effectively – When you’re speaking with your doctor and nurses, make sure they know that you want to exclusively breastfeed. And make sure you know why breastfeeding is important to you. This will set the tone in the room and will hopefully encourage them to support your goals.
- Do lots and lots of skin-to-skin – One of the biggest detriments to breastfeeding is when people are too busy to spend the time to breastfeed. I know it’s hard to make the time among laundry, other kids, work, and so forth but the first few weeks are really crucial. If you can spend at least the first two weeks postpartum in bed, feeding and doing skin-to-skin that helps so much with your recovery and your breastfeeding relationship. The laundry can wait!
- Don’t give up – Breastfeeding will be hard in the beginning, but if it’s important to you, don’t give up easily. Keep after it and keep trying. You will figure this out, it might just take a couple of days. Make sure you are utilizing your support team to get you through.
- Get good at hand expression – especially in the early days before your milk comes in. Hand expression is an excellent way to give a baby nourishment and help bring your milk in too. Babies lose weight in the first few days of life and that makes hospitals nervous. So In those early days (starting minutes/hours after your baby is born), offer the breast to your baby and hand express several times a day. This will allow you to keep your baby’s weight up and help your milk come in. And if there is any separation between you and baby hand expression is so helpful to give to the baby and help your milk come in if you don’t have baby breastfeeding. Nipples need lots of stimulation and you’ll get a better oxytocin release from hand expressing colostrum than you do pumping which means MORE MILK and longer-term breastfeeding success. Watch this video to learn more. You can hand expression on your elbow before the baby is born.
- Cup/Syringe/Spoon feeding – If your baby isn’t latching well or has a delay in breastfeeding you can still give them the colostrum you’ve hand expressed. Every drop is helpful for a baby, especially in the early days. Instead of using a bottle in those first several days use a spoon baby can lick, a cup or, try syringe feeding. This limits the interference for breastfeeding when your baby is ready to latch.
Join a breastfeeding support group
Another good way to get breastfeeding support to sustain your journey is to join a breastfeeding support group. There are many in the area:
- Women’s Clinic Breastfeeding Support Group
- PVH Breastfeeding Support Group
- McKee Breastfeeding Support Group
- MCR Breastfeeding Support Group
And for my clients, I offer a private breastfeeding/postpartum support group (held virtually at the moment) on Monday mornings at 10 AM.
Call me – Your Fort Collins Certified Lactation Counselor
If you feel like you need more individualized help, I’m here for you!
As a Fort Collins Certified Lactation Counselor, I offer one-on-one lactation services to meet your individual needs. I’m an ALPP Certified Lactation Counselor, and I bring a stress-free approach to help you meet all your breastfeeding goals. Whether it’s in your home or at the hospital, I’ll observe your breastfeeding/latch and address your individual concerns to best help you. At the end of our session, you’ll get a specialized plan to help you establish your breastfeeding journey.
Hire a doula
And of course, if you want more support during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period – including breastfeeding – I’m here for you. Hiring a doula is proven to make the birthing process more favorable for mom and baby. I’ll be there to help you advocate for your goals, including breastfeeding.
Please contact me with questions or to set up a free initial consultation.