You've given birth, you think the hard part is over, but now you are meant to feed your baby. Do you know how your baby is supposed to eat? I didn't! All I knew was that I was supposed to breastfeed my baby and I expected he would just latch perfectly. If that didn't happen, that meant I would simply switch to a bottle with formula and not breastfeed.
I am here to tell you this is not how it is supposed to be!!
Breastfeeding is a skill you are meant to teach your baby. But how can you be expected to teach something you know nothing about? That is where I come in. One of my roles as an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is to educate expecting parents how to breasfeed their babies before they give birth. In my Prenatal Education Sessions I teach you what a good latch looks like, sounds like and how to tell whether baby is effectively drinking milk or not. This way, in those first few days, you have an idea of what to expect and how to deal with some possible struggles on your own right off the bat. I also teach different feeding positions, tips and tricks to help you get through the first week, and when to contact me or another IBCLC for additional support if needed.
One of the biggest tips I teach parents is that breastfeeding is a skill. So right off the bat, if things aren't perfect, do not get discouraged!
The most important thing you can do for your baby is to protect your milk supply. If you protect your milk supply by removing milk every 2-3 hours around the clock once baby is born, whether it be by nursing, pumping, hand expressing or all of the above, you can teach your baby the skill of nursing later.
I have had plenty of clients over the years who are larger chested women who gave birth to babies whose mouths were too small to actually open fully and get a deep effective latch. I taught these women to work with their babies to get through these challenges. They pumped and fed their babies their breastmilk until they grew. I had one mother who exclusively pumped and bottle fed breastmilk (no formula supplementation) until her baby was 4 months old. From birth to 4 months, they practiced nursing at the breast with a nipple shield whenever mom felt compelled, they bottle fed in a way that mimicked breastfeeding to continue that bond that babies and mothers crave and her baby successfully grew. So then at 4 months old, when she went in for a practice nursing session, but she forgot her nipple shield, she tried anyway and baby nursed perfectly! Mom knew right off the bat that he had it right, it felt right, she heard the gulps that were expected, and he was so content. Ever since then, they switch from exclusively pumping and bottle feeding to exclusely breastfeeding!! So even 4 months after birth, breastfeeding can initiated and work! Some babies just need time.
I know this scenario may not sound ideal, and that is ok. This situation may not be something you can or want to sustain. But I want to make all parents aware, that if you want to breastfeed, there are ways to make it work!
My goal as a lactation consultant is to teach you what to expect, then after baby is born, we assess how baby is feeding and discuss all the avenues you have to make breastfeeding work for YOU and your FAMILY. ☺️