by Judy M. Schneider
FIVE CONSISTENT BREASTFEEDING MESSAGES
Frustrated new moms complain that “everyone tells me something different”. The more a mom hears about breastfeeding, the wider the diversity of information. This undermines the confidence of a mom…especially her first time breastfeeding. Conflicting information can drive a sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, foggy-brained mom to quit because she does not know what to do. Here are five consistent messages moms require before that first breastfeeding.
Message 1: Breastfeed early and often.
Breastfeeding is like a dance between Mother and Baby, and they need support while they are learning the dance. A mother should know to breastfeed early and often. That means right after birth, Baby should go to Mom’s breast. Keeping Mom and Baby together skin to skin helps both ‘dancers’ learn this normal, natural skill. The instincts for learning are strong right after birth when snuggled skin to skin with quiet time to be together. Various medical emergencies can keep this from happening immediately, but usually the crisis is brief. Mom and Baby need to be together as soon as possible. At first there are small droplets of super liquid gold, colostrum. The two new dance partners learn by practice. In the early weeks, Baby needs an average of ten to twelve daily feedings.
Message 2: Mom and Baby should be comfortable.
Mom and Baby should be comfortable during the breastfeeding dance. Baby should open mouth very wide, like a yawn, so that one and one half inches of the pigmented tissue beyond the nipple is taken into Baby’s mouth. Mom needs to hold Baby very close. A well latched baby’s suck should feel ‘stretchy and tuggy’, not ‘pinchy and bitey’. It may take Mom and Baby some time in the early days to latch properly. If it hurts, then use your finger to release, and then seek a wider, deeper latch so Baby’s chin touches Mom’s breast. Many moms need to be shown by a lactation consultant how to realize a deep, comfortable latch. When needing help for comfort, find help; do not suffer with a painful latch which may lead to more difficult problems.
Message 3: Nothing but breast until Mom and Baby are experts.
It is ideal to offer nothing but breast until Mom and Baby are experts. It is best to avoid bottles and pacifiers, especially at first, since these may confuse Baby's sucking and reduce Mom’s milk supply. Mother’s milk alone is all most babies need, but reality is not perfect, so a family may face difficulties. Babies are sometimes given bottles for complications in birth recovery and for ongoing difficult circumstances. Problems latching can be created due to the unjustified introduction of bottles as a quick fix to latching or feeding issues. Avoid this if you can, but if life throws you breastfeeding challenges, find an expert who can help fix the issue.
Message 4: Look for signs of plenty of milk.
The number one reason mothers stop breastfeeding is because they think they don’t have enough milk. It is critical that a new mom recognize the signs of plenty of milk. Signs of enough milk include:
1. Hearing swallowing sounds starting the second 24 hours
2. Many wet diapers daily (after day 5, 5 to 6 disposables or 6 to 8 cloth)
3. By day 4, at least 2 to 3 daily yellow stools for first 4 to 6 weeks
4. Baby is usually happy (all babies cry sometimes)
5. After a weight loss of up to 7 percent, back to birth weight by 10 to 14 days.
6. Normal weight gain of ½ to 1 ounce daily.
Message 5: Call when you have questions.
When you need help, seek it out immediately rather than waiting for things to get better. Call your pediatrician. Call your hospital’s lactation consultant. Hire a private lactation consultant. Call La Leche League: 1-800-LaLeche. Call SNJPC’s Regional WIC Breastfeeding Warm line: 1-800-WIC-1911. Use the internet. Here are some sites: www.lalecheleaguenj.org, www.kellymom.com and www.breastfeeding.com
We all need help learning something new. Learn all you can about breastfeeding before the birth. Spend time around happy nursing moms. Every baby is different. You will know your baby best. Information may change as new research changes the knowledge base in this rapid information-overloaded world, but some things do not change. Human milk is the gold standard for feeding your baby. Babies breastfeed and mothers lactate. Each has a desperate need to be together in the early days to practice and enjoy their unique dance.
Judy M. Schneider, a Vineland native and resident of Pittsgrove is the breastfeeding expert for Cumberland and Salem Counties. A La Leche League Leader for 30 years and Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 1985, Schneider says breastfeeding is her passion. She has been married for 37 years and has four daughters and four grandchildren. She also serves on the South New Jersey Breastfeeding Coalition and the New Jersey Breastfeeding Task Force.