Breastfeeding Guide: Tips and advice for breastfeeding moms
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to breastfeeding. Between latching issues, chafed nipples, and variant milk supplies, it can be difficult to know whom to seek professional help from. For many new moms, it’s tricky to know exactly what to expect, and a lot of women find that they need a little extra help.
To address some of the most frequently asked questions new mothers have, Jillian Hatch, one of Bryn Mawr Hospital’s lactation consultants, offers helpful tips for breastfeeding moms, as well as resources to support moms throughout their journey. More than 95% of new moms leave Bryn Mawr Hospital having initiated breastfeeding.
Q: Why breast milk?
A: There’s no denying it: breast milk is arguably the best food for your baby. It contains the proper mix of fat, carbohydrates and proteins that your baby needs to grow into a healthy little human. Breast milk also comes loaded with a hefty supply of antibodies and nutrients to help your baby fight off illness.
Q: Is it normal for breastfeeding to feel uncomfortable?
A: This is 100 percent normal. Because babies need the nipple to be so far back in their mouths in order to receive milk, many new mothers experience discomfort at first. It will get better over time, and the smallest change in hold or position can make all the difference.
Q: What are some of the most common breastfeeding issues?
A: As lactation consultants, we specialize in guiding mothers on good breastfeeding techniques. The most common (and normal!) issues are:
- Some babies do not latch correctly
- Some moms have supply issues because of hormonal imbalances or prior breast surgeries
- Some babies cannot suck effectively due to the shape of their tongues
- Damage to the nipples, such as soreness or chafing, can occur
Q: I’m worried that I’m not supplying enough milk.
A: The best piece of advice is to relax and ask questions. Your baby will let you know if they are not getting enough milk. Start by closely tracking your baby’s output (think poop or pee). If you notice any irregularities or if their weight seems unstable, it may be time to reach out to a lactation consultant for some additional breastfeeding tips.
There are several ways to increase milk supply and get the baby fed. It might be time to revamp your diet and punch up the nutritional value of your meals, focus on staying hydrated, or introduce formula or donor breast milk, all of which are options.
Q: What if I don’t want to breastfeed?
A: That’s okay! Plenty of women find that they are not drawn to the idea of breastfeeding or that it simply won’t work with their lifestyle. Meeting in a breastfeeding support group provides an amazing connection to other moms. Groups are offered during the day, night and weekends, too. A great alternative is to pump and bottle feed. Hatch recommends renting a hospital-grade breast pump for the first month or so. If you go this route, aim to pump at least every three hours to ensure an adequate supply for your baby.
Q: I’m nervous about breastfeeding in public.
A: You’re not alone! Breastfeeding is healthy for you and your baby, and breastfeeding in public is legal, so you have every right to nurse your baby wherever and whenever you wish.
There are a ton of breastfeeding guides and resources available to help new moms breastfeed comfortably and confidently in public. More and more nursing and pumping rooms are popping up, and there are plenty of affordable (and adorable!) nursing covers out there.
Q: Is there anything else I can do to learn even more?
A: One of the best things to do is to surround yourself with people who can help guide and support you on your journey. Consider attending one of Main Line Health’s upcoming courses on prenatal breastfeeding, where experts will share tips for breastfeeding moms. Additionally, you will be able to connect with other new moms who might be in a similar boat.
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If you take away one thing from this breastfeeding guide, let it be that it’s completely normal to breastfeed and you are not alone if you have questions. There is no one-size-fits-all plan, and it’s important for each family to discover a process that works best for them.
Be patient and do what feels right—breastfeeding can be an incredible bonding experience for you and your new child, but at the end of the day, a fed baby is a happy baby, no matter how it happens.
Bryn Mawr Hospital will open a new maternity wing in February 2019, providing for future generations of Bryn Mawr babies.