After giving birth to your beautiful baby, breastfeeding is probably a choice you have given some thought to. Maybe you brought a Boppy to your birth in high expectations, or maybe you are apprehensive about trusting your baby to feed, or trusting in yourself. Below I have listed some of the best resources I have come across to help you prepare for breastfeeding, how to find knowledge and support, and other resources to set you up for success!
One of the first things you can do to help give yourself a heads start is to give birth in a Baby-Friendly hospital. The Baby-Friendly Initiative was started in 1991 by WHO and UNICEF to help give babies and new mothers the best, healthiest support and environment to begin. Baby-Friendly hospitals are designed to support lactating mothers by rooming-in mom and baby, helping begin breastfeeding and continuing support, and giving no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants. They do not however push and force breastfeeding for everyone – they understand there are medical circumstances and/or mother’s choice in not breastfeeding. But these facilities are found in all 50 states and can help baby and mother feel more confident in the first few days of infancy.
All birthing hospitals, with or without the Baby- Friendly badge, will have lactation consultants who are stand alone consultants or nurses that are trained in helping mothers learn to listen to their baby and breastfeed. Lactation consultants trained through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) require hours upon hours of education, training, and experience. They are a great support to have at your birthing place in the hours after birth!
But once you get home from the hospital, what are some items you will need? Below are a few of the items and tips that can help create a successful environment for breastfeeding your baby:
La Leche League
La Leche League is an international nonprofit group whose mission is to “help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.”
On their website you can find answers to most of your questions about breastfeeding! From alcohol in breastmilk to biting to Cesarean births to pumping to tattos and piercings to pain to you name it! They have recent and scientific-backed data on these topics and more.
In most cities and towns there is a local group that you can join to find women in your neighborhood who are also breastfeeding. It is a peer to peer group, and not a professional lactation support. There is a Facebook group and newsletters through email as well! Check out their website to learn more about this amazing group!
Taking a Breastfeeding Class
Many hospitals, childbirth educators, and doulas can provide more support and education. Talk to your local hospital to see if they offer discounts for taking several classes. Many childbirth classes tie in a little bit of breastfeeding to their course, but the majority of information and practice with an instructor comes from a specific breastfeeding class.
Working with a Skilled Postpartum Doula
Postpartum doulas can be a great assist to helping you in your home the first few days and weeks (or months!) after baby arrives. Check with your postpartum doula to see if they offer breastfeeding consults and advice as part of their specialty. Not all doulas offer this, or have the correct certification or training, so be sure to check and ask!