Frequently in consultations with new families after birth, I hear comments like, “I thought they would teach me what I needed to know while I was in the hospital,” “I didn’t realize there is so much to learn about breastfeeding,” or “Breastfeeding is natural, I just thought I’d know what to do.”
Those comments are often accompanied by feelings of frustration that breastfeeding isn’t going like they thought it would. The reality is that breastfeeding is a learned skill that takes knowledge, time, patience, and support.
So, what can a family do to make breastfeeding less frustrating? One easy way to accomplish this is to learn about breastfeeding before baby arrives. This can be done by reading books like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, or The Positive Breastfeeding Book by Amy Brown, or by taking a prenatal breastfeeding class. Obviously, a mother can’t practice breastfeeding until her baby arrives, but there is much she can learn about feeding immediately after birth, what to expect from her baby, and how her breasts react to baby and her hormones by making milk. Did you know that all mothers will make milk after they give birth, regardless if they plan to breastfeed? When the placenta is delivered, hormones send messages through your body to start the production of milk for your baby. Your body has been prepping for this your entire pregnancy!
In the prenatal breastfeeding class at Statera, we discover how a mother’s body makes milk and how it knows to make more when it is needed. We discuss baby’s natural instincts after birth and the importance of letting the baby rest on the mom’s abdomen so they can crawl to the breast and latch on themselves. We play a game that teaches the benefits of breastfeeding and why it is optimal for baby and for mom. For example, did you know that baby’s risk of SIDS is 40% less if baby is breastfed? And that moms are less likely to develop pre-menopausal breast or uterine cancer if they breastfeed? We also learn what’s normal in breastfeeding, like the fact that newborns will breastfeed between 9-14 times in 24 hours. Good thing they don’t feed that often forever! Moms and dads leave the class feeling empowered, more knowledgeable, and ready to feed their baby!
~Becky Franzen, MA, CLC, IBCLC