When awaiting the arrival of a new baby, Mom and Dad have a lot to do and must get a lot in preparation. So many items are needed for such a tiny human!
If you haven’t guessed by now, my focus is entirely on children—what they need to insure they’ll be healthy, well, and on their way to reaching their fullest potential! When baby is born, a key factor for a healthy newborn involves feeding. And the solution is breastfeeding!
Help for Mamas…
New mamas can look to doulas or lactation specialists for assistance with breastfeeding. Doulas are non-medical persons who assist women before, during, or after childbirth providing physical assistance and emotional support. Lactation specialists (or lactation consultants) are trained to focus on the needs and concerns of the breastfeeding mother-baby team and to prevent, recognize, and solve breastfeeding difficulties. Another digital option: Getting online help via videos. An excellent place is The Breastfeeding Companion. They provide evidence-based, up-to-date videos to improve the quality of health of Moms and babies.
Doulas, lactation specialists and breastfeeding videos are invaluable resources. There are many, many benefits to breastfeeding for both mom and baby that you can read about in an earlier post. I do want to reiterate, though, in those (rare) instances where–for whatever reason, mom and/or baby just cannot make a go of it—if that happens, Mom should not be made to feel inadequate or a ‘bad’ Mom because bottom line:
Help for Mamas-Part 2…
Following delivery, there is a transition period or ‘getting acquainted’ time where both Mom and Baby have things to figure out. Here are some items Dad and/or Grandma will want to make sure Mom has on hand to facilitate breastfeeding:
To bring along to the hospital–
Nursing Bras & Breast pads:
Placed inside your nursing bra, comfortable, cotton breast pads absorb any leakage of breast milk. BTW, when looking for a nursing bra be sure to get a clip down variety and one that allows the fabric to be lowered enough to expose your breast fully. BTW #2 When I nursed my children, I needed Breast Shells because I made enough milk to feed a village of babies! Breast milk is liquid gold—save whatever you produce! Either dad can use it in a bottle for an overnight feeding or donate it to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America or the National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy.
Make sure your baby has a proper latch by checking that he sucks the areola—and not just the nipple—and that both top and bottom lips are turned out. A silicon nipple shield can give you some relief, providing a barrier between you and babe’s mouth. Nipple shields can also help your baby create a stronger latch. Regarding inverted nipples: It’s called breastfeeding for a reason! As long as baby can take a good portion of your breast into her mouth (bypassing the nipple entirely and latching onto the areola), most types of inverted (or flat) nipples will not cause problems. For those times were it does cause a problem, there are techniques to use. The goal, though, is to ultimately wean baby off the use of nipple shields. This can be within 2 weeks or up to a month; key requirements: patience and readiness for both Mom and Baby. Read more about shields.
Sore, tender even cracked or bleeding breasts can occur during the first few weeks of nursing. Using a shield will help protect them, but applying a soothing cream to speed healing is also helpful. Lanolin has often been the main soothing agent but it can be chalk-full of pesticides–thankfully there are other, lanolin-free options available like Green Goo Nursing Creme.
Nursing tank tops, nursing wraps even nursing dresses make breastfeeding convenient plus discreet. For more privacy in public situations, there are nursing covers and nursing scarves. Some nursing scarves can do double—even triple or more—duty offering privacy for breastfeeding; being a covering for grocery carts; serving as a sun shade for strollers; enclosing your baby’s car seat; and adding to your accessories as an infinity scarf!
To have at home–
Back in my day, we’d use pillows to help prop up baby and ease back strain. Nowadays there are other options: Boppy or Brest Friend for example. As a breastfeeding aid, my recommendation would have to be Brest Friend—it not only helps position your baby correctly for better latching on, but it doesn’t let baby slip down because it straps around you, fitting up to your body snugly. Although, if you’re trying to get more than one use out of a product then the Boppy is the one you want. It can also be used to prop up baby during tummy time and then be used to help baby remain upright while seated.
When I was a baby, this was de rigueur for families, but by the time I had MY children no one ever said anything about having a scale at home to weigh your baby after feedings. Either it was a cultural thing—me being born overseas OR it was assumed you’d be going to well-baby checks at your pediatrician’s. A scale, though, can give you added comfort in knowing your breastfeeding IS actually putting weight on your baby!
All mothers are working mothers! Whether you work outside the home or not though, pump some extra milk and let Dad take an overnight feeding or two! NOTE if you’re supplementing feedings with a bottle, always offer the breast first to continue to encourage breastfeeding! Another factor to consider: The bottle’s nipple. Choose a bottle with nipple that mimic mom’s nipple! (NOTE: There are hands-free pumping bras available. Technically you can manually assist the pump to express more milk, but sometimes you just want to have the use of your hands!)
Heating or Cooling Gel Packs:
Engorgement might be hard to comprehend for the new mom, but once experienced you never want a repeat! Using a gel pack can soothe, hard full breasts when you’re baby is weaning down his number of feedings per day/night.
Breastfeeding requires extra calories to insure mom’s body is capable of producing enough milk to feed her baby. Eating a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates—fruits, vegetables and grains—and healthy fats, plus staying well-hydrated will typically be enough. Boost milk production with a relaxing tea! Try these tasty homemade lactation cookies* with a cup Mother’s Milk tea. Also useful for increasing milk production are fenugreek seed supplements…be aware, though, you could develop a maple aroma from the fenugreek!
Encourage her and support all her breastfeeding efforts! Let her (and Dad) know they cannot spoil an infant! Some infants feed as often as every 1.5 hours; some space it out to 3 hours in a 24 hour period. All that and anything in between is normal! Feeding on demand is not spoiling, it’s attending to a baby’s needs; it’s nurturing and loving their baby.
Often times a song will come into my head when I’m thinking about a topic…this time it’s: What You Won’t Do For Love
*Lactation cookies can also be purchased.
Yours in Play!