There are a lot of decisions to make when considering starting a family, or if you are already expecting. Deciding whether to breastfeed, use formula or donor milk is a major decision for an infant’s survival. Raising your first child versus your third has a higher learning curve, being a complete life change, and there isn’t much back pedaling once you decide that you would like to start a family.
Here are some things to consider when determining if breastfeeding is the way to go for you.
#1 Discuss the benefits of breastfeeding with your OB/GYN Doctor, or take a breastfeeding class instructed by a lactation specialist.
Make sure you also discuss the issues that new mothers may experience during breastfeeding.
Getting all the basic information on breastfeeding will help to inform you of what benefits are in it for you and your child. Breastfeeding has many positives for the mother and the baby; however, it isn’t the easiest thing to do or start. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if you make it to 6-months breast feeding you have beat the national average. Find out what difficulty other parents have for your overall decision.
#2 Find out what support systems are available during the initial phase of breastfeeding.
Check with your hospital. Do they offer breastfeeding support classes after the baby is born? Rose Medical Center in Denver, CO offers a class every Monday afternoon for newborns and mothers/fathers. Each Monday, the class starts with weighing the baby with and without a diaper on, then the mother would breastfeed, offering one or both breasts to the infant, followed by the infant getting weighed again to figure out exactly how much breastmilk the little one was taking in. Week after week the baby would take more and more on and you could see his or her weight increasing. The classes are free. The best part, other than you knowing your child is gaining healthy weight and the breastfeeding is working, is the nurses that would circle the room, making sure your baby’s latch was correct and addressing any issues, concerns or problems each week.
#3 Your Home Support
Breastfeeding doesn’t only impact the mother, but the father too. Have the conversation with your spouse or partner regarding breast feeding and how they can support you during this time.
#4 Don’t quit at the first sign of difficulty.
Determine when and if you need to quit breastfeeding for your sanity. Think about when you would consider it and what plan B would look like. Talk this over with your home support system to determine how they can help.
#5 How important is nutrition and hydration?
This is something to take very seriously! If you are thinking about breastfeeding, there may be foods to consider limiting that could make your child very gassy – these include dairy products, cooked tomatoes, garlic, onions, etc. to name a few. On the other side of the spectrum, you might want to look into increasing foods that will help with more milk production. Also, one last thing to think about is keeping your alcohol intake limited during breastfeeding.
#6 If you’re working and are considering Breastfeeding for longer than your Maternity Leave, consider the process.
If you have 8 or 12 weeks of Maternity leave to learn how to breastfeed, make sure you start building a freezer full of extra milk because if you will need it if you are planning on going back to work.
Determine how you will build up your extra milk storage, review the safety metrics around storing breastmilk and thawing it, and figure out what your pumping plan will be once you return to work.
You may have to make a special request to your managers to let them know you will need some privacy throughout the day or need some flexibility with meetings to breast pump. These conversations should be had to give everyone enough time to make proper accommodations.
Here are some basic questions to consider for your decision:
What is your goal with breastfeeding? 4 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc?
What are the benefits for the mother? For the child?
If your child has trouble gaining his or her birth weight back, what will you do?
When would you consider using Formula?
What difficulties can new mothers expect when nursing?
What supplies should you have at home or what should you include on your baby register when deciding to nurse?
What is relatively normal when it comes to nipple soreness versus an infection, thrush, or mastitis?
How much milk storage should I have when returning to work?
What is the best breast pump to get for home or work? Should I rent a hospital grade pump?
If I am not producing enough milk and wanted to supplement, where do I go for donor milk instead of formula? How much is this option?
How can I increase milk supply through my diet?