You’re through the first two trimesters of your pregnancy, and now entering the “home stretch” – yaaaay! This whole “I’m having a baby” thing is becoming more and more real! You may have already set up the nursery (or not!), set up your gift registry, taken childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn care and CPR classes, and downloaded ALLLLL the latest new parent apps…all the boxes are checked! What’s left? Only what is arguably the most important part!
Let’s have a look at what to do, and what to expect right now, during your labor and birth, and then in those early postpartum days and weeks.
PLEASE attend an in-person breastfeeding support group! Yes, before your baby is born! “Why?” you may ask: because with all the access to information, apps, and Facebook and other social media groups, there’s nothing like connecting with other real, live new moms and their babies, bringing their breastfeeding questions and challenges to a real live group, and seeing those questions answered and challenges addressed in person by a breastfeeding expert. And the experience of being in a room that is a safe container for new moms to express their concerns and challenges is one you can never get online. We weren’t meant to do this alone! Many precious friendships are “birthed” in these groups, too!
During labor and birth:
If you’ve taken a consumer-centered childbirth class such as HypnoBirthing, Bradley, Birthing from Within Lamaze, etc. you’ve learned that during labor and birth, you become very inwardly-focused, your brain going into “laborland,” where emotions are magnified and words are few. The same is true of breastfeeding. In the same way that learning ABOUT birth is different than being IN labor and GIVING birth, learning ABOUT breastfeeding is different than ACTUALLY breastfeeding. When you have a real, live, squirming baby at your breast, you definitely won’t be in your “classroom mind.”
So you want your doula and/or partner to protect the sacred space around your birth, delaying unnecessary interruptions or procedures until such time as you and baby have had time to connect, and baby has had an opportunity to crawl to the breast, find the nipple and latch. Only those who are supportive and knowledgeable should be allowed into this sacred space. And if, for some unforeseen reason, baby must be taken for emergency medical support, you’ll want to know who you can call for help in establishing breastfeeding as soon as possible.
Your postpartum weeks:
Hopefully, you’ve got some meals In the freezer, maybe a meal-train set up by your friends, someone to help clean and keep things organized, someone to walk the dog, etc., and all you have to do is rest, eat, and feed your baby. This is sufficient in many circumstances.
But if you were given a nipple shield in the hospital, NOW IS THE TIME for an in-home visit from a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). If your nipples are really sore, or your baby only latches on one side or not at all, or you have questions that no one can answer, NOW is the time reach out to the lactation consultant from the support group or who taught your breastfeeding class. Have her come to your house to give you the higher level of care you and your baby need, sooner rather than later, when breastfeeding problems can become really complicated. You’ll be so glad you did!
THAT’S how you set yourself up for breastfeeding success and many years as a happy, empowered mom!