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Two moms trying to raise their families a little greener, a little healthier, and with a whole lot of love. All this while trying to save a little green along the way. Product reviews, green ideas, money-saving tips, and more!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Our #1 Must-Have for Successful Breastfeeding...

is education! Despite how natural breastfeeding is, for some, it does NOT come naturally!

To get things off on the right foot, when pregnant, we recommend taking a breastfeeding class WITH your partner. Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes inexpensively and these are great as an overview on breastfeeding. At my hospital, it was taught by the two lactation consultants that work right in the new life center, so I knew I would be seeing them again after giving birth. It was great to meet them before the craziness of having baby in my arms. I think it is important to have your partner join you at these classes so they have a good knowledge base about nursing and can be even more of a support when baby arrives.

We also recommend reading... read, read, read! The La Leche League's website is a wealth of information, as is kellymom.com, which Daniella mentioned yesterday. Medela, probably the most well-known maker of breastpumps and nursing supplies also has a ton of information on their site. And of course all of the pregnancy and baby websites have lots of breastfeeding information on them, but I tend to trust the advice and information in the 3 aforementioned sites a bit more. As for books, we will review this book later on this week, but definitely recommend The Breastfeeding Book by Martha Sears and Dr. Sears. Another good book is The Nursing Mother's Companion, although I must admit, I've only read parts of this book.

All of the reading you can get your hands on and classes you take, though, is never going to fully prepare you for what is going to happen once you deliver that baby and go to nurse him or her for the very first time. Sure, I suppose it comes quite naturally for some, but for me, it was a learning process on both E's and my parts. This is where hands-on (literally) assistance is going to come into play. The lactation consultants at the hospital are indispensible. You need to see them as soon as possible after birth! Yes, most of the nurses are trained to assist you with breastfeeding, but the certified lactation consultants are amazing. In my own experience, despite all of the efforts of my nurse in the hospital, I just wasn't getting what she was saying. The lactation consultant came in, and after her showing me what needed to happen, it was like a big "A-ha!" moment. I would highly recommend you insist upon seeing a lactation consultant as soon as possible (this may be the next morning if you give birth overnight) and tell your nurse you want to see one right away. Also request the LC be present every time you nurse to make sure things are going correctly.

Lactation consultants have seen it all and can help you get started out right, so you won't have to endure the pain of a bad latch (do note, though, for some people even the best latch can be a bit painful in the beginning). They will assure you your newborn baby will not suffocate with his nose pressed into your breast! They will get you set up so both you and baby are in a comfortable position... using rolled up towels, pillows, whatever they can get their hands on to make it work! They will show your husband what a good latch looks like and show him what he needs to do to assist you in getting that perfect latch every time. They are emotional support and your very own breastfeeding cheerleaders!

I am not sure how it works at all hospitals, but at mine, even after we went home, I could call the lactation consultants for help or set up an appointment to go in to see them for no charge. No time limits on that privilege either- I could call them today, 13 months later, if I needed help again. And if I was just simply worried about E gaining weight, I could go in and use their very precise scales to calm my new-mom fears. So, if you couldn't tell by my raving review of lactation consultants, they are my NUMBER ONE must-have for breastfeeding! Use them!

Added by Daniella: I agree with Jackie 100% that a breastfeeding education and support is the number one breastfeeding necessity. I cannot tell you how many times I sought out the local lactation consultants for support. While still in the hospital after delivering T I asked to see one nearly every time T needed to nurse. If a lactation consultant wasn't available I asked for a nurse to assist me. I needed the extra reassurance that I was doing everything correctly. I am a relatively modest person but I needed to let my modesty go in order to properly work with a consultant. They would often physically show me a proper latch by, handling the goods, so to speak. Get comfortable with the consultants, they are your friends! The lactation consultants from the hospital where I delivered T called me everyday at home for the first week after T was born. They just called to check in and see how things were going. I needed that! T lost quite a bit of weight in the beginning and had trouble putting it back on. We had to take him to the pediatrician for daily weight checks. The lactation consultant was a great support during that stressful time. Once T and I found our groove together I no longer needed the daily calls from the consultant. However, like Jackie said they were available anytime I needed them. I have used them many times when my stress was sky high about my supply or about T's milk intake. They were always able to ease my fears and concerns. On the La Leche League site there is a search option that allows you to find a local la leche league consultant. There is even an option to email them (but only do so when your question doesn't need an immediate answer as it may take a day or two for them to respond). My number one tip in all this, don't be afraid to ask for help. Breastfeeding should be an enjoyable experience for mom and baby.


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