We have this expectation that our babies will be born and the clouds will part, angels will sing, and your new baby will latch and nurse right away, that this journey will be magical. That is not always the case.
I meet with so many women that share concerns that begin with, “So many people I know have tried to nurse but faced pain, supply issues, latch issues, tie issues, etc. and it did not work for them.” We then talk about how their journey is unique and can be different. I remind them that having support set up from the beginning can make the difference.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE BEGINNING:
No matter where your baby is born the first couple of hours after birth are filled with so many important moments. Skin to Skin contact immediately and prolonged for at least an hour has a significant impact on your baby. Your new baby will not likely be ready to latch for the first time until just after that hour. While you are skin to skin, your baby is matching smells, massaging your breast with their little hands, practicing feeding cues and more. Your time skin to skin helps get your breastfeeding relationship off to the right start. Baby will find their way to nursing either by doing the breast crawl or with a bit of help, either way, it is your baby’s first latch! Wat to learn more about the process babies go through afterbirth, read more about the magical first hour here. Enjoy this moment, it may not be the best latch, but it is the first one, the start to your journey together.
After this magical time, both you and your baby will likely be ready for a good rest. You have both had a big day and are already working together to learn so many new things, welcome the time of rest.
After this rest, you will need to continue to nurse your baby on cue. Trying to remember all of the things you have learn about latching can be hard. Starting nose to nipple, hold baby tummy to tummy, bring the baby to you, so you don’t get a sore neck. It can feel overwhelming even if everything is going perfectly. Navigating advice from new nurses at every shift can be tricky. Everyone has an opinion and a new technique to try. The Lactation Consultants are wonderful, but they are not there all the time.
Breathe, know almost every new mother feels overwhelmed by this new process. Ask for help from your nurses, some of their information may work, and if it does not work for you, it is ok. Ask for your lactation consultant right away, write down a list of questions, ask her to repeat what she says or to write down a plan. If you are birthing at home or in a birth center, contact your midwife with your questions. If she can’t answer them, she will help to connect you with the support you need. Speak to how you are feeling.
THE 2ND / 3RD NIGHTS WITH BABY
That moment when you look up and say, “I can’t sustain this, I just fed this baby, how can he/she still be hungry.” You are having your cluster feeding night. While it is hard and exhausting, it is essential. This is your baby’s way to tell your body it is ready for the real milk. Too often the nurses will just tell moms they are doing a good job and that this is entirely normal. They forget to explain that it is cluster feeding and it will not last for forever. So get in a nap whenever you can, handoff for diaper changes, have a nice cup of water and have faith that you will sleep again. Know this is only a short window of time and that soon your milk will be coming in.
I am glad that women are now talking about their breastfeeding challenges. We have built up the perception that because it is natural, it always works easily. Sometimes it does, but most of the time, at some point, you will have questions. I love having the chance to support new moms and families as they navigate this process. If you have any questions please always reach out. If I can’t answer your breastfeeding questions, I will find you the right resource for your unique needs.
We have a wonderful breastfeeding community here in Gainesville. We have a very active local La Leche Group that hold meetups at different times (Click here to learn more.). We also have a wonderful Breastfeeding USA group. Each of these groups has lactation counselors present for latching assistance and other moms that all have unique journeys to share.