Breastfeeding is one of the best ways you can help give your baby a healthy start to life. It has proven, lasting benefits — and it’s an excellent way to create an emotional bond with your child. But to get the most out of these benefits, it’s important to set goals. Here are 10 things you can do to help get started:
1. Take a class. Hendricks Regional Health offers both in person and online classes to meet your needs:
- Breastfeeding Basics (new to breastfeeding)
- Pumping (planning on going back to work & breastfeeding)
- Breastfeeding Again (for moms that breastfed before but didn’t meet their goals or want a refresher)
Find information and register at www.hendricks.org/events
2. Know that every mom and every baby are different. This is because of differences in breast tissue, nipple shape and how a baby latches and sucks. The board-certified lactation consultants at Hendricks are trained to help you understand what works best for you and your baby.
3. Have plenty of skin-to-skin contact. Doing this right after birth and during the first few weeks of life not only helps you bond, it also keeps your baby stay warm and calm while learning to breastfeed. And it helps your body produce milk.
4. Decide on goals. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you breastfeed exclusively for six months and then continue until at least a year of age as other foods are introduced. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for six months and then continuing to two years of age or beyond.
5. Surround yourself with people who support you. Find at least one person who can be your champion (the baby’s father, birth partner, grandmother or friend) and attend classes with you for support.
6. Be patient. Remember that breastfeeding is a new skill for you and your baby. You are learning together, and it can take time and effort to feel confident about it. Sometimes it takes several weeks to feel like you’ve got it down, so give yourself time and space to learn.
7. Keep your baby close early on. When you are close you have a better chance to learn your baby’s hunger cues – how your baby tells you he or she is hungry — so you are better able to respond quickly. (But remember to keep your baby in a separate, safe sleep space in your room at night.)
8. Feed early and often. Your body knows how to make milk based on how often and how long your baby breastfeeds. Breastfeeding within a few hours after birth can make a difference in your milk supply even months into the future.
9. Consider a pump or other technology. A pump is very valuable when you have to be separate from your baby, and it can help increase your milk supply. There are also lots of apps that make tracking breastfeeding easier while providing helpful information.
10. Find great resources and ask questions. Hendricks has lactation consultants to help before, during and after your delivery. There are also resources in the community to help you including support groups, WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) and home visiting programs. Learn more about everything we offer at Hendricks.