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Friday, August 11, 2017

Simple Ways to Increase Your Chances of Being Successful at Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to start a debate of whether or not breast is best. It is meant as an encouragement for those who choose the breastfeeding route or are considering breastfeeding. However you decide to feed your baby is your own personal decision.

Happy National Breastfeeding Month! That's right, August is National Breastfeeding month and was proclaimed so by the United States Breastfeeding Committee in 2011. In honor of this, I decided to dedicate a mini series for the month of August to help support and encourage breastfeeding moms and moms who are considering breastfeeding. Keep in mind, I am not an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), my tips are strictly from my personal experience along with my personal research. 

If you are new here, I wrote about my breastfeeding journey with my daughter Sophia whom I breastfed for about 15 months in case you are interested in why I decided to breastfeed since I rarely witnessed it growing up and struggling to continue to breastfeed while pregnant with baby number two. Since I was determined to be successful at breastfeeding, I followed these simple steps that helped me be successful. I was fortunate to not encounter any major stumbling blocks like many nursing moms do such as a tongue-tie, nursing strike or anything else of the sort so if you are experiencing any problems with breastfeeding or just not sure about your milk supply, latch or anything else, I do highly suggest contacting an IBCLC (find a local one here).

1. Do it because you want to. Breastfeeding is a personal decision as I mentioned in the disclaimer therefore if should be your decision to do it. Do not do it just because all your friends are or because your mom or even mother-in-law breastfed or because it's trending. It really needs to be up to you to want to do it because you want to. If you don't want to do it and are only doing it to please someone else then you are more likely to give up with the first sign of trouble; which honestly creates a cycle of common misconceptions of why certain women aren't successful at breastfeeding and that makes it a struggle for the next momma to be successful because she is worried about why it didn't work for so and so. I was one of those moms-to-be who worried about being able to breastfeed based on what I heard from those around me.

2. Educate Yourself. Once you have decided to breastfeed, educate yourself. Read scholarly articles about breastfeeding which basically means articles that have real research to back up what they are saying. I shouldn't be saying this but bloggers, often times, do not write scholarly articles. Don't get me, bloggers do give great advice but it is based on their own experience and we are each so different and unique and certain circumstances bring up certain things. So while it is helpful to read others' personal experience or even listen to our friends' and family members' experience, we don't always see the whole picture of why breastfeeding did or didn't work for each person. The greatest resource that helped me dip my toe into the world breastfeeding was the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (read book review here).  If you read my breastfeeding journey, you know I had no prior knowledge of breastfeeding.

3. Pick a pediatrician who is supportive and knowledgeable about breastfeeding. When we first started considering a pediatrician, I asked my midwife friend for suggestions and as she knew I was planning to breastfeed, she gave me a list of providers who were "breast-feeding" friendly. I honestly didn't know what this meant but I was happy to have a pediatrician who listened to the parents and that was covered by my insurance. We were very fortunate again by not having to struggle with a supportive provider which honestly how could there be a doctor who didn't know the benefits of breastfeeding? However, I have heard stories of one mom re-telling how her doctor wasn't knowledgeable at all about breastfeeding and couldn't assist her. She found a new pediatrician. Another, I heard of the pediatrician telling the mother to stop breastfeeding because her baby was "too old." Just like it is your decision to start breastfeeding, it is also your decision when to wean your baby or toddler. It is helpful to ask your friends or family members who breastfed, for pediatrician recommendations and to also interview pediatricians before your baby arrives to ensure he or she is the support you need for your breastfeeding journey and has the knowledge to help you as needed once you start breastfeeding.

And above all, contact a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (find a local one here) for information and support to help prevent and manage common concerns.

Make sure you stay tuned for next week as I will be having my first guest blogger sharing her thoughts and experience on being a breastfeeding momma to twins! Check her blog out here.

What were your breastfeeding struggles? What helped you overcome your breastfeeding struggles and worries?

More Breastfeeding Resources:
Breastfeeding Essentials
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