The saying goes, “it takes a village” when contemplating raising children. The same can be said of one of the very first acts of love and nurture you provide your baby, breastfeeding. Although it may seem like a two person sport between you and your baby, there are actually many other players who can be helpful, supportive and make a big difference along your breastfeeding journey. Today we’re talking about breastfeeding support including who can support you and how to find support if you are struggling.
Breastfeeding Support: Partners
Your partner is probably the only other person on earth who loves your baby as much as you do. Of course he’s going to want her to have the very best in life, including the best nutrition through breastfeeding. Although he cannot feed your baby from his body, he can offer breastfeeding support in many ways, starting with love, encouragement and positive energy for the dedication you put into feeding your baby. Knowing that you are unified in your parenting goals starting with this most important choice for the health of your baby can be the motivation you need to get through the hard times.
On a more tactical level, your partner can do a lot of things to help make breastfeeding more comfortable. It’s a great idea for dad to take a breastfeeding class with you so he knows what is involved in breastfeeding and can help you put the information you’ve learned into practice. Once he’s seen what needs to be done, your partner can help make sure your baby is positioned properly as you get the hang of breastfeeding. He can also ensure you have what you need while breastfeeding such as water, snacks, pillows, etc… One of the best ways your husband can help is getting the baby from her crib when it’s feeding time, which is especially awesome for middle-of-the night feedings when you need all the rest you can get. And dads can change diapers, swaddle and burp the baby during and after feedings.
While you’re busy nursing the little one, your partner can help with household chores or take care of the older children. This will take tasks off of your plate so you can focus on your baby without being behind on other responsibilities. And when you really need a break, your husband can take a shift by giving your baby a bottle. This is a wonderful bonding experience for both daddy and baby.
Breastfeeding Support: Friends
Experienced mom friends or even new mom friends who are also beginning their breastfeeding journey can offer tremendous breastfeeding support. Moms have a lot of hands-on experience with a ton of different situations. While they may not all apply to you, you can gleam some great tips from other moms. If anything, moms can be an empathetic ear to listen to your struggles and triumphs with an open mind and open heart.
Breastfeeding Support: Lactation Consultants
A lactation consultant is a certified trained professional who helps moms navigate breastfeeding. Your first encounter with a lactation consultant may be in the hospital as many of them work at hospitals and visit new moms within the first few days after giving birth. They remind you of proper positioning and latch techniques and can go over feeding schedules, hunger cues, signs of success and a wealth of other fantastic information.
Should you run into problems outside of your hospital stay, you can schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant to help you with any issues or questions you may have about breastfeeding. Usually it is best to bring your baby in to see a lactation consultant so she can weigh your baby, watch you breastfeed and give you pointers for improvement. Lactation consultants may recognize impediments to breastfeeding such as lip or tongue ties or flat or inverted nipples, and they have an arsenal of solutions and resources to offer.
There are different categories of lactation consultants. Certified Lactation Consultants (CLCs) have several weeks of training to get their status. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) go through more extensive training and must complete a set number of clinical practice hours. Postpartum doulas and lactation counselors are others who have practical experience with breastfeeding but do not undergo the same certification as CLCs and IBCLCs.
Where to Find Breastfeeding Support – Breastfeeding Support Organizations
Breastfeeding support is usually not hard to find if you know where to look. First, there are many resources online that can help you answer basic questions or offer tips for specific issues you may face. Looking online for advice is always a great initial step.
If you need more serious assistance or want to talk to someone in person you can reach out to your OBGYN or hospital to see what type of breastfeeding support they offer. Many large OBGYN practices and hospitals have their own lactation consultants on staff that provide out-patient consultations, possibly for a fee. The USDA’s Women Infant and Children program offers free lactation support out of their hundreds of offices nationwide. You can also look for a local chapter of La Leche League, a mother-to-mother support group that educates and advocates for breastfeeding. National organizations like ROSE or Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association can point you to other local community organizations that provide breastfeeding support through organized groups, meetings and events as well.
Seeking help when you face challenges while breastfeeding is not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength, love and dedication for the health of your baby. No matter what the issue, big or small, many people are available to help you on your breastfeeding journey. Who’s in your breastfeeding support village?
Sources: The Huffington Post, The Bump, American Pregnancy and La Leche League
Leading Lady’s All About Breastfeeding blog series serves to educate and inspire new moms with information on a range of breastfeeding topics during the month of August in honor of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month. This resource guide of helpful tips, breastfeeding advice, and research-based information supports our mission to raise awareness for breastfeeding and motivate moms on their breastfeeding journey.