We honor all feeding journeys and trust our clients to find and navigate their own unique path to caring for their baby. In this article, we will focus specifically on breastfeeding or bodyfeeding, as August is National Breastfeeding Month!
The breastfeeding journey is just that, a journey! It’s nonlinear and can include the full spectrum of emotions, celebrations, and challenges. So first, we like to normalize that your feeding journey is yours alone. You are an expert of your own body and your own experiences, so as always, we encourage you to trust yourself, listen to what your body needs, and prepare to be flexible along the way.
Top 5 Tips for Your Feeding Journey
- Give yourself plenty of time. This means time for each feeding or pumping, as well as time to learn how to work together with your baby. This can also mean taking a break or switching things up as needed.
- Connect with peers. Communing with folks who are also breastfeeding can be a huge source of support for your feeding journey. We highly recommend joining a breastfeeding group or attending a La Leche League or other feeding-focused meet up.
- Seek professional support. In the immediate postpartum, your care providers will support you in the first feedings. Midwives, nurses, and doulas are folks on your team who will be able to offer support. Additionally, we recommend meeting with a lactation consultant or counselor; we suggest doing this even if feeding seems to be starting off smoothly.
- Keep it simple. There are tons of products out there related to feeding, and while it might be tempting to put all of them on your registry, it may become overwhelming. We suggest starting out simple and then adjusting or purchasing as needed. Our go-to items can be found below!
- Affirm and celebrate yourself. If you respond well to words of affirmation, practice repeating kind, supportive, and patient messages to yourself. You might even post affirmation cards around your space.
Our Go-To Breastfeeding Items
- A support pillow. There are tons of options out there, but two options that our clients have loved are My Breast Friend and boppy. Ask friends for hand me downs or ask in your local Buy Nothing Group, as these items are easy to come by.
- Haaka. This is a great tool for collecting milk in a passive way. While baby is feeding on one side, you can use the haaka on the other side. You can also use this after a feeding if you have a more abundant supply and still feel full after a feed. Finally, the haaka can be used to help draw the nipple out in preparation for a feeding.
- Breast pads. Keeping your nipples dry (read: not wet) helps prevent extra irritation. These Bamboobies are a good bet!
- Nipple butter. We suggest using cream preventatively, as well as at the first sign of nipple pain or damage. Lots of our patients use this one! While we want nipples to stay dry between feedings, keeping them moisturized is also important for preventing irritation.
- Latch assist. This tool can be especially helpful if you have flat or inverted nipples. Note that the hakka can also help with preparing the nipple for latch.
- Snacks for you! Lots of parents like to make “feeding stations” or baskets that have their feeding tools. Don’t forget to include snacks for you! Each time you feed or pump, we suggest nourishing yourself as well. This means hydrating and snacking or eating a meal.
Additional Feeding Resources
- La Leche League International. Tons of resources here including local meet ups, blogs, a Facebook group, and more.
- Kelly mom. You will find a wealth of information here, including info about the different feeding stages, weaning, common concerns, and so much more.
- World Health Organization (aka WHO). Find guidelines, Q&A, and quick fact sheets to understand some of the evidence behind breastfeeding.
- Baby Friendly USA. This is an initiative that partners with hospitals to get parents the information, confidence, and skills they need to successfully breastfeed their babies.
- Locate your local or identity-based breastfeeding taskforce or coalition. These groups promote breastfeeding education and support public awareness of bodyfeeding.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Obtaining a Good Latch
- Feed the baby at first feeding cues before crying (smacking lips, sticking out tongue, rooting mouth to the side like he’s looking for something to suck on)
- Take his clothes off; diaper on. On day 2 and 3, newborns are very sleepy, so it requires the coolness of the room air and stimulation to keep them awake.
- Get yourself comfortably positioned with pillows to support your arms, water and snack at your side.
- Use the cross cradle hold position: baby is at left breast. Your right hand is holding his head (make sure your fingers don’t come around to his jaw because this will make him want to turn his head toward your fingers). Your right arm is supporting the baby’s back. His belly is facing your belly. His chin is lined up with your nipple (don’t let him slide down to the right too much). Your left hand comes back to make the “C” boob sandwich on your left breast.
- Roll up your nipple a bit if it’s flat. Squeeze a bit and maybe you can get a bead of colostrum to come out. Take your breast with the C hold left hand and tickle the nipple back and forth across the baby’s lips. He will start rooting and trying to latch if he’s awake. If he’s not awake, try tickling him a bit or putting a cool cloth on him. If everything you do to wake him doesn’t work, then try again in one hour.
- When he opens his mouth wide, push his head into your breast rather aggressively. Don’t be afraid of smothering him. You will be aiming your nipple toward the roof of his mouth. This stimulates the sucking reflex. Again, make sure his chin is aligned with your nipple. It may take a few tries to get him to latch. You want to get the whole areola in his mouth with the nipple at the roof of his mouth, so this is why you push his head into your breast so far. Don’t try to lower your breast into his mouth, but rather bring him to you.
- If after a few tries, he doesn’t latch. Then take your clean, pinky finger upside down and place the pad of your pinky finger to the roof of his mouth. Let him suck on your finger. Once you feel like he’s got the rhythm of the sucking, you can remove your finger and try at the nipple again.
- When he starts to drift off to sleep and stops sucking, tickle his head again to stimulate the suck. Keep him at the breast for 10-15 minutes. Change his diaper, then do the opposite on the opposite breast for 10-15 min.
- If he still doesn’t latch, then you’ll need extra support from your midwife, doula or lactation consultant. Do not use formula or a bottle !!!!! This will ruin your breastfeeding. The alternative is to pump and feed baby colostrum with a plastic spoon or a syringe. Have your specialist assess your baby for a posterior tongue tie or upper lip tie.
- When he is crying, he will not latch. You will need to hold him upright on your shoulder very tightly and don’t bounce. He’s overstimulated. So low light, low noise, low movement and no stimulation, Just a tight hug until he calms down. Then put your finger in his mouth and get him to suck your finger. Then try putting him to the breast.
A Newborn’s Stomach is the Size of a Marble!
Day One: 1 tsp (5-10 mL per feed) every 2 hours
Day Two: 1 tbsp (15 mL per feed) every 2 hours
Day Three: 2 tbsp (30 mL per feed) every 2 hours
Day Four: 3 tbsp (45 mL per feed) every 2 hours. Your milk should come in by day four.
Sweet Child O’ Mine Is Here For You
Your team of midwives is here to support you in navigating your feeding journey and tapping into the tools and resources that will best support. We are here for you!
If you are currently building your birth team, we would be honored to work with you; reach out and let us know how we can support you!