What if we rethink patient education and make it more like a mom-friend writing down her own helpful hints? Except this mom-friend is a baby expert or breastfeeding expert right in your community, at the hospital where you delivered your baby.
Before we print 3,000 copies of our patient education idea, I’d love to get your feedback. Below is an excerpt. Whether you’re a mom, doctor, nurse or grandma, tell us what you think. Thanks!
Several years of running a postpartum breastfeeding support group have taught me that women are not always realistically prepared to breastfeed their babies. I know I wasn’t. Here’s what I wish I’d known the day I took my first baby home.
#1 Breastfeeding can be difficult for 2 weeks. If you can hang in there for 2 weeks, you’ll probably be OK. Babies eat all the time when they are newborns. Breastfeeding is all consuming for two weeks, then magically and almost universally, it gets better.
#2 Your body may make enough milk for an entire island of little babies! My body didn’t know I only had one baby. I could feel the milk pumping in (really, that’s how it felt) the day I left the hospital. By that evening my breasts were so full of milk they were rock hard, and my baby couldn’t latch on. If only I’d known to:
- Wear a bra when the milk is coming in (2-5 days after delivery).
- Nurse frequently to prevent engorgement (i.e. – making enough milk for a small island of babies!)
- It’s not just milk in there, you also have swollen tissue. Ask your practitioner about taking a pain reliever to help the discomfort.
- Icing engorged breasts feels oh so good. Bags of frozen peas work well!
- Pump or hand express just enough to soften breasts so baby can latch.
- Stand in a warm shower, letting the water run over your breasts. Or put warm washcloths over your breasts.
- Sometimes it helps to cry too! It’s OK if you need to as a new mother.
#3 You will make enough milk. I know now as a lactation consultant that there are cases of low milk supply. But I also know that the incidence of true milk supply issues is teensy weensy compared with the number of women who think they don’t have enough. Let me say it again, you will make enough milk!
#4 Tender nipples can be normal. You’ll hear it over and over again, “If your baby is latched on correctly, you shouldn’t have sore nipples.” Well it’s true that if your baby is latched on correctly you shouldn’t have cracked, bleeding nipples. But tender nipples are another thing. Unless you’ve had someone sucking on your breasts every 1-3 hours recently, expect to have some tenderness. Also, you can expect to start feeling better in just a few days.
#5 You will get conflicting advice/information. I wish this one wasn’t true. But whether it’s the lady standing behind you in line at Martin’s, your mother, your BFF, doctor or nurse, you will hear conflicting, confusing information about breastfeeding. What to do?
- Perfect the art of nodding and smiling. It works great in all kinds of life situations!
- Pretend people are saying, “What worked well for me was … ” even though what you feel like you are hearing is, “You are doing it all wrong! You have to do it this way.”
- Take the good, ignore the bad.
- There really are different ways to do it right.
- Pick a resource you trust and stick with it. This might be a friend who successfully breastfed, a lactation consultant or a website.
#6 Most breastfeeding difficulties are common and can be overcome. You can do it! Get support. Hang in there. After you go home, come back to see us. We would love to help you succeed in your breastfeeding goals. That’s why we offer a FREE support group twice each week. Come talk to a lactation consultant and other new mothers. We can even weigh your baby for added assurance that she is getting all the nutrition she needs.
Memorial Childbirth Center’s FREE Breastfeeding Support Group
Every Monday and Thursday afternoon from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Located at BrainWorks 534 N. Michigan St.
between Skyway and Mar-Main Pharmacy
When you are home, you can also call
Breastfeeding Support Services at 574-647-3475.