We’re excited to have Lindsey Shipley, Registered Nurse, IBCLC, certified lactation specialist here sharing her tips for breastfeeding! For any expectant local mamas out there Lindsey holds monthly classes to help you prepare before and and trouble shoot any issues during and after! We also have Lindsey on our Facebook page today for a “Ask a Lactation Specialist” — head here to ask any questions!
The Breastfeeding Journey
All moms have been there. The excitement of getting the positive pregnancy test, ultrasound of your baby, finding out the gender, and registering at your favorite baby store. You go through the mood swings, the weight gain, the aches, and finally you’re in labor and they place your baby on your chest. Then comes that startling thought, “What now?”
Just as pregnancy is an exploration of emotions and life-altering changes, the preference one faces in feeding their infant can be a very intimate one. I’m excited to be featured on small fry blog today and offer a few of my insights into our choices as Moms, particularly how we will feed our newborns. I’m an advocate of breastfeeding, but I think it’s important to be prepared on your options, regardless of breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. As a lactation specialist, my role is to support and facilitate the choices mothers make in how they want to feed their newborns. Education in regards to nutrition for your infant is vital.
Ok, now let’s set straight a few “myths”, or pieces of advice I’ve overheard from moms to expectant mothers about feeding their new baby.
“You’ll figure it out.”
The moms that give this advice are probably among the lucky few that breastfeeding came easily for both them and their infant. Or the newborn difficulties are just far enough in their rear-view mirror for them to adequately remember their own struggles.
“Just ask a nurse at the hospital”. Most first-time mothers are surprised to learn that not the doctor, but their nurse is the one providing most of the care and support during labor. For most busy hospitals, the L&D nurses may not have time to help you latch your newborn.
“Make sure to see the lactation specialist right after delivery” This sounds perfect! It is a great decision to be seen by a specialist to ensure things are going well. Even if this is your intention, if you wait until your baby is born and the delivery is outside regular hours, there will not be a specialist on hand.
As a lactation specialist, I’ve found these 3 tips to be the most beneficial for mothers as they begin their breastfeeding journey:
1) Take a prenatal breastfeeding class.
I would recommend planning to take a breastfeeding class in addition to a prenatal class. Make sure the course is taught by an IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant). This credential ensures the professional is up-to-date on the latest research and interventions. I would recommend a refresher course whether it’s your fourth baby or first, as unforeseen problems can occur. A recent client sent me this message after delivering baby #3, “Wish I would have gone to one of your classes. I am STRUGGLING with breastfeeding.” I’d also recommend taking the class earlier rather than later in the pregnancy. I’ve had several clients put it off and then get too busy at the end or deliver 3 weeks early.
2) Develop a support system. Make sure you have 2 people you can count on for support, encouragement, and questions. These people should know your preferences and goals with delivery and feeding so they can provide the best support possible. This is imperative not only for your feeding choice, but as a Mom in general. Ask these people up front if they can be there for you. It could be your Mom, sister, neighbor, best friend, lactation specialist, or someone you met in your prenatal classes.
3) Don’t panic!
Most moms are distraught and hopeless if their baby doesn’t latch on within 5 minutes and have milk spilling from their baby’s mouth. While I feel it is important to put your baby to breast within the first hour of life, if the first feed doesn’t go as you had hoped, don’t give up! Remember what you learned in your breastfeeding course, call a specialist, and draw strength from your support system.
Just as your pregnancy was a process, so is breastfeeding!
Thanks to Lindsey for all these awesome tips! After the jump you’ll find real life experiences from readers with nursing. None are easy or wrinkle-free but we found lots of great tips and things to consider and try when breastfeeding. All three of us nursed exclusively with our kids and we learned a ton!
*Lindsey Shipley, Registered Nurse, IBCLC, is a certified lactation specialist. Lindsey provides in-home lactation consulting services before and after baby is born. She also holds breastfeeding courses once a month in Highland, UT — sign up here! Follow her on instagram @lactationlink for course dates and info. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
“When we found out we were pregnant, we immediately started doing research on how to prepare for our little one. My husband knew very little and I wanted him to be my biggest support. The Bradley method class really helped us feel prepared and informed. I was also adamant about receiving help and education for breastfeeding. I had heard over and over about how difficult and non-intuitive it could be. That’s why I reached out to Lindsey and took her class. She helped me feel supported, especially when I was hugely engorged and overwhelmed. Lindsey came to my house and eased my fears by addressing my concerns. She gave me tools to reduce the engorgement and help with a better latch with my son. I’ve reached out to her multiple times when I wasn’t sure my son was getting what he needed. The biggest thing I’ve learned as a mom is that we are not in control of everything, but we need to know all our options! We need to prepare through classes, other moms who’ve been there, and resources there to help us navigate through the ups and downs of motherhood. I’m grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained and experiences so far.”
“As a first time mom I had a whirlwind pregnancy and kept putting off any classes. I decided that I would just read a couple of the hospital articles on breastfeeding and I would be okay. Then my baby arrived 3 weeks early. She couldn’t figure out how to suck, and of course I had no idea what I was doing. The hospital lactation consultant was unavailable, so I literally had 5 different nurses telling me to do different things. The worst part – my milk took 5 days to come in! I got in contact with a lactation consultant (Lindsey), who came to my home. My extreme paranoia soon became peace of mind. She gave me the knowledge and the reassurance I needed.
Thinking it was going to be a piece of cake from there on out, I had unexpected gall bladder surgery when my baby was just 2 weeks old. I knew I still wanted to nurse post-surgery, so I contacted my consultant to help me once again. With the information she provided, I was able to keep breastfeeding my baby.” -Dana
“After trying to conceive for several years I was in shock when I found out I was pregnant. All of the sudden everything got real, I was going to be a mom, and I better start figuring out how to be one. Breastfeeding hadn’t come easily to my Mom or sister, so this added to my “new mom worry”. I decided I would educate myself about it and then decide what would be best. In my search I came across some really awesome and informative websites. Some of them even had forums and support groups (which I joined) so that I could ask questions. I eventually decided I would give breastfeeding a try.
On May 11th, 2013 my sweet daughter was born and our breastfeeding journey began. I had an amazing nurse that helped her latch and from that moment forward she continued to nurse every day for 19 months! I never would have guessed that I would nurse that long. My first goal was 6 months and then it turned into 12 and then I decided I would ride it out until I felt the time was right. I tried not to care when other people looked shocked that she was still nursing or worry that they thought she was too old. Instead I focused on why nursing was important to me and important to my daughter. Nursing wasn’t always a breeze for me. In fact I never stopped educating myself about nursing. Every time I would hit a bump like a drop in milk supply, a plugged duct, bad latching, engorged breasts, or thrush I would return to my books, blogs and websites for guidance and help. In fact I was able to help encourage, and support my sister who has since had her third baby and is still breastfeeding at 14 months! Education, preparation, and support from others eased my fears. Breastfeeding was a great experience for me as a mom and I hope to breastfeed all my children!” –Stefanie
“As a first time mom, I’d heard from many people how great breastfeeding is for both moms and babies. Thankfully, I was not under the impression that breastfeeding would be easy and painless. Knowing this, I took a breastfeeding class from my local hospital. Immediately after delivery, my son was placed on my chest and with the help of the nurses we had a beautiful and successful breastfeeding session. I thought I was good to go and it would only get easier. Little did I know!
While still in the hospital, I struggled to obtain a comfortable position that would allow my son to have a good latch. He became tired quickly and didn’t have the energy to try to nurse. After several more tries, the nurse suggested I hand express the colostrum into a spoon so that this would give my son the energy he needed to try nursing. It worked, and we were able to have another great feed. I was able to leave the hospital with the confidence I needed in order to continue breastfeeding.
My son is now 6 months old and we are enjoying nursing! We have faced bumps along the road, but I felt more equipped to handle them due to my breastfeeding class, self-study, and drawing support from other breastfeeding moms and health professionals. I am grateful to say my son and I have had a successful breastfeeding experience.” –Krista
“When I had my first child, my husband and I were the first on either side of our families to have a baby. Lacking much first hand experience with newborns, we wanted to be well educated in all things baby. We were out of state for the summer, so I began my prenatal care at a local hospital and found out they offered classes on everything from “having a healthy pregnancy” to “baby 101”. I attended every class looking to be well prepared as a first time mother.
One of the classes that I found to be particularly helpful was the class on breastfeeding. I knew after learning about the many benefits of breastfeeding that this was the route I wanted to take with my child. After having my baby we worked with a lactation consultant on proper latch and it was definitely a lot harder than I had initially thought. The following weeks I can remember constantly calling my lactation consultant on different issues that I was having. Aside from sore nipples due to improper latch my baby was also seeming to have tummy troubles, after learning of all the potential causes I made the tough decision to stop eating dairy. Through all of these obstacles, I happily breastfed my baby for 13 months. The sacrifices that I made to breastfeed my baby are nothing that I would change because I loved the bond that I felt with my child. I am now 10 weeks postpartum with my second son and exclusively breastfeeding him as well. Before having my second son I was made aware of Lindsey’s course and attended one. The class was a great refresher because although my first son was only two, I was surprised how much I had forgotten. This experience has been a much easier transition for me.” –Lynn
“When I found out I was expecting my first baby, I found myself obsessing to do everything I possibly could to prepare. I researched everything from prenatal care to birthing methods, from newborn feeding schedules to sleep training. I ended up enrolling in a hypnobirthing course that was a huge help with my labor and delivery. When delivery day finally came, I felt as calm and ready as I could be without actually going through it yet.
After my baby was born, I knew that nursing would take a little getting used to. However, after about a week I was still extremely sore and in pain. I ended up calling a lactation consultant that made all of the difference in the world! She was able to give me just a few simple tips that were overlooked by the nurses at the hospital. I couldn’t believe that such minor changes could make such a difference! I am so glad that I stuck with it! My baby ended up nursing for the next 14 months and I loved that special time that we would spend together.
Aside from the obvious benefits of breastfeeding, there were also a few benefits that I never really thought of until after the fact. I liked that it helped me be more conscious of what I was putting in to my body, knowing that I wasn’t the only one eating it. I also really believe that it helped a lot with losing the ‘baby weight’, too. Over a year later I am so glad that I stuck with it!” -Candace
“Each baby is so different! I actually never even went to a lactation consultant until my 3rd, and I was reluctant to go because I thought I should be a pro by now! Different issues were arising and I was in a lot of pain. But I have never questioned whether or not continuing to nurse was the right decision for me. I feel like many issues with nursing can be temporary and worked through… I just wish I would have sought assistance sooner!” -Victoria
“Before having kids I never thought I would breastfeed, even though I knew there were numerous benefits. It sounded weird and awkward and something only the pioneers did. Once I found out I was having twins, I decided that I would give it a chance-otherwise I’d be buying double the amount of formula! I took a breastfeeding course and read the book, “When you’re expecting: twins, triplets, or quads.” When the boys arrived, one of them took to it naturally and easily. The other was a struggle. My milk was extra slow to come in due to a long labor, unexpected c-section, and postpartum hemorrhage. I was inexperienced, my one little guy wasn’t latching and we were both frustrated. I was very determined and it paid off! After a month of SNS nursing him, tears, and a husband who kept telling me it wasn’t worth it, my little guy and I got over the speed bump. I was able to breastfeed both boys until their first birthday without supplementing. The rewards of feeding my twins ended up being far greater than saving a few bucks buying formula. We grew through the struggle together. I gave my time, effort, pride and everything else into nourishing them. I was able to give them an “organic” diet. Yes I gave them bottles when I was on the go, at work, or too tired, but knowing that it was breast milk in the bottles was a confidence boosting reassurance.” -Ashley