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6 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding

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6 tips for successful breastfeedingThough natural, breastfeeding isn’t always easy, which is why it is important for mothers to receive proper education and support to ensure breastfeeding success. Today, Erica Garret, postpartum and lactation nurse, shares six tips for successful breastfeeding:

1. Figure out during pregnancy who will support you and who won’t.

Listen to the supporters and don’t listen to the naysayers. If you have a medical issue that might prevent you from being successful, find breastfeeding support during pregnancy. Search out a pediatrician during pregnancy who is a proponent of breastfeeding. Interview that pediatrician. Ask when he/she would recommend formula and why. If the answer is anything other than what is recommended by the World Health Organization, keep looking.

2. In the hospital, be patient with yourself and your baby.

The first 24 hours are sleepy for both mom and baby. Please don’t worry; every experience the baby gets at your nipple is a learning experience. When your baby is showing you he/she is hungry, let him/her try. Even a lick at the breast is better than not trying. Eventually you will both get the hang of it. If your baby is licking her/his lips, rooting, or awake and watchful, try the breast. It is nearly impossible to latch a screaming baby. Calm your baby with skin-to-skin and try again.

3. Ask for help anytime you need it.

Hospital staff always has someone who can help you get your baby to the breast. Please don’t wait to ask; we want to help. If you can’t get it at first, give yourself a break. You are new at this and so is your baby.

4. Skin-to-skin for breast is best.

Not only does skin-to-skin keep your baby happy and healthy, but it actually helps baby get started at the breast more easily. Keep your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible, as soon as you deliver. If you notice your baby doing a head bobbing motion or leaning down toward the breast, stay laid back and help that babe to the nipple. Trust your body to continue being able to grow this tiny person. They grew inside and you can still provide all their nutritional needs outside, too! Don’t give up!

5. Know the medical reasons for supplementation and the methods available.

Don’t freak out if supplementation is needed! There are ways to supplement without using artificial nipples. An oral syringe, a spoon, a supplemental nursing system or cup can be used to supplement. You can hand express colostrum to feed to your baby before trying the formula. Avoid artificial nipples, including pacifiers, until you both have the hang of nursing.

6. Spend time looking at your baby, not a screen.

Get off social media, limit visitors and pay attention to your baby. Distractions can cause you to miss feeding cues your baby is trying to send you. By being more aware and catching them early, you can put baby to breast before he/she reaches the point of crying.

Erica Garret, BSN CLS, is currently earning her IBCLC, while in school full time as a student nurse-midwife. She works as a postpartum nurse and lactation nurse part-time. Erica is a mother of two wonderful middle school children who were both breastfed. You can find Erica on Twitter {@midwifeerica}.

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