Monday, June 9, 2014

The Breastfeeding Chronicles Part II: Journey to the Bed Side

Thankfully my birthing hospital had some good breastfeeding practices in place, which contributed to my success in nursing my son for 16 months and my daughter for 12 months. I experienced firsthand exactly what studies have shown – hospitals can help and hinder how long a mom and baby continue to nurse. In our state, about 90 percent of moms start off breastfeeding. By six months, 54 percent of moms breastfeed, and 20 percent of moms give only breast milk at six months. The rate decreases to 34 percent of moms nursing until baby is 12 months. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving only breast milk until about six months, and continuing to nurse until one year or more.
Here’s what the hospital did right in our case with the first baby:
  • Offered a breastfeeding class before the birth.
  • Brought baby to nurse as soon as possible after delivery – my daughter was allowed to kind of crawl up my body – it was so cool!
  • Encouraged rooming in with baby, helping mama bear say “no” to sugar water.
  • Didn’t give a formula bag or formula samples when I went home.
And what they could have done differently:
  • Provided lactation consultants on the weekend. I gave birth on a Friday evening and didn’t have access to one.
  • Not insisted on supplementing with sugar water when I’d made a commitment to breastfeed. They did not end up supplementing because I told them they couldn't unless it was absolutely medically necessary.
  • Helped improve my latch and explained that my mature milk would come in later.
  • Not given us a pacifier – we felt at the time like we needed it for our sanity but didn’t understand how it may have interfered with my milk supply.
As a mom, I’m authorized/required to give unsolicited advice to expecting parents. If you decide to breastfeed your baby, ask your doctor or midwife how the birthing hospital or center supports breastfeeding. Or you can call the hospital’s maternity ward to discuss a short list of breastfeeding needs. If you’re lucky enough to have a choice in hospitals, you can include breastfeeding support in your choice criteria. 
Don't miss The Breastfeeding Chronicles: Prologue and Part I! Coming Soon: Breastfeeding Chronicles Part III: The Return of the Mommy.
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