Ask An Expert
What to Expect When You're Expecting to Breastfeed
What are the most likely barriers to breastfeeding and is there any way to avoid them?
One of the biggest barriers is the lack of support. I think if more health care professionals were truly educated on all matters of lactation, it could be such a huge help! While there is absolutely nothing wrong with offering formula for infant feeding, there are times when that is given as the solution but not related to the problem at hand. When parents are struggling and asking for help with pain, the next option should be to figure out what is causing the pain and to alleviate it. But that's not always the case. Overall, the lack of support can lead to lack of education, decline of mental health, and ultimately decreased nursing and/or pumping rates. If there was more support and education as a whole, maybe nursing would be easier overall.
What should a woman hoping to breastfeed know before going into her birthing facility?
I think that every parent planning to nurse their baby should 100 percent take an infant feeding course! There are many wonderful options online but I also have a course for beginners to master the beginning days of infant feeding!
What should a breastfeeding mother expect in the hospital and in the first few days after birth?
I talk a lot more about this in my course but the biggest thing is that the baby may be sleepy and things may not be "picture perfect" and that's more than okay!
What are a few essentials new mothers should have on hand to help with breastfeeding?
It's really hard to say because everyone loves such different things for different reasons. If I had to choose a few things based on what I used most frequently, I would say a breast pump, a nice nursing/pumping bra, books on feeding, and some hot/cold pads for pain relief!
What resources do you recommend for women trying to learn as much as possible about breastfeeding?
Of course, myself and my website www.themilkmanual.com but also instagram. There is an amazing amount of lactation consultants with such different backgrounds sharing an incredible amount of knowledge!
When is the best time for a new or expecting mother to seek help? What qualities and qualifications should they look for in a consultant?
I would say to start searching for options during the third trimester or in late pregnancy and to reach out after the birth of the baby. Prenatal consults can be super helpful as well but if you're limited on visits, then saving it for post-baby is much better. During pregnancy, it can be so helpful to read a lot of books on nursing and/or take courses to prepare yourself!
When looking for a LC, go with someone that makes you feel comfortable and someone that doesn't seem judgmental. Also an IBCLC if you can!
Finally, what is your best advice for expecting and new mothers hoping to breastfeed their child?
My best piece of advice is to educate yourself! It's the best thing you can do to prepare yourself for this journey!