August is National Breastfeeding Month and organizations all across the United States are sharing information and resources about breast/chestfeeding. Breast/chestfeeding is often the next big challenge after birth and the USA does not have very good initiation rates or exclusive breastfeeding rates compared to other industrialized countries around the world. Here are six things that you can do to tip the scales in your favor as your start your lactation journey.
Prenatal consult with a lactation consultant
If you have had a breast reduction or augmentation in the past, have not noticed any changes to your breasts during this pregnancy or had a challenging breast/chestfeeding situation with a previous child, connect with professional support now. Consider meeting with a lactation consultant prior to giving birth in order to have a plan and be already established with someone if you need some extra help once your baby is born. You can find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant here.
Acquire your breast pump before the baby comes
Even if you are not planning to go back to work, or think you won’t need a good quality double electric pump, it is suggested that you purchase the best pump your health care coverage will provide. Equally important, do this before your baby comes, as many new parents find they need a pump sooner than expected to help with increasing supply or engorgement. Sending a friend or family member out to search for one at 3:00 AM, a few days after you give birth, seldom results in a successful shopping trip. Have the pump in advance and orient yourself to how to use it so that when and if the time comes, you are ready to go.
Less is more in the last weeks before birth
There is no need to do anything to prepare your breasts for nursing in advance of the birth of your baby. In fact, less is more. Avoid using soaps, lotions, or special creams on your breasts or nipples, and just wash with plain water in the shower starting at about 36 weeks. Certainly, avoid any advice from well-intentioned folks who suggest “toughening up” your nipples and areolas with a rough washcloth or other item before your baby arrives. This is not going to help anything and can actually make things worse by removing the natural lubricant your breasts already produce.
Miss the “golden hour” window
Research has shown that initiating breast/chestfeeding your baby in the first hour after birth sets you both up for feeding success, both short term and long term, with a better milk supply. Putting the baby to your breast so that the baby can move milk in the first hour is an important step to take. If for some reason you are separated from your baby, try to hand express or pump some colostrum to get things started. This expressed milk can be provided to the baby even if you are not able to nurse them at the breast immediately.
Avoid lots of visitors
Another research study demonstrated that new parents who had lots of visitors in the first hours and days after birth missed important early feeding cues and brought the baby to the breast less frequently than those couplets who limited visitors until the important early days of establishing lactation had passed. Protecting those early days as you recover and start feeding your baby will help a lot.
Consider stocking up on Euphoric Herbals lactation products
Browsing through our popular collection of lactation support products and having some on hand so you are ready to start off on the right foot is a good action step to take before your baby arrives. Parents have relied on these quality products to support their lactation journey and you can too! Check out all our products designed specifically for the lactation parent at this link.