Jacqueline Kincer of Holistic Lactation Talks About Breastfeeding for New Mothers
Every new mother wants to be as prepared as she can for the birth of her baby. As a first time mom, you’re probably trying to learn all the things about birth, babies, and breastfeeding. While most new moms plan on breastfeeding, they often struggle to get off to a great start. Education is key, which is why this blog post will address some of the most common questions new mothers have about breastfeeding.
With the emergence of insurance-provided breast pumps, and the lack of longer-term maternity leave, many moms will eventually find themselves needing to pump breastmilk for their babies. The question is: when should you begin pumping? There isn’t really a right or wrong answer to this—it depends! For example, let’s say your baby was born prematurely and is in the NICU. You aren’t able to latch and breastfeed your baby, but providing your breastmilk is critical. You’ll ideally start hand expressing or pumping very soon after you give birth. For other mothers, their babies may latch well right away and be doing great with breastfeeding. The mother might exclusively breastfeed but need to return to work at 12 weeks. For this situation, starting to pump and save up milk at least 2 weeks before returning to work would be a great timeframe to begin pumping.
How will I know if I’m making enough milk?
This is probably one of the most common questions new mothers ask. Believe it or not, you can tell if your baby is getting enough milk at the breast without weighing or pumping your milk. Babies who are breastfeeding well are actively swallowing, will relax their bodies as they feed, have plenty of wet and dirty diapers, and put on weight week-to-week. Please keep in mind that fussiness doesn’t always mean hunger. When you’re pumping breastmilk, make sure your baby isn’t being overfed. After the newborn stage, a breastmilk-fed baby will only ever drink 2-5 ounces per feeding, even as they get older. Babies who are overfed will end up stretching out their tummies and no longer feel full on normal amounts of milk.
What should I do if I can’t breastfeed?
The answer here might seem simple—just give your baby bottles of formula. But for most moms, they want to breastfeed their babies, or at least provide their own breastmilk. It is very rare that a mother truly CANNOT breastfeed her child. There’s many factors that get in the way: lack of workplace support, bad advice, over supplementation, lack of breastfeeding & lactation support, underlying health status, lack of access to resources. There are many levels of breastfeeding support available. Find a free local breastfeeding support group, a social media account your trust, an IBCLC to work with, a breastfeeding class, and surround yourself with people supportive of your goals.
Do I need to do anything to prepare for breastfeeding?
You don’t need to do anything to your nipples to prepare for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should NOT hurt—if it does, see an IBCLC right away to get help. You also don’t need to eat anything special other than a healthy diet for pregnancy. You don’t need to take special supplements or pump while pregnant either. Just relax and educate yourself, get your postpartum support in place, and keep learning how to breastfeed!
How long should I breastfeed for?
While there are recommendations from various health organizations, it’s important for mothers to take breastfeeding one feeding at a time. Celebrate the small (and big) things and then commit to doing it again. As you keep going, it should get easier. If it doesn’t, that’s how you know more support will be beneficial. Keep in mind that breastfeeding exclusively is recommended until age 6 months. At that time, your baby will still breastfeed just as often, but add in solid foods for additional calories. Around one year of age, your child will start transitioning to getting more calories from solid foods and less from breastmilk. Most children won’t wean themselves before age two, and this is completely normal and healthy! Some parents will choose to stop breastfeeding at one year, but the benefits only grow if you continue to age 2 or beyond.
No matter your plans for breastfeeding, remember that it’s about so much more than food. Breastfeeding helps your body heal from pregnancy and birth, it creates a loving bond with your baby, and can grow your confidence as a new mother. If you’re looking for more information and support, check out the podcast Breastfeeding Talk: Milk. Motherhood. Mindset and follow Jacqueline Kincer, IBCLC @holisticlactation on Instagram.