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Breastfeeding Tips from the Pros

Heather Crossan

As World Breastfeeding Week comes to a close we wanted to share some tips!  

We’ve spent the week compiling tips from the Doula Essentials Doulas to help new families and doulas alike! They've shared what has worked for them personally, and what they have found professionally to be common solutions.

Give yourself some grace

.You first need to build a relationship with your baby, then you can build one with breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is not the best choice for everyone, each family will determine what feeding solution, or combination of feeding solutions, is best for their baby, but, over the years, we have found some common struggles that no one talks about! Everyone is different, but as you read through you'll notice there are a few themes :)

  • Have support!!!!!! Support is #1 in my opinion.
  • My personal tip would be, be prepared to feel awkward, unsure and overwhelmed. But if you're well supported (see tip #1) you'll likely get past that part and it will become easier.
  • Oh and buy lily padz! (Editor Note - If you haven’t heard of Lily Padz, LEARN!!!  These are a game changer.)
  • Uninterrupted skin to skin until first latch lead by baby
  • Personal tip - it’s not easy, let baby do its thing and relax and you 2 will figure it out.
  • Know there are many different breastfeeding positions and that the "typical" cradle hold doesn't work for everyone (baby or mom). For at least the first 6 weeks of my daughter's life she would only feed sitting upright on my lap (she was tiny so this worked well).
  • Breastfeeding is a relationship - and it takes time, energy, patience to build it. It will not look like anyone else's relationship because you and your baby are unique individuals. Even from one baby to the next, things will change. Tap into your intuition and don't be afraid to follow your gut... if that means asking questions, awesome! If that means telling people to take their advice and shove it, that's awesome too!

This beautiful baby is actually enjoying a feed! Cuddled in her moms arms the feeding tube is what she needs right now.

  • Professional tip: if the latch hurts or you're feeling some overwhelming emotions when your milk lets down, ask for some help!
  • Professional tip: Sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques"...every morning of my recent (Certified Lactation Educator) course: "When you counsel, when you counsel. Never judge, never judge. Praise mother and baby, praise mother and baby. Don’t command, do suggest.”
  • Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed.
  • It’s not all or nothing!  You do not have to exclusively breastfeed to breastfeed!  Some choose to breastfeed in the morning only.  Others prefer to mix bottlefeeding with breastfeeding.  For some, breastfeeding for the first month or week is a goal, some want to extend several years.  Whatever works for your family is wonderful.
  • Don’t watch the clock, watch your baby.
  • Master side-lying feeds. Once babe knows the drill it's a great way to get much needed rest & always have water and snacks nearby (when not side-lying 😉)
  • Don’t worry if you don't want to breastfeed - don't be pressured into anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Just do what feels right
  • Be aware! Pumping could potentially bring on labour
  • If it hurts or isn't working, get help! Don't wait until you are in utter agony and despair. Don't tough it out but seek help early. And if whoever you see isn't helping you, go somewhere else until you find someone who helps you make it work.
  • Advice from observing a pre-natal breastfeeding class last weekend: '"If you remember nothing else from this class, remember SKIN TO SKIN.”
  • Lots of people will have opinions about how/where/when/why you should feed but you know your breastfeeding relationship best. 
  • Advice is okay when it's encouraging, equipping, and empowering. If it makes you feel guilty take a deep breath and sweep it away.
  • Yes, you can breastfeed your child in public. Welcome to Alberta!
  • Determine what your goals are-breastfeeding can be difficult and if it's important, find the help and support that will help get you to your goals.

Be Patient!

You have to learn AND your baby is learning too!

  • Hand expressing after every feed for the first three days can help milk supply come in.
  • Don’t make breastfeeding decisions based on the comfort/opinions of others. If bottle-feeding formula worked for your MIL 35 years ago, it may not work for you. If your neighbour is uncomfortable with you Nursing in front of them-don't cover for their comfort.
  • It can be intimidating Nursing in public for the first time. Practicing at home in front of a mirror can be helpful as you can see how much skin you'll actually be showing. It can help you build confidence before you go out for the first time with your baby
  • Personally, breastfeeding can really help heal a traumatic birth. 
  • Visualizations help with let-down (imagining the milk flow from the back of the breast to the nipple)
  • Connecting to a lactation consultant or breastfeeding clinic, can really help with any breastfeeding issues and getting support right away instead of waiting until things get really bad can really help.
  • Be patient!! You have to learn AND your baby is learning too! Sometimes breastfeeding is hard work, but it's so worth it.

Breastfeeding is NOT all or nothing.

You can decide what it means for you and your baby.

  • Ask for help if you are struggling. Breastfeeding isn't always easy and straightforward. If your intuition is telling you something is off, listen to it and advocate for yourself to get the help you need. And although breastfeeding can have its challenges at first, it makes life so much easier once established!
  • Be patient with yourself and your little. Sometimes you have to work at it for a bit, but with patience, a little help from a lactation specialist and some love and dedication, it can become easier and a wonderful experience! It isn't super easy for everyone right away, but it is definitely worth the time once you and your little have your own beautiful rhythm!
  • Make sure to take pictures!  Many find when they look back that there are no pictures of them feeding other than selfies (or breflies - a breastfeeding selfie!) this time will go by in the blink of an eye, make sure to get at least some pictures.
  • My nipples hurt so bad when little one was a newborn, I was in such agony when I nursed her. She refused a bottle for the life of her so I bought a nipple shield, it was the best thing that worked for me! I also found that teabags work, it felt like my nipples healed instantly! (Editors Note - Nipple Shields can be an amazing tool, but should always be used under the guidance of a professional lactation specialist).
  • Give yourself some grace. You first need to build a relationship with your baby, then you can build one with breastfeeding.
  • Contact a Lactation Specialist prior to your baby's arrival. So MANY issues can be discussed before there is a problem. 

Seems Simple, but...Make sure you are relaxed and comfortable!

Lots of pillows, a beverage, and snack all within hands reach.  

Above all remember this advice from one of the original doulas in Alberta, who has supported literally thousands of families:

Breastfeeding is the act of giving breastmilk to your child. It can be at the breast, through pumping and bottle feeding, through an SNS system, through donor milk, or supplemented with formula. There is no RIGHT way to feed your baby. Do what keeps you sane.

Thank you to Mountain Mama Photography and Doula Jenn for sharing their beautiful photos.

Doula Essentials Inc. was started by Heather Crossan of Elite Doula Group Inc. to be a place for doulas to be nourished with education, encouraged in their journey, and in turn flourish in theory communities.