Establish your Support Network
In older days and in many other societies, new mothers are surrounded by women who exclusively breastfeed their babies. These mothers, aunts, sisters and friends are able to provide support by sharing the wisdom they gained through their breastfeeding experiences. In our society, new mothers often need to seek out significant others who can support them in getting breastfeeding established.
Identify friends and family members who support your decision to breastfeed and are committed to helping you succeed. These support people should be prepared to help you during the first few weeks as you work to establish a breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
Try hard to find at least one or two mothers who were able to exclusively breastfeed their babies who can support you. The hands-on assistance these women will be able to provide will be incredibly helpful the first few days and weeks.
Identify Professional Resources in your Community
Breastfeeding is a learned process rather than an intuitive skill. Professional lactation support is incredibly important, especially after returning home from the birth center or hospital.
Seek out Lactation Counselors and Breastfeeding Support Groups in your area and identify resources within your budget. Some may accept health insurance or Medicaid or may work on a sliding scale. Free resources may also be available.
Select a Pediatrician Who Promotes Breastfeeding
The pediatrician you select will be supporting you through parenting and monitoring the health of your child. Be sure your pediatrician promotes and is knowledgeable about exclusive breastfeeding so they best know how to guide and support you.
Keep in mind that pediatricians will have different amounts of knowledge about breastfeeding based on their personal and professional experiences.
No Artificial Nipples or Pacifiers For Six Weeks
Just like mothers need to learn how to breastfeed their infants, babies need to learn how to eat. The physical movements involved in drinking milk from a breast are different from those involved in drinking milk from a bottle or sucking on a pacifier.
Breastfeeding babies should not be given any artificial nipples or pacifiers until breastfeeding is firmly established, about six weeks. If six weeks is not possible, avoid artificial nipples or pacifiers for at least two weeks.
No Breast Milk Substitutes (Formula) Unless Medically Indicated
Most babies do not need any food other than their mothers’ milk for the first six months. Breastfed babies should not be given any formula unless indicated by a doctor.
Feed on Demand
Breastfed babies typically eat about every 1-2 hours. Feed your baby whenever she shows signs of hunger. Feeding on demand will not “spoil” your baby or make her overweight. Instead, it will help her develop a healthy metabolism.
Practice Skin-to-Skin Contact with Your Baby
Skin-to-skin contact will help you develop a close bond with your baby which will help your breastfeeding relationship. It can also help calm mother and baby and aids in regulating a newborn’s breathing and body temperature.
Wear Your Baby
Baby-wearing promotes mother-baby bonding and will help mothers pick up on their babies’ signs of hunger. Wear your baby whenever possible, but be sure to follow the directions of your baby carrier carefully.
A successful breastfeeding relationship means being available to your baby during the night. It is normal for breastfed infants to continue eating every 1-2 hours at night. Having your baby in the same room will help you respond to your babies cues. Be sure to educate yourself on co-sleeping safety before co-sleeping with your baby.
Hector Cruz is the Founder of the global campaign “Project: BreastFeeding”. He is passionate about helping to educate men of the importance of their roles in breastfeeding support. He is married and has a beautiful daughter and two dogs.