1. Equip Yourself and Commit to it
The best start begins in Pregnancy so make the most out of your time to research about what to expect when you’ve decided to breastfeed.
A book I would greatly recommend is Dr. Jack Newman’s The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. The book is self-explanatory and would greatly help in busting common myths about breastfeeding. It also talks about usual problems encountered in breastfeeding and holds a great deal of information on how to overcome them.
Seminars and Talks
Attending at least one seminar will help you equip yourself. These seminars are conducted regularly in different areas like malls, hospitals and several mommy events. It would be great if you can bring a list of questions you might have. It is also a good idea to be surrounded by co-pregnant moms who share the same goal, which is to breastfeed.
Get Your Husband on Board
You do not need to do this alone. Having your husband’s support will absolutely help you in times you may feel like giving up. Having him around while you do your research and bringing him to seminars will surely influence him to make the commitment with you. If he has doubts, talk to him. Let him know you value his support and how much this means to you.
Make the Commitment
To make the decision to breastfeed is easy, but to stand by it can be difficult. In this day and age where milk companies are very much eager in selling their products, sometimes it can be hard to convince your family members, most especially mothers and mothers-in-law to support you in your decision. Just make sure you have informed them about the dangers of formula milk feeding so they’ll be aware and not be blinded by the marketing ploys of these companies. Involving them in the seminars may also help them understand you better. So, it’s really better to tag them along.
2. Unmedicated Childbirth
If possible, choose a natural childbirth.
I cannot even begin to emphasize the importance of attending a childbirth preparation class. If not for The Pod, I wouldn’t have learned about the benefits of breastfeeding and also what medications used in childbirth does to you and your baby.
The documentary called The Business of Being Born opened my eyes to the reality of childbirth in hospitals. How big of a business it is and how it disrupts every effort of the mother to breastfeed her child. Watch the video and find out what I am talking about!
So if possible, choose a natural childbirth without any medical intervention. If ever it is needed, choose the better option instead. Making an in-depth research will do if you happen to have no time to attend these classes.
3. Join Support Groups
-where to go and who to call when challenges come.
Being part of one is very important in achieving your goal. To be part of a group with like-minded people will surely help you when certain challenges arise. These challenges may make or break your breastfeeding journey; to have experienced friends, is a plus.
An online group I would highly recommend is called Breastfeeding Pinays on Facebook. All other support groups per area here in the Philippines are listed under their Files section – if you are looking for one. Although, you must first join the group in order to gain access to these files. Of course, there are other websites and online forums you can visit, but a Filipino-based community who understands our culture, may be of better help.
If ever you are based abroad, you may check the website of La Leche League for local a support group nearest you.
The group also has a list of Breastfeeding-friendly doctors if you wish to get a consultation. The Obstetrician and the Pediatrician you consult with should be knowledgeable about breastfeeding. If they start showing signs that they are backed-up by formula milk companies, that is already a warning for you to consider looking for another doctor. They will be your partners in promoting the health and well-being of your child so it is very important that you share the same views and advocacy.
4. The Latch
Unang Yakap is now an enforced protocol in most hospital which involves the following steps:
- Immediate Thorough Drying
- Immediate Skin-to-Skin Contact
- Appropriately-Timed Cord Clamping
- Nonseparation of newborn from mother to allow for early breastfeeding
A mother must be able to establish a good start in breastfeeding in order to avoid common problems like engorgement and supply issues. The key is to make sure the baby is given the chance to feed as soon as possible which is roughly, 30 minutes to an hour after the birth. Please take note of Republic Act 7600 also known as The Rooming-In and Breast-feeding Act of 1992 which promotes and protects breastfeeding in the hospital setting.
Upon birth, every mom already has milk in the form of colostrum. This is very small in amount and is loaded with antibodies which serve as your baby’s first immunization. Aside from this, having the baby latched on right after birth will help in regulating baby’s temperature and blood sugar.
Getting the baby to have a good latch from the very beginning will greatly decrease any form of difficulty along the way. If ever you need counseling, it is good to keep in touch with someone who can come over at the hospital to check on you and your baby’s latch when necessary.
Feed on Demand
Don’t watch the clock and don’t time your feedings. Allow baby to suckle at the breast for as long as he wants, one breast each feeding (or both, one after the other, if he isn’t satisfied). By doing this, it will send signals to your brain how much milk you need to produce. Breastfeeding is a law of supply and demand so having the baby latched often will help in your milk production later on.
Don’t measure the amount of milk, focus instead on the number of wet and soiled diapers. Remember, expressing milk is best done when baby turns 6 weeks old. By this time, milk production is already established and you wouldn’t have to worry about oversupply which usually leads to engorgement.
5. Exclusively Breastfeed for the First 6 Months
Exclusive Breastfeeding means no water, no solid food, no vitamins, and no other milk except breastmilk for the first 6 months of baby’s life. Studies have shown that exposing your baby to these substances can do your baby more harm than good. Breastmilk is already packed with nutrients to nourish your growing baby. It is really all they need!
The benefits for both mother and baby are just tremendous, I can go on and on about it! You may find a much more detailed explanation here.
World Health Organization recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. – WHO
Working Moms CAN Continue Breastfeeding
Many mothers start supplementing with formula milk when they go back to work. What they do not know is that, this is unnecessary, and that it is possible to maintain your supply through expressing your milk. You may learn the art of hand expression which is way better and gentler for you breasts. If ever you do have the budget, you may purchase a breast pump. Either way, sticking to a schedule is the secret to making it work. You also have to remember that when you and baby are together, always go for direct feeding.
Being aware of the law called The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (RA 10028) is also important especially to those who are employed in smaller companies, who tend to violate the rights of the mothers to have an extra 40-minute break for expressing their milk. Note that you have rights and you need to be familiar with it to be able to fight for it.
Source: World Health Organization and Trainer’s Reference Manual ‘Gabay kay Nanay sa Tamang Pagpapasuso’ c/o Breastfeeding Pinays
Using a cup instead of a bottle will eliminate the risk of nipple confusion. When a baby is breastfeeding directly, the baby exerts great effort in drawing the milk out through suckling. On the other hand, bottle-feeding requires no, to minimum effort for the milk to come out. The tendency is that, babies usually prefer the bottle over the breast and this causes a decrease in the mother’s supply. Cupfeeding is easy and can be done even with premature babies.
6. Finding the Balance Between Breastfeeding and Solid Feeding
On the 6th month, your baby may already start eating solids. Not all babies though show signs of readiness by this time so it is best to get to know your baby. With Matilda, we delayed solids until her 7th month to maximize the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. We didn’t have any problems with her weight gain so our Pedia approved of it. Also, she wan’t able to sit on her own unsupported yet and this was necessary to avoid choking.
Weight gain usually start to slow down around 5-6 months so don’t be surprised by it. As your child gradually learns how to eat, his weight gain will be on a steady pace from then on. Remember to always consider your baby’s milestones and do not compare your child’s weight with another. Every child is different and as long as he is a happy, contented baby, and meeting his milestones, you will surely have no problem.
A helpful guide on how much babies actually need is provided below:
6-8 months: 80% milk 20% solids
8-12 months: 60% milk 40% solids
12-23 months: 40% milk 60% solids
Source: Tamang K.A.I.N Seminar (Kid and Infant Nutirition) conducted by Velvet Escario-Roxas in partnership with Breastfeeding Pinays
7. Push for Extended Breastfeeding
My Matilda at 1 year and 6 months is still breastfed and I plan to continue for as long as she wants. Why oh why? She has teeth already! Plus she’s already walking (more like running!). Well, yes of course she has teeth already! If the latch is right, it isn’t a problem. The picture below pretty much sums up all the reasons why we want to let her wean on her own. Breastfeeding is addicting after all! 🙂
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8 NASB)
Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. (1 Peter 2:2, 3 NLT)