So I’m sure you have all heard of a birth plan. As table of preferences made to inform and guide your care provider as to what sort of comfort measures interventions etc. you had in mind for your baby’s birth…
But what about once your baby has arrived earth side…
If you are really keen to breastfeed your baby this post is for you.
Here are a few things I would add to your post birth plan to ensure you get breastfeeding off to the best start.
1. Skin to skin contact with your baby As long as there are no complications, the focus after birth is for you and baby to enjoy some bonding time and time to allow important neural processes to happen in your baby’s brain. Time skin-to-skin with your baby can help regulate their temperature, colonise baby’s natural gut bacteria to that of their mothers, stabilise baby blood sugar, heartrate, and get breastfeeding off to the best start. Skin-to-skin will trigger your body to produce Oxytocin, aka: the love hormone. Oxytocin will promote bonding between you and your baby and stimulate your milk production. This skin-to-skin time is the perfect setting to initiate your baby’s first feed as skin to skin encourages your little ones natural feeding reflexes as well as encouraging your body to release milk making hormones. If you can’t have the golden hour straight away don’t worry, make it clear in your birth preferences that you wish to have this as soon as you can, bonding time is beneficial at any time, it is also lovely for Dad to have skin-to-skin and to help with bonding where possible or if mum and baby have to be separated.
2. Delay weight!
Weighing your baby immediately after their arrival might be something we all have assumed as normal but did you know that birth in itself is stressful for a new-born baby and it takes an hour of undisturbed skin to skin for your baby’s heart rate to lower, this is something they need to do before they feed at the breast. While there is no harm done with weighing later there is a huge impact to interrupting this golden hour and weighing them before your baby has fed.
3. Limit the use of Dummies and artificial teats!
Why are we as lactation consultant’s not big fans?
Well as a general rule lactation consultants don’t like the use of soothers in the early days as they mean your body is losing precious chances of frequent breast stimulation. Milk supply works in a supply and demand basis. Our bodies respond to baby’s stimulation and when you give a soother or dummy, your breasts and brain are losing the chance to tell the body to make more milk. You can’t put off frequent feeds and expect to make enough milk. Bring baby to breast at every cue, limit pacifiers and bottles in the early days and weeks. I recommend somewhere between 5 and 6 weeks, trust your baby and trust the process.
4. Rooming in.
Keep your baby with you as much as possible after birth so you can get to know them and their cues. Newborn babies will typically feed no less than 8 and sometimes more than 12 times each 24 hours for the first several weeks. This may look like feeding every hour, or feeding every 3 hours. Observe your baby for their hunger cues, sticking their tongue out, moving their head from side to side, rooting, opening and closing their mouth and bringing their hands to their mouth, these are all signs that your baby is hungry .Offer them the breast at this stage, it is a lot more tricky to latch on a baby that is upset so try and feed them before they get to the point of upset.
If for some reason you and your baby are separated it is key that you receive the support that you need to begin hand expression within the first hour and pumping within 6 hours after your baby’s birth. Research tells us that implementing breastfeeding initiation or breast stimulation early in the first day after birth almost doubles the milk volumes available in the days and weeks to come. So important in setting yourself up for an abundant milk supply. Look for help from a qualified breastfeeding supporter or lactation consultant.