Pregnancy is an amazing experience. Our bodies change every day as life grows within us. Right from the start we are in awe of how we are able to nurture our baby and we long to know more about him or her. The websites tell us that our baby is as large as a kidney-bean, a strawberry, a squash, a melon….! Around the “squash” stage we begin to get serious about preparing for birth. Books on childbirth are purchased, childbirth education classes attended and doulas hired.
Our baby’s birth date arrives. Our birth plan may or may not go according to script but at the end of it, we have our longed for baby in our arms. And, now what?
WE NEED TO FEED OUR BABY
In my Toronto-based practice as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I see time and time again that mothers have put much energy and effort into their pregnancy and planning for their birth. They may also intend to breastfeed. Studies do show that 96% of Canadian women initiate breastfeeding armed with the knowledge that it is best for them and their new bundle of joy. Yet many mothers have given little thought as to how to get breastfeeding off to the best start and what to expect as time goes on.
Knowledge is power! Preparing for your breastfeeding experience should be an important part of your pregnancy. Systematic review of available research suggests that breastfeeding education is effective in increasing both the rate of breastfeeding initiation, breastfeeding exclusivity and breastfeeding duration (1-5).
A knowledgeable instructor can help you to make important decisions that will impact your breastfeeding success and can help you reach your breastfeeding goals! A good breastfeeding class should be evidence-based, should include hands-on practice and should discuss the following:
- How to get off to the very best start in the hospital and at home
- How to lead your baby to comfortably latch and drink effectively
- How to tell that your baby is getting enough and whether breastfeeding is going well
- How to overcome common breastfeeding challenges.
West End Mamas holds a “Prenatal Breastfeeding Class for Expecting Parents” every two months and includes the added bonus of a complimentary phone call once baby is born. As the instructor of this class, I want to ensure that mothers can direct questions to an expert rather than navigating through the conflicting advice of doctors, nurses, dr.google, etc!
If attending a class is truly a challenge there are a number of other ways that I encourage my clients to prepare for their breastfeeding journey. Most prenatal books have a small section on breastfeeding. They are worth a read! There are also fantastic books specifically about breastfeeding so check these out:
- Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding – Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman
- Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers – Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – La Leche League International
Finally, if you are able to watch a friend nurse her baby this can be an incredible learning experience. If you don’t have a friend currently nursing then look for a La Leche League meeting near you!
- Imdad A, Yakoob MY, Bhutta ZA. Effect of breastfeeding promotion interventions on breastfeeding rates, with special focus on developing countries. BMC Public Health. 2011, 11 Suppl 3:S24.
- Horta BL, Victora CG. Long-term effects of breastfeeding: a systematic review. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2013.
- Dyson L, McCormick F, Renfrew M. Interventions for promoting the initiation of breastfeeding. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2005, 2:CD001688.
- Lumbiganon P, et al. Antenatal breastfeeding education for increasing breastfeeding duration. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012, 9:CD006425.
- Chapman DJ, et al. Breastfeeding peer counseling: from efficacy through scale-up. Journal of Human Lactation. 2010, 26:314-26.
About Taya Griffin
Taya Griffin | International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Taya is a Lactation Consultant in the Toronto area. She is passionate about prenatal breastfeeding education and sees mothers at home, the hospital and in a clinic setting postpartum to help them to reach their breastfeeding goals. She also teaches pre and postnatal pilates and really can’t get enough of babies! She has two breastfed daughters, whom she wishes were still babies! Alas, they are growing up too quickly!