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Do These Things to Make Breastfeeding Easier

Do These Things to Make Breastfeeding Easier

The CDC recommends that all babies be breastfed exclusively for six months and breastfed alongside other foods for at least one year. The American Academy of Pediatrics extends that guideline to up to two years.

According to the CDC, about 83% of American mothers breastfeed their newborn babies at the beginning. At 6 months old, 56% of babies are breastfed. And at 1 year old, only 36% of babies are still breastfed.

Why? Because although breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy. Breastmilk offers undeniable benefits for infants — but if you’re overwhelmed by the thought of breastfeeding, you’re not alone.

Breastfeeding is a learned skill for both moms and their babies, and Katie Ostrom, MD, and our team in Homer, Alaska are here to help by providing advanced care for pregnant and postpartum moms. Here are our best tips for making the transition to breastfeeding. 

Start learning before giving birth

Giving birth is a physically and mentally exhausting experience. It’s overwhelming, and it’s not the best time to start learning something new. So if you plan to breastfeed your baby, take time before giving birth to learn about it.

Ask Dr. Ostrom and our team for advice and local resources. Consider taking a breastfeeding class or join a breastfeeding support group. Learn what to expect when it comes to breastfeeding, and start building a support network you can come back to once your baby is here.

Stock up on nursing supplies

While you won’t know exactly what you’ll need until your baby is born and you start breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to stock up on some basic supplies ahead of time.

We recommend collecting a nursing pillow, comfortable nursing bras, nipple cream or lanolin pads, and nipple shields. If you plan to pump, get your breast pump, milk storage containers, and cleaning supplies, too.

Explore different nursing positions

The way you support yourself and your baby while you breastfeed matters. You should always bring your baby to your breast, rather than leaning or hunching over your baby. The best positions for you depend on your body, your preferences, and your baby’s feeding style.

We can help you explore a variety of different nursing positions until you find some you feel comfortable with. Switching positions over the course of a day can also help relieve nipple irritation.

Give pumping a try

Some new mothers find that pumping is less stressful than breastfeeding, while still giving their infants all the benefits of breastmilk. Pumping can eliminate latching problems, and it allows other people the opportunity to feed the baby while you rest.

It’s also a good idea to try pumping while you’re still on maternity leave if you plan to continue breastfeeding after you return to work. Pumping at home gives you practice and helps you build up a supply of milk.

Get support from lactation experts

Don’t expect that you or your baby will know exactly what to do right away. Breastfeeding is a learning experience for moms and infants, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

In fact, knowing when to get help can save you and your baby a lot of frustration. If you’re in pain or your baby is struggling to get enough food, contact our office right away.

Dr. Ostrom and our team are here to provide breastfeeding guidance and postpartum support. We can make recommendations and connect you with a local lactation consultant for a comprehensive breastfeeding evaluation.

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