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Even if breastfeeding is natural, it can still be tricky. Here's how to get off to a good start nursing your baby.
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Sabrina Easterling: To get breastfeeding off to a good start, one of the key things is actually starting thinking about it before a mom actually has a baby in her arms. Prenatal education and just considering what it really means to breastfeed is one of the most important things, to be able to understand the ups and downs that moms go through, and to be able to understand the technique and the—in some ways, a strategy behind it. It is not rocket science, it is just breastfeeding, but it’s not always as easy as it looks, and many women hear those stories from their friends about the challenges they go through. So it’s really helpful to actually surround oneself by people who have had positive breastfeeding experiences, who have been able to reach those goals set by the Academy of Pediatrics to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months.
So that’s one of those first things is to really just think about it before the baby comes, but once baby is born and baby is finally in Mom’s arms, one of the most helpful things to think about is holding baby skin to skin. They can be wearing a diaper, but just heart to heart, that warmth where baby feels the warmth, baby hears mom’s heartbeat. We know that this is one of those things that’s not only super-supportive of breastfeeding but helps keep babies’ body temperature warm, helps reduce the likelihood of low blood sugar, helps regulate babies’ heart rate, and really, it’s one of those things that helps babies’ natural instincts come alive, because for Mom, breastfeeding is really kind of a learned thing. We learn it from our moms, we learn it from our aunts, we learn it from our cousins and sisters, or we don’t if we haven’t seen that. We learn it on the job otherwise, but for baby, they’ve got these great instincts that they can, if moms know how to help them tap into it, they can really kind of lead the—lead the ship that way.
So those are some of the things to think about. Also, being able to have great support early and often is one of those things that can help reduce a lot of stress and stop a lot of crying for both Mom and for baby. So to get great support and consistent information from your health-care team, from lactation consultants, from the nurses at the hospital, and hopefully from the pediatrician and from the obstetrician is really important.
Medically reviewed by, childbirth educator and lactation consultant