Many people are nervous about breastfeeding, the most common concern being milk supply. Many things can encourage milk production and successful breastfeeding. Most birth professionals will agree on a few key factors that will make the transition from pregnancy to breastfeeding postpartum simpler.
Minimal Intervention During Birth
Some interventions are medically necessary, while some are considered to be routine. Research shows that come interventions can intervene with the production of hormones that encourage milk supply, and may inhibit the baby’s ability to be alert and achieve a good latch. If you are not sure about different interventions that are used, be sure to talk to your healthcare practitioner, doula, or childbirth educator.
Skin to Skin Contact
Research has shown that skin-to-skin contact immediately following the birth (or as soon as possible) is a key factor in successful breastfeeding. Aim for at least one hour of direct contact to promote the release of hormones that aid breastfeeding. Even if the birthing parent is not available, skin-to-skin with a support person can help the baby adjust.
It is important to establish a good latch for effective milk transfer. The milk ducts will not be properly stimulated if the latch is too shallow. Successful breastfeeding operates based on supply and demand, so it is important to empty the milk ducts. When the milk ducts are empty, the body learns that more milk should be produced. If you are unsure of how to tell if a latch is effective, there are many resources. Doulas, lactation consultants and midwives as well as some doctors have training on breastfeeding and can offer support. There are also local groups such as La Leche League, which are volunteer-run groups of other parents who have successfully breastfed. Look for free workshops in your community (like this one) that can give you more information, or paid workshops on childbirth preparation through organizations such as Lamaze.
Feed Early and Often
Watch for your baby to show feeding cues and feed as soon as you notice. These include things like bringing hands to mouth, sucking on fists, rooting behaviours and more. Allowing the baby to latch on while still calm is much easier than working with a crying baby. If your baby does begin to cry, soothe him or her until calm, and then try latching. A newborn can sometimes feed as often as every hour, because their stomachs are so small. This allows for a gradual increase in the amount of milk required to satisfy their hunger. Feeding early and often cues the parent’s body to increase milk production to meet the needs of the baby.
Seek Assistance for any Difficulty
As soon as you notice any difficulty with breastfeeding, it is important to seek out knowledgeable support. Ineffective feeding can be frustrating for both mom and baby, and studies have shown that the earlier help is sought out, the better the outcome. Consider finding information about lactation consultants and postpartum doulas in your area before giving birth so that you have some resources to call on if needed.
Successful Breastfeeding Seminars
We host free seminars on establishing effective breastfeeding to give more information, and more tips and tricks. Breastfeeding is a natural process, but that does not mean that it is always simple. We want to share the knowledge that will give you confidence to get off to the best start. To find out about upcoming dates, visit the breastfeeding workshop page.