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Tips for expectant and new mothers

You’ve stocked up on diapers, struggled to install your car seat properly, and assembled the crib. Now you are eagerly awaiting the birth of your baby. But whether you’re a first-time parent or a current parent, you may still have questions about another important part of caring for your baby — feeding.

August is National Breastfeeding Month, with August 1-7 marking World Breastfeeding Week. Because of the many benefits to both mother and child, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding after the introduction of solid foods.

While some expectant parents are determined to breastfeed, others are less sure. But even for those with the best of intentions, breastfeeding can be difficult, experts acknowledge. “A lot of people believe that breastfeeding is easy because it’s natural and that they don’t need to prepare,” says Grisel Gigato, a registered nurse and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at South Miami Hospital, part of Health the Baptists.

“The reality,” she adds, “is that it can be challenging. But with some education and support, you will likely be able to overcome any difficulties and give your baby the best start in life.”

There is no question that breastfeeding gives a baby immunity to many diseases, reduces the likelihood of repeat ear infections, reduces the likelihood of childhood obesity and diseases later in life, and more.

“It’s the perfect food for babies,” says Anne-Marie Sawicki, a registered nurse and IBCLC at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health. “It’s got the perfect amount of calories, protein, and fat, and gets the gut off to a good, healthy start.”

For mothers, the benefits include a reduced risk of premenopausal breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

Before birth

For the best breastfeeding experience, Baptist Health lactation consultants recommend taking these steps before you are due.

  • Make sure your obstetrician, midwife, or other caregiver knows you want to breastfeed. Do you have a birth plan?
  • educate yourself Read books and articles. Watch breastfeeding videos. Take a breastfeeding education class and/or make an appointment with a lactation consultant, especially if you think you may have a problem because of flat or inverted nipples, previous breast surgery, or a medical condition.
  • Gather breastfeeding supplies. A lot of extra equipment is not necessary, which is why many women talk about the convenience of breastfeeding. However, some basic things like a breast pump, storage bags, nursing bras, and other items will help.
  • If you plan to work outside the home after your baby is born, check with Human Resources for your company’s breastfeeding policies. Make sure there is a clean, quiet, private place to express and that you have adequate time. You also need a place to keep your milk safe.

The first days

  • Immediately after birth, the goal of the mother-child team is to get your baby skin-to-skin for bonding and possibly feeding. “That magical hour after the birth is really important,” says Ms. Sawicki. “As long as mom and baby are okay, we cuddle them skin to skin. There is no pressure to breastfeed.” Even if the mother has had a cesarean section, if everything is okay, skin-to-skin contact can be initiated.
  • Ask that the baby stay with you after the birth if everyone is healthy.
  • Use the lactation training in the hospital. “We’ll come by and help you with the technology or with pumping milk. Some babies need to learn to coordinate their sucking,” says Ms. Gigato. “We are here to help.”
  • Understand that it can take several days for your milk to be fully absorbed, but the baby gets nutrients from colostrum, the first stage of breast milk that a mother’s breasts produce.
  • Try to rest when your baby is resting. This will help with milk production and regeneration. And talk to your lactation consultant about when or if you should wake your baby to breastfeed.

Special circumstances or health problems

Special circumstances require special measures. When the baby has to go to daycare or the NICU, or when the mother has health problems, there can be a time of separation. Baptist Health doctors, nurses and lactation consultants work closely with you to ensure proper nutrition. The options are customized. They can include things like nutritional supplement systems, donated breast milk, and more.

“It’s important to get help sooner rather than later if you’re suffering from breast pain, engorgement or any other problem. There is no reason to suffer,” says Ms. Sawicki. “There is support from your obstetrician, your pediatrician, lactation consultants at the hospital and in the community.”

Parents often ask if their breastfed baby is eating enough. The experts say to keep your nappies wet and dirty, make sure the baby is snug against the breast, listen for any swallowing or gulping sounds, and watch the baby to see if he’s full (or milk drank, as they say). Visiting your pediatrician for the first time after birth is a good opportunity to discuss baby’s weight, feeding habits, adjusting to upcoming growth spurts, and more.

And remember, advisers say, to ask for help, whether it’s someone bringing you your food or doing your laundry.

In addition to South Miami Hospital and Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Baptist Health’s hospitals that offer obstetrics are Baptist Hospital, West Kendall Baptist Hospital, Homestead Hospital, and Bethesda Hospital East. Click here for more information on breastfeeding.

Keywords: Boca Raton Regional Hospital, breastfeeding, pregnancy and childbirth, South Miami Hospital

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