This post is sponsored by our partner Missouri Baptist Medical Center.
Mothers have been breastfeeding their babies since the beginning of time, but that doesn’t mean the process is seamless for all new moms and their babies. Sue Muehling, RN, BSN, IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, works with mothers to help them navigate their breastfeeding journey and meet their personal goals.
Through many years of supporting new moms as a lactation consultant, Muehling has identified a few pieces of advice. It’s not about what to buy or how to arrange your nursery, but rather how to prepare for one of the most beautiful — yet challenging — experiences you’ll encounter as a mother.
“One of the most important things I have learned is that educating yourself about breastfeeding before the baby arrives is extremely beneficial for the mother,” says Muehling. “Be familiar with any breastfeeding resources that are available to you and either take a breastfeeding class or read a book about breastfeeding prior to your baby’s arrival. The most empowered are those who are prepared ahead of time.”
Each family has its own definition of success.
The loving bond between a mother and her infant is unlike any other human relationship. The desire to provide your baby with the best nutritional start in life is powerful motivation, and the time you spend feeding your baby, no matter how much time, will include some of the most meaningful moments you’ll ever spend. It’s up to you and your family to decide your definition of success with breastfeeding your baby.
Breastfeeding is a process. What works one day may not work the next day.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Every breastfeeding mother’s relationship with her baby is different. There will be moms who start out with the intention of breastfeeding, and despite all of their efforts, it does not work out, and that is okay. What worked for one mom may not work for you, and that’s something you can’t control.
There is no single answer because often, one question leads to another.
Breastfeeding challenges aren’t uncommon in the first couple of weeks, and most of them resolve with time and a little guidance. During this time, a mom will have many questions, whether it’s her first child or fourth child, as each child is unique in the breastfeeding journey. A lactation consultant can answer your questions and be a wonderful resource for you.
Identify a support system.
In addition to lactation consultants and your pediatrician, every breastfeeding mother needs a breastfeeding “cheerleader.” Have a person (or persons) picked out — someone who supports your decision to breastfeed, has been through the breastfeeding journey, and will know where you’re coming from. It can also be helpful to look into local breastfeeding support groups.
Be realistic with your expectations.
Although it takes time, patience, and perseverance, breastfeeding can contribute to the lifelong health of both mom and baby. And, despite the challenges, most mothers don’t regret the time and effort they invest in breastfeeding or providing breast milk to their babies.
You will know your baby better than anyone else. Rely on your breastfeeding support system and on lactation consultants to help you sort through all the “advice” and help you make a plan for any challenges you face.
“Breastfeeding is a matter of desire and commitment and working through the circumstances,” says Muehling. “With patience and lots of support, you will settle into the right routine for you and your baby. Trust yourself and know that it is worth it.”
For more information on the Infant Feeding Clinic at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, call 314-996-3500.