Helpful Tips if You Choose to Breastfeed
A woman faces a deluge of decisions when she learns she’s expecting a baby. What and how to feed the baby are two biggies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their lives. In addition to being free, breast milk benefits babies by immediately providing antibodies to help boost immune systems and has been proven to help prevent diabetes, obesity and allergies.
For the 75 percent of women who decide to try to breastfeed their babies, preparation for a successful nursing relationship begins before the baby’s debut. Lactation consultants at Memorial hospitals are reliable resources for nursing mothers — both before and after delivery.
“It is important for parents to educate themselves about breastfeeding before baby arrives,” said Susan Pappas, BAA, RN, IBCLC, lactation consultant at Memorial Medical Center. “Although breastfeeding is natural, it’s a skill that needs to be learned and requires support and guidance especially in the early weeks. I encourage parents to reach out to a breastfeeding professional if they struggle or even just need a little encouragement.”
If you are an expectant mother who plans to breastfeed, our nurses suggest the following:
- Educate yourself. Before baby arrives, learn about different breastfeeding methods, your body and its capabilities and the supplies you’ll need. If you are concerned about anatomical issues like inverted nipples or have had breast surgery in the past, you can meet with a lactation consultant prior to delivery to address those concerns and develop a game plan for how to successfully overcome any challenges to breastfeeding.
- Take a class. Our hospitals offer classes that both the mother and a support person (second parent, a grandparent, birth coach, etc.) can attend to learn breastfeeding basics and ask questions. Memorial’s lactation nurses offer free breastfeeding classes about 16 times per year.
- Use skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after baby is born. “Skin-to-skin contact helps baby to bond with mother or parents through the senses—warmth, heartbeat, smell,” said Pappas. “This practice is called the Golden Hour and is now common after delivery.”
- Nurse baby within an hour after birth if possible. It is important to have family time so that baby’s first breastfeeding session can occur in a quiet environment.
- Request a baby “room in” with mom. This helps parents learn their baby’s feeding cues and feed on demand. Use lactation consultants and nursing staff as a resource for tips on proper latching, holding techniques and how to know if baby is eating enough. Pro tip – what comes in must come out.
Several resources exist for nursing mothers after they leave the hospital. Contact a lactation nurse at one of our hospitals:
- Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital: 217-605-5233.
- Decatur Memorial Hospital: 217-876-3400.
- Memorial Medical Center: 217-788-3378.
- Passavant Area Hospital: 217-479-5541.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has updated its position on COVID-19 vaccination to say that the group “strongly recommends” that all pregnant and breastfeeding women get vaccinated. The group also stated that “claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility are unfounded and have no scientific evidence supporting them.” This group had previously supported vaccination but is now speaking out even more strongly. COVID-19 poses serious risks to pregnant women if they contract it and are not vaccinated.
One Mom’s Story: Breastfeeding and COVID-19 Vaccination
A Partner’s Role in Supporting Breastfeeding
Preparing for Baby: How to Establish a Healthy Breastfeeding Relationship
Bringing Home Baby: Preparing for Breastfeeding