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We think it’s important to get children off to the best possible start, and nothing offers a great first step into a healthy childhood like breastfeeding. But we know that sometimes there are obstacles to get things rolling for moms and babies. That’s why Loudoun Pediatric Associates (LPA) offers breastfeeding services, including the very best lactation consultants around, to all moms and babies, even those who aren’t LPA patients. For new moms and moms-to-be, here are a few thoughts on the sometimes daunting but incredibly rewarding world of breastfeeding.
What Are The Benefits Of Breastfeeding?
Studies show that breastfeeding offers infants the best possible nutrition for growth and development. Breastfeeding also passes mom’s immunity to her newborn and can help babies stay healthy and avoid common illnesses like ear infections. And, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding is good for mom’s health and can lower her risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer, and heart disease. Just as important, breastfeeding creates a priceless bonding experience for mom and baby, creating an emotional attachment that helps infants feel safe and secure.
When Should I Begin Breastfeeding My Baby?
Unless there are health issues that prevent it, we recommend jumping in with breastfeeding right away! Make it clear during prenatal visits to your doctor or midwife that you want to breastfeed. Also, let staff know after delivery that you want to keep your baby in the room with you instead of sending her to a nursery. Give breastfeeding an initial try in the first hour after birth, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the hang of it right away. Most hospitals and birth centers have lactation consultants on staff to help new moms who are experiencing challenges. It may be hard at first, but with the right support system in place, you and your baby will get into the groove!
How Do I Breastfeed My Baby?
Getting the hang of breastfeeding can be tough. Some babies take to the breast right away, but many of us need a little extra help.
The first big step is getting your baby into the right position and getting him to latch onto the nipple. Getting the right latch means a better feed for your baby and a less painful experience for mom. If you’re struggling in the hospital, a lactation consultant can help make sure that your baby has the right latch and is getting the nutrition he needs.
Ideally, you’ll be able to get a good latch before leaving the hospital or birth center. But even if you’re still struggling – and even if your baby needs some formula right after birth – don’t be discouraged. You can get ongoing support at your pediatrician’s office to help you get into a breastfeeding routine.
The first milk new mothers produce is called colostrum. It’s a thick, nutrient-rich yellow liquid that will be followed by breast milk as your milk-ejection reflex kicks in and your milk is “let down.” Your post-pregnancy hormones get milk production going after birth. After that, your milk supply will keep going by having your baby feed on your breast, or by using a breast pump. The more milk your body releases through nursing or pumping, the more milk you’ll produce.
Once you get into a breastfeeding groove, the AAP recommends alternating which breast you offer to your baby first since babies may drink more at the beginning of a feed.
What Is a Lactation Consultant?
According to the AAP, moms who receive support have more success in breastfeeding. We’re here to provide that support, primarily through our team of certified lactation consultants.
A lactation consultant can help with pumping and latching and milk supply issues. The consultant will go over latching and positioning and offer strategies to make sure your baby stays awake while nursing. Your consultant will do weight checks to make sure your baby is getting the nutrition they need to thrive. The consultant can also help get breastfeeding going again when your baby has stopped feeding for medical or other reasons.
And there’s no need to wait until after your baby is born to get educated: a lactation class during your pregnancy can help you get ready for the experience. As a reminder, you can make an appointment with an LPA lactation consultant even if your little one is or will be a patient at another pediatric practice!
What Other Services Does LPA Offer Breastfeeding Moms?
LPA’s excellent nurse practitioners are mom-focused and can help with other breastfeeding issues including treatment of mastitis (inflamed breast tissue often caused by a clogged milk duct), yeast infections, and nipple soreness.
Many of our moms want to continue breastfeeding after going back to work. While it’s always an adjustment, the good news is, the new generation of breast pumps are amazing. Get a new, high-quality electric pump to make pumping as easy as possible. We offer all of the equipment and supplies you need for pumping, storing and freezing. We can also help with strategies for working with employers and colleagues to create a secure and comfortable environment for pumping.
What Can I Do To Help My Baby Breastfeed?
Start by relaxing, because it’s going to be okay! While it is frustrating when things don’t go smoothly at first, stress makes things harder. Here are a few more tips and tricks for helping things flow:
- The first key element is getting the latch going. The all-important latch can be elusive, but you have a support network going for you! Your lactation consultant can help identify issues like tongue ties that may be getting in the way of a successful latch.
- Finding the position that works best for you is also vital – your lactation consultant can help you explore a range of different “holds” to help you get yourself and your baby comfortable and relaxed to create the best possible feed.
- If your baby tends to fall asleep while nursing, you can work on some strategies for keeping babies awake during breastfeeding, including changing position, gently with a wet washcloth or even tickling their feet!
- The AAP recommends holding off on pacifier use until you’re sure your baby has a good latch and is breastfeeding successfully. We want them to get used to mom’s nipple before trying a pacifier.
When Should I Stop Breastfeeding?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of your baby’s life. But no rule says you have to stop at age 1. Many moms continue well into the toddler years. It’s a highly personal decision based on a range of factors and lifestyle. We also understand that it is not possible for all parents to breastfeed for 12 full months, and we are can help parents make the transition to bottle feeding when the time comes.
Loudoun Pediatric Associates Is Your Breastfeeding Partner
At Loudoun Pediatric Associates, our priority is a healthy start for your baby, along with fostering mom’s well-being. Helping make breastfeeding an option for as many moms as possible is essential to us. That’s why we have one of the top lactation programs in the region and continue to be a resource for mothers and babies. We can help you turn the stress and frustration of breastfeeding into a rich and rewarding experience. Call us today for more information!