By Judi Hall, RNC, MSN, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE
Many women make the wonderful choice to breastfeed their babies. More than 75 percent choose to breastfeed, not anticipating any difficulty. After all, women have been doing this since the beginning of time, haven't they? When challenges come, as they often do, moms may see the samples of formula they have as the solution.
As a lactation consultant for Mary Washington Hospital, I encourage new moms to hang in there and not give up. It is so tempting to stop breastfeeding when the baby is not feeding well or milk seems to be coming in slowly. When I did a survey of moms and asked them what advice they had for new moms, it almost always included, "Don't give up!"
A Slip is Not the End of Breastfeeding
However, it is not uncommon for new moms to give some formula when they are discouraged. This is not the end of the world or of breastfeeding your baby. Instead, think of that bottle as a temporary fix and know that you do not have to give up the whole breastfeeding experience.
Colostrum, Sleepy Babies and Stress
Most women have small amounts of early breastmilk known as colostrum. Babies have small tummies to match the small volume of milk. They feed often and colostrum increases until the full milk supply comes in. Although exhausting, it is normal for an awake newborn to feed "all the time." If he is sleepy, he may not feed much at all. A very helpful task for mom when her baby only wants to sleep is to spend time skin-to-skin with the newborn on mom's chest. As the baby wakes, she will often slip down to the breast. If your newborn baby has been suctioned a lot or had tests done, he may want to sleep longer to recover from the stress. Remember, babies do wake up!
Support for the Tough Times
Don't feel you are alone. There is help out there. Lactation Consultants in the Hospital (540-741-4465) and community (Caroline at 540-371-3004 and Brandy at 540-805-0041) are happy to talk to you and make suggestions. La Leche League has monthly meetings and offers phone help. Mary Washington Hospital sponsors a weekly support group. There is a community help line (899-6121 or 1-800-224-4999) where experienced moms will offer advice and answers to your questions. You can even talk to a nurse at 3 AM if you call the Lactation Center at Mary Washington Hospital and follow the phone prompts.
So, happy breastfeeding. Get help if you need it. Hang in there and don't give up. When the going gets tough, help is a phone call away.
Judi Hall is an RN who graduated from Johns Hopkins Hospital and earned a Bachelors and Masters Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is certified in In-patient
Obstetrics, Lactation, and Childbirth Education. She has over 40 years of experience in nursing, caring for mothers, infants, and children. She currently works with new mothers to help them establish breastfeeding and to assist with any difficulties they encounter.