In Monday’s post about World Breastfeeding Week, I wrote about the barriers that new moms face as they try to establish the breastfeeding relationship with their newborn.
Short maternity leaves, lack of support from family members unfamiliar or uncomfortable with breastfeeding, hospital practices and policies, even nurses and doctors can undermine or even sabotage the best intentions of a new mom who chooses to feed her baby this way.
This week, The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit health care accrediting organization added the subject of breastfeeding to the Speak Up™ educational campaign –which encourages individuals and families to take an active role in their own health care.
Although women have been feeding their offspring this way for –well, since there were human beings — it doesn’t mean that every woman is born knowing exactly how to do it, says Ana Pujols-McKee, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer of The Joint Commission.
“Breastfeeding is a natural experience, but it is a skill that often needs to be learned,” says Pujols-McKee. “It is important that mothers know there are support systems to help them start and keep on breastfeeding.”
And you might need to do some speaking up. Here are some tips, along those lines, from the Joint Commission’s campaign What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding:
• Speak up about your desire to breastfeed. Tell your nurses and doctors that you want to breastfeed as soon as possible after your baby is born.
• Ask that your baby be placed skin-to-skin on you as soon as your baby is born. Stay skin-to-skin until after the first breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact can help keep your baby’s temperature and breathing normal. It can also increase your milk supply.
• Speak up and tell staff that you do not want your baby given formula or water, unless there is a medical reason for it.
• Ask staff not to give your baby a pacifier or bottle. These should not be given until your baby is about four weeks old, after breastfeeding is well established.
• Ask your nurse to help you breastfeed. The nurse should watch you breastfeed several times before you leave the hospital. The nurse can tell if your baby is latching on and getting milk.
• Ask to talk to a lactation consultant if you continue to have trouble.
• Breastfeeding may be uncomfortable at first, but it should not hurt. If it does, the baby may not be “latching on” properly. This can be fixed with the help of someone who has had proper training…so ask for help!
• If anyone tells you to stop breastfeeding, or that you can’t breastfeed –even a health care provider — ask why and get a second opinion.
It takes time (and practice!) for mom and baby to adjust to feedings, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Don’t give up! Those armed with updated information from reliable sources are more likely to succeed.
In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, the AAP and Bantam Books just published the second edition of The American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding in paperback.
The book comes with more than 50 illustrations and drawings, numerous Q&A sidebars addressing common questions and concerns, and a handy list of other breastfeeding resources. This edition covers more than a decade of the latest research, says the AAP.
And, speaking of the latest- there’s a free app available from iTunes that will help a new mom determine how drugs and other chemicals affect breastmilk.
LactMed, part of the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) Toxicology Data Network (TOXNET®), provides a searchable database of drugs and other chemicals. It includes information on the levels of such substances in breast milk and infant blood, and the possible adverse effects in the nursing infant.