Lactation consultants from LA-based Pump Station and Nurtury share everything they wish moms knew before starting their breastfeeding journey.
The Pump Station & Nurtury has supported new and expecting parents in the Greater Los Angeles area for more than 33 years with evidence-based breastfeeding, baby care, and parenting education. Through its array of prenatal and postnatal classes and services, Pump Station gives parents the tools they need to parent confidently.
Although breastfeeding is physiologically natural for both mom and infant, many aspects need to be learned through community support and expert mentorship. That’s where we come in!
We’re the lactation consultants on the Pump Station and Nurtury Lactation Team, including Pump Station founder Corky Harvey, RN, MS, IBCLC, and Allison Mahurin, RN, IBCLC. Over many years, we’ve learned what information and support new mothers need to get breastfeeding off to a good start, both physically and emotionally, and we’ve found that those who struggle often lack knowledge of the breastfeeding basics needed for a successful and positive feeding experience.
Here is what we’d like you to know before you embark on your breastfeeding experience.
- Take a prenatal breastfeeding class with your partner or parenting support person. If those supporting you in the early postpartum period understand breastfeeding basics too, they’ll be able to lend the right kind of support.
- Know where to go for lactation help well before your due date. Attend a local or online breastfeeding support group, and ask friends who have recently delivered. Remember, picking a lactation consultant is a lot like picking a therapist: If it’s not the right fit, keep looking.
- The first week postpartum is an emotional roller coaster. There will be tears and laughter and long, sleepless nights. Try to stay in the moment—let the tears flow, but don’t forget to relish the sweet moments too.
- You are not alone! It takes a village. Lining up extra help at home before your baby comes home can make a big difference—partners get tired and overwhelmed too.
- Breastfeeding should NOT hurt! If you’re in pain, don’t wait. Make an appointment with a lactation consultant and get the help you need as soon as possible.
- A deep latch is key for both pain-free and effective breastfeeding. Find out more in this video featuring Corky Harvey: How to Breastfeed: Deep Latch Technique.
- Colostrum IS milk. Your milk doesn’t “come in.” It increases in volume to match your baby’s needs in the first days of life. Milk will be measured in droplets before it is measured in ounces.
- It’s normal for babies to lose as much as 8–10% of their birth weight in the first few days after birth. As your milk increases in volume your baby will begin to gain and should regain birth weight by eight to 14 days old.
- A good milk supply depends on effective and frequent milk removal. It’s a take-make system. The more often your baby nurses, the more milk you will make.
- If things aren’t going as planned in the first week, it doesn’t mean breastfeeding is broken. Take a deep breath and let go of some of the pressure.
- Allow for unrestricted breastfeeding in the early days. Babies this age are incapable of long sleep stretches, so don’t be persuaded into a “routine” or “schedule” by well-meaning friends and family.
- Maintain lots of skin-to-skin in the first weeks. Since your chest is your baby’s home and natural habitat, keep your baby on your chest as much as possible between feeds. Partners and grandparents are great for skin-to-skin as well!
- Kissing your baby all over their face and hands and snuggling them close provides you an opportunity to breathe in everything in your baby’s environment. As a breastfeeding mother, one of your superpowers is your body’s ability to make antibodies that pass in to breastmilk to protect your baby.
- Newborns nurse frequently. Eight to 14 feeds per 24 hours is the biological norm. But don’t panic! Over time, babies begin to extend their night sleep stretches, and your days begin to have an expected rhythm.
- Learn how to know if your baby is getting enough milk. This article will help: “Is Your Baby Getting Enough to Eat?”
- Manual or hand expression of the breast has been shown to be very helpful in getting things started, especially if you’re separated from your baby in the first few days. We recommend that you begin manual expression within two hours of delivery. Even if your baby is nursing well, manual expression after feeds for the first few days can boost milk supply and prevent formula supplementation. Read more from First Droplets.
- If you’re separated from your baby early on, use a clinical-grade breast pump to protect your milk supply. Pump a minimum of eight times in 24 hours, or every three hours around the clock. After being discharged from the hospital, rent a clinical-grade pump to use at home. While insurance-grade pumps are free, clinical-grade pumps are proven more effective at establishing and protecting milk supply.
- Engorgement is normal and expected. It occurs as your milk quantity dramatically increases two to five days after delivery. Engorgement lasts for max 48 hours. If you’re engorged and struggling with latch, reach out to a lactation consultant for help. This article shares “Tips to Relieve Engorgement.”
- Any breast milk you give your baby means you’re a breastfeeding mother.
- The internet is a minefield of misinformation and bad advice. Find a breastfeeding support group facilitated by a lactation professional to connect with other breastfeeding parents. Or seek out an online Parent & Me class offering evidence-based parenting advice.
- Breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing. Embrace your breastfeeding journey, whatever form it takes. Be flexible, and allow for imperfection. And remember, the most important thing for the long-term health of your baby is that you bond with them, hold them, and love them. Breastfeeding success is not measured in ounces!
Most important in your breastfeeding journey: Remember to be patient and kind to yourself. Breastfeeding usually improves dramatically with time. We wish you an amazing mothering journey!
Interested in Pump Station’s Online Breastfeeding Classes and Support?
Introduction to Breastfeeding Class
Breastfeeding Support Group
Breastfeeding Products You’ll Love, from Pump Station
Other Breastfeeding Products You’ll Love
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