Oct 26, 2020 • 3 min read

Tips for Happy and Healthy Breastfeeding Journey

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Preparing for your little one to arrive is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming! Between coordinating details for the delivery, updating your loved ones, and putting the finishing details on the nursery, there are tons of tasks to tend to.

Once your little one is here, breastfeeding may be something you consider next. We understand that planning for this may be new and unfamiliar, which is why our teams at Expectful and Zaya Care are here to help. Read on for tips and techniques to help you navigate this journey with ease and confidence. 

Our contributors

  • Anisah Amat, Head of Community for Expectful
  • Beth Scheppke, Certified Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Counselor
  • Eileen Snider, Certified Lactation Counselor, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
  • Simone Toomer, Certified Doula, Lactation Counselor, Infant Sleep Educator

How can I support my lactation supply?

  • Simone: It’s important to remember that milk supply is completely supply and demand. The more you nurse or pump, the more you will make. There are herbs and foods to help, but the foundation of supply is built in the first 6 weeks by on-demand nursing or pumping every 2-3 hours.
  • Eileen: The best way to support your milk supply is to breastfeed on demand or at least every 2-3 hours (& sometimes more!) each 24-hour cycle.  Skin-to-skin contact after birth also helps your baby initiate their first latch. That early initiation of breastfeeding after birth is the best way to get your milk supply going!
    If breastfeeding is painful or isn’t possible, then hand expression or pumping is key.  To maintain a healthy supply, consistent and effective milk removal is the single best way to protect it.  Don’t forget to stay well nourished- you burn a lot of calories lactating! Eating foods high in protein and good fats, staying hydrated (try coconut water and watermelon), and reducing stress where possible will go far in supporting your supply.  There are also many wonderful foods that are known to help increase and support your milk supply.
  • Anisah: Water, water, water! Drink a glass every time you feed or pump. Focus on eating iron-rich foods (milk is a blood product); oats, flax seed, and brewer’s yeast are common ingredients in lactation-boosting foods. You can learn more about drinks that can increase breast milk supply here and how to increase your breast milk supply in one day here.

Do you have any suggestions on how to integrate self-care throughout the busy days of breastfeeding?

  • Beth: I always recommend before the baby is born that a comfortable feeding zone is established. This should consist of a comfy chair, a place to rest your feet, pillows, and all of your must-haves within reach. I suggest getting a basket or a container to house snacks, a water bottle, books, phone chargers, headphones, favorite socks, a nice candle, or anything that feels good. Setting yourself up for comfortable feeding in the early days is a great way to integrate self-care into your feeding routine.
    Side-lying or laid-back nursing can also be a nice way to optimize rest and healing during your postpartum period, especially if you are feeling tension in your arms, neck, and shoulders from continually feeding upright in a static position.
  • Eileen:  Integrating self-care throughout the busy days of breastfeeding can seem impossible when all of your focus is on your new baby.  It is important to ask for help from trusted family members or friends, but also know when to say “no” to visitors and protect your bubble. When people ask how they can help, let them know that meals, doing laundry, cleaning, or running errands are great ways to lend a hand.  Self-care can include deep breathing, aromatherapy, a long hot shower, napping when the baby naps, going for a walk, nourishing yourself with good food, and simply carving out a little time to do something that “fills your cup”.
  • Anisah: Learn about different breastfeeding positions: I really enjoyed the sideline position because I could doze off while my baby was nursing. Meditation was a great way to practice self-care when breastfeeding. Pick one feeding a day where you commit to connecting with your baby and take deep breaths rather than checking emails or looking at your phone.

How do I know when it’s time to reach out to a lactation expert? How would we work together?

  • Simone: It’s always great to be a part of a support group like La Leche League or Chocolate Milk Cafe, a breastfeeding support group for black moms, whether to troubleshoot or get reassurance.
    However, if the baby is slow to gain, does not have enough poop diapers in the early weeks, or you experience low milk supply or pain while nursing, it may be a good idea to have a 1-1 with a lactation professional.
  • Anisah: Consider reaching out to a lactation consultant before giving birth. You may not need one, but it can be a huge relief to know who to go to when and if you need support.

Looking for care? Book online with in-network specialists including acupuncturists, lactation consultants, nutritionists, physical therapists, mental health therapists, and more.