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5 things to consider when creating a breastfeeding plan
By now, in preparing for the arrival of your baby, you’ve heard all about the importance of creating a birth plan and even written one of your own. You’ve even prepared for what happens after baby arrives by reading up on the best breastfeeding positions and gotten some real-talk from your closest mom friends. Now take the next step: Set goals for your breastfeeding journey—from delivery day to baby’s first days at home and beyond—with a breastfeeding plan.
Not only will creating a breastfeeding plan give you a boost of confidence and peace of mind on the day your little one arrives, it serves as a time to educate yourself about the many nuances of feeding your baby. It’s your chance to be clear on what you want for your baby, away from outside pressures or expectations. You can then communicate your wishes to friends, family and health care professionals on and after delivery day. Here are five things to consider when drafting your plan:
1. Establish what a successful breastfeeding session looks like
When you break it down, a successful breastfeeding session is one that ends with a content, satisfied baby and a happy mom. The road to that point may look different for each mom and baby, so set realistic expectations. The truth is breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally.
If you aren’t sure what to expect or you need some guidance after delivery day, reach out to us. We’ll connect you to an experienced IBCLC from The Lactation Network who can answer your most pressing questions and help you determine what a successful breastfeeding session looks like for YOU.
2. Communicate your hospital goals
On your baby’s delivery day, you’ll want to share your breastfeeding goals with your designated health care team. Having a set plan in place will give you peace of mind. Some things to consider: Do you want to try your first nursing session within the first hour after birth? Would you like to skin-to-skin with baby within the first hour? Do you want to breastfeed exclusively? If your baby is unable to nurse, do you want to use a breast pump within six hours of delivery? Make sure your partner is also aware of your plan so you can have an advocate and extra support on your side.
3. Set your at-home breastfeeding goals
The at-home portion of your plan maps out the supplies and the support you need: Do you have a comfortable chair and nursing pillow? What about a nursing bra and nipple cream? Enlist your partner’s help for food prep, daily chores and other tasks (accept any offers from others too!) so that you can focus on recovery and getting to know your baby. Stay hydrated, sleep when you can and lower your expectations. In those first days, you and your baby will operate as a unit, so you can’t plan to get much else done. If you need help with baby’s latch, breastfeeding positions or making sure your baby is getting enough milk, an experienced IBCLC can provide free in-home personalized assistance.
4. Make a plan for when you return to work
Are you planning to return to work? In those first weeks, you’re establishing your milk supply and a strong breastfeeding relationship with your baby. But as maternity leave winds down, a breastfeeding plan will help make the transition back to your 9-to-5 as smooth as possible. Write out how you plan to build a small breast milk stash, how you’ll incorporate breastfeeding into your workday schedule and how you’ll manage your morning routine. Pro tip: An efficient, effective breast pump will be essential. Determine which pump works best for you by taking our handy quiz.
5. Create a long-term goal, but be flexible
Every mom’s breastfeeding journey is different. There may be challenges along the way, so always keep your big-picture goal in mind. It will help you persevere through clogged ducts, sore nipples and latching issues. Come up with a few mantras to lift yourself up (We like “Never quit on a bad day”) and know where to reach out for support. At certain points in your journey, six months or a year of breastfeeding may feel nearly impossible. Those days, your goal may be to simply get through the next nursing or pumping session.
While you can’t account for everything before you’ve even met your baby, a breastfeeding plan will help you navigate the delivery day and the weeks that follow. It will give you clarity, peace of mind and confidence during a time where everything feels new. No matter what your plan and subsequent breastfeeding journey look like, know that the ultimate goal is a happy baby and happy mom. And the team at Ashland Women’s Health are here to help you get there.