Breastfeeding is recognized globally as a natural and healthy way to provide nourishment to newborns and infants. The numerous health benefits to mother and baby are well documented by public health organizations throughout the world.
For LouAnne Wischer, BSN, RN, IBCLC, a certified lactation consultant at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital and a mother to three girls, helping mothers reach their breastfeeding goals is her passion.
“I absolutely love teaching new moms and integrating my own personal experiences into my practice,” Wischer said. “There were many challenges along the way, but I was determined to succeed and I had a good support system. I’m a firm believer that it takes determination and a good support system for moms to succeed in their breastfeeding journeys.”
In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7), Wischer offers the following advice to assist moms on their breastfeeding journeys:
1. Attend a breastfeeding class before your baby is born.
Memorial Hermann Northeast offers free one-on-one breastfeeding classes to pre-registered patients. We feel like this gives patients opportunities before their babies are born to build rapport with lactation consultants. Oftentimes, the same lactation consultant will assist the patient after her baby is born. We have found that patients who learned about breastfeeding norms before their baby’s birth have less anxiety and more confidence than others.
2. Learn hand expression before your baby is born.
During the first 24 hours after birth, babies are very sleepy and want to take their long birthday nap, which tends to make latching difficult. Learning how to perform hand expression lets mom use a spoon, cup or syringe to feed their sleepy baby with milk that has been expressed by hand, thus preventing the need for formula supplementation. Often, once babies get an “appetizer” of hand-expressed milk, they awaken and are ready to latch. There are many good educational videos available online that provide instructions on hand expression.
3. Position your baby correctly.
Babies need support when they’re learning how to breastfeed, but proper positioning can be intimidating for a new mom to learn. The stereotypical breastfeeding picture we all see is a mother cradling her infant in her arms, but the cradle position does not allow provide proper infant head support, which can negatively impact the baby’s latch, leaving the mother with sore, damaged nipples. I recommend other positions – such as the football hold – for the first few weeks until a baby learns to latch properly. Moms can transition to the cradle hold once their baby has mastered the latch after their first few weeks of life.
4. Painful breastfeeding signals an improper latch.
Moms should never feel bad about adjusting their baby at the breast if breastfeeding is painful. Breastfeeding should not be painful. If it is, that’s a sign that the nipple is not properly positioned in the baby’s mouth. Fix the infant’s lips so that they flange or roll outward. A simple trick may be to gently pull the infant’s chin downward after he or she is latched to roll the bottom lip out. Many moms have told me that this simple fix completely removed the pain. If pain continues after adjusting the baby, then the mother should gently unlatch the baby and then re-latch until they achieve a comfortable position.
5. Trust your body.
A mother’s breasts do not usually begin to fill with milk until three to five days after birth. During the first 48 hours after birth it is not unusual for moms not to feel any breast changes. This is because a mother’s breasts usually begin producing colostrum, the newborn milk, when they’re 16 weeks pregnant. Transitional milk usually doesn’t begin to come in until after the first 48 hours after birth. The infant usually only requires about = 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of colostrum each feeding for the first 24 hours of life. Remember, the emptier the breasts, the more milk the body makes. One way to ensure that your baby is getting enough milk is to monitor infant diapers. In the early days, babies typically have one wet and one dirty diaper for each day of life. Once mom’s milk comes in, babies should have five or six wet diapers every 24 hours.
Memorial Hermann Northeast is one of 10 Memorial Hermann Health System hospitals recognized as a Texas 10 Step Facility. The Texas 10 Step program uses evidence-based practices proven to increase breastfeeding exclusivity and duration.
For more information about Women’s Health and Maternity at Memorial Hermann, click here or call 713-222-CARE (2273).