Breastfeeding is the simplest, healthiest, and most cost effective way of feeding a baby. This is what our bodies were meant to do. However, during my 17 years of experience helping nursing moms and six years as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, I have witnessed and helped many new mothers through the initial difficulties that often occur. Sometimes, breastfeeding hurts, or baby can’t latch on properly, or baby doesn’t gain weight. If you’re struggling with any of these issues, a lactation professional can help. Sometimes, the fix comes from adjusting the positioning. Other times, the problem is that baby has a tongue or lip tie, which is why they can’t latch on, or are causing mom pain.
Without any effort, colostrum, your first milk, comes in about 20 minutes after you give birth and amounts to just a couple of teaspoons every couple of hours. At birth, a baby’s stomach is just the size of a cherry so teaspoons every couple hours is all a healthy baby needs. Your mature milk comes in any time from day 3 to 5. Nursing your baby every one-and-a-half to two hours during the day and every two to three hours at night until baby has regained their birthweight and gone on to gain an ounce a day will give you and your baby the best start possible to breastfeeding. By nursing this frequently, you can usually avoid jaundice, baby weight problems and insufficient milk supply. At about two weeks of age, baby’s stomach is the size of their fist and can fit about the two ounces of breast milk your body now produces every couple of hours.
No food, tea or supplements have been scientifically proven to boost your milk supply. The more you nurse or pump, the more milk you make. How do you know you have enough milk? Clues to a sufficient milk supply include: Baby is gaining an ounce a day from 2 weeks until 3 months; and/or baby has 3-6 poopy diapers and 6-8 wet diapers every 24 hours.
Seek help from a breastfeeding professional for the following situations: baby can’t latch; there is pain with breastfeeding; baby isn’t gaining enough weight; mother has a medical condition like PCOS, diabetes or thyroid problems; or mom has had previous breast surgery. A breastfeeding professional can help you overcome these obstacles. Most nurses and physicians do not have breastfeeding training. Seek a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) who has attended a 45-hour course and passed an exam or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who has attended many classes and has hundreds or thousands of hours helping moms breastfeed before they can sit for the international exam.
If you are having a problem, the sooner you seek help, the faster your problem can be fixed. In most cases, the longer you wait to seek help, the harder it can be to solve the breastfeeding issue. If you don’t get the answer you think you should from a lactation professional, find another to help. In fact, you can begin ensuring smooth sailing even while you’re pregnant by attending a breastfeeding group and prenatal class and collecting phone numbers of lactation professionals to call after you give birth. There are many resources in the Tampa Bay Area for help with breastfeeding. The Tampa Bay Breastfeeding Task Force has a resource page with a list of lactation professionals and nursing moms groups (http://www.tbbreastfeeding.org/breastfeeding-resources/). You can also probably find lactation professionals at your hospital or birth center, from homebirth midwife referrals, and from a list of those who come to your home for a fee which is often covered by insurance (with the exception of Medicaid).
Support from other mothers is key to overcoming difficulties and breastfeeding successfully. Nursing moms groups were a key to my success in breastfeeding my three children. I created a Facebook Support Group—Tampa Bay Breastfeeding—in which all admins are certified lactation counselors or IBCLCs. A pregnant or breastfeeding mom can log in to the group 24 hours a day and there will probably be someone awake, an admin or mom, to answer their questions. I also run an in-person nursing mom support group in St Petersburg every Friday.
August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month! You can celebrate during the The Global Big Latch at locations throughout Tampa Bay!
The Tampa Bay Breastfeeding Task Force hosts its event on Aug. 5 from 9:30 a.m.to1 p.m. at the USF College of Public Health, 13201 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa. There will be food, vendors, prizes and more! Learn more: tbbreastfeeding.org
The Florida Department of Health-Pinellas County is hosting its event at Empath Health on Friday, Aug. 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. at 3050 1st Ave S., St. Petersburg. There will be a clothing swap, door prizes, activities for kids and more! RSVP here.
The Florida West Coast Breastfeeding Task Force will host its first Big Latch On Event on Aug. 5 from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Florida Department of Health-Pasco office located at 11611 Denton Ave., Hudson. There will be food, raffle prizes and more!
For more Tampa Bay locations, visit: biglatchon.org