This week is World Breastfeeding Week, which kicks of National Breastfeeding Month in August. Both were created to promote and highlight the importance of breastfeeding in a new mum's life. But as natural and sustainable as it sounds to be able to nourish your baby from your own breast, it can in reality be a very trying experience for many newbies. We turned to board certified lactation coach and registered nurse Lindsey Shipley for tips on how to breastfeed for first time mums. Shipley, a mum of two, owns Lactation Link, a prenatal education resource that offers online breastfeeding classes, with the goal of creating confident mums.
The idea of breastfeeding for a new mum can be daunting! How do you help new mums get over their fears?
LL: This is one of the reasons I started Lactation Link. I wanted mums to feel educated, supported, and empowered about their breastfeeding choices. Our focus at Lactation Link is to help Create Confident Mums. Whether taking one of my classes, getting help in a one-on-one consultation or reading one of my social media posts, we are striving to give mums support and education to help create the confidence they need to follow their intuition and feel great about their experiences.
What are the signs that a baby is hungry?
LS: Babies communicate with us in so many ways and each baby will be a little bit different. The most common ways babies communicate their hunger is by stretching their arms and legs, licking their lips, making sucking motions, sucking on their hands, and rooting around with their mouth open. When a baby is alert and happy, that is a great time to put them to breast. Crying is actually a late sign that baby is hungry!
What are the signs baby is full?
LS: Some common ways babies communicate that they are full are: relaxing their hands and brows, getting drowsy, and slowing down their sucking at the breast.
How can mums be assured their baby is getting enough milk?
LS: This is a concern of every mama - we all want to know baby is doing well! Frequent feeding in the early days is so important. Literally becoming like a kangaroo mama with a baby in her pouch. Lots of feeding sessions and plenty of skin-to-skin snuggling in between. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 8-12+ feedings in 24 hours. There are other great indicators of wellness to pay attention to including: a good latch, hearing swallows during feeding, good output (wet/messy diapers), good skin tone/muscle tone, active and alert at times, head and length growth, and weight gains.
Are there any methods that will help boost a mum's milk supply?
LS: The best way proven by research to boost a mum’s milk supply is to increase breast stimulation through more breastfeeding sessions or expressing more often. An increased amount of time spent skin-to-skin with baby also helps. I also teach every mother how to hand express her milk. Research tells us that short sessions of hand expression on top of regular breastfeeding sessions will contribute to a better milk supply.
How can dads help out with feedings if breastfeeding is the only way baby is getting fed?
LS: First off, the partner can support the decision to breastfeed and help set goals. I’ve received so many messages from clients telling me how helpful it was to have their partner watch the video classes with them! When issues came up, they were able to recall helpful information and be a great source of support. A partner can also help with things like nappy changes, burping, babywearing, and making mum comfortable during feeds.
What's the one thing about breastfeeding you think is most important for new mums to know?
LS: Confidence is key! Breastfeeding is a very natural process for both mum and baby - but without good information and support, it can seem non-intuitive. I’m my experience, Mums that get good information prenatally feel so much more at ease when their baby is in their arms. It creates that confidence that they have the tools to tap into their mother’s intuition. Studies show that prenatal breastfeeding education is correlated with mums reaching their BFing goals. That’s why I created my video breastfeeding classes - to give more women information and support!
What's the best position for mum to be in when she breastfeeds?
LS: Whatever position she is comfortable in! There is no perfect position. Some mums like sitting up with their babies across them in a cradle or cross-cradle position. Others like to lay back in what is called laid-back breastfeeding or biological nurturing. Others like to lie down and breastfeeding on their sides. Some like to feed with baby in a carrier. One thing to keep in mind is a good, deep latch to encourage efficient milk removal and keep mum from saying “ouch!” when baby is eating. Whatever works for mum and baby is best!
How does DockATot help enable breastfeeding?
LS: The DockATot provides a safe spot to set baby down in-between breastfeeding sessions and skin-to-skin time. Early days of the mother/baby relationship often mimic a Kangaroo mama and her baby in her pouch. Lots of skin-to-skin time and feeding! The DockATot boosts confidence that during the times that baby does need to be set down, they will have a safe spot all their own!
What is it about DockATot that attracted you as a mum and also a professional who works with a lot of newborn babies?
LS: It’s so important for mum and baby to have safe sleep options that keep them together in the early days and weeks of baby’s life! DockATot encourages proximity to mum (or dad!) with its portability feature. When mum is able to see and hear her baby’s cues quickly, she can respond to them sooner! If you’re breastfeeding, the DockATot can allow mum to feed her baby frequently and conveniently by keeping baby within an arm’s reach. DockATot’s functionality as a co-sleeper also allows new parents to get the sleep they so desperately need!
What inspired you to launch Lactation Link?
LS: As a labour and delivery RN, I saw so many mums that wanted to breastfeed, but needed more education and support to reach their goals. So many women didn’t feel confident in breastfeeding or know enough to make the right choices for them. Birth, infant feeding, and the postpartum period are all things that make a lasting impact on mothers. There is no one right way to do it. There is a right way for each mum and I wanted to help more women find what’s right for them and feel positive about their experiences.
How does Lactation Link work?
LS: Our focus at Lactation Link is "Creating Confident Mums." That all began with our online support forum @lactationlink on Instagram. In the last year that group has grown to over 30,000 women! Our signature offering is online breastfeeding classes that can be accessed anytime, anywhere with any device! I want more families to have access to reliable breastfeeding education regardless of their busy schedules or different time zones. The three classes cover everything from how to latch your baby to how to troubleshoot common issues to how to introduce solids. Anytime after 12 weeks in pregnancy is a great time to start the online classes! They also come with a notes outline that many women refer to as their “Breastfeeding Bible”. Lactation Link also offers in-person and online breastfeeding consultations to help mums with specific breastfeeding issues.
Lactation Link video classes are available to view in the comfort of your home at www.lactationlink.com. The courses available are Breastfeeding Basics, Intermediate Breastfeeding, and Pumping and Storing Breastmilk. Lactation Link offers in-person classes once a month in Highland, UT and on location several times per year (you can request a class in your area by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org). Lactation Link also offers online breastfeeding consultations.