Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Protect the Learning Curve

After Sharon had her first baby, all her friends and relatives couldn't wait to come see them in the hospital. In fact, the day after he was born, she had visitors pretty much non-stop from noon until about 9:00 pm. Sharon was committed to nursing her son, but he was really sleepy and only woke up a couple of times during that nine hour stretch. She didn't feel comfortable nursing him with visitors there because they really didn't have the hang of breastfeeding yet. One of her visitors actually offered to leave when little Samuel awakened, so Sharon did get to nurse for a few minutes, but soon somebody else was knocking on her door.

Photo by Alex Fermani, from the Shot in Vancouver project
It took several days for Sharon's milk to come in, and she struggled with supply issues the entire time she nursed. When she was pregnant with her second baby, she decided to do things very differently. She let her friends and relatives know that she would see them once she and the baby were settled at home, but would prefer they not come to the hospital. Her baby stayed in her arms most of the time, and she nursed every couple of hours during the day. Her milk was in by day 3, and she never had any supply issues at all!

What happens in the first 96 hours of your baby's life can have a tremendous impact on future breastfeeding success. The more you nurse in the those first few days, the more milk you will be able to produce. Every time you nurse in the early days you are unlocking prolactin receptors on your milk glands. Moms who nurse early and frequently have far fewer struggles with supply issues later.

In our culture, however, everybody (and his brother, sister, first cousin and mother) all want to come see the new mom and baby in the hospital. While it's great that so many people care about you, all those visits wear you out and inhibit early nursing sessions. So what can you do to protect the breastfeeding learning curve with your baby?

  • Before you ever head to the hospital make a plan! Let your friends know that you would prefer they wait to see you until you are settled at home, and breastfeeding is going well.
  • Make sure that Daddy knows how to tactfully usher visitors out when it's time to nurse.
  • If you send out a text announcing baby's birth, be sure to remind people that you aren't receiving visitors at the hospital.
  • Ask the nursing staff to post a "No Visitors" sign on your door.
  • Keep your baby in the room with you, breastfeeding every two hours during the day and when baby awakens at night. Ideally you will have at least 10 feeds a day the first 2-3 days.
  • If you're having trouble getting baby to latch, be sure to see a lactation consultant as soon as possible. 
  • In the event that mom and baby are separated, or baby isn't latching well, be sure to ask the staff to bring you a breastpump. Use it every 2 - 2 1/2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night to establish your supply.
What was your hospital experience like, and how did you protect the learning curve? Share your experiences to help other moms!

No comments:

Post a Comment