Breastfeeding and COVID-19- being a educated, expectant mother
"I have no idea what I'm doing."
Her baby girl was born at 11:58am. Im sitting in my nurse-y chair, typing away at my documentation as I listen to the sweet sounds of a rooting baby who is skin to skin, mouthing around on her mother's chest. Dad is sitting at the bedside on the phone with his grandmother, still with tears in his eyes, recounting the miracle that just took place 34 minutes ago. It was a perfect birth. As I turn in my swivel chair, I say to mom, "Look at her! She's looking for your milk! Do you want to try to nurse her?" Eager to fulfill every need of her sweet new child, she smiles and says, "YES... but I have no idea what Im doing."
As I reflect on the ways I can come to the aid of women who are seeking creative intervention to their breastfeeding struggles, I think of this senerio. Now, I have not done a study on this, but I would venture to say that about 50% or more of the first time mothers that I care for in the hospital setting say this to me. Some say it out of nervousness, some say it as a way to ask for help, and some really mean it- they have no idea what they are doing. All are mothers who love their child, desire to breastfeed, and would do anything in the world for their new baby- especially if they knew it would benefit.
I feel so strongly that many of the breastfeeding struggles that take place, especially in the first months, could have been managed with adequate prenatal breastfeeding education. In fact, this is a U.S. healthcare concern in many areas, where access to education is lacking, and we are just bandaging problems related to the poor outcomes. Especially during COVID-19, where resources are down and still working to be as effective virtually, mothers need to soak up all the information that they can so that they walk into their breastfeeding experiences understanding their bodies, their baby, and normal processes in breastfeeding.
Educating yourself is more important than ever. There are SEVERAL things that mothers can do to optimize their rate of success, their confidence, and their long term outcomes. Many of the milestones with breastfeeding are time sensitive to the hour and week! Once these timeframes have past, you can certainly work towards troubleshooting them, but having known from the start, the whole scenario could have played out differently.
I encourage you to join support groups, take an online class, connect with a lactation consultant, and fill your COVID-19 social distancing minutes with all the reliable information you can on successful breastfeeding practices. Of course your hospital bedside nurses will be there to help you, and lactation consultants will round and support you, but isn't it something like... you have to hear it 7 times before you remember it??? Go into those situations with a good basis of knowledge, use these amazing hospital resources to build on that, and leave a rockstar breastfeeding mother!
Please reach out if you are interested in a video chat education class. I will demonstrate, explain, answer questions, and do everything I can to help you be ready for your days of breastfeeding! Anytime during your pregnancy is great to get your mind settled and prepared, but I would recommend anytime after 30 weeks. Best wishes mommas! You've got this and I'm cheering for you!