The ultimate guide to prep up expectant mothers for lactation challenges

Most often, expectant mothers are told about the benefits of breastfeeding, but they are unprepared for the challenges that come their way. Here’s all they need to know
breastfeeding with nipple shield
A nipple shield can be helpful for some, and tough for others. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Mahima Bakshi Published: 7 Aug 2021, 08:00 am IST
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Breastfeeding is part of the early motherhood phase, and it comes with a lot of benefits for the mother and baby. But everyone speaks about the benefits only; no one prepares a mother about the challenges that come along with it. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months by WHO , but when an expecting mother is prepared for the breastfeeding journey, it makes it easier for her to go through the early challenges and hence cope better.

Understanding ways to reduce panic

Knowing the ‘ golden hour rule for first breastfeed ‘ or understanding about  ‘ breast Crawl ‘ can help a mother learn more about how she can initiate breastfeeding. Understanding the basic physiology like how the transition from early colostrum to matured milk takes time is a good way to avoid a new mom pressing the panic button. This way she won’t think that she is not producing enough milk and her baby would starve. She needs to be prepared that it takes 48-72 hrs for the milk to start getting released, but until then colostrum must be given to the baby. That’s because it is an immunity booster and helps the baby develop good immunity, which is actually sufficient for the baby. 

Also, read: World Breastfeeding Week: Let’s thank these 4 celebrity moms for normalising breastfeeding

Extra feed/ supplement feed may be given in case the neonatologist feels that it is medically required.  And no bottle feed should be introduced as it can lead to nipple confusion . She can learn how to use a breast pump or hand express, if she has to in the future. She can also learn how to use a palladia or a feeding cup to give expressed milk to the baby, if needed. 

Why is frequent breastfeeding essential?

Also, frequent breastfeeding helps in improving the supply gradually. In the early first week, as colostrum transitions into matured milk , some women may experience mastitis. Hence, breast care is equally important. So, light breast massage and hot fomentation can help in preventing breast engorgement. Also, in order to prevent nipple soreness, one must follow right latching techniques from the beginning. She can learn about the various breastfeeding positions and practice with a feeding doll during pregnancy to gain more confidence. 

expectant mothers breastfeeding
Breastfeed your child for optimum growth and development. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

And most importantly, cuddling the baby, sleeping next to the baby, kangaroo position and skin to skin help in boosting oxytocin in the mother’s body. This also helps in better let down of the milk. 

Breastfeeding during night time is important

Many moms think that the baby’s sleep should not be disturbed, and hence expect that the baby should sleep through the night, however newborn babies feed more frequently at night and tend to sleep more during the day. Hence, an expecting mom should be prepared to wake up at night when the baby demands. Frequent breastfeeding at night also helps in improving the supply. So, mentally preparing her for sleepless nights can help her adapt to the early phase more easily, which could actually be quite tiring. She should know that she must take a nap whenever the baby sleeps. 

Involvement of family and partner helps in making breastfeeding less tiring for the mother, so sometimes if the mother needs to go out or is unable to feed, specially in the case of a working mom or an entrepreneur, she can also express her breast milk. In this way, someone else in the house can give the expressed breast milk to the baby. 

Also, read: This is the ultimate guide to getting a Covid-19 vaccine for breastfeeding mothers

Babies can go on breast strike or do cluster feeds on the breast, hence it’s important for an expecting woman to know that these situations can be commonly seen in the first six months. Stress can further reduce the supply, so she must learn how to de-stress herself, when needed. Also, preparing herself physically by doing some strengthening and toning exercises of the upper body can help in preventing postural problems later on. 

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The last word

Hence, helping an expecting woman understand that every baby is different and that every mother would have a different breastfeeding story would help her realise that it could be a bumpy journey ahead. If she knows how to cope with those challenges and seek support from a lactation expert at the right time, it could really help her to not give up and continue breastfeeding the baby. ‘

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About the Author

Dr Mahima Bakshi is a maternal child wellness consultant , lactation expert at Rosewalk Luxury maternity hospital. ...Read More

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