Editor’s note: In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we have asked a variety of people to share their perspectives on breastfeeding. This is the final post in the month-long series.
Most of what I’ve learned about breastfeeding has come from experience in my job in Vanderbilt’s Newborn Nursery. They just don’t teach you much about breastfeeding in school. Like so many others, I thought breastfeeding was easy because it’s the natural thing to do. For some yes, but others definitely no.
From my work, I’ve seen that successful nursing requires dedication. I also have observed some “tricks of the trade,” including:
Breastfeeding positions: Surprisingly, the well-known cradle position is not the best when it comes to teaching babies to nurse. The football and cross-cradle holds are actually better for babies in the beginning because you give them better head support and prevent a shallow latch. The football hold can also be helpful for women with larger breasts.
“Tickle, Open, Slam:” This is a great technique to get a baby to nurse properly. The mother simply tickles the baby’s upper lip with the nipple, wait for the mouth to open, and then slams (gently, of course) the baby to the breast.
No Pacifiers: Why? Because introducing an artificial nipple too early while your baby is learning can interfere with the deep latch that is needed for breastfeeding.
While I’ve picked up a lot along the way, I have a long way to go as I am now expecting for the first time. I’m wondering things like:
- What kind of breastfeeder will my baby be?
- Will he be one that latches on immediately without much help or difficulty, or will he be one that needs lots of encouragement?
- When I go back to work, will he transition to a bottle easily, or will those first couple of days be a nightmare?
- Will I breastfeed for a full year like I intend?
Only time will tell, and I look forward to the journey. I haven’t experienced near the anxiety about other motherhood matters, like the carseat, or the activity mat, or the wipe warmer that is apparently life-changing. I think it’s because most of those products are rated pretty equally, and I will do fine with whatever brand I select.
Breastfeeding is different — little else compares in importance.
World Breastfeeding Month is a special one to encourage breastfeeding, celebrate the mothers who have successfully breastfed, and those who have helped them succeed. The commemoration means more to me this year, and I imagine it will mean even more next year.
I’m even submitting my ultrasound picture as one of Vanderbilt’s Own (Future) Breastfed Babies. I can’t wait to become a breastfeeding momma!
Written by Lauren D. Presley, MSN, APRN, CPNP