Adding a new baby to your family is never easy and feeding them can be one of the biggest challenges you face. Know that there is a learning curve for both you and your baby and it is important that you are getting the support you need. Most of the struggles of new parenthood that seem the most overwhelming are temporary. It gets easier!
Between the COVID19 crisis and formula shortages, it’s been an especially tough time for new families. There is no doubt that breastmilk (also known as “human milk”) is the best possible source of nutrition for most infants. Your breastmilk changes constantly to meet your baby’s nutritional needs and strengthen their immune systems
as they grow and, in most situations, it is always readily available.
Babies who receive human milk have a reduced risk of asthma, obesity, leukemia, diabetes, severe lower respiratory disease, otitis media (ear infections), gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting) and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) (1) . Studies show that the breastmilk from people who have recovered from or been vaccinated against COVID19 contains antibodies to help protect babies 2 . Parents who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, thyroid cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure over the course of their lifetimes (1).
If you have struggled with breastfeeding, you are not alone. We know that, while 4 out of 5 U.S. mothers start out breastfeeding, less than half are still providing breastmilk at 6 months postpartum. Many parents want to, but face challenges in trying to meet their goals and do not have the education or guidance that they need to persevere.
So… what do you need?
In my experience as an IBCLC, the biggest predictors of early breastfeeding success are prenatal education, getting off to a good start right after birth and access to support from knowledgeable caregivers.
Here on the Central Coast, most of our local hospitals and birthing centers offer Prenatal Breastfeeding classes. Most are currently virtual and all require preregistration. Contact your planned birthing location for more information.
San Luis Obispo:
French Hospital Medical Center 805-542-6659
*Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center 805-483-6387
Santa Lucia Birth Center 805-548-0606
Marian Regional Medical Center 805-739-3593
*Twin Cities Community Hospital 805-434-4644
WIC, 805-781-4344 WIC — Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition
*Part of 6 class Childbirth Education Series
A Good Start
After you give birth, expect it to take 24-72 hours or longer for your milk to increase. In most cases, the keys to a good milk supply are staying skin to skin with your baby until their first latch and as much as possible in the first few days. Let them suck as much as possible even if you think they are getting very little milk. They are drinking colostrum, also known as Liquid Gold, and they don’t need much to start with. This is the time to put everything else aside and bond with your baby. Ask for help from family members or hire a Postpartum Doula Doulas | CCCN (centralcoastchildbirthnetwork.com) to take care of your other responsibilities while you focus on this new relationship.
It is important to be able to identify your baby’s feeding cues as well as evidence of a good latch and effective milk transfer. A small amount of weight loss is expected in the first few days, but they should start gaining it back by day 4-5. Ask for guidance from a lactation professional if you need help with any of these issues. Early Intervention is Key!
Many parents do have feeding challenges in the early days or weeks after their baby’s birth. The most common are sore nipples, engorgement, and perceived or actual low milk supply. Some are more complicated like oral restrictions in the baby, prematurity, feeding multiples or medical issues that limit milk production. It is critical that these issues be addressed as early as possible. Please call a lactation specialist as soon as you can. Sometimes pumping and feeding expressed breastmilk or combination feeding of breastmilk and formula is absolutely necessary. Sometimes bottlefeeding donated human milk or formula may be the best option for your family. We support all types of lactation and feeding journeys whether you are breastfeeding, chestfeeding, bodyfeeding, exclusively pumping, or combo feeding. The important thing is that you are getting the physical and emotional guidance that you and your baby need. As your child gets older, your feeding issues, as well as most early parenting challenges get easier and your confidence as a parent will grow.
“Given the importance of breastfeeding on the health of mothers and children, it is critical that we take action to support breastfeeding. Only through the support of family, communities, clinicians, healthcare systems, and employers will we be able to make breastfeeding the easy choice.” Dr. Jerome M. Adams, U.S. Surgeon General
Help is available!
The Central Coast has many resources to help with any challenges you may have. Lactation Counselors/Educators have various levels of lactation education and are qualified to offer guidance, support, and education regarding most common feeding situations. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC’s) are the gold standard in lactation assistance and are qualified to offer an additional level of management of more complicated challenges. Some Lactation Counselors and IBCLCs work at hospitals, birth centers or WIC clinics. Others work in private practice. Some offer home visits or virtual options. CCCN has many resources to help you with any challenges you may have.
Alexandria Porter, Birth Within Doula (CLC) 805-901-9501
Aryel Sawdey, Central Coast Lactation (CLS) 805-459-2962
Sheryl Gross, Go with the Flow Lactation Services (IBCLC) 661-645-2234
Natalie Dodson, Nourish ‘N Nuzzle (IBCLC) 805-710-9955
Lindsey Law, Santa Lucia Birth Center (IBCLC) 805-548-0606
There are also community and hospital resources that offer low cost or free of charge assistance. You can find some of them here: Telephone Support — Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition
A breastfeeding or newborn support group can be a great source of comfort and encouragement, as well as a place to find advice and support with all kinds of parenting concerns. It is also a wonderful way to build a community with people who are in a similar stage of life. Locally, we have multiple Breastfeeding and Parenting Support
Groups. Most are free and currently virtual due to COVID19. Be sure to check with the source to find out if they are meeting in person at any given time. (Pictured to left: Central Coast Breastfeeding Coalition, Central Coast Birth, Baby, Family & Wellness Expo 2022).
La Leche League, 1 st Wednesday 4:30-6 p.m. 805-459-8145 La Leche League of San Luis
Obispo | Facebook
Pacific Midwifery, 3rd Thursday 10-11 a.m. 805-994-0446
San Luis Obispo:
French Hospital Baby Hour, every Monday 10-11 a.m. 805-783-2754
Growing with Baby, every Wednesday 10-11 a.m. 805-543-6988
Santa Lucia Birth Center, 4th Thursday 1-2 p.m. 805-548-0606
Sierra Vista Medical Center, every Thursday 11-12 p.m. 805-546-7939
Marian Medical Center, select Thursdays and Saturdays 10-11 a.m. 805-739-3388
The Milky Way, call for schedule 805-459-2962
Twin Cities Medical Center, multiple groups-call for schedule 805-434-4644
Human milk is not just for infants!
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued updated policy recommendations for the second year of life (3). Both the AAP and the World Health Organization (WHO)(4) recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and now recommend continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or older, after studies showed that human milk contains high quantities of protein and fat and has high concentrations of immunoglobulin in the 12-24-month age range. Parents who choose to provide breastmilk beyond the first year need continued support from their medical care providers and protections against workplace barriers.
It’s important that new and growing families have access to resources and information you need to make the best, informed decisions for you and your baby. And remember that bonding with your baby is the most valuable thing you can do as a parent no matter how you choose to feed them!
1 Breastfeeding Overview (aap.org)
2 COVID Vaccines While Pregnant (cdc.gov)
3 Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk | Pediatrics | American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org)
4 Breastfeeding (who.int)
Sheryl Gross is a DONA and CAPPA trained Postpartum Doula and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and an Ambassador for CCCN. She recently moved her practice, Go with the Flow Lactation and Doula Services, to the Central Coast from Southern California. She offers home visits in the 5 Cities, San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria areas.
Disclaimer: The opinions or beliefs expressed by various authors on this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs, and viewpoints of Central Coast Childbirth Network, INC. Central Coast Childbirth Network, INC does not offer medical advice. The content on this blog is for informational purposes only. The author's opinions are based upon information they consider reliable; thus, Central Coast Childbirth Network warrants its completeness or accuracy and should not be relied upon as such.
CCCN Does not give medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment plan. If you are experiencing an emergency, please did 9-1-1.