World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is held the first week of every August. Each day this week, my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter newsfeeds have been full of beautiful, strong, and inspiring photos of breastfeeding moms and babies/toddlers. These images make me proud to be a breastfeeding mom and international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).
The theme of WBW this year is Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development. Studies have proven over and over again that moms who have support breastfeed longer. This in turn makes moms and babies healthier, improves economies, and strengthens families.
Here are 4 ways to set yourself for a successful breastfeeding relationship.
1. Find support.
I can't help but think of all of the amazing support I have received over the years during my own breastfeeding journey. From the lactation consultants in the hospital, to my husband, to the La Leche League, I have been blessed to have such a strong support system. We are so fortunate to live in Tampa Bay, where quality lactation assistance is abundant. Words of advice that I would like to pass on to all new moms is to take advantage of this amazing resource of the LLL in your area while you're still pregnant. Go to a few different groups and see which ones are the best fit for you. You don't even have to participate. Sit back and take it all in. Maybe you've never seen anyone breastfeed before. Perhaps you know a lot of moms who breastfeed/have breastfed, but you want to make new friends. You can ask any questions and get to know the leaders of the group so you know who to call if you run into problems after your baby is born.
2. Educate yourself.
Take a prenatal breastfeeding class and make sure your partner comes with you. They will be your biggest helper in those exhausting early weeks.
3. Ask for help if you need it.
It truly does take a village to make the transition into motherhood smoother.
4. Lastly, and most importantly, be kind to yourself.
Breastfeeding is hard in the beginning for everyone. As parents, we don't always have all the answers and we are not perfect. We do what is best for our children in the moment. Having a great support system in place will get you through those most difficult times.
No matter what your breastfeeding journey looks like, it is unique. It is a personal bonding experience between you and your baby. Be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how big or small they may seem. Go forth with confidence that you have made the best choices for your family's needs. Your village will be here to support and guide you!
Written by Jen Morrison, RN & IBCLC