3 Tips for When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go as Planned

Oh boy. For starters, I don’t even know if I’m the person to write a post like this. Breastfeeding is a journey for every woman and her baby. I think any mama would agree that it’s hard to know where that journey takes you and it’s full of unexpected bumps along the way.

Also, I think it’s fair to say this: breastfeeding isn’t going to go as you plan. That’s because, it’s a new skill for you and the baby and the journey is a little unknown. You don’t know if it’s going to be a 3 day experience, or a 3 month experience, or a 3 year experience.

Here’s are a few examples:

“My baby just turned a year old and is still nursing. My goal was only to nurse for a year, now what do I do?”

“I’ve got a family vacation planned to Disneyworld. Where can I nurse a baby in the land of Mickey?”

“My baby just turned 6 months old. How do I introduce foods and keep nursing?”

“My baby started sleeping through the night!? Do I pump at night instead?”

“My baby turned one year old. When do I stop pumping?”

I can’t answer all the questions. But I think these three tips will help anyone thinking or asking the question: “What do I do when breastfeeding isn’t going like I had planned?”

First, know your resources and take some time to educate yourself.

Remember, breastfeeding is a new skill in life and that you and the baby are learning this new skill together. Start with kellymom.com and work your way through the rest. There is a lot of information our there on the internet – look for content that is factual, supportive and unbiased. This list is always maintained on the RESOURCES page.

Take a deep breath. And a few more breaths. And call a friend.

A friend can be a number of people. A lactation consultant. A seasoned mama that nurses a few babies. The breastfeeding helpline. Your provider. Let’s run through them.

A lactation consultant is exactly what it sounds like. Some one that you consult about nursing and your baby. You can look them up easily online at the United States Lactation Consultant Association.

Sometimes your insurance will cover visits with a lactation consultant and sometimes they won’t. Either way, if you are truly in need of some good counseling, the professional training of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is probably well worth the money if you can afford the $60-100 visit. Under the Affordable Care Act, support for nursing services – from breast pumps to pump supplies to a lactation consultant – are supposed to be covered in some form. However, not all states expanded their Medicaid programs and insurance companies differ greatly. When in doubt, read your policy, call your company and do some research before the baby arrives so you”ll be prepared!

A seasoned mama. I don’t want to discount how much a seasoned mama can offer reassurance, guidance or experience. Breastfeeding differs for each woman and her baby, but many women encounter the same questions, concerns or issues along their nursing journeys.

The National Women’s Health and Breastfeeding hotline is also an option. Available Monday through Friday, 9a-6p Eastern, English and Spanish. I’m not sure if the credentials of the person on the end of the phone, but they may be a place to start while you’re trying to get ahold of your provider or friend.

Hotline number: 1-800-994-9662

And lastly, your provider. During the first months postpartum, most women reach out to their birth provider. But sometimes, breastfeeding questions come up after the postpartum visit. This leaves some women wondering who to ask questions too – the pediatrician, the OB/GYN, the midwife, the family physician? None of these providers are wrong. But they are usually harder to contact!

Here’s a tip: Before you are discharged from the hospital or birth center, ask your provider who you should call for nursing questions or concerns. Ask this same question at your postpartum visit as well: “I’m planning on nursing my baby for six months. Who should I contact for any nursing questions in the next few months?”

Go with the flow.

This is the hardest of the three tips. But it’s the most important. The reason is this: there are two people on this journey and one of the travelers is a little babe who knows they love their mama and their snuggles and their milk.

The babes don’t read articles, blogs, books or watch videos on nursing. They use what they were born with and instinct. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for a little one to explore, learn and grow and it’s a process for you BOTH to figure out what works best!

What tips do you guys have?! Any resources to share?

See you Friday for the Five!


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