Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Preparing to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding is something that any expectant mother can learn, with a little planning.

“Education is the key, either formally or informally,” said Tina Zbytek, a Registered Nurse and lactation consultant at Sisters Hospital.

The learning process begins before you arrive at the hospital.

“People have the mentality that lactation consultants show them at the hospital. But we’re more like fine tuners,” said Registered Nurse and lactation consultant Tammy Kowalik, who works at Mercy Hospital.

Here's how you can prepare:

Take a Class or Read a Book

A breastfeeding class or book can teach you what to expect and offers strategies for successful breastfeeding.

“We want moms and their families to feel confident and be successful with breastfeeding,” Zbytek said of Catholic Health’s breastfeeding classes.

“We provide some hands-on learning with dolls. We assist them with position and will attempt to answer all of their questions. We encourage partners or a family member to attend also.”

Click here to learn about breastfeeding classes at Catholic Health.

Shop for Pediatricians

Meet with your baby’s doctor before you deliver. Review your breastfeeding plan and talk about what support is available at his or her office.

When choosing a pediatrician, look for one who has a lactation consultant available in-house. The consultant can help you to use a breast pump, offer advice on feeding, answer questions and provide support.

Join a Support Group

A support group can connect you with moms who are preparing to breastfeed or are doing so currently. Support groups are hosted by Baby’s Sweet Beginnings in Lancaster.

If you’re a member of WIC, you will be paired with a mom who is successfully breastfeeding and who can offer support and advice.

Plan for a Return to Work

Buy a breast pump, and talk to your Human Resources department about where you can use it.

New York State law requires that employers provide new moms with a private space where they can express milk or breast feed. You might phrase your question in this way: “With the New York State breastfeeding law, can you tell me where I’ll be pumping?”

After your baby is born, give yourself a couple of weeks to prepare for your return to work. Note your baby’s feeding hours and determine how often you’ll need to pump and how much to put into a bottle.

Kowalik recommends returning to work on a Wednesday so that you can ease into your new routine.

When your return to work approaches, call your lactation consultant. “We can give information on pumping, and the collection and storage of breast milk," said Zbytek.

Educate Loved Ones

The support of your loved ones is critical to your breastfeeding success. As you learn more about breastfeeding, share your knowledge with them. Teach them about what they can expect and what support you’ll need to make the process easier.

Although breastfeeding takes some time to master, in the long run, it’s more convenient than formula. There are no bottles or nipples sterilize and no formula to measure and mix. You’ll save money, and both you and your baby will enjoy better health.

Catholic Health’s maternity hospitals, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo and Sisters of Charity Hospital, are both equipped to support breastfeeding moms. Breastfeeding classes, taught by our lactation consultants, are offered, and lactation consultants and nurses are available to assist breastfeeding moms. Click here to learn more about the breastfeeding resources available to you.

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