Breastfeeding seminars

Are you planning to breastfeed? 3 simple tips for new parents

Author: Kerry Toal, MSN, RNC-NIC, IBCLC

August marks the start of National Breastfeeding Month. This month provides a great opportunity to raise awareness about breastfeeding and all the options and resources available to new parents.

Breastfeeding recently made the news in June when the American Academy of Pediatrics extended the recommended length of breastfeeding from one year to two years, with complementary foods introduced around six months. The AAP cited “preliminary data that revealed that breast milk in the second year of life continues to be an important source of macronutrients and immunological factors for growing toddlers.”

While it’s a wonderful goal for any parent to breastfeed for two years, a parent may be best served by focusing on their short-term feeding goals right after birth. Here are some things to consider before having a child and making a diet plan.

1. Know what your goals are before giving birth.

Before coming to the hospital, I recommend that you do some research and decide what your feeding goals are for your baby. Do you want to formula feed, breastfeed, or do a mix of the two? If you’re interested in breastfeeding, consider signing up for a prenatal breastfeeding class we run on Zoom. Discuss the options with your partner and decide what will work best for you and your family. Whatever you decide, at Stamford Health, we’re here to help you achieve your goals.

2. Start at step one.

Whatever your individual breastfeeding goals, it’s important to start with the first step. For a parent who wants to breastfeed, either exclusively or in combination with formula, this means priming your breastmilk supply by initiating bonding, skin-to-skin contact, and an early start to feeding and/or pumping .

3. Make a plan.

A parent’s time in the hospital with a newborn is an opportunity for education and support – learn as much as you can and make a plan before you go home. If you plan to breastfeed and give formula, what formula will you use? Plan to discuss with your pediatrician which formula you should use if you can’t find the one you like best.

If you plan to breastfeed, ask your pediatrician if they have a lactation consultant on site or work with frequently to ensure they will work well together and provide consistent information and recommendations. If not, is there anyone else you can talk to? Does your insurance cover lactation support? Can you get a breast pump from your insurance company? Know what resources are available to help you achieve your goals.

Finally, know that it’s good to plan ahead and have goals, but if your plan isn’t working, don’t be ashamed or discouraged. Always know that you can ask for help, at the hospital from your nurse, or at home from your pediatrician or a lactation consultant. Take it week by week, one step at a time. When you have a baby, you’re not the boss – the baby is now the boss and you just have to go with the flow a bit.

About the Author:

Kerry Toal is a nurse manager, nurse-in-training and lactation consultant at Stamford Health.