When you see pictures of mothers feeding their babies, you are often met with the image of a sweet and calm bundled baby with a mother who is lovingly looking down. While this absolutely can be true, infant feeding can be a bit more challenging than the pictures show. I like to say that feeding your baby is going to be a journey. There will be some highs and some lows, but having support along the way is crucial.
My name is Erin Moore. I have been a pediatric nurse for over a decade and a nurse practitioner with PAA since 2019. I didn’t realize how much of a journey infant feeding could be until I had a baby of my own. We had so many beautiful moments, but there was also a lot of stress and anxiety when it came to navigating breastfeeding and eventually introducing formula. It inspired me to become a lactation counselor to better support parents on their infant feeding journey. My passion is educating new parents on all types of infant feeding, whether it is exclusive breastfeeding, exclusive formula feeding or a combination of both.
Learning about infant feeding during pregnancy can help you feel more comfortable along your entire infant feeding journey, especially in those first few days of life where both you and your baby are “figuring it out”.
These are 3 tips to get infant feeding off to a good start:
- Practice skin-to-skin immediately after delivery if possible
- One of the best ways to start your feeding journey as smoothly as possible is to practice skin-to-skin as soon as your baby is born. There are many benefits for you and your baby and it can also help kickstart your breastfeeding journey. I encourage you to feed your baby within 1-2 hours after delivery, whether via a bottle or via the breast.
- Remember, skin-to-skin is still beneficial if you are separated from your baby. Enlist the help of your family members or close friends. If your baby is unable to do skin-to-skin and you would like to breastfeed, I encourage you to practice hand expression or pumping colostrum on the same schedule your baby would eat - every 2 to 3 hours, a minimum of 8-10 times in a 24 hour period.
- Have a flexible feeding plan and know your options
- We all have an idea of how we would like infant feeding to go, but sometimes it doesn’t go the way we planned. I encourage parents to be flexible with their feeding plans *just in case* an unforeseen situation occurs.
- There are medical reasons babies may need supplementation in the first few days of life or even throughout the first year. I encourage families to become familiar with the process of requesting donor milk through a milk bank or learning about and choosing a formula before you need it. If needing to supplement, I highly recommend asking for support in building and maintaining your milk supply if your goal is to exclusively breastfeed.
- Ask for support frequently
- Remember…you do not have to figure out feeding on your own. I recommend asking for in-person lactation as much as possible throughout your hospital stay. They are stretched thin, but they SHOULD BE there for you when you need them. If you are planning on breastfeeding, have a lactation professional observe 2-3 feeding sessions and give you feedback on your latch. They can also teach you how to use your pump and to bottle feed.
- The providers at PAA are here to help guide and advise you. I am also available for questions and in-person lactation visits throughout your baby’s entire first year and on. Remember, feeding support does not end after you leave the hospital. Check-ins are needed much more frequently than expected.
Know that our providers at PAA will be with you every step of your feeding journey and will do everything we can to support you in meeting your infant feeding goals.
If you are interested in learning more about how to get infant feeding off to a good start, please watch our website for news on upcoming virtual infant feeding classes. I am so excited to meet you and support you though your infant feeding journey!
If you're on Instagram, Erin Moore has wonderful infant feeding resources online on her Instagram page @babyfeeding.coach.