Breastfeeding Sabotage in Labor (Part3)

In August I began a series about the many ways our breastfeeding relationships tend to get sabotaged here in the US. Some are intentional, but most are not. You can read the introduction here. Part two is Here.

In this post we’ll discuss the next step in successful breastfeeding; how you birth your baby, and ways to avoid sabotage. Studies show that medications during labor do have a direct impact on the baby and the breastfeeding relationship.1  

Also, prevention of food and drink during labor and iv fluids have a direct impact on the baby and the breastfeeding relationship.2&3

Considering that babies normally lose up to 10% of their body weight in the first few days after birth, adding even just a few ounces of fluids to a baby’s birth weight with IV fluid can cause a pediatrician, to become alarmed because losing those additional few ounces of fluid can make the newborn weight loss seem more drastic than it is. Remember to mention this to your pediatrician and see a lactation consultant who has more direct knowledge of this phenomenon before letting the artificial numbers sabotage your first few days.

Labor itself can be tiring and stressful for you and your baby. Stress hormones tend to work AGAINST the hormones needed to breastfeed. Making sure you arrange skin to skin contact with your baby as soon as possible after labor will increase your oxytocin, reduce your stress, and allow you both to ease into the first latch after you’ve gotten to know each other.

Replace negative thoughts like “I need help breastfeeding” and “What if I don’t have enough milk” with positive affirmations like “My baby and I will learn how to breastfeed together” and “I provide exactly what my baby needs to thrive.”  Continue these affirmations any time you find yourself in a stressful situation, like breastfeeding in public for the first time.

The types of medications you choose during your labor or receive during a cesarean birth can also affect how breastfeeding begins. The way to avoid this sabotage is knowing the risks and benefits of medications before you choose them and also knowing what to do if issues arise. If you choose a narcotic during labor that makes you drowsy, remember that baby may also be drowsy immediately after birth.

Follow baby’s cues and ask your doula or nurse to help you and baby with latching during those first few hours. Be aware that a sleepy baby could have a more difficult time, but that it is temporary and breastfeeding can still be well established.

Having a birth doula with you in those first few hours to help keep you comfortable and relaxed can go a long way to avoiding any issues caused by the labor itself and make establishing a strong breastfeeding relationship that much easier. Part 4, Part5


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