Health & Wellness: Birth and breastfeeding — Know your options when welcoming your new baby

Becky Franzen

Lacy Knipper

A common story we hear from parents is that they didn’t realize how much there was to know about preparing for birth and breastfeeding.

In our classes, we commonly hear, “I wish I would have known that before my first birth.”

Many families share that they thought it would all come naturally or that they would be taught how to give birth or breastfeed in the hospital.

In reality, there’s a lot moms and partners need to know to be fully prepared to welcome their little ones.

So, how can moms and partners best prepare?

Learn about proper nutrition for pregnancy and postpartum

In some care settings, the main nutrition advice given is a list of foods to avoid and a warning not to “eat for two.” However, excellent nutrition in pregnancy has been shown to prevent pre-eclampsia, anemia, preterm labor and other complications, as well as being supportive of breastfeeding.

Connect with someone well-versed in the current research on prenatal nutrition, and fuel your body and your baby well.

Take a birthing class

Find a class that takes an evidence-based approach to birth, giving you and your support person labor stage-specific techniques and the tools you need to advocate for family centered care.

An instructor who is familiar with a variety of birth providers can help you find a provider that is right for you.

Enroll in an integrated prenatal yoga class

Find a class that includes movement and breathing techniques that will add to your comfort in pregnancy and labor. Look for an instructor who is knowledgeable about birth, how to prevent or alleviate pregnancy discomforts and how to encourage optimal fetal positioning.

Begin early in pregnancy and continue until the birth of your baby.

Take a prenatal breastfeeding class

Find an in-depth class focused on specific techniques you can use immediately following birth, as well as how to be successful with feeding in the early days and weeks at home.

An interactive class that provides evidence-based information is a great place to start.

Taking a class before birth allows you to form a relationship with your lactation provider so you are comfortable reaching out after birth.

Connect with a breastfeeding support group in your community

All moms and babies deserve support while navigating the early weeks and months of breastfeeding and pumping.

Look for a group that is inclusive to all families and allows you to attend regardless of where you give birth.

Explore your options for a supportive provider

Understand all the available options in your area. There likely are more than you realize.

Talk to a local birth educator who is familiar with the way various providers practice for a starting point in your search.

Prepare for your best birth

Create a birth plan that goes beyond hospital-provided checklists.

Your birth is yours. Discover your full range of birth options, determine your preferences, and communicate them clearly and concisely in a written birth plan. Use that birth plan as a communication tool with your birth team beginning in your second trimester.

Create a plan for postpartum support

Build a postpartum plan ahead of time. Think about the needs you will have and who you can call on for support.

Your postpartum team can include your lactation consultant, postpartum doula, you and your baby’s care providers, and others.

Consider reaching out to family to help with meals. Attend a breastfeeding support group during pregnancy so you are more comfortable attending once the baby arrives. Connect with other moms at a prenatal yoga class and stay in touch as your babies are born.

Becky Franzen has a master’s degree in lactation and is an international board-certified lactation consultant. She teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes and provides consultations after birth to assist with challenges that arise throughout the breastfeeding journey.

Lacy Knipper has a master’s degree in education and is a certified birth educator, prenatal yoga instructor and doula offering a variety of birth classes and workshops. Additionally, she offers private consultations customized to client interests from understanding options and creating a birth plan, to prenatal nutrition, to exploring provider options, or answering general questions about pregnancy and birth.

Both are affiliated with Statera Integrated Health and Wellness Solutions in Dubuque.

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