There are many benefits to breastfeeding for the mama, and there are notable and vital benefits for baby. Due to the incredible components found in breastmilk, including antibodies, anti-viruses, anti-parasites, anti-allergies, enzymes, and so much more, it can keep baby healthy.[Read more…] about The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Baby
What you need to know while you're pregnant.
Breastfeeding is natural; however, it does not always come naturally for you or your baby. Doing the following six things before your baby arrives will help you start your breastfeeding journey on the right foot.[Read more…] about 6 Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding Before Having Your Baby
I’ll get right to the point – Skin-to-skin contact with your newborn should be a non-negotiable part of your birth plan. It has so many benefits, especially for breastfeeding and building an instant emotional connection with your new babe.
Research shows that skin-to-skin contact is crucial for newborns entering the world. I’ll walk through the research with you and help you figure out a “Plan B” if immediate skin-to-skin contact just isn’t possible.
What is Skin-to-Skin Contact?
Skin-to-skin contact refers to holding your brand new, unclothed, and diapered baby against your bare chest. Skin-to-skin contact after delivery is your first snuggle with your precious new baby – soak it all in, mama.
While snuggling your baby, you or someone else needs to be monitoring the baby’s airways. Make sure to turn the baby’s face to the side so they can breathe well.
The Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact
There are so many benefits to skin-to-skin contact! I think it is implanted in us as mothers to want to give babies skin-to-skin contact right after they’ve been born – let me hold that baby as soon as possible, right?
Skin-to-Skin Benefits for the Baby
Immediate skin-to-skin contact for at least one hour right after delivery helps your newborn baby’s body regulate their temperature. Your baby’s heart and lungs will also benefit as their body learns to stabilize.
Research teaches that prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother helps babies be better breastfeeders. It helps shorten the time to your first successful latch, promote better suckling, and encourage longer breastfeeding sessions.
Skin-to-skin contact has shown to help babies reduce their response to pain. Heel pricks for blood sampling and other injections aren’t fun for newborns (or anyone!). Skin-to-skin contact has shown to reduce their crying and decrease their heart rate during blood sampling and other painful procedures.
Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom
If your goal is to breastfeed your newborn, skin-to-skin contact will help you and baby be more successful. Utilize longer and earlier sessions of skin-to-skin contact to increase your breastfeeding success. As long as you and your baby are stable, you can start skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery, and there is no limit to how long you can snuggle that new baby!
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a genuine issue. I’m happy to report that skin-to-skin contact can help decrease your feelings of PPD! Snuggle your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible in the first few days.
The most significant benefit to skin-to-skin contact, in my opinion, is the bond and attachment you’ll create with your newborn baby. If nothing else, skin-to-skin contact will help you connect with your baby, and that’s all that matters.
What if I can’t do Skin-to-Skin because I have a C-Section?
Of course, we hope for the best labor and delivery experience. Still, I know your mama mind is worried about the worst-case scenario. Please talk with your healthcare provider about your Birth Plan and make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to your Plan A and Plan B. Also, know that skin-to-skin contact is an option right after a C-section. Talk to your provider and the staff at the hospital so they know that you would like to have skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after delivery.
If you have a C-Section or other complications, the doctors will be working on taking care of you. In this case, your partner is the next best option for skin-to-skin contact. Talk with the nurses and your partner and let them know that you’d like to do skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible.
How Long Do I Need to Do Skin-to-Skin?
Timing with skin-to-skin contact is not tricky at all — do skin-to-skin as early as you can for as long as you can!
If you and your baby are stable, talk with your healthcare provider about skin-to-skin for at least the first hour of your baby’s life. As long as you both are stable and happy, you can do skin-to-skin for as long as you want.
Our ultimate goal is the health and safety of you and your baby, so don’t fret if there are delays with skin-to-skin contact. Skin-to-skin contact can be beneficial no matter when you start. You can see benefits from skin-to-skin contact from sessions as short as 20 minutes to as long as 5 hours through the first week of your baby’s life and beyond.
What if Breastfeeding is Still Hard?
No matter how well you set yourself up for success, breastfeeding might still be difficult. The last thing I want you to do is to blame yourself — this is a new skill for you and your baby, and you’ll need to practice and try new things!
I have tons of free resources on my blog and my Instagram for breastfeeding mamas. The best resource I can offer you is my Online Breastfeeding Basics Course. I cover everything you need to succeed with breastfeeding in great detail.
As an RN, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and a mama of 3, I’ve helped hundreds of women learn to breastfeed with confidence. Consider me your ‘breast’ friend!
Enroll now in the Breastfeeding Basics Online Course and start motherhood on the right foot. Whether you’re expecting a sweet baby, a brand new mom with a crying newborn, never breastfed successfully, or need a little refresher from the comfort of your own home, this course is for you.
As a new mom, you are going to need help. Period. There’s no getting around that fact. Having a new baby is a life adjustment…even/especially if you’ve already had a handful of them ;). Maybe you’re the type of person that doesn’t have an issue directly asking for help and maybe you know exactly what you need help with. If so, you’re a superhero and you should help the rest of us by commenting below about your personal experiences with this. For anyone else who, like me, has reservations about asking for help, I’m here to help you request specific help a bit easier.
My breastfeeding classes and one-on-one consultations have helped me understand and teach the most important concept, to plan ahead. The first several weeks after having your baby, you should relax and enjoy your together-time and not worry about cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, or going shopping. It’s much easier to have that time if you have a little extra help, so prepare before you have your baby. Make sure that help is set up ahead of time.
First things first, print this list (it’s the fancy green list below) and put it on your fridge. Make sure it’s visible and obvious. If needed, when people come by to visit, you can even direct them to the list. The list is a great go-to when someone asks, “How can I help?,” and your awesome postpartum mind kicks in and draws a blank. It’s one of the best, semi-passive-aggressive methods I’ve found that helps eliminate the potentially overwhelming, well-intentioned visits that can be great, but can also physically and emotionally drain you. Family, friends, neighbors, and often complete strangers want to help. Some just don’t know what you need, so help them. What’s the saying?…”Help me help you.”
This list will help your family, friends, and neighbors (and maybe that random stranger who you for some reason allowed to come into your house in the first place to be able to see this list) help and support you while you are going through this new-baby transition. Don’t be afraid to ask people to do the things on the list, they are there to help you, so let them.
This list can also prevent you from feeling that people are overstaying their welcome. Some people might come over to see you and want to just hold baby. That is fine if that’s what you want them to do. But sometimes you want to be the one holding and cuddling your baby. That is where this printout will come in handy.
So, save yourself some hassle and print this list as many times as you like. Put it all over your house. There are empty spaces at the bottom for you to add anything else that you can think of. You might need help with walking the dog, clean the kitty litter, or taking your other kid(s) out for a playdate. Go crazy, but not too crazy…just kidding, go crazy because you are in a time of need. Let people who care about you help.
Use this list and use it well. Let me know how it works for you. My list is already on my fridge, and I’m excited about it!
Real people, real experiences
AdriAnne Larsen is a mom, expert storyteller, writer, and copywriter from Spokane, WA.
She is passionate about helping others write their own stories in their most authentic way. You can find her on Instagram here.
I am so grateful that AdriAnne is willing to share her breastfeeding experience with us. I especially love it because many who have experienced the same aren’t open to sharing about it, and I want you ALL to know that you are not alone in how you feel.
Breastfeeding is different for every woman. Some women love breastfeeding, some women hate it and feel used, and others may be in the middle.
Here is AdriAnne with her story
The idea of breastfeeding never really appealed to me. Sharing my body, plus pain, and a slew of infections and issues that the internet loves to talk about. When we did get pregnant and my body basically felt like a swollen blueberry for 10 months, I already felt out of control. I began the 10 month debate of if I really wanted to share my body with someone for another year-ish after the 10 months of pregnancy.
I read a lot about breastmilk and formula and stared at ingredient lists for longer than I should have. I thought about how I still had 50+ years of life and that 2 years wasn’t that long to share my body with someone else. And then some days it just felt like too long.
I thought that maybe I would be one of the ones who just couldn’t produce milk. But based on the leakage that happened the last few months of pregnancy I figured that theory went out the window.
And then I shamed myself for being so selfish and not jumping headfirst into ‘sacrifice for my child’ mode and being totally on board with breastfeeding.
And then I thought maybe it will kick in once she’s here. Once I see her, I’ll just want to share my body with her and breastfeed her and then everything will be ‘normal.’
Well she was born. And I just didn’t feel it. I felt a fierce responsibility to protect her but not to feed her. The first night home, my mom was here staying with us. Alice had fallen asleep in my mom’s arms and told us to lay down and she would come get us when Alice woke up. Ten minutes later I was on the edge of our bed sobbing uncontrollably because I was worried Alice would know I wasn’t with her and she would feel unsafe and a whole lot of other unexplainable fears and emotions. Hello postpartum, nice to meet you, I hate you.
All the things say to do certain things in order to bond with your baby while breastfeeding them. Look into their eyes, talk to them, rub their cheeks or hands, etc. I feel like I put in a valiant effort to bond with Alice while breastfeeding. Honestly though, I just felt used. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t feel like it made me learn to love her or bond with her.
Sometimes it actually made me angry and frustrated with her. Frustrated on the days when that was literally the only thing that would make her happy. Angry at science that I had to feed her. I was angry that my body was the only body in the house producing milk. Why did that fall on me? Why is this a woman’s job? And yes I tried to see it the special way. This is my special role as a woman. I am a female so I get to grow babies and then feed babies with my body. I give life. I nourish life. I produce what she needs to survive. But that has never felt like a special power to me. It doesn’t empower me to think that I can do that. Mostly because I didn’t earn that power. It happened to me.
I am a woman and so I have woman parts that make babies and feed babies. I didn’t practice that or work my whole life to have a uterus, etc. Maybe I should, but I just don’t. I’ve tried to think that way and appreciate what my body can do and I think I do appreciate what it gave me. It gave me Alice, thank you body. But I don’t feel that ME, my soul, has anything to do with my body’s capabilities.
Just because I give Alice breastmilk, doesn’t make her feel any more loved than if I didn’t. She feels loved because I smile at her and talk to her all day and play with her and hold her when she’s sad. I wipe her tears and give her hugs and swing her around in circles. I make her laugh and tickle her feet and hands and give her bouncy hugs.
Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe my chemical makeup produces less of the hormone that connects me to my children through breastfeeding. Maybe I predisposed myself to not enjoy breastfeeding. Maybe a lot of things. But maybe it’s okay. Maybe I don’t need to love breastfeeding. Maybe I just need to love Alice and that can be enough.
AdriAnne, you are amazing
Thank you, AdriAnne for opening up about your breastfeeding experience. I hope AdriAnne’s experience has helped you in some way, if for no other reason than to know that you are not alone in your feelings about breastfeeding.
Breastmilk is an incredible food for baby. There are so many benefits for mom and baby from breastfeeding. I know that breastfeeding does not always work out for a number of reasons, and that is ok. Loving your baby is enough and feeding them, whatever way that may be, is the most important. Check out this post I wrote about “Fed is Best.”
I recently attended the Thriving Mom Conference in Utah County put on by Lisa Andersen of Thriving Motherhood. Lisa was joined by Jody Moore, Georgia Anderson, and Ralphie Jacobs to speak about motherhood and what we can do to feel confident and thrive in our parenting.
The conference focused on 3 Guiding Principles:
- Managing your thoughts
- Learning and applying parenting techniques and tools
- Managing your time
Here is what I have learned from Lisa Andersen:
What is time-mapping?
Lisa Andersen is a mother who encourages other mothers to find more joy and purpose in raising children. She taught about time-mapping, which is exactly what it sounds like – mapping out your time every day.
- Help you to manage the expectations you have for yourself
- Increase the likelihood of “me time” (self care)
- Help you build relationships (with your children, spouse/partner, and others)
Time-mapping gives you an hour-by-hour breakdown of when you will do the things that you need to do versus a to-do list that is a never-ending list of things that you should do.
By planning your day by the hour, or half hour, you can create a plan to get the things done that you need to do, and then filter in your wants. Things that you need to do include: spending time with your children, time to yourself (me time), and spending time with your spouse/partner. If you are a working mom, then work must be in there too.
Always having the house clean and having a “perfect” dinner on the table by 5pm are NOT needs. And sometimes we only have time for one household chore in a day. And that is perfectly fine.
When you use time-mapping, it helps you feel proud of the things you did accomplish, like the one household chore you had on the map for the day, rather than being down on yourself for the things that you didn’t get done. Time-mapping is NOT a to-do list and you can only do so much in one day. Be proud of what you do accomplish.
Understand the 3 life stages
Another thing to note is that your time-map is going to look different when you are in different stages of life. Lisa gave three stages and shared how time-mapping can help you in each stage:
- Early-Stage Moms (with all kids at home – 5 yo or under): gives you a sense of purpose and direction
- Middle-Stage/Working Moms (some kids in school and some still at home): helps you to set realistic expectations and encourages mothering while balancing multiple demands
- Late-Stage Moms (all kids in school or out of the house): gives a combination of both
Depending on which stage of life you are in will make the difference between what your time-map will look like. Everyone’s time-map will be different. We all have different things that we need and want to get done in a day.
I loved that Lisa said this:
Don’t get down on yourself if everything doesn’t go as planned. The maps that you create are there to help give you direction for your day, not to cause you to stress. Do NOT fill them up unrealistically. Make sure to give yourself time to do the tasks. And be sure to give yourself and your children some free time.
Time-mapping can be super helpful in the summer by giving you structure in your days and not try to come up with things to entertain your children last minute.
How to time-map
If you’ve decided that time-mapping is something you need, then here is what Lisa said you need to do:
- Get a planner or a plain notebook that is dedicated for planning
- She recommends the Daily Purposeful Planner by Corie Clark
- Review the entire month at the beginning of the month
- This is when you put in all of the big-ticket items already planned
- Once a week plan big things
- Such as going to the pool or splash pad, going on a hike, etc
- Have a nightly review of your next day and plan it hour-by-hour
Lisa said that as you get used to time-mapping, it will only take a couple minutes each night. I have started doing this and I challenge you to do the same. Let me know how it goes. And if you have questions please ask them in the comments. You can reach out to me or even reach out to Lisa on Instagram.
I hope that my sharing what I have learned will help you as a woman and mother. I hope that by learning about time-mapping and putting it into practice that you feel more empowered and confident with the choices you are making.
You are powerful. I hope this article has helped you recognize the power that you already have within, and that you will join me in spreading that recognition to everyone you know.