The Alien Zookeeper’s Guide to Breastfeeding – General Tips

What to purchase:

I highly recommend purchasing one of the baby slings/carriers that allow you to keep baby snuggled up against your chest, like they do in the Alien Zoo. Look at Nils Bergman’s Kangaroo Mother Care.

My favorite is the Moby Wrap. A bit of a learning curve learning to use, but it is awesome.

Beyond that, you really don’t need to buy any breastfeeding stuff before baby is born. Breast pumps, nursing pillows – my recommendation is to wait until after birth to see what you need.

Oh, yeah, naturally, you’ll need a car seat too :-). Here is my post on car seats.

Remember:

  • Car seats are for providing safe automotive transportation
  • Arms are for holding, carrying, transporting baby when not in an automobile

Breastfeeding class:

A breastfeeding class can be helpful. However, much of it (including this guide) may not make a lot of sense until you are holding a squirmy cutie-pie in your arms.

Take the class, but try not to get bogged down in the details.

Two most important tips:

Important tip #1 – Skin to skin – The single most important thing you can do.

Important tip #2 – When in doubt, ask why!

Breastfeeding support:

You are going to get different tips from everyone. It can be overwhelming. It helps to think of all these tips as a menu with many options. Sort through them and see what works. And, as always, when in doubt ask why!

Trust Yourselves:

Being first time parents does not mean that you are not capable of making the right decision for your baby. Don’t allow anyone to convince you otherwise. We have propagated this belief that we must learn everything from someone else. Who’s to say the other person is right? Even if that person is me?

Seek out support and guidance from people whose judgment you value.

Be your own advocate – when in doubt, ask why. The answer will either make logical sense or not.

Your Baby is Your Baby:

Healthcare providers are there to provide education, recommendations and advice.

Too often, we (I’m as guilty as the next person) inadvertently begin “telling” families what they “can”, “cannot” or “must” do with their baby.

Your duty is to you, your baby and your family. Not to your healthcare providers.

Recommendations for Interventions:

There are times when interventions (supplementation, use of alternative feeding devices, etc.) are indicated. However, there are often times when they are recommended even though they may not be appropriate, or appropriate yet.

One of the greatest challenges is figuring out when to follow a recommendation and when to be your own advocate and push back.

Remember important tip #2! When in doubt, ask why!

Yes, it sounds simplistic, but it works. If the intervention is appropriate, the person recommending it should be able to explain the reason for it in a way that makes sense.

Selecting a Provider:

Many of us turn to our healthcare providers for advice on issues that stretch beyond healthcare and into parenting. No matter how hard we try, much advice will be heavily laden with opinion so try to find a provider with whom you connect.

You can never, ever go wrong with – when in doubt, ask why.

A Word About – Breastfeeding is natural:

Yes, breastfeeding is natural.

Childbirth is natural too. However, natural is NOT the same as easy.

Natural does not mean that it always works, or always works without difficulty. Natural just means that that’s how we’ve been doing it for thousands of years :-).

Somewhere along the way in our quest to protect breastfeeding, we glossed over that tiny little reality in our breastfeeding education.

I’m not saying this to discourage anyone. Quite the opposite. Nothing is more demoralizing than struggling with something that everybody has told you is natural and easy!

If you’re having difficulty with breastfeeding, get support! That’s what the women in the Alien Zoo do! They surround themselves with supportive women who help them figure it out!

You are not alone :-)!