This applies to moms who are planning to give birth in a hospital. If you plan on breastfeeding, make sure your staff (nurses and doctors assigned to you) know that you are. Make it clear that you do not want the baby to be given any formula. If you make this clear before baby has arrived, it will be easier to stand you ground if need be after baby is born.
Once the baby is born, try to breastfeed as soon as possible. This will signal your body that it is time to make actual milk.
Up until this point, all you body will make is colostrum. This alone is important to your baby. It acts as a laxative to help them pass their first bowel movements, and it also has essential antibodies and proteins present in it that are very beneficial to your baby. It cannot harm your baby in any way, and it will provide the nutrition baby needs until the actual milk comes in, which typically takes 3 to 4 days after birth.
This is where hospital staff love to try and claim you aren't making enough milk. If, for any reason, someone suggests formula, immediately ask to speak to a lactation consultant. Most hospitals have them on hand. In fact, it's a good idea to talk to the consultant even if it doesn't appear that you are having issues. She may be able to give you tips you never even thought of.
Pacifiers can create nipple confusion. If you are having trouble getting baby to latch properly, kick the paci. It may seem that baby is using you as a pacifier in return, but this is a good thing.The baby is stimulating your body to produce the actual milk. Once it comes in, baby will typically not be on the breast as long or as frequent because the milk will keep baby full longer.
Bottles also create nipple confusion. If you are planning on pumping milk, try to hold off for a bit on introducing the bottle. If baby does not create a good latch with your breast in the beginning, it can cause a lot of issues in your breastfeeding future (I know this from experience with Grace).
Sometimes babies just have bad latches no matter what you do (Grace did). If you feel something is wrong, push the issue. You know your body better than anyone else. Do not let someone tell you that you are wrong. Express any concerns about latch before you leave the hospital. Ask the lactation consult how to insure a healthy latch. If you leave the hospital without this information, it will be much harder to obtain once you're home.
A main thing is to have someone to back you up, whether that be your boyfriend, husband, mom, dad, best friend, etc. Explain to that person how important succeeding at breastfeeding is to you. Get that person to the same level that you are so that he or she is just as passionate. And also, make sure that person has you best interests in mind (no hidden agendas). Let's face is, us moms are not always all there in the hospital.We've spent hours in labor, been through the worst pain in our lives, are trying to adjust to sleepless nights, our hormones are going haywire, etc. You are going to need someone there with a level head to help you keep your goals in focus.
This will help prevent the hospital staff from railroading you into giving your baby formula.
Once baby has had formula, it's usually downhill from there. Your body will only produce as much milk as the baby needs, so if baby is skipping feedings with you to have a bottle of formula, your body will begin to produce less and less milk. Regaining milk supply is not an easy thing.
It is actually very rare that a woman's body will not produce enough milk for the baby no matter what the circumstances. Typically the milk supply is being hindered by things like latching issues or supplementing with formula. If these things are corrected quickly, then the milk supply can rebound, but they have to be caught very quickly.
This is just the tip of the iceberg with breastfeeding. I will hit on many more issues and topics in future posts.
*Most of this is just from my personal experiences
There is one reference.