When I was pregnant I worked pretty hard on developing a birth plan, and it was worth every minute. Everyone involved with the labor and birth were knowledgeable and respectful of our choices.
I recently re-read our birth plan and found that it didn't contain much in the way of breastfeeding. I did make it clear that I was aiming for a natural delivery with as few interventions as possible. It did say that I wanted no pacifiers or bottles if the baby had to be separated from me. But there was nothing about how I wanted things to go immediately after the birth, or how I'd like to be supported in establishing breastfeeding.
So when we decided on the theme of pregnancy and breastfeeding for this carnival, I decided to try to list some elements of a birth plan which focus on breastfeeding.
To create the list below, I've taken elements of breastfeeding-friendly care from three well-referenced sources: the International Lactation Consultants Association's Clinical Guidelines for the Establishment of Exclusive Breastfeeding, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine's Model Breastfeeding Policy, and UNICEF's 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Research has shown that these things matter in the success of breastfeeding. You'll likely find all of these things at a hospital that has been certified as Baby Friendly. I added a few things based on my experience, and I hope that you'll leave additional ideas in the comments section.
Since this list doesn't address birth itself, I should say aiming for a low intervention birth is also breastfeeding-friendly. For most women, this means choosing care providers and exploring birthing options carefully, as well as having a doula or other skilled support person present. You'll find that this list assumes a hospital birth, but many of these elements are relevant to home birth as well.
- I would like the baby to be placed skin-to-skin with me immediately after the birth.
- If I have a c-section I would like to hold the baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible after the operation. If I am unable to for some time, I would like my partner to hold my baby skin-to-skin.
- I want to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour. I would like to give the baby an opportunity to self-attach, and I do not want the baby forced into the first feeding.
- I would like all newborn procedures delayed until after the first feeding, and done with the baby lying on me or being held by me.
- I want my baby to stay in my room with me, and I want to hold my baby skin-to-skin as much as possible during our stay.
- I would like help in establishing a comfortable and effective latch, and learn different positions for nursing my baby. I would also like assistance in learning hand expression, how to recognize swallowing, and what to expect in the days following discharge.
- If I encounter any breastfeeding problems, I would like help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (hereafter 'lactation consultant').
- I do not want any water, glucose water, formula, bottles, or pacifiers given to my baby. If there is a medical need for supplementation, I would like the opportunity to discuss it with a pediatrician and lactation consultant first.
- If I am separated from my baby for medical reasons, I want to use a breastpump to help establish my milk supply.
- I do not want any formula promotional material to be given or shown to me, including formula diaper bags and crib cards.
- I would like to receive information on sources of breastfeeding support in my community.
We have some great posts from other bloggers on the topic of breastfeeding and pregnancy. Check them out! (List will be updated throughout the day).
- Natural Moms Talk Radio - Carrie shares practical information on breastfeeding while pregnant.
- Permission to Mother - Dr. Denise writes about a milk supply mystery.
- Crunchy Domestic Goddess - Amy writes about the ups and downs of nursing during pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding Mums - Sinead shares advice on preparing for breastfeeding.
- Attachment Parenting International Speaks - Julie writes about breastfeeding during her pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding 1-2-3 - Angela contributes 10 tips for pregnant women preparing for breastfeeding.
- Milk Donor Mama - Jessica writes about her breastfeeding experience and shares advice for pregnant women.