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The one thing I couldn’t live without while my child was breastfeeding

Sometimes I think back to those early days of breastfeeding, and I am not sure how any of us—myself, my husband, or my baby—survived. We were so tired from the normal sleep (or lack thereof) habits of a newborn, and we were total newbies to the parenting world. Despite us being medical professionals who read the books and took the classes, we were still embarking on this adventure for the first time just like everyone else.

So what was the one thing that made breastfeeding a success for us? The thing I could not possibly have lived without and would have totally given up in those frustrating first few weeks?

Support.

This is kind of my way of cheating and including a few key things that I couldn’t live without because I couldn’t pick just one. But they are all related in that they were different things that offered me support. So here’s what I found priceless and wish every breastfeeding mom had access to:

Professional lactation support

Between the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) I saw in the hospital and visited again with postpartum, these women were worth their weight in gold. I also had access to a breastfeeding hotline that I could call at any time and used once when the lactation office was closed. Let me tell you how comforting it was knowing I could run a scenario by a trained professional to reassure me that all was well!

A mom’s group—the good kind

I think we moms all know how a mom’s group can be very good or very bad. And those very bad ones are the ones where you feel judged, or you have to conform to a very strict philosophy in order to fit in (“You don’t cloth diaper?! Sorry, you’re not crunchy enough for us.”). Luckily, I found a local mom’s group that was just perfect—a cool, eclectic group of moms with newborns. Most breastfed, but not all, and that was OK. For us breastfeeding moms, we got to talk about our experiences and commiserate over cluster feeding (and more importantly, see that it was all temporary). I looked forward to those outings so much!

A job that understood

I was lucky to work in a healthcare environment in a state where breastfeeding is definitely the norm. While not everyone at my job was super supportive, the great majority were. I would not have been successful with pumping at work were it not for my understanding co-workers and a facility that had wonderful lactation support. I truly feel for the moms who lack this, because this can make or break a working mom’s spirit.

A supportive partner

If my husband had at any time in those first few weeks suggested that I wasn’t making enough milk, that I was holding my baby too much, or that formula would allow him to do more, I probably would have thrown in the towel at some point. Supportive partners can be the most important part in the breastfeeding success equation. So if you’ve got one of those, let them know how much you appreciate it—because this kind of support is priceless.

What was one thing you couldn’t live without while breastfeeding?

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

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