Most mums-to-be have planned their birth plan a several weeks in advance of the big (birth) day but how many of us create a birth plan for breastfeeding – A breastfeeding plan?
A birth plan is a written document that shows your intentions for what you would like to happen in labour and birth. It includes your wishes for things such as who you want on your “birth team” of close family and friends to assist you during labour and how you want to handle certain situations that might arise. It is a good place to write down your preferences for pain relief methods or medicines and where you can discuss what medical interventions you consent to.
Writing your birth plan can give you a sense of control over the details of your birth and helps you think ahead for possible situations that might occur. This enables you plenty of time to discuss these options with your midwife or doctor in advance so you can think clearly about them when you are not in labour.
As part of your birth plan writing process, read and become more informed about various aspects of your preparations for labouring at home and at the birthing centre, as well as, plans for after the birth, and for breastfeeding.
Preparing a birth plan is not meant to alarm you and, of course, no one can expect to control every little thing that happens during the birth of a child. However, writing a birth plan is a useful exercise to get a better understanding about the full extent of your options for your birth and enable you and your birthing partner to feel more in control.
Similar to a birth plan, a breastfeeding plan is a written document which can help you to start thinking about breastfeeding your baby.
It’s often helpful to be aware of your options for breastfeeding support, at the hospital you plan to birth at, even before your baby arrives. Discuss with your midwife or doctor what is the usual plan for when a baby is born at their birth unit, this will give you some more ideas, areas to research, and questions to ask at future appointments.
Ideally, your baby will be placed on your chest in skin to skin contact directly after birth so that the baby can crawl to the breast and have their first feed.
Skin to skin contact has many benefits and is helpful to assist all babies to start and continue to breastfeed. This is something which is lovely to do with your newborn, and is not just for in the delivery room. Skin to skin contact should continue in the postnatal room and when you have gone home.
Exclusive breastfeeding as your baby cues. Babies will give several early feeding cues (before crying), ask your midwife to show you these on your own baby to help you feel confident recognising them.
Allowing babies to feed when they choose, will enable them to take enough milk and stimulate your breasts sufficiently to bring in your milk and build your supply. Babies feed extremely frequently in the first few days, this is normal and not something to worry about. Talk to your midwife about the signs which will tell you that your baby has had enough milk.
If your baby has not initiated breastfeeding within the first hour ask your midwife to help you to express your milk 8 times every 24 hours until your baby is able to breastfeed again.
If your baby needs to be taken to the special care nursery unit, talk to your baby’s nurse about your wishes to hold your baby in skin to skin contact for as long as possible every day.
Discuss with your midwife about exclusive breastfeeding and what medical reasons would lead to supplementation with formula milk being recommended. There are only very few reasons why a baby would medically need formula milk in addition to your own breastmilk. It is important to find out what these are during the antenatal period so you can feel informed and confident should this need to occur, once your baby arrives.
Most medical checks of your baby can be done whilst baby is content on your chest. Discuss with your midwife about only weighing and measuring your baby after the first breastfeed, and bathing baby ideally, after 48 hours from birth.
With breastfeeding, as with the birth plan itself, be flexible and be prepared for your plans to change. Many new parents don’t fully know what they “want” until their baby arrives and it all becomes much more real!
The most important thing is to learn about your options and be well-informed so you can raise a healthy baby with a healthy and happy mum!
There are an overwhelming number of choices that a family has to make even before the birth of their child. The key is to stay calm, talk to other parents and your midwife or doctor, and anticipate the situations that you can. With the details out of the way you can focus on the amazing experience of bringing a new life into the world.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association have a great template for you to create your own personalised breastfeeding plan.