FREE Birth Plan Guide
So much of pregnancy is time spent considering birth and the labor process. For first-time parents, we tend to forget to consider what postpartum life will look like and what to expect when meeting your new addition. Your doula can bring your attention to aspects of life that may not have been in mind, and they will offer support throughout your journey.
One of the most important expectations to be aware of when approaching breastfeeding success is sleep. 6+ hour stretches of sleep for an infant is an unreasonable expectation, but your doula will help you navigate sleep/wake cycles to ensure you are rested enough for recovery, sufficient milk production, and enjoying your baby!
Support could be the largest factor in the outcome of a breastfeeding journey. Parenting truly takes a village, and that isn't only in reference to work/life balance and childhood.
Breastfeeding is a full-time job. Support from your partner is imperative. Many women receive push-back from family, work, media, etc. while trying to nourish their infants. While people tend to mean well, what women truly need and deserve is unwavering support, confidence in their ability to nourish their baby, and a soft supportive landing space in difficult moments.
Your doula can provide education for you, your partner, and family members, support, and advice on navigating the breastfeeding world.
Going back to setting realistic expectations: while it is recommended to feed a newborn every 2-3hours, there is a phenomenon known as "cluster feeding". Cluster feeding occurs at different ages and stages for breastfeeding infants, and initially, it is intended for establishing a milk supply. It is important to be aware of when to anticipate cluster feeding periods as well as prepare mentally.
When you can anticipate the onset of cluster feeding windows, it is easier to manage as a whole. Yes, it can feel like everything else is put on hold, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel when you are informed! Your doula will help you outline typical cluster feeding windows as well as offer some relief tips to get through them.
*Pro tip: the first cluster feeding window onsets at day 3 postpartum and lasts until day 5. You can resist the urge to "top off" with formula and trust your body to establish the milk supply your baby is requesting during this period.
You cannot pour from an empty cup. A successful breastfeeding journey begins with care for Mom, and that looks different for everyone. Something that tends to be forgotten in early postpartum periods is that while Baby needs milk to grow, Mom needs calories, rest, hydration, and a reasonably stress-free environment to successfully produce and express milk. Breastmilk production requires an extra 500-700 calories per day, at least 16 extra ounces of fluid intake per day, and Mom's body needs to recover from all of the events that happened during pregnancy and childbirth. Let's not forget that the "let down" hormone is oxytocin: the love hormone. Stress inhibits the production and release of oxytocin, thus inhibiting lactation.
Your doula will help provide space, care for Mom, and encourage your partner and loved ones with more support and advice on how to care for you.
Breastfeeding is, at the very least, not as intuitive as one may think. It may not come naturally, and there may be challenges along the journey. In today's world, many Moms find themselves flooded with formula education and advertisements and little to no education surrounding lactation, pressure to return to work before milk supply has had a chance to regulate, an overwhelm of postpartum hormone shifting, and potentially less support than they anticipated during the postpartum and nursing part of this journey, and more.
It is important to leave space for your feelings and understand that these challenges do not make or break the journey. They can be overcome, and your doula will help you identify what changes can be made to ease stressors, encourage confidence in your ability to feed your infant and validate your experience as a whole.