At mater mea, we’re big on providing Black breastfeeding resources. But instead of saying “breast is best” or even “fed is best,” international Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Andrea Syms-Brown has this piece of breastfeeding advice to share:
“Support is best.”
In an Instagram Live with mater mea founder Tomi Akitunde, Andrea explained why support is the most important thing a chest- or breastfeeding parent can have.
“There can be ups, downs, and challenges throughout a breastfeeding journey,” she says. “Having others around to listen and reassure a mom can really take the pressure off and put her at ease.“
That support can look like working with a lactation consultant who can help you navigate common breastfeeding problems like latch or milk supply issues. You can join online Black breastfeeding support groups to talk to moms and parents who are ready to be your biggest cheerleaders and advocates.
Online groups are a great way of getting breastfeeding advice. But you can also go directly to your friends and ask them about their experiences. That’s what we did: We’ve rounded up the best breastfeeding advice our community had to offer.
Whether you plan on breastfeeding for a few weeks or a few years (like these extended breastfeeding mamas did), these ladies’ advice will help support you on your journey.
1. Research breastfeeding before giving birth.
“Researching breastfeeding long before giving birth was soooo helpful. Equally helpful was joining a Black mother’s breastfeeding group ran by Black lactation consultants who posted evidence based information rather than ‘this-is-what-worked-for-me information,’” says mater mea community member Courtney on Instagram.
“My advice is to get your partner—or another supportive and present person in your life—on board early with learning about breastfeeding,” she adds. “Immediately after birth, a partner who knows about latching and positioning can help a tired birth parent to get baby latched and nursing well because they can see from a different angle and have the strength and access to assist with shifting baby’s position. A knowledgeable partner also knows that breastfeeding is hard, and a learning process, and can coach an emotional birth parent that both parent and baby are learning and it’s their first time. Patience is so key in those first hours and days.”
For more breastfeeding book recommendations, click here.
2. Listen to your baby’s needs once they arrive…
“Learned to listen to baby. When baby wanted to be on the breast, I let him. That is what helped build my supply,” says Joanna Cartwright on Instagram. @JoannaKimberly_)
A part of learning your baby’s needs can be getting support from a lactation professional, adds Courtney.
“[Seek] out an IBCLC to be on your care team,” she says. “Hospital LCs just ain’t it.”
Once you know your baby’s needs, you’ll be able to meet them having comfortable and easy to use nursing bras makes things easier.
For more nursing bra recommendations, click here.
3. … but make sure you’re taken care of too.
Breastfeeding should not be painful. Feeling any kind of pain indicates that something isn’t right and should be discussed with a professional.
For more recommendations to soothe your nipples, click here.
4. Get acquainted with pumping.
Parents who pump need support, too. While pumping is often posed as secondary to breastfeeding and just an option for working moms, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I don’t think we talk enough about exclusively pumping,” says Cassandre of @withlovecassandre. “Actually putting my son to my breast was excruciatingly painful and I tried for several weeks and would dread feeding time. His latch was perfect but something about my nipples and my painful let downs made me switch to exclusively pumping.
“It’s important for me that he gets breast milk just not directly from the tap. If someone is struggling there are options between nursing and formula feeding. And you’re not wrong or broken for not enjoying nursing.”
For more pumping recommendations, click here.