One of the best ways to prepare for successful breastfeeding is to have a good birth. While the time spent in labor is relatively short compared to the time you’ll spend nursing your baby, it can have a huge impact on how well breastfeeding goes for you. Some common birthing practices that can affect breastfeeding are inductions (especially those done too early based on inaccurate due dates), pitocin use, epidurals, cesarean sections and other hospital routines such as not allowing rooming-in or early discharge. As an active duty service member you do not have a choice as to where you can deliver your baby, since you are required to deliver at the nearest MTF. Therefore you will have to be an advocate for yourself to make for the best possible birth.
Prepare for your baby’s birth by reading evidence-based books on childbirth that cover all of your options. Take a childbirth class so that you know what to expect and have the tools to avoid medications if at all possible. Research has shown that babies are more alert for breastfeeding after an unmedicated birth. To help you reach that goal, keep in mind these six principles that Lamaze International © has found to be the most important for a healthy full-term birth:
- Let labor begin normally and without interventions
- Keep moving during labor
- Have a support person with you (partner, friend, doula)
- Keep interventions to a minimum
- Avoid birthing on your back
- Room-in with your newborn
You can find more information on these six principles by going to the website www.injoyvideos.com/mothersadvocate and downloading the booklet, Healthy Birth Your Way, and watching the accompanying videos.
Another important item is to write a plan outlining what you want done during and after the birth using the principles above. Birth plans can be very useful towards ensuring that you DO have the birth you want and that your baby will be ready to breastfeed. Hire a labor doula to be with you (see the DONA website for more information on doulas). A doula is a trained professional who will provide you with one-to-one continuous support and can offer comfort measures such as massage. Having a doula at your birth has been shown to reduce the need for pain medications and Cesarean sections. A doula can be a lifesaver, especially if you do not have anyone nearby to be your support person. See the Websites page for more links to birth websites.