By Vicki Twomey, CLC
You have made the choice to breastfeed your baby. Congratulations! Like most moms you are probably scouring the internet and your baby books trying to figure out what you need to do and how to set yourself and your little one up for success. One phrase you may keep coming across is “breastfeeding goals”. Why should you set breastfeeding goals? What are the most important things to keep in mind? Who should be involved in setting your goals?
Why should you set breastfeeding goals?
Setting a goal is simply deciding you want to do something! If you do not set a goal then you do not know what outcome you are looking for. A goals should be specific and positive. You could say, “I want to breastfeed” but that is not a goal, it is a desire. A goal would be “I want to breastfeed for at least 2 months.” The more specific you are the better chance you have of reaching your goal! Next be positive! Rather than saying “I do not want to give my baby formula for the first two months” your positive goal would be “I want to exclusively give my baby breastmilk for the first two months.” Do you see the difference? One is what you do not want to do, the other is what you want to do!
What are the most important things to keep in mind?
It is important for goals to be realistic! If you set unrealistic goals you are more likely to not meet them. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. (1) It may seem like a very big goal, but you can do it! You can start with one week, or one month and go from there. Remember to celebrate each goal you reach, and if that is weekly, yay for you! More goals = more celebrations!
With that in mind, consider setting your first goal to breastfeed in the first few hours after your baby is born. Talk to your healthcare professional about skin-to-skin for the first hour after birth. Dr Jack Newman says that babies that experience skin-to-skin contact for the first hour “are more likely to latch on without any help and they are more likely to latch on well, especially if the mother did not receive medication during the labour or birth.” (2)
Who should be involved in setting your goals?
Everyone! Well, maybe not your grocer or nail person. But many people can and should be involved! Start with your partner, explain to him/her why breastfeeding is important and get their buy in! Next talk to your healthcare professionals. Let them know that you plan on breastfeeding, request skin-to-skin immediately after birth, ask them to write in your baby’s chart no formula preferred, request to see a lactation consultant, and most importantly ask your partner to speak for you when you are unable to.
Next you need your family and friends to be supportive of your journey, have them celebrate with you when you reach your goals! Ask for their understanding when things take longer than expected, keep them aware that you may not be as available during the first month or so when you and your little one are finding your groove!
Lastly, if you plan on going back to work and breastfeed you will need your boss/company to support you with pumping breaks, a private place to pump and a way for you to store your pumped milk!
As you can see, it takes a village and with your village you got this mama!
– Vicki Twomey
Vicki is an Ameda’s Digital Marketing Manager and a CLC! She is what you would call a jack of all trades master of none! In her past life she has worked in corporate America, non-profit, healthcare and adoption. One theme throughout her life has been a strong focus on women’s issues and that is her passion.