IT’S A JOURNEY
From the moment that you decide to breastfeed your child, the preparation begins. Setting goals, accepting challenges, and taking care of yourself help you to manage the day-by-day when exhaustion and the inevitable frustration sets in (because, at some point, it will.) Coupled with nutrition assistance from WIC and support throughout the journey, you and your baby can both benefit from breastfeeding.
LEARN: Setting short and long-term breastfeeding goals before the baby’s arrival can help you to manage the ups and downs of life with a newborn. WIC offers breastfeeding information, support and assistance that includes counseling, support groups and educational materials. Before the baby’s arrival, take a WIC breastfeeding class to learn more about what to expect and how to breastfeed. Talk with your partner and get any supplies that you’ll need. Setting up a support group for challenging times can help you to know you are not on this journey alone. WIC breastfeeding staff, a lactation consultant, and even a trusted family member can help mentor, coach, and support you.
Here We Go
GAMETIME: For mothers in the WIC program, breastfeeding is a priority, both for the health benefits to the baby and the bond it creates between child and mother, but also because it is free and convenient. Offering nutritional support and an enhanced food package to help you breastfeed successfully, WIC provides various resources to ease the transition from pregnancy to breastfeeding.
1. START- After birth, aim for skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as possible. Your hormones will start kicking in and you’ll begin producing milk. The thick milk produced just after birth (colostrum) is very rich in nutrients and antibodies. As the colostrum transitions to mature milk during the first 10-15 days, it may seem like all you’re doing is feeding, especially since newborns eat every couple of hours. How do you know that your baby is getting enough milk? A diaper diary. Track the color, texture and frequency of poops and wet diapers. It seems like a lot, but family, friends, and the WIC community are there to offer support and guidance.
2. OVERCOME- There will be struggles. You’ll feel tired and sore. Your baby may have latching difficulties. You may have trouble producing milk. These are all common challenges and knowing that you are not alone is the biggest tip anyone can offer. Keep up your nutrition with your WIC food packages, which include a variety of foods to support your milk supply, offer nutrition, and promote healthy weight loss after delivery. As your child grows, these packages will also include baby foods once your child has reached 6 months of age. Don’t hesitate to speak with a lactation consultant or the support team at WIC to work through your questions. Remember, you are not the first person to experience breastfeeding challenges.
3. THRIVE – Congratulations, you did it! As it becomes time to wean your baby, (typically between 6-12 months of age), the WIC breastfeeding staff can offer tips on healthy foods to introduce as well as provide support throughout the weaning process. Whether baby-led weaning or mom-led, look for cues that your child is ready. Hold the cup for your baby as you transition, feed slowly to prevent choking, serve food in a high chair to establish a new routine, and give your baby lots of extra love and attention.
Breastfeeding Is Community
It’s like you’ve been initiated into the biggest not-so-secret society or group there is. Breastfeeding mothers are one another’s biggest support system, offering shared experiences (and exhaustion), victories, and challenges. Know that you are not alone in this journey and the community at Teche Action Clinic is here to encourage complete wellness for both you and your baby.