Just like the creation and birth of a baby, a mother’s ability to produce the food and nutrients her infant needs is nothing less than miraculous. However, breastfeeding isn’t always as easy as we are led to believe. Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but it is also a learned skill.
Breastfeeding can be difficult for mothers, whether they are first-time moms or have already breastfed previous children. From challenges related to milk production and the positioning of baby during feeding to learning how to express and store breastmilk, mothers may need more advice, support and reassurance than they expected.
According to Nicole Giangregorio, manager of women’s support programs at Sharp HealthCare, breastfeeding during the first month after birth can be very hard.
“Many mothers have shared that they were surprised how difficult early breastfeeding is,” Giangregorio says. “Before birth, they are often most concerned about the baby’s delivery, but find that once they are home they have lots of questions surrounding breastfeeding. Furthermore, their family and friends who make up their support system have often returned to work or their own responsibilities, and mom is left alone to navigate the challenges.”
Giangregorio and the staff of the New Beginnings Boutique and Gift Shop at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns offer a unique service to breastfeeding mothers. Staffed seven days a week by certified lactation educators, they provide guidance and support when moms are dealing with common breastfeeding concerns.
These may include:
- Low milk supply
- Infant’s difficulty latching onto mother’s nipple
- Challenges finding a comfortable and effective feeding position
- Sore or cracked nipples
- Poor weight gain in infants
- Not enough wet diapers
- Difficulty expressing breastmilk
- Lacking knowledge about storing breastmilk
- Returning to work while breastfeeding
“Often the moms that call or visit the boutique just need to adjust one or two things and their breastfeeding experience will greatly improve,” says Giangregorio. “We take the time to learn about the age of the baby, whether baby is gaining enough weight and what problems a mom might be having and either invite her to come to the boutique to talk to a lactation educator or guide her over the phone and offer encouragement.”
Along with gifts and baby items, the boutique provides a place for a mom to nurse her infant and discuss any concerns with a lactation educator; a scale to weigh the baby; and a variety of tools to make breastfeeding easier. There are herbal supplements to help increase a mom’s milk supply, creams for cracked nipples, baby slings, nursing clothes and breast pumps — both hospital-grade rental units and top-of-the-line portable pumps for purchase.
“The education we provide gives moms and their family tools and confidence through their breastfeeding challenges,” says Giangregorio. “We let them know that their hurdles are normal, offer support and help them understand they’re not the only ones challenged by breastfeeding. Most importantly, we reassure moms that breastfeeding can be a successful and rewarding part of being a new mom.”
Learn more about pregnancy and childbirth classes and support groups at Sharp.