Since humankind began, breastfeeding has come naturally to new mothers as they watched and learned from their own mothers, sisters, and aunts. As society changed and increasingly did not support breastfeeding, the business of babies became largely hidden. Today's expectant parents are quite likely never to have even held a baby, let alone seen one being breastfed.
Many parents-to-be have grown up missing out on that more traditional learning. Consequently, most of us have not seen that common breastfeeding difficulties have solutions and that trusting your body and your parenting instincts is important in learning the art of breastfeeding. A lot of misinformation remains in our society about the first weeks of breastfeeding. Many new parents find that, even after attending antenatal classes, they are not adequately prepared for the reality of caring for a baby. This is where the Australian Breastfeeding Association's Breastfeeding Education Classes and Local support groups can help.
Many studies have shown that hands-on preparation for postnatal parenting, especially for breastfeeding and understanding normal newborn behaviour, can provide a solid foundation for the establishment of breastfeeding. Learning about breastfeeding before baby is born (when you have more time to take in the information and seek answers to your questions) can be the first step to helping you to reach your breastfeeding goals. It can be quite overwhelming to start learning the basics of breastfeeding during the period when both mother and baby are recovering from the birth.
One of the most important skills that a new baby and mother have to learn together is how to position and attach baby to the breast. Books and leaflets can only show so much. The personal demonstration in ABA's Breastfeeding Education Classes can therefore provide an essential foundation to understanding how to breastfeed in your own unique situation. Empowering new parents with up-to-date facts will mean they will be better prepared to seek advice from knowledgeable and supportive health professionals and breastfeeding counsellors should the need arise. Like most worthwhile things, perseverance and practice can make all the difference to reaching your breastfeeding goals.
ABA's Breastfeeding Education Classes are designed for pregnant women and their support persons (partner, mother or friend) and are run by breastfeeding counsellors and educators. We know that a new mother's support person is the biggest source of support in establishing and maintaining breastfeeding. See the We're in this together ... the breastfeeding partnership article. The attendance of partners is actively encouraged as the information they learn can be invaluable in the early weeks. Together, expectant parents learn how breastmilk is produced, how to position and attach baby to the breast, how to tell if baby is getting enough milk, how to increase milk supply, what to expect in the early weeks and easy solutions to common problems. They also discover that while producing breastmilk comes naturally, the early weeks are an important time for learning the art of breastfeeding with their baby.
I attended a breastfeeding education class (BEC) when I was pregnant with my son 8 years ago. I didn't know it at the time, but dragging my husband along was the best thing I could ever do. He remembered everything they spoke about and, at 3 am, when I was ready to stop breastfeeding and escape the screaming baby, pain and sleep deprivation, my husband suggested freezing some wet nappies, reminded me why I wanted to breastfeed in the first place and encouraged me to persevere and call the Breastfeeding Helpline in the morning.
Breastfeeding preparation — it's a launch pad for success!
© Australian Breastfeeding Association Reviewed December 2019