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10 Steps to Create Your Own Breastfeeding Plan

Start planning your breastfeeding journey before baby arrives.

10 Steps to Create Your Own Breastfeeding Plan

They say breastfeeding is "natural," that it will happen naturally. But the truth is, breastfeeding is extremely difficult and can often leave the mother in isolation, physical pain, guilt and shame. Building your nursing plan is a great way to educate yourself and understand your breastfeeding goals so as to overcome or outsmart some of the challenges ahead.

As a Lactation Counselor, I've lived for the moment that I sit cross-legged on the bed next to a freshly birthed new mama, watching her cradle her babe as he suckles for one of the first times. Baby’s tiny fists begin to relax, both mama and I release a deep sigh, and a blanket of silence begins to rest over the home. But all too often, breastfeeding mothers don't get to experience this instance of calm and one-on-one support from a lactation professional; and if they do, it's often after weeks of struggles.

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There is an easier way though. In my book Milk Boss 101: The Modern Breastfeeding Journal & Guide, I help mamas create a breastfeeding plan to allow for a more graceful and confident experience. From prenatal planning to building your breastfeeding tribe, here are 10 steps to create your own breastfeeding plan now.

1. List your breastfeeding goals. What milestones are you hoping to reach and how long would you like to breastfeed?

2. Meet with a lactation professional prenatally. Ask if she provides a private class where you can bring your partner or a friend, and if she does home visits.

3. Build your Breastfeeding Tribe. Get accessory help that will allow you to focus on breastfeeding once you are back home with your new baby. Consider hiring a postpartum doula, having a meal-train organized, or a friend to come by and help with light housework.

4. Talk with your provider about your breastfeeding goals. You’ll want to find out about the hospital’s policies on the Golden Hour, breastfeeding after a cesarean section, and feeding a baby in the NICU.

5. Evaluate whether or not your child’s Pediatrician is breastfeeding friendly. Ask them how they handle concerns about baby’s weight gain, whether or not they support the use of donor's milk, and if they hand out formula samples to mothers who express a desire to breastfeed before offering professional lactation support.

6. Attend a prenatal breastfeeding class with a friend or your partner. Try to find a class taught by a private lactation professional who will meet with you in person, address your specific breastfeeding concerns, and visit with you in the hospital and once home.

7. Schedule a few visits from a lactation professional. Plan on having your lactation professional visit multiple times. Breastfeeding is a learned skill that takes lots of practice. It will set your mind at ease knowing that someone is already planning to visit you multiple times, especially during the first two weeks. Try scheduling visits on your first day back home, day 3 to 5 when your milk gets more mature, and day 7 to 10, which is around the time that baby should be back to his or her birth weight. This schedule should also give you time to fix any issues in between visits.

8. Join a breastfeeding group. Find a group that resonates with you and your work-life situation.

9. Plan for returning to work or your first trip away. A lactation professional can really help you plan, from recommending the perfect pump to offering tips that will help you avoid common hurdles that typically arise around six weeks postpartum, like introduction of hormonal birth control.

10. Give yourself permission to do what feels right to you and listen to your Mama Wisdom. If something doesn’t seem right, voice it, ask for help, and make changes.

I hope that these breastfeeding planning tips allow you to make a smooth transition from maiden to mother and that you feel supported and powerful along your journey.

Anjelica Malone is a former Third Culture kid turned Global Mama. She is the author of Milk Boss 101: The Modern Breastfeeding Journal and Guide. She is a Lactation Educator Counselor, a birth and postpartum doula, and a Childbirth Educator serving women in the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband, two Little Women, and their mini-dachshund, Aoki. Visit www.AnjelicaMalone.com to book her services or read her writings, which focus on encouraging women to embrace their passions and equipping them to navigate motherhood in the way that’s most natural to them.

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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News