While breastfeeding is a perfectly natural way to feed a child — and should never be shamed or judged — it's not easy. And, in my experience, it's not this innate thing that every mom automatically knows how to do. So believe me when I say there were more than a few questions I made sure to ask my doctor about breastfeeding before I experienced it. I wanted to be as informed as possible, and after I started nursing my daughter I realized that there really is no such thing as "too much information" when it comes to learning how to feed another human being with your body.
In my experience, it can be somewhat difficult to ask your OB-GYN or midwife about breastfeeding. Since our society expects moms to just "know this stuff," asking a bunch of questions can make us soon-to-be moms feel, well, inept. I didn't want my doctor to know I had no idea what I was doing, which is ridiculous considering I had never breastfed a baby before. Turns out, moms feel an unbelievable amount of pressure to "be perfect" way before their babies are in their arms.
Thankfully, I did the work to get over my fears of appearing uneducated about breastfeeding, and asked a slew of questions about nursing and what I should expect. I quickly realized it was impossible for me to ask too many questions, and my team of doctors and nurses were more than happy to accommodate and give me as much information as possible. So if you're feeling a little unsure about the breastfeeding journey ahead, don't be afraid to ask your doctor the following questions (and any other questions you need answered):
"How Often Should I Feed My Baby?"
All the breastfeeding moms I knew either set up religious feeding schedules or nursed on demand. I had no idea what would work for me and my baby, though, so I wanted to make sure I at least made sure to feed my baby as often as she needed.
According to Kid's Health, a newborn should breastfeed eight to 12 times per day. I wanted to feed my baby on demand, as in when she needed and not adhere to a strict schedule. I was pretty worried I would miss my baby's hunger cues, though, but my doctor reassured me that if I fed my baby every two to three hours she would get enough to eat.
"How Painful Is Breastfeeding?"
I won't lie, I was worried that breastfeeding would be this super painful experience. Thankfully, my doctor assured me that while it may be uncomfortable at first and I may experience soreness from the latch, but it shouldn't be painful and, if it is, I should reach out for help.
"What Is The Best Nursing Position?"
I had no idea you could breastfeed in multiple positions, you guys! What a revolutionary breakthrough! But after asking my doctor how to hold a baby when you feed them, I learned about the football hold, lying on your side, cradle hold, crossover hold, and the laid-back position.
"What Happens If My Milk Doesn't Come In?"
My doctor warned me that because of my polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and hormonal issues, my milk supply could be low. I appreciated this head's up, and knew that if my milk didn't come in two to three days postpartum I should reach out to my doctor or a lactation consultant for additional help.
Even if you don't have PCOS or any other health condition that could impede milk supply, I think it's great to ask your doctor about potential milk supply issues and how you can address them.
"What If My Baby Refuses To Latch?"
A lot of babies need help learning how to latch. Just as I didn't automatically know how to breastfeed as a new mom, my daughter didn't know how to breastfeed as a brand new baby. Thankfully, my doctors reassured me that with proper positioning and a lot of practice, my baby (and me) would get the hang of it.
I also learned about tongue-ties and other potential problems that could keep my baby from latching properly, and knowing what to look out for really put me at ease.
"What If I Decide It's Not For Me?"
Breastfeeding isn't for everyone, my friends. I think it's a great idea to ask your doctor about alternative options — like formula — before you begin your breastfeeding journey. Even if nursing goes smoothly and you never need to power pump or supplement with formula or make the switch entirely, knowing you have options can really take the pressure off.