9 Things You Will Learn in a Lactation Class

We often just see someone's breastfeeding highlight reel on the gram, but the path to confidently feeding your baby can be filled with obstacles. Let me set the scene for you: you get your baby latched in the hospital, it feels a little off but everyone is telling you it looks good-completely dismissing your concerns. Once you are home, you text your doula/private lactation counselor that your nipples are sore and your baby's feeding habits just aren't quite right. A few days later, your doula/lactation counselor comes over and goes over your baby's feeding patterns again and discusses any additional symptoms that may be popping up. After reviewing the feeding history up until this point, observing a feed, and looking in your baby's mouth and checking out your anatomy it's recommended you seek additional consult from a pediatric dentist or myofunctional/orafacial therapist for possible oral restrictions. It's discovered your baby has a tongue and a lip tie.

In our current climate, it can feel like tongue and lip ties are a fad and everyone's baby seems to have some restriction in their mouth BUT it's a real thing that can affect not just feeding but facial development, speech, sleep, etc. as your child gets older. Your pediatrician isn't well versed in this facet of the mouth and in the hospital it's rare that they even check let alone provide further resources and exercises to help you forge your feeding relationship forward.

If this client wouldn't have had the resources and knowledge base she had she may have ended up just exclusively pumping because no one was looking at the full picture. What if she didn't even know that oral restrictions could affect the feeding relationship? Exclusively pumping isn't a bad thing, but it does require a lot of time and usually an outlet. Sometimes, more than just positioning needs to be fixed, and that's where lactation education comes in!

Resources and support are the two biggest indicators of success in lactation and a solid lactation course should be providing you not only with a well rounded knowledge base but should include resources you may need after baby has arrived and ways to get support through your instructor or other local professionals.

THERE IS SO MUCH TO KNOW to help you better understand your lactation journey, let's dive into why you need to get educated before your baby arrives and what you will learn in our lactation workshop.

1. Learn about your anatomy

Get to know your body! What kind of nipples do you have: flat, normal, inverted? If you do have flat or inverted nipples then it's good to get familiar with ways to get your nipple erect for feeding. Where does your milk come from? Let's talk about why your baby needs a mouthful of the breast. Your nipple doesn't make milk there are tiny little things called lobules that do, and lobules can be found in your armpits. Knowing and understanding your anatomy helps you better understand your baby's latch and your body's milk making process.

2. Learn the basics from birth through returning to work.

In Bright Earth Doulas Lactation workshop you learn about colostrum collection at the end of pregnancy all the way through what pumping looks like when/if you are returning to work or if you just want to book a night away. We talk through the ideal times to introduce bottles and pacifiers for the two most common scenarios: returning to work out of the home and staying home with your baby. During this chat about pumping we will discuss how much milk you need and what a "freezer stash" really looks like.

3. You will learn realistic expectations of your baby and your body.

Starting from the golden hour through the first 48 hours learning what to expect from your baby will help you navigate the toughest nights. In this course, I talk about birth through the first 48 hours of your baby's life. There is a lot to be aware of and if you don't know about your baby's biological needs at this point, the second 24 hours of your baby's life can feel really overwhelming. Attendees often come away with this: "I remember her saying to just be patient and baby will latch" and "The second 24 hours the baby was really fussy, but I remembered from the lactation workshop that it was normal so I wasn't stressed out about it, I knew what to expect."

4. You will understand the dynamic of supply and demand

Ditch the negative thoughts about not producing enough and truly understand how your baby and body function to create the best supply for your baby. The rule of thumb here is: an empty breast refills faster than a full one. What happens if you aren't emptying your breasts often? It can affect your supply negatively.

Ditch the clocks! This is one of many mantras I have when it comes to breastfeeding/chestfeeding. Your baby isn't operating off a stopwatch. You do NOT need to time your baby's feeding length or frequency. Most babies will eat longer than 15 minutes and in the first 3 months most babies will exhibit eating frequency that comes before the 2-3 hour mark.

5. The LATCH and positioning

We go over the signs of a good and a bad latch. I discuss the most common things I see and how to troubleshoot the first latch. We go over the most commonly used positions in class. Have a breastfeeding pillow like the Boppy or the Breast Friend? We're going to talk about them and why you might not want to use them and even how to repurpose your pregnancy pillow for more support in your postpartum nest.

6. You will identify what means your baby is hungry and what signs mean your baby is full

In our culture, we love numbers, but with breastfeeding or chestfeeding there is no way to know exactly how many ounces your baby is transferring per feed unless you're doing weighted feeds. This lactation course will walk through your baby's hunger and full cues to help you better understand your baby with the goal of helping you feel confident in understanding your baby's needs.

7. You will know how to troubleshoot certain problems How frustrating to take a class and not be given any tools to help with common problems like: engorgement, sore nipples, thrush, mastitis, and clogged ducts. Why? Because walking into your journey without knowing how to identify and combat these problems can leave people feeling frustrated and frantically Google searching "how to...." You can even head to our Instagram account and save our clogged duct reel!

8. Learn about supplies you may need and how to use them

  • You probably snagged an electric pump with your insurance, but did you know that the flanges it came with probably aren't the right size? Did you know that an improperly fitted pump can negatively affect your milk output?

  • A lot of lactating people are thrown nipple shields in the hospital, but do you actually need it? Is it being given as a bandaid or an actual tool?

  • What supplies might you want on hand for potential nipple soreness?

  • What should you stock your lactation station caddy with? I have created the list you just need to browse Amazon or your local Target to stock up.

We also cover when to use these items. In addition we go over how to clean all of the items and how to properly store pumped milk.

9. What about bottles and pacifiers?.

Learn the best time to introduce artificial nipples and WHY, but we also touch on best practices if you choose to use them before the recommended timeframe. There are also ideal nipple shapes to use for a breastfed baby that help facilitate an easier transition from bottle to breast/chest (hint, it's not the type that mimics the breast)

Finally, you get to ask questions in this course! ANY QUESTION YOU WANT! There isn't a sales pitch here, I answer any question as it relates to lactation in this course even if it's not something we covered.

The ultimate goal for me, as a lactation counselor, is to make sure you don't actually need me after your baby arrives. I want to set clients up for success BEFORE their babies arrive. I want you to know the good, the bad, and the in-between so you know how to take control of every obstacle you meet in your lactation journey and if you need extra help passed that then you know you can always reach out for additional help from me, your lactation counselor. I do NOT want clients scrolling Dr. Google and breastfeeding groups at 3am. I want them to contact me.

BONUS! As an attendee of the Lactation workshop you receive a copy of the Lactation Survival Guide, a 26 page document full of information from class and so much more.

Still not sure about a lactation course, then let me leave you with these:

  • Did you know your baby only needs about 1-1 1/2 tsp of colostrum, the early milk, per feeding in the first 24 hours?

  • Did you know that your milk is hormone based until day 9 postpartum? That means, you are producing solely based off the fluctuation in your hormones post birth.

  • Did you know you started making colostrum at 16 weeks pregnant?

The course you take should be realistic and touch on more than just the picture perfect lactation journey. If you are interested in taking a course like this, then register for our Lactation Workshop and build your lactation confidence. We can't wait to see you there!

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