What if I can’t breastfeed?

Brittany B. studies the basics and benefits during her pregnancy journey

Breastfeeding can seem like a daunting task — it did for me. What questions should I ask? How do I prepare? What if the baby can’t or won’t latch or arrives early? How do I go back to work and pump?

I knew going into this pregnancy that breastfeeding definitely was a possibility and something I wanted to learn more about. I knew the benefits, but what I didn’t know was how to get my questions answered or where to turn if I needed support.

With so little knowledge, I was lucky to find great resources through Norton Healthcare to help me get started on my breastfeeding journey before Baby B.’s arrival. There is a lot of support available for after Baby B.’s arrival too.

A WHAT consultant?

My husband, Brandon, and I met with a lactation consultant at my OB/GYN’s office at around 30 weeks. We decided to meet then because I wanted to be as prepared as possible for breastfeeding before Baby B.’s arrival and to know what to expect at the hospital.

I asked Brandon to go with me because we have been on this journey together every step of the way, and I knew if I was going to attempt to be successful at breastfeeding I would need his support and reassurance from the beginning.

Our meeting with the lactation consultant was great. It started with her asking about my intention to breastfeed. My plan, at least my hope, is to make it to at least six months (the recommended exclusive breastfeeding mark) and then to a year. But I was honest about the fact that I want to take it one day at a time to be certain we’re doing what is best for Baby B.

The lactation consultant helped us understand what should happen after delivery, which will be at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, including skin-to-skin contact, trying to breastfeed in the first hour after birth and the availability of certified lactation consultants during my time in the hospital.

She also reviewed my medical chart to assess my medical conditions — including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — and how that condition may affect breastfeeding. In the case of PCOS, I learned that one-third of women overproduce, but two-thirds of women underproduce breast milk. That means there is a chance I will underproduce breast milk.

Our lactation consultant reassured us that even 1 tablespoon of breast milk a day provides benefits for baby. So, even if I am unable to breastfeed exclusively, I should produce enough breast milk to at least provide breastfeeding benefits to Baby B.

If you’re considering breastfeeding, find out if your medical provider offers a lactation consultant or if one is available in your area. Norton Women’s Care offers appointments with a certified lactation consultant through the Baby Bistro & Boutique.

Breastfeeding classes

I attended two breastfeeding classes offered by Norton Women’s Care — Breastfeeding Essentials and Breastfeeding: Beyond the Basics.

The Breastfeeding Essentials class was two hours of breastfeeding basics, from the anatomy of breastfeeding and how to breastfeed to latch positions and what to expect when I go home from the hospital.

The amount of information was somewhat overwhelming — but important. The class provided insight about what to expect at the hospital and at home, and signs to watch for that something just isn’t right.

The Breastfeeding: Beyond the Basics class raised my knowledge a step further. It covered topics such as breastfeeding at the hospital and at home, understanding a routine and pumping for my return to work.

If you’re planning to breastfeed or are on the fence, I highly recommend that you attend a breastfeeding class. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and relieve some of your fears.

Breast pump insurance coverage

I learned during my research and classes that through the Affordable Care Act, many insurance plans cover the cost of a breast pump (or at least up to a certain dollar amount) because breastfeeding is considered preventive care for a newborn. Who knew?

My health insurance provides access to a nurse, who contacted me early on about my pregnancy and newborn care benefits. During our initial conversation was when I first learned of the breast pump benefit. Our lactation consultant recommended we visit the Baby Bistro & Boutique for additional information and assistance with breast pumps.

Because I have PCOS and am a first-time mom, she also suggested I consider renting a hospital-strength pump to establish my milk supply before purchasing one, as typical commercial breast pumps are designed for moms with an already established milk supply. Bonus: My insurance will reimburse the monthly rental cost.

If you’re considering breastfeeding, be sure to look into what coverage is provided by your insurance to make the most of your experience.

There are a lot of breastfeeding resources available. Talk to your health care provider about support to help you on your breastfeeding journey.

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