This post is the 54th in a series on Booby Traps, made possible by the generous support of Motherlove Herbal Company.
But first, a note: We know that not every low intervention birth leads yields breastfeeding success, and we also know that many high intervention births are followed by great breastfeeding experiences. Our list is based on the available evidence from numerous studies about factors that affect breastfeeding. Whatever your birth plans, we encourage you to prepare by assembling your A-Team!
- Choose your providers carefully. Learn your doctor/midwife and hospital’s induction rate, c-section, and epidural rates. And consider a midwife for your birth. As this post describes, the Midwives Model of Care is supportive of breastfeeding.
- Learn non-drug pain relief techniques for use before, in addition to, or instead of, medications.
- Avoid an early elective birth. This means not requesting or consenting to an induction or planned cesarean prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy unless it’s medically necessary. Early elective births are associated with many problems, including breastfeeding difficulty. Not sure how to avoid one? See our interview with Jennifer Block, author of Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care.
Aim for a low intervention birth, which is easier if you have the right labor support (see above). Many interventions can have an effect on breastfeeding, including:
- Extra force on the baby’s head from forceps or vacuum
- Pain medications
- Having lots of IV fluids
- Cesarean section births