Denise Parker, IBCLC, is a lactation consultant and publicity coordinator at the Lactation Institute in Encino. The Lactation Institute offers breastfeeding classes, support groups and private consultations for breastfeeding problems. Parker has over 15 years of experience working with breastfeeding families. (818) 995-1913
Breastfed babies feed approximately 8 to 12 times per 24 hours throughout the early weeks. This averages about every 2 to 3 hours around the clock. With each feeding lasting approximately 45 minutes (including burping, diaper changes, etc.), it’s no wonder that many first-time breastfeeding mothers feel like they are constantly feeding the baby. With a little planning and foresight these feeding times can become a time to relax, enjoy the baby and spend time with special people in a new mother’s life.
A breastfeeding station requires a few items that many families may need to purchase for this purpose. A comfortable chair or couch, several pillows. A low footstool and table nearby to hold snack, drinks, the TV remote control or a good book, help make this a nice place to spend time while feeding the baby.
The chair should be comfortable yet supportive. Choose a chair that is roomy, somewhat firm with a place to rest your arms during a long feeding. If you are buying something new, be sure that the chair is comfortable enough to sit in for long periods of time. The seat needs to be wide enough to even with a lap full of baby, pillows and maybe even a toddler.
Most new mothers find pillows invaluable, especially during the early weeks. Choose inexpensive pillows that can be folded, “smooshed” and adjusted to meet your needs. Pillows that can be thrown in the washing machine if they become soiled is a must.
A couple of pillows on your lap will bring baby up to breast level and will free your arms to better position the baby. A pillow or two at your side will support your elbow and baby’s head or bottom depending on the position you are feeding in. Three or four pillows can make all the difference when it comes to comfort and ease of positioning.
Many breastfeeding mothers find a footstool a real comfort when they are breastfeeding. Medela makes one that is just perfect. It is a low stool with a slight slant built into it. It helps bring mother’s knees up slightly and perfectly position her lap to cradle the baby. It helps to reduce lower back strain and enables her to fully relax as baby eats. If you already have a low stool, great. But if you need to buy a piece of equipment, this is the one breastfeeding tool you will continue to use years after your baby has weaned.
The table next to your breastfeeding station should have room for some of the necessities of life. The telephone, TV remote control and a magazine or good book will help you relax and enjoy relaxing with the baby. A cool drink and a snack are nice additions to any breastfeeding station. They ensure that a new mother is adequately nourished and getting enough fluids to assist in the production of adequate milk supply. (Try filling and air pump in the morning with something you like to drink and as many plastic cups as you have people to serve allows you to quench your thirst one handed.)
Feeding times are often family times. Toddlers crave some extra attention from mom at this special time and fathers enjoy watching the miracle of life unfolding. Making space for these special people will enhance the bonding process and enable every member in the family to feel apart of the feeding process. Toddlers will enjoy stories, cuddles with the new baby, or special activities that they can do at mom’s feet or by her side. A new doll to nurture as the toddler mirrors mom’s mothering behavior is a great way to help them learn healthy parenting styles at your side. The lessons learned during these long days will become evident when that toddler becomes a parent someday.
Welcome dad into the breastfeeding circle. Breastfeeding sessions can become special intimate moments that can be shared as you enjoy the wonder that is this new baby. Making room for daddy at that first feeding he returns from work or the last feeding before bedtime (or any feeding in between) will only enhance your relationship. What a wonder that your body can nourish baby after birth as perfectly as it did before!
A breastfeeding station is obviously not required to breastfeed a new baby. However, taking the time to plan and create this special nest will do nothing but enhance breastfeeding sessions. A new mother will spend approximately 6 to 9 hours each day feeding the baby. Shouldn’t she be comfortable?