09/2021
Nicole Longmire
Area Partner Germany

You just found out that you’re pregnant and you’re so excited!  You start daydreaming about your baby bump, start thinking “who will plan my baby shower?”, start looking through the registry, and cannot stop thinking about that Pinterest perfect boho chic nursery!  

When someone asks you if you plan to breastfeed your baby, however, you quickly realize you don’t know much about how to actually prepare for your breastfeeding journey.  You want to breastfeed, but how do you stack the odds in your favor to succeed?  Are some mothers not able to breastfeed?  Will you be able to return to active duty or work if you’re breastfeeding? Will you be able to continue breastfeeding if your spouse deploys again? 

If you’re expecting your first baby (or hoping to breastfeed for the first time even if it’s not your first baby), you probably don’t know what you don’t know!   Joining all the parenting Facebook groups and reading every article on Google probably will leave you feeling even more confused! 

So what does it take to be “successful” with breastfeeding? Here are what I like to call the “Big Three” of Breastfeeding Success!  

The first is the knowledge you need about the science behind breastfeeding and lactation.  You may gain knowledge by taking a prenatal breastfeeding class, reading evidence based resources on breastfeeding, meeting with a lactation care provider at your local MTF or in the community, or attending a Mom2Mom or other breastfeeding support group prior to the birth of your baby. When you are equipped with knowledge, you will be better prepared to answer the question “is this normal?”,  and identify when there are problems requiring more attention. For example, while breastfeeding is completely natural, it is a learned skill! It does not always come easily or naturally to everyone, and can take a great deal of practice for both parent and baby to feel comfortable. This experience can be even more challenging if complications or extenuating circumstances are present (military life stress, anyone?).

The second is the support you will require in the first days and weeks after your baby arrives.  Research shows that support in the first 2 weeks is critical to breastfeeding success.  It is important to know, however, that all breastfeeding support is not created equal.  For some, attending their local Mom2Mom Chapter or other peer support group might be exactly what is needed!  But, for some challenges, you may need more specialized care from a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) or even an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (BCLC).  Many pediatricians have minimal formal training in human lactation so unfortunately they cannot always be relied upon to provide the type of support and clinical care you may end up needing as a new breastfeeding parent.  It is important to find a lactation care provider (or support group) that you feel comfortable with. Sometimes it might take a few tries to find the right fit! If you will be home and your partner will be deployed during those early months, it is especially important to identify early a support network and who the lactation professionals are in your community. Military Mommies Area Partners can connect you with lactation care providers and other helpful support in your community. Area Partners – Military Mommies.

 

The third part of breastfeeding success is the self-efficacy or belief you will need in yourself.  This is perhaps the biggest of the three requirements because your belief in yourself is often the “make or break” point when it comes to meeting your personal goals. As military members and spouses, we are no stranger to adversity, and many of us have developed keen adaptation and resiliency skills that will be very useful not only in the breastfeeding journey, but in the parenting journey for years to come!  But don’t worry, if you’re still not feeling confident, remember that your confidence will grow as you learn about breastfeeding, seek out a support network, and take time to connect with the resources in your community! 

Finally, an important step to preparing for breastfeeding is to try and define what your personal breastfeeding goals are. Most moms will say “I’d like to breastfeed….if I can.”  Did you know that in fact, the majority of parents absolutely can breastfeed, but as many as 60% say they stopped breastfeeding before they met their personal breastfeeding goals?  So what are your goals?  Do you want to breastfeed for a year?  Two years?  Six months?  Until you go back to work?  Will pumping be part of your journey?  Start with what you’d like to achieve so that you can communicate this to your support people, your leadership, and your medical care providers. Remember that Military Mommies Area Partners are knowledgeable and formally trained in breast pumps and other areas of birth, postpartum support and lactation. They can also connect you with any other required support in your area to help you reach your personal breastfeeding goals and get you well on your way to a successful breastfeeding journey; whatever that looks like to you! 



Your Military Mommies Area Partner can also provide help getting your breast pump and replacement pump parts. Tricare will generally cover the following items: 

  • One breast pump kit per birth event. 
  • Standard power adapters: 1 replacement per birth event, and not within 12 months of the breast pump purchase date.
  • Tubing and tubing adapters: 1 set per birth event.
  • Locking rings: 2 every 12 months
  • Bottles: 2 replacement bottles and caps/locking rings every 12 months following the birth event
  • Bottle caps: 2 every 12 months after the birth event
  • Storage bags: 90 bags every 30 days following the birth event
  • Valves/membranes: 12 for each 12 months following the birth event
  • Supplemental Nursing System (SNS): 1 per birth event with a physician’s prescription
  • Nipple shields/splash protectors: 2 sets (2 shields/set) per birth event with a physician’s prescription

Your breastfeeding journey is unique! You may find breastfeeding comes naturally to you, or maybe you have to overcome some challenges initially. Remember that you have resources available to you that can help you achieve your personal goals. Contact your doula, CLC, IBCLC and your Military Mommies partner to prepare for this journey and take advantage of the support they each offer. 

Connect with Nicole at nlongmire@militarymommies.com or on Facebook: lactationnicole.