Setting Effective Breastfeeding Goals
If you plan to nurse your new baby sometime this year, now is the perfect time to set a few breastfeeding goals alongside your new year’s resolutions. While breastfeeding is a perfectly natural process, it isn’t always easy, and the more planning and preparation you do in advance will set you and your baby up for success.
One critical aspect of breastfeeding to understand as you set goals, is that it’s a journey with many phases. Newborns need different breastfeeding requirements than 6-months-old, and even more so than 12-month-olds. It’s important to set both short- and long-term breastfeeding goals as soon as possible, preferably before your baby is even born, so that when you meet challenges, you are prepared.
For example, your short-term goals could be to:
- feel good about baby’s latch before leaving the hospital (remember, even though the hospital’s lactation consultant may only come by your room once, you can always request repeat visits!)
- exclusively breastfeed for 5 months
- and supplementally breastfeed for a year.
Maybe your long term goal is to:
- breastfeed for 12 months but is balanced with a short-term goal is to take it simply one day at a time and to not to give up on a hard day.
Determining Your Primary Breastfeeding Goal
How long do you want to breastfeed your baby? According to WHO and UNICEF, they recommend:
- early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth;
- exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and
- introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
Every family, baby, and mother is different, so set a goal that you are comfortable with and seek out resources and support that are available to you so help you reach that goal. As you encounter challenges or need extra support along the way, don’t be afraid to take full advantage and anything and everything you need to meet your goal.
Resources for Setting Breastfeeding Goals
The USDA provides many resources for supporting breastfeeding including breastfeeding 101 information, common questions and challenges, going back to work resources, as well as information on pumping. These are great resources to consult as you are setting short- and long-term goals that support your primary breastfeeding goal.
Consider setting goals and preparing for each of the following phases of breastfeeding:
- At the hospital
- First days and weeks at home
- Four to Six Weeks into breastfeeding
- Going back to work
- 6 months and beyond
- Before baby arrives
The USDA has also published this worksheet for setting breastfeeding goals, which includes a checklist for each of the phases of breastfeeding. We encourage all mothers to use and reference throughout their breastfeeding journey!
Work & Mother
When you are ready to return to work, Work & Mother is a resource and support to mothers in Houston and Austin. Work & Mother facilities, which we refer to as “Suites,” are fully equipped & stocked with everything a woman needs to pump during the workday. All she has to do, is show up! We pride ourselves on providing working mothers with space they need to succeed. Learn more about our locations and services.