Assessments often conjure up images of formal tests and exams, sparking anxiety for many. But what if we told you that seeking help and guidance, especially when it comes to feeding your newborn, is not only normal but also essential?
Let’s redefine assessments. An assessment, by definition, involves evaluating or estimating the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something. It’s not a test of your parenting skills, but rather an opportunity to ensure the well-being of your baby.
Seeking help with feeding your newborn is perfectly acceptable, whether you’re a first-time parent or have prior experience. Here’s why:
1. Embrace the Unknown: Being open to assessments means acknowledging that it’s okay not to have all the answers. Admitting “I don’t know” when faced with unfamiliar questions or challenges is a sign of wisdom, not weakness.
2. Everyone Needs Help: Feeding a newborn is a unique journey, even if you’ve cared for babies before. Each parent-infant or mother-baby duo is distinct, just like your newborn. They have their own anatomy, personalities, and preferences. You’ve evolved as a parent, too, since the last time you cared for a baby.
3. Expert Guidance Matters: Seeking help is a natural part of the parenting experience. Understanding how to nurture a tiny human involves new territory and fresh information. Whether you breastfed your first child and encountered difficulties or have never experienced newborn feeding, expert guidance can make all the difference.
Your newborn’s needs and your own may have evolved, and recognizing that is a vital step in ensuring a positive feeding experience. So, if you’re lying in bed beside your newborn, feeling uncertain and thinking, “I should know how to do this,” remember that it’s okay to seek help.
What does a newborn feeding assessment look like?
First and foremost—during the breastfeeding and bottle-feeding assessments, I want you to know that it’s not a test of your ability. It always come from the perspective of “I’m on your side and I want you to be successful in meeting your family feeding goals.”
We’ll discuss and take into account your personal medical history, your family’s values around feeding and parenting, your preferences and your cultural background.
Environment: We will meet somewhere that is calm and not sensory overloading. I love to meet in client’s homes because I’m able to assess your natural environment, the area of your home you wish to feed your baby, and then make recommendations to help you successfully feed your baby and also decrease stress and pain and strain on your body.
Physical examination: I’ll then look at and inside your baby’s mouth, performing an oral mechanism exam. If planning to breastfeed, I will examine the integrity of mom’s breast tissue & anatomy.
Cues: Then we’ll move into reading baby’s cues and how he communicates hunger and how we can respond, ensuring that all feedings are positive experiences for both baby and parent. Learning about hunger cues and disengagement cues is a game changer for parents. Who knew our babies are communicating to us through facial & physical movements and their breathing rhythm.
Readiness: We’ll determine if the baby is actually ready to feed. Just because it is “time” to feed, doesn’t mean that the baby is ready.
Feeding: Now for the star of the show, the actual feeding. I’ll observe and provide verbal and hands-on recommendations and support during breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Assessing posture of parents, positioning of baby, root, latch and suck/swallow/breathe coordination. I’ll be looking in detail at oral-motor function, coordination of the swallow and ability to maintain self throughout the entire feeding. We’ll together assess the overall feeding tolerance of both parent and baby. After the feeding, we’ll discuss and I will demonstrate ways to burp a baby, hold baby after feeding and ways to decrease reflux after a feeding.
Don’t let the word “feeding assessment” scare you. We can do this!
A newborn feeding assessment involves just you, your spouse, your baby and me. We’re all on the same team, working toward the same goal…setting you up for a successful feeding journey. And remember this journey will look very different from your friends’ or sisters’ journeys—and that’s ok! You are each unique individuals. You’ve created this precious family that you now want to be yours. Don’t feel pressure to make it look like anyone else’s journey…make it yours. Gather the information from an educated expert and then decide how you want it to look for your family.
I’m passionate about you not feeling isolated or incompetent…these are feelings no parent should feel.
Let’s walk this journey together.
If you are interested in talking more or scheduling an appointment for a newborn feeding assessment, you can contact me here or at Micha@MichaClark.com. If you would like to get an idea of my personality and philosophy on parenting, please check out my Instagram.