As a breastfeeding mother, we have all received some form of breastfeeding advice. This could come from your OB, midwife, pediatrician, RN, IBCLC, MIL, mother, and friends and of course even strangers! Most women report they hear conflicting messages and almost everyone has a “different” opinion.
Many “booby traps” can stand in our way to breastfeeding successfully and meeting our personal goals. These “booby traps” are barriers that interfere with a mom’s ability to breastfeed successfully. Obstacles such as low milk supply, poor latch, nursing in public, or conflicting advice pose challenges for new and veteran mothers alike.
Use this guide to help sift through the misinformation that you may learn and hear along the way and avoid a “lactastrophe”:
Number 1: milk supply! All babies are different, feeding times and efficiency at the breast will vary. Most moms do not realize how frequently newborns nurse and perceive this as a lack of supply. I suggest moms take cues from their baby’s behavior versus watching the clock. Look for signs of a good feeding. It’s important to look at:
- baby’s weight gain
- temperament before and after being at the breast
- listen for audible swallowing
- track the number of wet and poopy diapers. By the first week, six to eight wet diapers, plus three or four yellow, poopy ones are normal per day. As a new mom adjusting to a new routine and living on less sleep we cannot always remember such details as we are lucky to shower and eat in the early days – so sometimes it’s helpful to use an App to track those feedings, poops, and diaper changes
The” top off trap” is where a mom feels she is not making enough milk, she then “tops” baby off with formula after breastfeeding. A baby commonly responds by sleeping longer periods due to feeling overly full. Because your baby then spends less time at the breast, it will ultimately lead to a reduction in milk supply. Remember the signs of a good feeding above when one of your family members are telling you “you’re starving that baby”. Many normal newborn behaviors are mistaken for hunger.
Number 2: the latch. A proper latch is not as simple as it seems, and it may take some practice, time and adjustments. A slight pain or gentle tugging when initiating breastfeeding is normal, but if a mom’s pain persists longer, a poor latch may be a cause. This is when she should seek professional help. Here are some things to try:
- Let baby initiate latching
- Lay back and lay together skin-to-skin and when your baby lifts their head gently guide them toward your breast. Gravity can help achieve a deeper latch. The goal is to get mom’s nipple and some breast tissue into baby’s mouth and have them open wide like biting into a big sandwich.
Number 3: Pacifiers. Yes, pacifiers are immensely tempting, but try to avoid the temptation for 4-6 weeks (about the time it takes to establish a good rhythm for you and baby). Pacifiers can cause a baby to confuse their sucking technique just like bottles as they require a different type of sucking than being at the breast. Pacifiers can diminish a baby’s hunger cues and lead to less time spent at the breast. This can interfere with a mom establishing a good milk supply.
Number 4: Ask for help. A mom may worry if they breastfeed all duties fall on them. Make sure to ask your partner for help with diaper changes, baths, burping and snuggle time.
When it comes to breastfeeding think of the first few weeks with your newborn as team building. Each of you has things to learn and master! Allow yourself this time and try to not be so hard on yourself. Relax and enjoy the journey. And if things are not going as you’d planned, seek help from a professional.