Here are more common mistakes that can make breastfeeding hard! Avoid these and your experience will be much easier!
Thinking breastfeeding is supposed to hurt and nipple pain is a normal part of breastfeeding: In our society where breastfeeding has many myths and misconceptions, it’s easy to think that breastfeeding is supposed to be painful. I go back to #1 and #2 in my other article “Top 5 Mistakes” , the importance of getting yourself prepared and not listening to all those stories. Breastfeeding and nipple pain is not supposed to hurt. If you are having pain, get help as soon as possible from an experienced IBCLC. Many times nipple pain means the baby is not positioned or latched on well and it takes a little adjusting to get everything to feel better. Occasionally there maybe something more than a latching problem going on, such as tongue and/or lip tie. Receiving support from an IBCLC Lactation Consultant will help you so much.
Not getting help early enough: Think back 100 years ago when breastfeeding was normal, when there was no other option than to breastfeed, when that was just what we women did. We had all kinds of support from the women around us. Now days it’s just not like that and we have to create our own community of support. If you are having breastfeeding issues getting help early on is always better than waiting. When breastfeeding issues go on longer it can make it more difficult to get things back on track. Not to say issues can’t be fixed, but it does take more effort on both mom and baby’s part. I like to encourage moms to get to know a good Lactation Consultant (Look for the IBCLC letters behind the name) while they are pregnant, then if problems do arise they have the LC’s number and already feel comfortable calling on her for support. So remember the earlier you get help the better and easier it is to get back to happy breastfeeding!
Doing too much and not putting yourself on baby time: When your little one comes into your life, it will take some time to get into a new normal. I say a new normal because now you have a new human being that is running strictly on natural instincts. Your little one has not been conditioned to live in this world yet (which I think is a pretty good thing!) and is on their own time. Baby time means that in the next weeks and months while your baby gets acclimated to this new world he/she will be awake and hungry on their own body clock. I’m encouraging you to get on board with your baby’s timing right from the beginning because this allows you and your baby to really get to know each other, it allows your baby a more gentle way to into your family dynamic, and it helps establish breastfeeding and your milk supply! This happens because there is no set feeding schedule to follow; feeding your baby on your baby’s timing always makes nursing go much easier.
I would encourage you to delegate anything you feel needs to get done for the next few weeks. You just went through a huge change in your body, and you need to rest and recover. Help yourself and your partner by creating extra support around you. It doesn’t have to be forever and trust me when you receive the help you will feel so grateful, you’ll want to pay it forward to another new mom needing support!
When friends and family come to visit they want to help, but are unsure of what to do. Have a handy list of things to do posted on the counter or fridge and let them know it would be so wonderful if they can bring you meals, if you get more than you can eat be sure to freeze them for those times it’s just too hard to make dinner. List things like please help us do the dishes, fold the laundry, pick up the living room, pick up some eggs and bread at the store. This gives them specific things to do for you, so that you can continue to get to know your baby and get lots of practice breastfeeding. If they offer to hold your baby make it a time that counts… if you need a shower or a nap, is a perfect time for your little one to get some one on one time with other people. Make sure to tell them what the beginning signs of your baby’s hunger cues look like and ask them to get you when it’s time to nurse the baby. It’s always best to catch those early hunger cues before your baby cries (which is the LAST hunger cue a baby will show).
Choosing a doctor that is not breastfeeding friendly: Generally speaking, doctors do not have very many hours of lactation training. I do think this is changing very slowly, there are more and more doctors recognizing the huge benefits of breastfeeding to baby and are seeking out more training. Some doctors are even sitting for the board exam to become a Lactation Consultant which is so great! I would like to encourage you to interview the doctor you’re thinking will be your pediatrician and see how breastfeeding friendly they are. If you can find a doctor with the IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) credentials behind their name that would be fabulous! This credential means the doctor has studied how lactating breasts work, what issues can happen with breastfeeding and the appropriate steps to take to remedy the situation. It also means they are up-to-date with the latest breastfeeding research and have at least 1000 clinical hours with helping breastfeeding mothers. If your doctor does not have these credentials it’s ok, they can still be knowledgeable and pro-breastfeeding, you may just need to ask a few questions to find out where your doctor stands. Here are a few interview questions to get you started:
- What kind of Lactation training do you and your staff have?
- Do you have a Lactation Consultant on staff if I have breastfeeding issues?
- What kind of solutions do you recommend for breastfeeding issues like nipple pain, slow weight gain, and jaundice? (If the doctor throws out a quick answer like “well we would suggest formula for a period of time until the issue resolves itself” this is not pro-breastfeeding or helpful in helping to maintain the breastfeeding relationship. There are many suggestions that can be made to help these situations without ever needing to introduce formula or a bottle).
- When do you suggest I start solid foods with my baby? (The AAP and WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding until around 6 months when your baby shows signs of readiness to take in solid foods. It used to be recommended that babies start solids at 4 months and many doctors would also recommend rice cereal in a bottle to help with sleeping through the night. Both are not helpful and are myths and can lower your milk supply).
Finding a breastfeeding friendly doctor before you have your baby will help safeguard your breastfeeding efforts and keep your baby healthy.
Isolating yourself: Remember when I was talking about how we used to have all kinds of help from the community around us? We had moms, aunts, grandmas, cousins, and all our women friends that had breastfed their own babies and had all this experience to support a new mom. I also talked about how we don’t have this as much anymore and how we need to create this kind of help for ourselves. This rings true with helping yourself feel supported emotionally and getting yourself out and surrounding yourself with other moms. It’s all too common for moms to be isolated at home with their baby doing all this beautiful mothering and not have anyone to share their joys, frustrations, and questions with someone who can relate to what they’re going through. I would suggest seeking out mother groups in your area that are supportive of breastfeeding. Mommy and baby classes, monthly breastfeeding support groups like La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA, mommy and baby yoga classes. Anything to get you out and around other moms going through the same things you, so you can fill your emotional cup and feel supported!
If you need any help with breastfeeding, or would like to create amazing breastfeeding support to give you peace of mind and happy breastfeeding, don’t hesitate to call or email me today! I would be honored to be a part of your breastfeeding support team!