Disclaimer: Each mother and baby is different; some mothers can do these things and not see any negative consequences to the breastfeeding relationship. Most breastfeeding literature will match this article. Remember that mother knows best and you have to always use your best judgement and motherly instinct. XO.
- Not preparing yourself. Not everyone has to read ten breastfeeding books and attend hours of breastfeeding classes; that can become a bit remedial. At least try and read the beginning basics of a good breastfeeding book and if you can do a class, a short class is great! While breastfeeding is a natural thing, it doesn't always come natural to mother and baby. There are many, many things to know and many, many questions that will arise.
- Giving baby a pacifier too soon. I've seen it so many times and so many times that I've seen it, the baby typically has issues latching. Avoid pacifier use for the first couple of weeks. Most breastfeeding literature will say to wait around a month before giving a pacifier, but you have to be the judge. If after two weeks your baby is latching and nursing like a champ, you can give baby the noopie to soothe them between nursing sessions. Giving a baby a pacifier too soon can cause nipple confusion which leads to latch problems.
- Supplementing. Sometimes supplementing does have to be done in the hospital or in those early weeks for various medical/personal reasons; sometimes we can't avoid it. However, if you can avoid it then for the sake of the breastfeeding relationship, try to hold off on introducing a bottle for around four to six weeks. Supplementing with formula can lead to a decreased milk supply and introducing a bottle too soon can lead to nipple confusion. Baby can easily prefer the flow of the bottle over the breast, therefore putting an early end to the nursing relationship. If doctors insist on supplementing ask why and be firm in your decision; also remember that you can give baby milk through a medicine dropper rather than a bottle in those early days.
- Watching the clock, not the baby. Even I am guilty of this and as a new mama, it's easy to do. While you do want to have a general idea of how long your baby is feeding for in those first few days, there's no need to watch the clock. Babies know when they are full and whether that is five minutes or forty five minutes, they will stop when they are ready. Sometimes babies just need the extra comfort so they choose to stay on and even sleep there. They just love warm mama snuggles. Remember that in those early weeks baby will likely have long nursing sessions that typically will decrease in time as they get older.
- Fretting over what they are "getting." This is a popular reason why many mothers choose to stop breastfeeding -- they fret over what their baby is getting. As a new mama it is our job to want the best for them and to be worried that we may not be providing them with what they need, BUT the added stress isn't healthy and is often unnecessary. Babies have a crazy small stomach in those first few days and they don't need much. As time goes on, they become much more efficient at getting milk out which in turn will mean that they don't have to nurse as much. In time your breasts will drop down in size and not feel so hard and full; that is your body adjusting to baby's needs. And finally, if you pump and see a small amount don't panic! For starters, pumps don't get out what babies do from your breast and secondly, if you've been nursing all day then you won't pump that much. It's just how the boob works! Most babies are getting more than enough, but if you feel like there may be an issue, call a lactation consultant for more advice and help as there are plenty of easy remedies to increase your milk supply.
- Letting others "get into your head." Any and every mother thinks that they are a baby genius. Often times you'll receive unsolicited advice and more so from those that are not quite so pro breastfeeding. Never let comments get you down or second guess yourself. If your baby nurses a lot it doesn't mean they are always "starving because you don't have enough milk," it simply means baby is doing exactly what they are supposed to. There's a whole world of breastfeeding facts that so many don't know, so never let them bring you down. Always seek help from textbooks, lactation consultants and breastfeeding counselors to help answer your questions.
Breastfeeding isn't easy and there are numerous things that can have either a positive or negative impact on the nursing relationship and on a mother's milk supply. Before giving up, always seek help from a certified breast expert and you'll be surprised to see that there are many, many solutions to the many, many things that can come up. And always be proud of your efforts no matter how short or different your breastfeeding journey was than you expected. Every ounce of mama milk is a blessing!
What was your experience like with any of these topics?