Breast feeding can be a very stressful process for many new Mom's. In fact, it's almost rare to find that a Mom is able to latch her newborn without any questions/concerns. Almost every Mom NEEDS assistance if not because they have questions but because they NEED to feel reassured. But, don't worry you are not in this alone.
Common Breast feeding Myths & Tips
1) "My baby is feeding very frequently, I must not have enough milk to satisfy him/her!" Breast feeding is new to you and your newborn. It takes time to regulate his/her schedule and become accustomed to his/her feeding needs. Breast milk is digested easier and faster then formula by newborns leading them to be hungry faster. Most breast fed newborns feed 8-12 times a day, which divided by 24 hours is every 2 hours. Growth spurts also may cause your newborn to feed more often. However, there are tips you can follow to have your newborn achieve a more satisfying feeding at each session.
*Tip- Formula fed babies cry too, however, when a newborn is formula fed we are able to determine how much he ate and can quickly wean out that he/she is or isn't hungry. When you are breast feeding your newborn, look for hunger cues before putting him/her to the breast. Crying is actually a LATE sign of hunger by looking for the cues first you should have a calmer baby that is more willing to feed. If your newborn's face is mostly relaxed, hands are open, and his/her legs are relaxed. Your newborn is probably not hungry, especially if you just fed. Try swaddling, swaying, and putting calming music on to ease your fussy baby.
2) "My breast aren't leaking between feedings" or "I can't express colostrum." These are both common concerns. As your baby grows, your milk supply will regulate. Your newborn is able to get more milk out of your breast than a pump or your manual expression. The more your newborn feeds, the more you will produce. The less your newborn feeds, the less you will produce. Breast feeding is definitely a supply and demand process.
*Tip- Try offering both breast at each feeding. When your newborn stops sucking frequently on one, burp him/her, and switch to the other side. This will stimulate both breasts and prevent one filling constantly and not the other.
3) "Something must be wrong with my breast, my baby only likes one side"- This is a very common finding among breast feeding women.
*Tip- Lactation nurses believe that your newborn may of lied one way inutero and thus prefers and feels more comfortable laying on that particular side. Always try the breast that your newborn dislikes first when he/she is more alert and willing to feed.
4) "My nipples are inverted or flat and there is nothing for him/her to attach to"- This is also very common, your newborn will grow accustomed to your breast shape and nipple size with time. However, during the first few days there are way to get your newborn to latch.
*Tip- Nipple shields are awesome for this problem. You will more then likely not have to use these for very long. However, getting a very fussy baby to latch can be a difficult task and using a nipple shield can help tremendously. Nipple shields come in a variety of sizes and finding the size that best suits your needs will help. The hospital that you deliver may have these on hand, ask for one if you feel you may need extra help with getting your newborn to latch. If you can consult with a lactation expert to determine if a shield is necessary.
5) "My friend's baby is formula fed and seems to be growing right on track"
Tips- Every baby grows at his/her own rate. Do not compare your child to someone else. As long as your newborn is growing in the safe percentile for height and weight, let your newborn feed how frequently or infrequently he/she chooses.
6) "My baby isn't interested"
Tips-Attempt to feed at the first sign of hunger. You newborn will be more alert and less fussy. Your baby will let you know when he/she is hungry. Newborns go through sleep cycles and may not be interested at first. Allow for skin to skin contact as your newborn is waking up and getting ready to feed. As you see him/her head start to bob or hand go towards his/her mouth attempt to place your newborn to your breast.
Common Causes Of Low Milk Supply-
1) Limiting the amount of time your newborn feeds at the breast. If your newborn stops feeding before he/she is finished at the breast the newborn will only receive the "fore" milk and not the "hind" milk which has higher fat content.
2) Time away from baby- As I said earlier, breast feeding is supply and demand. If your newborn is not around to feed (ex: in the NICU, your out of town, etc) you may notice a drop in your supply. Pumping often as if your newborn is their to feed will help stimulate your supply.
3) Stress can decrease your milk supply. If you are under a great deal of your stress try to find a way to release it.
4) Calories- not eating enough calories or drinking enough water can decrease your milk supply.
5) Painful Nipples- Pain can decrease your supply and prevent let down. Pay close attention to the way your newborn is positioned at the breast. He/she should not be hurting you while feeding. Make sure your newborns lips are flanged open and your newborn is getting more of the areola in his/her mouth. Use nipple cream after each feeding or express some of your colostrum on your nipple after each feeding.
6) Breast Augmentations- I have seen several Mom's able to breast feed fine, however, this can cause a low milk supply.
7) Birth Control/ IUD- Try to stay away from contraceptives while feeding. Not only may that not be safe during breast feeding but can also contribute to a low supply.
Ways to Increase Your Milk Supply-
1) Stimulate both breast at each feeding
2) Pump if you newborn is not around.
3) Drink plenty of fluids.
4) Let your newborn feed until he/she has fallen off the breast.
5) Avoid formula/pacifiers if able. You want your newborn to practice his/her sucking reflexes at the breast. Not waste his/her time sucking on a pacifier and then be too exhausted to attempt to nurse. If your milk supply is adequate this is different story. If your trying to increase it you need your newborn to stimulate your breast.
6) Oatmeal can increase your milk supply.
7) Take a nursing vacation. Put your baby in a bassinet next to your bed and do nothing but nurse for 2 days.
8) Consider a galactagogue to help increase your milk supply (herb, prescription medication).
9) Take a warm shower
10) Try Mother's Milk Tea
11) Fenugreek supplements (can be purchased at GNC)
When all else fails contact Le Leche Leaugue, a local IBCLC consultant, or a hospital in your area for tips & tricks for breast feeding.