Breastfeeding just comes naturally, right? WRONG. It doesn’t for everyone! There are a few breastfeeding facts I learned along my journey and wanted to share them with moms to be.
But did you know that only 1-5% of women are actually unable to breastfeed? There are lots of women that may come across obstacles like inverted nipples, flat nipples, bad latches, slow milk supply, etc, but it’s possible to overcome these obstacles. It’s just a matter of how hard you want to work to overcome them. If the constant pumping and nipple shields and lactation consultant visits are too much for you and you decide you can’t do it any longer, by all means, “throw in the towel.” You need to put yourself first. Lots of women feel a lot of relief when they move to formula or donor milk.
Breastfeeding facts I wish I knew before having a baby
- Supply and demand: Breastmilk works pretty easily – it’s supply and demand. Tell your body to make more by latching your baby (or pumping if there are latching issues). Which brings me to…
- Cluster feeding: This is when your baby is ramping up for a growth spurt. Baby will feed very frequently and for long periods of time. They’re not actually feeding, but latching on to you to tell your body to make more milk. This is an absolutely exhausting time but it’s necessary for your supply. It sucks (literally) and in my experience, seems to be a pretty common time for moms to quit nursing. It becomes too much and makes moms feel like their baby isn’t getting enough milk.
- Pumping typically isn’t necessary: Obviously there are extenuating circumstances (bad latches, lip and tongue ties, NICU stays, etc), but if your baby is born without these, there is no reason to pump. You might feel like baby is attached to you 24/7, but like cluster feeding, it’s necessary for your milk supply. Pumping too early (anytime before 8 weeks) can cause an oversupply. Your milk needs to regulate! Let baby do all the work.
- Pace feeding: Say it a little louder for the people in the back! Pace feeding is mimicking breastfeeding with a bottle. It’s not just literally pacing the bottle. Did you know bottle fed babies can overeat, but won’t overeat at the breast? It’s true! Not practicing pace feeding can cause overfeeding (and you won’t be able to keep up) and can ruin your breastfeeding relationship.
- Lip/Tongue ties: As I said before, lip and tongue ties are common. If baby is having transfer issues, get evaluated by a professional – lactation consultant, pediatrician, ENT, speech therapist. Any of these can diagnose a tie and help you get it corrected.
- Pumping output is not indicative of supply: This one is huge! I often see moms pump after feeding and panic because they get nothing. Your breasts are never really empty – they are constantly making milk. Low pump output does not equal supply.
- Your pediatrician does not know it all: Hear me out on this one. I vaccinate my kids. I listen to my pediatrician on things like that. But pediatricians are not lactation consultants and are not required to keep up with current research. Many are quick to tell you to supplement with formula (which I am not against, if it’s necessary). Check with a lactation consultant if your pediatrician suggests this.
- Pumping & Dumping: Is not a thing. There are very few things out there that require you to hold off on breastfeeding your baby. When in doubt, ask a lactation consultant. Drink a beer. You will be fine.
- Group Effort: Breastfeeding is a group effort. Your spouse and family needs to learn how to pace feed bottles, they need to support your decision in breastfeeding or going to formula if that should arise.
These are the main breastfeeding facts I (a mother of 4, breastfed all my babies) wish I knew before giving birth. When in doubt, reach out to a lactation consultant. Can you think of anymore?