There are a few things that new mothers commonly do that can harm their breastfeeding journey. Avoid these common pitfalls and be better prepared to be a breastfeeding champion!
Most women start breastfeeding with very little background knowledge. Now I know this isn’t you because you are a prepared mama looking for knowledge in all the right places. The #1 breastfeeding blunder is not preparing yourself for the physical (and mental!) process of breastfeeding. It’s every day and night for (roughly) the next year. It’s normal to need to prepare for this task!
That said, there are still a few things you can try to avoid doing to make breastfeeding easier on yourself.
Rookie Mistake #1
Sitting back, hoping the baby latches themselves. Don’t do this! Be an active participant in your baby’s first few breastfeeds. Hold your own breast in a c-shape and guide your breast into baby’s mouth. Hold the baby’s head and direct their latch. For proper latch have the nipple pointed to the roof the baby’s mouth, fully encompassing your entire nipple and bottom areola.
Rookie Mistake #2
Not knowing the warning signs of hunger. FYI: the last sign of hunger is crying. There are a few key indications that the baby is getting hungry: rooting is one of them. This is when the baby is searching for something to suck on. They are awake, alert and aware.
Rookie Mistake #3
Being impatient. This is so much easier said than done. In fact, babies feed on average 10-12 times in the first few days of life. If these breastfeeds aren’t going as well as you would like, you can imagine how impatient you might become FAST. Try to know that you and your baby are learning this dance together. It takes time and it does get better!
Rookie Mistake #4
Being shy when asking for help. Take advantage of the lactation consultants, nurses and additional help you get while in the hospital. Ask questions, have them review your latch, your break of suction, your nipples, your colostrum supply. Definitely encourage your partner to assist you during breastfeeds by holding baby’s head and adjusting your pillows, getting you water, and bringing you food. With time you will become less shy breastfeeding. After all, you have incredible life-giving superpowers.
Rookie Mistake #5
Do not tell yourself that you “don’t have enough milk.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard a new mom say this… really though… you have colostrum. So, no, you don’t have ounces of milk just yet. Your milk hasn’t come in yet! What you have is MORE nutritious, MORE calorie-dense and BETTER for your newborn. This is colostrum. It’s pure gold, so don’t belittle it! It comes in tiny drops – but within a few days, this will become milk.
Rookie Mistake #6
Giving up early. Most women (a number like 60%) give up in the first 2 weeks! This is way before a feeding schedule was established and well before you’ve got a good grasp on your milk supply and baby’s weight gain. It takes diligence and perseverance. And it should not hurt when the baby has latched on appropriately!
Lastly, do not beat yourself up if breastfeeding doesn’t go according to plan. This is tough work. You are still healing from delivery and you are learning how to be a mother while producing milk and getting adjusted to your new life. Never be ashamed to ask questions and seek out a breastfeeding support group! Find your own little support group online in BreastPrep, where mothers just like you have completed the Breastfeeding Course and are looking for encouragement!