6. No formula or bottles in the house. I have heard countless moms tell me that they are just keeping an extra can of formula in the house “just in case”. Or that they have a couple bottles stashed away “just in case”. You really are setting yourself up for major temptation. There will be a time at about 3am where you are exhausted, your baby is screaming because they are hungry and your partner is sleeping soundly next to you. How frustrating! Your resolve is a little weaker and that can of formula or bottle of pumped milk will be very tempting. The best way to be successful is to remove temptation. If, for some reason, you end up needing to supplement it will only take 5-10 minutes to run to the store and grab a can of formula, but if it’s in the house you may mistake a normal baby situation with the need to give a bottle and once you give that first bottle the second and third become much easier. Not to mention it will diminish your supply if you don’t pump when your child would normally be fed. There is a very tiny number of women (under 5%) that are physically unable to produce adequate milk to exclusively breastfeed, these are generally women that have Insufficient Glandular Tissue or have had breast tissue reduction surgery. The rest of the moms that were unable to continue were likely unable to do so due to lack of support and education. And please, please remember, if you do need to supplement at some point, that does not mean that your nursing relationship is over. Not by a long shot.
7. Be careful with using a pacifier. Some people believe pacifiers cause nipple confusion, in reality nipple confusion is more of an issue with bottles because milk flows more freely from a bottle than from a breast. Baby doesn’t have to work as hard for the bottle to release milk and will sometimes reject the breast because they have to wait for a let-down to occur before milk is released. This is not the case with pacifiers. Pacifiers are generally used to quiet a crying or fussy baby. Babies have a natural need to suck, that is how they sooth themselves, it’s how they explore the world around them when they get older, sucking is a huge part of a baby’s life. The danger comes in when a baby is hungry and is given a pacifier rather than fed. Some babies will take the pacifier and be content, drift off to sleep and completely miss a feeding. The can cause baby to not gain weight properly as well as diminishing mom’s supply. Some babies really enjoy pacifiers and as long as they are used properly there is really nothing wrong with using them. Just make sure your baby is not hungry or in need of a diaper change before offering a paci and you’re good to go! There are a few other issues that can be caused or irritated by pacifiers, to read more check out this kellymom.com article.
8. The pump is not an indication of how much milk you’re making. Your baby is far more effective at removing milk from your breast than a pump is. There are even some women that simply don’t respond well to a pump at all. The idea that you can pump your milk and put it in a bottle so you know exactly what you are producing and how much milk baby is getting is completely unreliable and actually detrimental to your supply. Remember how lactation works, if the milk isn’t being emptied from your breast then your breast will not need to make as much to replace it, that will signal your body to make less milk and diminish your supply. It’s a vicious cycle and one of the main reasons I was unsuccessful breastfeeding my second child. Also, remember that a newborn baby’s stomach is only slightly larger than a marble and does not stretch. Because of this it takes very little to fill a baby up so they will eat much more often. Due to the fact that breast milk digests very quickly, a breastfed baby will eat more frequently than a formula fed baby.
9. Monitor “output”. Is your baby wetting several diapers a day? Is their poop a mustard yellow color (after the meconium has cleared out of their system)? Then they are getting plenty to eat. This was a huge help for me with my third son because I knew that if I was unsure about him getting enough to eat I could wait for the next diaper change and all of my fears were soothed.
10. Enjoy the down time. It’s easy to get caught up in cleaning and cooking and all the things you need to get done as a mom. The best thing you, yourself, can do to promote a healthy breastfeeding relationship is to keep your baby with you at all times, wear your baby, nurse on demand, spend lots of time together lounging in bed skin to skin just relaxing and enjoying your little one’s newness. You would be surprised how much of an impact all of that cuddly, feel-good hormone goodness causes your supply to boost. Plus, babies grow up so fast, after four of them I can literally see them growing right before my eyes from day to day. Cling to every calm peaceful moment you can find and just enjoy being a mommy to your perfect little baby that loves you more than anything in the world.
Just remember that every baby and every mother is different. Some babies just seem to “get it” from the beginning while others seem to have no clue what they are supposed to do with your breast. It takes time, patience and a lot of support, but there is a saying that I have found to be completely true with all of the mothers I have counseled about breastfeeding. “At 2 weeks you wonder how you’re ever going to get anything done again. At 3 months things get easier. At 6 months you are so thankful that you don’t have to prepare bottles and lug equipment around.” So when the time comes when you’re doubting yourself or breastfeeding just doesn’t feel like this magical experience that you thought it would be, just take a deep breath, relax and remember that it gets easier. I promise.
Read pert 1 of 10 Things New Moms Need to Know About Breastfeeding.