20 Things Lactation Consultants Want You to Know
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Breastfeeding can be tough. I have had multiple clients of mine call me within days (even hours) after having their baby asking for lactation support. Those first few days, weeks, and sometimes months can be a challenge trying to figure out this new skill. This is why I decided to talk to a few lactation consultants that I know and ask them what they wish every new mom knew when it comes to breastfeeding. Here’s what they had to say…
1. It’s normal for newborns to want to nurse all. the. time. Sometimes more than once in an hour.
2. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing.
3. Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt.
I’m sure you’ve heard many people say how breastfeeding is going to hurt and how you have to “toughen up your nipples” beforehand to get ready, but that is simply not the case. If it hurts while you are breastfeeding, you need to speak with a lactation consultant as soon as possible because it shouldn’t hurt. Yes, you will experience odd sensations and pressure while breastfeeding because you probably have never had someone sucking on your breasts for extended amounts of time on and off throughout the day and night, but it shouldn’t be painful. Pressure and tenderness, yes. Tugging and and some pulling, yes. But pinching and/or pain, no. Learning how to get a proper latch is key to avoiding pain. This will help reduce your chances of experiencing blistered, bleeding, and/or cracked nipples. Ouch. That is no fun. Here are some tips on how to get a good latch.
4. We’ve all had days when we wanted to give up. You’re not alone.
5. Be sure to stimulate your milk production within the first 24-hours.
It may take a little while for both you and your baby to learn how to get a good latch, but while you are learning this new skill, it is still crucial to start stimulating your milk production soon after birth. The suckling sensation alerts your breasts that it’s time to start making milk and creating a supply. Breastfeeding works a lot like supply and demand. If you and your baby are not demanding that your breasts make more milk, then your body will think that there is no need to make more milk and will begin to make less and less and eventually stop making any. Milk needs to be removed from your breasts for your breasts to work on filling them back up. So if your baby is having a difficult time latching in the beginning, it’s important that you continue to practice getting a good latch while still removing your milk another way. This way you can help your body produce a good supply. You can remove your milk by either hand expressing or by using a breast pump. Either way, we want you to know that getting a good latch can always be improved on with proper guidance and practice, but there is no reversing time and making up for inadequate breast stimulation in those early hours and days.
6. The majority of moms will make enough milk for their babies if they nurse often enough, but there are a small number of mothers that have low milk supply and these women deserve positive and kind support.
7. Babies are not robots. Like us, they will not eat at the same time and the exact same amount everyday.
8. You don’t have to drink milk to make milk, but you do need an extra 500 – 600 calories a day, plus lots of fluids.
9. Find good support.
Breastfeeding is an ever-evolving relationship and a journey that has ups and downs. It’s important to surround yourself with positive people that are going to support you and encourage you during the hardest times.
10. Get your partner and your family on board, and make sure that you give them specific ways to help you.
For example, ask them to watch your older children while you are breastfeeding, to bring you a snack or water, to grab your breastfeeding pillow, to clean your pumping parts, etc. (Here are some tips on how dads can help a new mom.) Just remember that you can do this, but it helps when you have support.
11. There are breastfeeding helpers out there who won’t judge you. Keep looking until you find someone who makes you feel safe and supported.
12. Everyone will have an opinion. Only take the good ones and forget the bad ones. Remember that you know your baby and your body better than anyone else.
13. It is NEVER anyone’s place to judge a mom who chooses not to breastfeed. There are so many reasons why a mother might make this choice, and none of those reasons reflect poorly on her mothering or her level of care for her child.
14. There are no silly questions when it comes to breastfeeding.
Find a Certified Lactation Counselor or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in your area. Set up an appointment or attend a breastfeeding support group. Your questions are valid and have most likely been asked (many times) before.
15. How much you pump doesn’t always reflect how much milk your baby takes at your breast. Most babies take more than the pump extracts; some take less.
16. Tongue tie and lip tie can really impact breastfeeding. Tongues that are tied down can’t milk the breast properly (leading to low weight gain) and can cause a lot of pain.
17. If you experience problems, go back to the basics. Most breastfeeding problems can be solved by starting over and keeping things simple. If your nipples hurt, you probably need to change the feeding position or the shape and hold of your breasts. Or you can always unlatch and start again. Start with the basics before assuming anything more complicated is going on.
18. Working and pumping mothers deserve all the respect and love in the world. Exclusive pumping moms do, too.
19. Trust the biology. Trust your baby. Trust your body.
Your body was made to make milk. Ask yourself, “Is my baby pooping and peeing enough? Do my breasts feel drained after a feeding? Is my baby gaining weight and meeting developmental milestones?” If the answer to these questions are yes, then your baby is getting enough milk!
20. Breastfeeding is normal. Breastfeeding is intense. Breastfeeding is beautiful.
All in all, I tell my clients that the most important thing is to feed your baby, however you choose to do that. Only you understand your current situation and can determine what is best for you and your child. Just know that you can breastfeed if you want to, that there is help out there available to you, and that you are not alone in your joy or in your struggles of breastfeeding.
What were some tips that really helped you during your breastfeeding journey? We want to know! Share in the comments section below. 🙂