Paging Margarita Marasigan, RN CCE: Avoid these Breastfeeding Booby Traps
Booby Traps to Breastfeeding
You’ve attended a prenatal breastfeeding class, talked to your friends & relatives about their experiences and read almost every book out there – you are ready.…Or so you think. Despite all the preparation before the baby comes, when we actually breastfeed our babies we may face challenges that seem impossible to overcome. Sometimes, misconceptions we have regarding the realities of breastfeeding hold us back from seeking help and achieving success. Here are some helpful tips to avoid 5 common booby traps to breastfeeding.
Booby Trap #1: “Breastfeeding is natural and easy.”
Though breastfeeding is natural, it does not always come naturally to every mom and baby. Breastfeeding is a learned skill and it takes a lot of patience and practice to get it right. Just like riding a bike or swimming, the more you do it, the better you get at it. If you are having trouble don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your nurses, lactation consultants, and local breastfeeding groups are available to give you the support you need to be successful.
Booby Trap #2: “Breastfeeding is supposed to hurt.”
I’m not going to lie. Sometimes breastfeeding is uncomfortable and it can hurt. But if the discomfort or pain gets increasingly worse through the feeding or with each subsequent feeding, then something is wrong. Do not let it continue. Seek out help and have a lactation consultant assess the way your baby latches onto your breast and feeds. More often than not, if the latch is corrected, the discomfort goes away. If the pain continues and is accompanied by a fever and/or a hardened red spot on the breast, you may have a breast infection called mastitis. In this case, it is always best to let your doctor know immediately so the infection can be treated.
Booby Trap #3: “Never wake a sleeping baby.”
Unless that baby is a newborn. Newborns (birth to 3 months of age) should eat approximately 8-12 times a day. They eat so frequently because their small tummies fill fast and empty fast. Until it has been well established that the baby is getting enough milk, newborns should not go more than 4 hours without eating. It’s important to remember that breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. The more the baby is at the breast “demanding” food, the more the body will respond to supply it. If a baby is persistently sleeping through its feedings and is difficult to wake for feedings, that may be a sign that the baby is not getting enough milk. That missed opportunity to stimulate the breast slows the ability to build an adequate milk supply.
Booby Trap #4: “There’s no way for me to know that the baby is getting enough
milk at the breast.”
Yes, there is! There are several markers that can give us a good idea if the baby is getting enough milk. First, if the baby is taking something in, then it should also put something out. Record each feeding and count each diaper. There should be 8-12 feedings done every day. Keep track of pee & poop separately. From the time the baby is about 5-7 days old, you can expect to have a minimum of 6-8 wet diapers and 1-3 poopy diapers each day. Secondly, after the initial weight loss in the hospital of about 5-7% of the baby’s birth weight, there should be an increase in weight until the baby regains to its birth weight in about 2 weeks time. And lastly, observe your breasts and your baby after he eats. When he is done with a
feeding, your breasts should be softer and less full and the baby will look relaxed and content.
Booby Trap #5: “In order to succeed, I should get my baby on a feeding schedule
from the very start.”
Feeding patterns vary from baby to baby. Some babies may need to feed more frequently or for a longer amount of time than other babies – usually because of how much milk a mom can store in her breasts at any given time. While breastfeeding is still being established and you are building your milk supply, it’s best to allow a baby to settle into his own pattern of feeding and not place a limit on frequency and duration but instead, feed on demand. This allows your body to respond accordingly and supply exactly what your baby needs.
Breastfeeding can be very challenging, but it’s important to remember that these challenges are temporary. Have realistic expectations and know where to find help. With proper support and assistance, you can avoid these booby traps and succeed!