Breastfeeding Support: 14 Surprising Things We’ve Learned
For over twenty years, we have worked as International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, providing breastfeeding support for mothers and their babies. We have laughed with women, cried with women and learned from women. Here are 14 of our most surprising discoveries.
1. The mother is the expert when it comes to her own baby. She is in charge of deciding what will work best for the two of them. What works for one baby will not necessarily work for another. A Lactation Consultant can teach principles and give suggestions but there is no one perfect plan.
2. Your Lactation Consultant does not know everything. Shocking, I know! Even after 20+ years in the profession, we continue to learn. We will not have the answer to every question but we will stand beside you in the journey and do our best to find the answer (even if it means referring you to another healthcare professional).
3. There are only 24 hours in a day! If baby feeds 10 times a day for 45 minute at a time, a mother will likely not have time to pump and sterilize feeding equipment. Sleep is an important priority as well.
4. Most breastfeeding problems resolve. This is fortunate for the human race or we would have become extinct. Dr. Jack Newman states
The single most important factor influencing whether or not the baby eventually latches on is the mother’s developing a good milk supply. If the mother’s supply is abundant, the baby will latch on by 4 to 8 weeks of life no matter what in almost all cases.”
We have also found this to be true! Having said that, we recognize that 4-8 weeks is a looooooong time to hang in when you are having difficulties.
5. Not all breastfeeding problems can be solved. “Working harder” isn’t always enough. Some problems are beyond a mother’s control. Lactations Consultants do not have a magic wand (but we sincerely wish we did)!
6. Even when mothers have done everything ‘right’, sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned.
7. A mother’s worth is not measured in ounces. Even if you are unable to provide your baby with breast milk, you are still a good mother.
8. Never say never! There is much we do not understand. One woman breastfed, pumped and supplemented her baby for over a month. By day 45, she had developed a full milk supply.
9. It is common for women to worry that they don’t have enough milk. Even mothers whose babies are growing well and have fat chubby legs may still have their doubts.
10. Every mother needs and DESERVES to be told she is doing a good job.
11. If you have to use a bottle, it will not necessarily spell the end of breastfeeding. We, of course, discourage unnecessary bottle use. There may be, however, occasions when it will be necessary to use a bottle. Yes, we have witnessed nipple confusion but there are ways to coax a baby back to the breast.
12. Breastfeeding struggles and painful nipples are risk factors for developing postpartum depression.
13. Mom’s mental health is as important as her physical health. Postpartum depression and anxiety can be a medical reason to supplement a baby. We need both a healthy mother and a healthy baby for breastfeeding to work. Some mothers may need to use some formula when they are particularly unwell. Please forgive yourself.
14. Some health care practices interfere with breastfeeding. (E.g. Healthy newborn exams immediately after birth that are not done skin-to-skin with mom, bathing the baby soon after delivery, reliance on baby’s weight alone as the indicator of successful breastfeeding.)
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.
- Download their FREE ebook: 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.
- Download their FREE video course Getting Ready to Breastfeed.