7 Common Breastfeeding Mistakes That New Mums Make
Most mums want to breastfeed their newborn, but while it seems like it should be a natural and easy thing to do, there are a few hurdles that can trip you up. Here’s what you need to know.
1. WORRYING ABOUT HOW OFTEN YOUR BABY IS FEEDING: Babies don't only feed because they're hungry. Your baby may be feeding more frequently because she's tired, thirsty, upset, overstimulated, getting sick, going through a developmental leap, or just for a bit of skin-on-skin. When you factor this stuff in, it's no wonder she seems to spend days on end with your boob in her mouth!
2. ASSUMING THAT SOFT BREASTS ARE A SUPPLY PROBLEM: Many mothers produce more milk than their baby needs in the early months. Their breasts feel full most of the time and often leak. By around six to 12 weeks a mother’s milk production has usually regulated to match her baby’s needs. At that time her breasts may infrequently feel full and seldom leak, depending on how frequently she feeds her baby. Soft breasts do not mean a mother is not producing enough milk to meet her baby’s needs.
3. WORRYING ABOUT HOW THE LATCH LOOKS: Babies, boobs, mouth and nipples come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, so it's a little ridiculous that we expend so much energy analysing how a latch looks. Want to know the secret to a good latch? Focus on how it FEELS. You're the mother - if it feels good (as opposed to excruciating) it is good.
4. TRYING TO STICK TO A STRICT SCHEDULE: This may work if our babies only breastfed for nutritional purposes, but they're just don't. Babies use the breast as a pacifier, as a means of calming themselves when the big, bad world gets too overwhelming, and for those mums desperately trying for a 'Feed, Play, Sleep' routine, remember: trying to get a baby to 'Play' after a breastfeed is like trying play a hit the gym after a valium. It's just not meant to happen. Your milk is specifically designed to put that kid to sleep!
5. THINKING THAT EXPRESSING A LOW AMOUNT MEANS A SUPPLY PROBLEM: Some mothers can express a lot, other mothers express less – the truth is expressing is a really poor measure of how much milk you’re producing. A baby feeding on your breast triggers a letdown reflex that helps them get much more from your breast than a pump can. Don’t watch the millilitres in the bottle to figure out if your baby is getting enough to eat, watch the baby and look for things like plenty of wet nappies and consistent weight gain.
6. JUMPING TO SUPPLEMENTING WITH FORMULA: While using formula to supplement your breastmilk can be a necessity for many mothers, there are many more who supplement needlessly. If you'd like to continue to breastfeed, reach out to a lactation consultant before reaching for the bottle.
7. NOT ASKING FOR HELP: This mothering thing is natural, but that doesn't mean it isn't a tough gig. You're allowed to ask for help, you're encouraged to ask for help, so ask for help!
“You’re not alone,” says Jessica Leonard, breastfeeding counsellor for the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA). “Our breastfeeding helpline is a 24-hour 1800 number (1800 686 268) where you can be connected to a breastfeeding counsellor who’s qualified in breastfeeding education and who can talk you through any issues you’re having.”