August is National Breastfeeding Month
At Maine Families we see a lot of new moms who are breastfeeding. At some point, most of these moms hit a bump in the road where they question if they can continue to breastfeed.
Get off to a good start with breastfeeding by bringing baby to breast early and often! Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth, then nurse at least 8 to 12 times every 24 hours to ensure that you make plenty of milk for your baby. Remember, milk production is a question of supply and demand; the more you breastfeed, the more milk your body makes.
Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things a mother can do, but there is a learning curve! You and baby are getting to know each other and will likely need a little practice. Here are some of the common “pitfalls” we see. The great thing is that with a little coaching, most moms can make it through and meet their breastfeeding goals.
An incorrect latch
As a new breastfeeding mom, you may have some discomfort as you get used to nursing, but it should not HURT. If the pain of baby latching on does not fade after a few moments, your baby may not be latching on correctly. When nursing hurts, it is often because baby does not have enough of the nipple and aureola in her moth. A lactation counselor may prove helpful in getting the techniques down.
Start pumping too soon and too often
Unless your baby is born premature, or recommended by a doctor, hold off on pumping until you and baby have developed a good breastfeeding routine and your milk supply is well established—usually around 4 weeks after your baby is born.
“When you first start pumping, you will get very little milk. This is normal. After all, you’ve just spent the first weeks of your baby’s life getting your milk supply into an exact balance with your baby’s needs. There’s not supposed to be any extra. What you’re doing by pumping in these early days is building a little bit of a stash, and getting used to pumping. You’re also increasing your milk supply by just a little bit.” (workandpump.com)
When you are pumping at home to build up your supply of milk, pumping once a day is enough. Try pumping an hour or so after your baby’s morning nursing session (or pump one breast while she’s nursing on the other).
Judging your milk supply based on what you pump
You cannot judge how well your baby is nursing by how much you pump. While a good pump can do an effective job at pumping breast milk, a pump will never be as effective at drawing out milk as your baby. Here are a few ways to determine your baby is getting enough to eat:
- By the time baby is four days old, she should have about 6 wet diapers a day. What goes in must come out!
- She switches between short sleeping periods and wakeful, alert periods.
- He or she is satisfied and content after feedings.
- She is gaining weight.
- Assuming that because she eats frequently, your baby is not getting enough milk
Because your baby’s tummy is small and digests breast milk so easily, they eat often – usually every 1-3 hours in the early days. While there is a schedule to formula feeding babies, breastfed babies should feed on demand. When you’re hungry, you have a snack, right?
Your baby starts eating non-stop, so you question your milk supply
Your baby begins eating non-stop. The issue may be a growth spurt, not a reduction in your milk supply. On average, babies will go through five growth-spurts during the first year. Although they can happen at any time, the first one will most likely happen between one and three weeks. The others typically fall around 6-8 weeks, three months, six months, and nine months. A baby’s growth spurts usually last only a couple days, so your baby (and your life) should get back to normal soon.