Updated: Oct 17, 2020
For months, I have been doing my own research as to why so many moms give up breastfeeding so soon. Some don't even last a week. And from what I've seen, 9 out of 10 women give up for the following reasons:
Assuming (with no proof, it's just all in their heads) they don't make enough
Lack of support from friends and family
Lack of proper education
No resources or not knowing of any resources
Having a rough start
Going back to work or school
Doctors giving out outdated or incorrect information
Assuming they don't make enough. I think this is the one reasons moms give up. Baby is gaining weight, making enough wet diapers and moms STILL question if their milk is enough.
Lack of support from friends and family. Even though nobody else's opinion about what you do with your breasts should matter, it helps when the people you love and care about support you through your breastfeeding journey. More women are successful at breastfeeding when they have support from their loved ones.
Lack of proper education. My advice, take a breastfeeding class, they are usually FREE! In fact, don't take just one, take two and pick up a book while you're at it. The more knowledge you have, the more you'll understand and it will make your breastfeeding journey easier...trust me.
No resources or not knowing of any resources. There are so many organizations out there that can provide you with the information you need. La Leche League International, WHO (World Health Organization) and American Academy of Pediatrics being the main three that are most recommended and most up to date on the lasted in health and breastfeeding. There are also breast milk banks popping up everywhere, and companies like Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Only The Breast where moms can get donor milk. Human Milk 4 Human Babies has a Facebook page for just about every city. Just type in Human Milk 4 Human Babies - (insert your city).
Having a rough start. If you don't get proper information on ensuring baby gets a good latch, everything can go downhill from there.
Going back to work or school. Lots of moms give up because they think they won't have time to pump while away from their baby, or simply don't think or know pumping is an option.
Doctors giving out outdated or incorrect information. If you wouldn't get pregnancy advice from your dentist, why would you get breastfeeding advice from a doctor? How does that even make sense. I see too many women taking advice about their breastfed babies from doctors. And guess what? The majority of the time, they are using formula fed babies stats and charts. Breastfed babies have a completely different chart.
Breastfeeding Crash Course
Now that we got that out of the way, I'm going to cram a lot of information into this blog post. If there is a concern that you do not find the answer for, search for a lactation consultant in your area.
Here are key topics that are a MUST KNOW:
Cluster Feeding/Growth Spurt
Now, let's start from the beginning...colostrum. Colostrum is produced during pregnancy around 16 weeks. Sometimes sooner. Some women leak colostrum while pregnant, some don't. Leaking or not leaking doesn't determine if you can breastfeed or not.
Colostrum is like your babies first vaccine. Banies are born with small openings in the intestines. Colostrum helps seal those openings. Colostrum is the first milk that your baby will get before your mature milk comes in, which is typically between 2-4 days after giving birth (and in some cases, it can take longer), so no need to supplement with formula.
"The main function of sIgA, along with other immunoglobulins, is to "paint" the lining of the infant’s stomach and intestines. These surfaces are then able to defend the baby against viruses and bacteria by not allowing pathogens to adhere to them (Alm and Engstrand 2002). Some of these incredible immunoglobulins actually attack pathogens and kill them. These components are important in fighting and preventing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature infants, which can be fatal (Hanson & Korotkonva 2002). These defensive actions provide the newborn with optimal protection.
Colostrum is a living fluid, resembling blood in its composition. It contains over 60 components, 30 of which are exclusive to human milk. It is species-specific, designed for human babies (Neville and Neifert 1985)."
Just like cows milk is specific to cows, but I'll get to that later. Read more about colostrum here.
Tips on getting a good latch
Use a ursing pillow
Trying different positions
Make sure baby is tummy to tummy with you
Holding your breast creating a "C" or "U" shape with your hand
How to know if your baby is getting enough. When your baby is born, his/her stomach is no bigger than the size of a cherry.
Lots of moms automatically think they don't make enough, not realizing a baby's stomach isn't big at all, and they only need a few ml worth of colostrum/mature milk. In order to ensure you have a great supply, it is important to nurse your baby every 2 hours, 3 hours TOPS! A few days after your baby is born, mature milk will come in. You will notice your breasts get really full. Nursing the baby is very important. It will help relieve the fullness and regulate your supply. Your supply should regulate between 4 & 6 weeks.
Things that do NOT determine low supply
Baby not wanting the boob
How much you get from pumping
Baby being hungry all the time
Not feeling full
Just because your baby may cry while nursing, doesn't mean he/she isn't getting enough milk. There may be other issues going on that you aren't thinking about, like thrush, high levels of lipase, etc. If your baby doesn't want the boob, just keep trying. It takes time and practice. Remember, this is new to them just like it's new to you. What you pump dose NOT determine how much you produce, it's only what the pump can get out. Your baby gets more directly from your breast. Baby wanting to nurse all the time, also doesn't mean you have a low supply. Babies clusterfeed often during growth spurts. This helps regulate your supply as well.
They can want to nurse anywhere from every 15 minutes to every 30 minutes. It can last for a few hours or a few days at a time. Trust me, baby Jai had me glued to the couch with the remote, my laptop, snacks and drinks, hoping he'll give me a long enough break to go to the bathroom.
Not feeling full doesn't mean you have a low supply. For many women, that full feeling eventually goes away. It's normal. So just relax, grab some snacks and chill!
Diaper count and weight gain is important. Breastfed babies can lose up to 10% of their birth weight, so don't be concerned if you don't see any weight gain in the first week or t, or if baby loses weight during the first few weeks. As long as baby is making enough wet diapers a day...
Day 1 - 1 Wet Diaper | 2 Soiled Diapers
Day 2 - 2 Wet Diapers | 2 Soiled Diapers
Day 3 - 3 Wet Diapers | 3 Soiled Diapers
Day 4 - 4 Wet Diapers | 3 Soiled Diapers
Day 5 to 3 weeks - 6 Wet Diapers | 3 Soiled Diapers
What is a let down?
The let down reflex happens after your baby begins to suckle, or when your breasts become full. A let down can itch, tingle, have a burning sensation or even be painful. You can apply a warm compress, take a warm shower, and relax to help. My let down is harsh, itches and burns a little due to me having an oversupply. I have a old school rubber bottle warmer. You know, the red one that you fill with hot water lol. I lay it across my chest and it helps a lot!
Unless absolutely necessary (baby is in the NICU, lip tie, inverted nipples, etc.), pumping before 4-6 weeks is not ideal, and can cause issues like oversupply, engorgement, clogged ducts and mastitis.
Some people may be thinking "what's so bad about an over supply?" As someone who has an oversupply, let me explain. Yes, it's a great thing to make more than enough to feed my son, but it's also not so great. I am always full and it's often times painful and uncomfortable. If I don't hand express before nursing him, he will choke due to too much milk coming out. It can also cause babies to spit up a lot and cause them to be gassy. This in turn, making baby upset and not want to nurse. This may cause them to have a shallow latch to prevent too much milk from getting in their mouths, which means that they aren't efficiently "emptying" the breasts. Because of that, it can cause engorgement and engorgement can lead to clogged ducts. If it is not taken care of, eventually, it can lead to mastitis. Often times, moms pump to relieve the pain, but pumping doesn't remove milk as efficiently as the baby, and it can make engorgement worse.
Dealing with engorgement and clogged ducts is not fun. Here are some tips to help:
Warm compress or shower while massaging. Massaging the breasts often, including while you're nursing (be sure to ONLY massage when baby pauses, otherwise, you'll squirt too much milk in baby's mouth). Dangle feed (nurse the baby while you're on all fours).
Going Back To Work Or School
The thought of going back to work or school as a breastfeeding mom can be stressful. But it's not an impossible task. First, it's important to know the breastfeeding laws in your state. Be sure to tell your employer that you will need a clean, private area (NOT the bathroom) and time to pump. You must pump every 2-3 hours that you are away from your baby. And there is no need to have a large stash before going back to work. You can start pumping two weeks before. The milk you pump while you're away will be used for the following day.
Rule to remember, 1.2-2oz of milk for each hour that you are away. Store milk in bags with no more than 3oz in each, that way, milk doesn't go to waste. Make sure the person watching your baby knows how to pacefeed to mimic breastfeeding.
LLLI (La Leche League International
"Your milk is a living substance so precious some call it "white blood". It is essential to store your expressed (pumped) milk properly to maximize its nutritional and anti-infective qualities. Human milk actually has anti-bacterial properties that help it to stay fresh. Giving your baby the freshest milk you have pumped ensures its high quality.
This information is based on current research and applies to mothers who:
have healthy, full-term babies;
are storing their milk for home use (as opposed to hospital use);
wash their hands before expressing;
use containers that have been washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed.
All milk should be dated before storing. Storing milk in 2-4 ounce (60 to 120 ml) amounts may reduce waste. Refrigerated milk has more anti-infective properties than frozen milk. Cool fresh milk in the refrigerator before adding it to previously frozen milk. Preferably, milk should be refrigerated or chilled right after it is expressed. Acceptable guidelines for storing human milk are as follows.
At room temperature (fresh milk) 66° to 78° F (19° to 26° C) for 4 hours is (ideal) up to 6 hours (acceptable). ontents should be covered and kept as cool as possible; covering the container with a damp towel may keep milk cooler.
Insulated cooler bag, 5° -39° F (-15° -4° C) for 24 hours. Keep ice packs in constant contact with milk containers; limit opening cooler bag.