The Most Common Mistakes New Breastfeeding Mothers Make
The world of motherhood is filled with so many new and unknown aspects. Breastfeeding is at the top of the list of things that are foreign to a new mother. As liberating and beneficial as breastfeeding may be, it also be difficult to navigate. Here’s a list of the most common mistakes new mothers make while breastfeeding and how to fix them.
Watching the Clock– “Watch the baby, Not the clock” may be one of the most common phrases uttered in the breastfeeding world. It can be so hard not to focus on time, especially in the early days of frequent nursing or periods of cluster feeding. But when things are going well, your baby will tell you so much more than the clock. Babies spend additional time at the breast for many reasons, from thirst to comfort.
While you can find general guidelines for timing of nursing sessions, there is no exact right time. Watching the clock will only stress you out, and limiting feedings is often one of the first reasons for a dip in supply
Scheduling feeds– This one goes right along with not watching the clock. Feeding on Demand, at least 8-12 times a day (maybe more!) is so important to establish your supply and for baby to grow. It may feel like you do nothing but feed your baby the first few weeks, but it doesn’t last forever. Eventually baby will shorten and maybe even phase our nursing sessions on their own, and your body will adjust accordingly. But purposely skipping one or more nursing or pumping sessions, will also cause your body to adjust, and that is not always good if your baby needs that milk.
The only time I suggest “scheduling” feeds, is if your new baby is not waking frequently enough or is gaining slowly, then you may have to set an alarm for every 2 hours or something similar. But that is not the same as scheduling to cut down on the number of sessions for one day.
Stopping Their Prenatal Vitamin– Making milk is a lot of work for your body! We know that a breastfeeding mom burns about 300-500 calories a day, just by making milk for their baby. This is why getting calories and water in every day is so important. Along with that, taking a vitamin is important too.
It is recommended that any woman who is considering pregnancy, is pregnant or is breastfeeding, take a prenatal vitamin. You may see “Post-Partum” or “Breastfeeding” vitamin on the shelf at the store as well. In my research, these supplements are often the same as a traditional pre-natal, just rebranded for retail sales. It is always important to speak with your Dr. before you introduce a new supplement.
Worrying about breastfeeding in the “right” way– I’ll never forget one of the very first hospital visits I had with a new mom. She was feeding her baby when I got there, and very clearly uncomfortable. As we chatted, I suggested moving baby into a different position and she was instantly more comfortable. She shared with me that she had been breastfeeding in this position and doing well but was told by someone (I don’t remember if it was a friend, nurse, family member) that it wasn’t the correct way to feed. Huh? I do not care if you feed your baby standing on your head, if you and your baby are comfortable, stick with it!
Alternatively, if you are not comfortable in a certain position, don’t be afraid to try something different! This also goes for how you choose to give your milk to your baby. Feeding at the breast or pumping your milk-both are breastfeeding and there is no one “right” way. If it works for you and makes you and baby comfortable, then it is always the right way.
Wearing an unsupportive or ill-fitting bra. It’s no secret that a good nursing bra can make a huge difference. Of course, we want to be comfortable, who doesn’t?! And breasts that are full of milk, need some extra care and support. Finding a bra that fits you well, is most important. It can be beneficial to go get measured once your baby is born, as sizes can change. You want your nursing bra to be snug and offer lift, without compression, pinching, or digging. And be careful with underwire, the pressure of it can sometimes cause clogged ducts. There are a lot of good nursing bras out there, and something for every budget.
Pushing through the pain– In case you have heard otherwise, let me tell you, Breastfeeding should not hurt. Yes, there may be some initial discomfort in the early days and weeks, that’s true. But actual pain, cracking, bleeding, or bruising, those things are not normal. They are usually a sign that something is not right. It could be a latch or position issue, or something like a restriction in baby’s mouth (commonly called a tie).
Regardless of the cause, pushing through the pain usually won’t make it any better. Please reach out for help, it is often an easy fix and no mama should have to endure discomfort. The same goes for pumping, if your pump is hurting you, its time to reassess. You may need a different size flange or to change the settings on your pump. Breastfeeding should be an enjoyable time, and pain isn’t enjoyable. If you need help finding a lactation professional to help support you, let us know, we can connect you!
Not Asking for Help– This goes right along with pushing through pain but is a little different. I am not necessarily talking about help with breastfeeding. Yes, it is important to have the support of a lactation professional, and to ask for help with breastfeeding if you need it. And no ask is too small, even if all you need is some reassurance, lactation professions are ready and willing to help! More important though, is asking for help with every day tasks, so you can focus on breastfeeding, healing, and getting to know your baby. I know we all want to be super-mom, to look like we have it all together and can do it all. But you know what, we can’t do it all. And no one is expecting you too. It is okay to ask for help around the house, for someone to watch your baby so you can nap, shower or eat a sandwich in peace or to just give you a quiet break.
As a new mom, it was hard for me to accept help, I didn’t want to put anyone out and I felt guilty for not doing everything. Plus, my world was turned upside down and I was trying to figure out this new normal, but all not accepting help did was led to overwhelm and exhaustion. As a second time mom, I made it a point to let those who loved me help. I let my husband take over house work, let friends come hold the baby, and spoke up when I wasn’t feeling okay. I want to add that it is also okay to say when enough is enough and send the help back home. I think setting some gentle boundaries and guidelines can be helpful for everyone. That way you know what is going to happen and those close to you understand what you need. Saying things like “Please bring a meal when you come” or “Please call or text before coming over” or “Please limit your visit to two hours” etc.…are perfectly acceptable. You run the show and know what you are most comfortable with.
Aryn is a Certified Lactation Counselor and Midwest Mama of two. After an unexpectedly rocky start breastfeeding her son, Aryn vowed to help make sure other mothers would know what to expect and how to get help. Through her work as a WIC breastfeeding peer counselor and CLC, Aryn found a love of supporting moms in all aspects of postpartum and parenting and she shares her musings on motherhood, through her blog and social media channels. When shes not helping moms, being mom or blogging, Aryn loves doing makeup, musicals, and perfecting her homemade cinnamon rolls.