Booby traps are lies women believe about breastfeeding that lead to problems, and/or failure, of the breastfeeding relationship. Although normal, breastfeeding does not necessarily come natural. Women seek out information from friends, family members, and the internet.
Not everything they hear or read, however, is true and helpful. In fact, some advice can hinder breastfeeding success.
Let’s discuss the top 10 booby traps that hinder breastfeeding success.
1. “My milk never came in.”
This one is very common and comes in various forms. Your grandmother may even say something along the lines of, “Oh you can’t breastfeed. My milk never came in, your mother’s milk never came in, yours probably won’t either so I wouldn’t even bother trying to breastfeed.”
Did you know that it can take up to fourteen days for milk to come in? That’s two weeks! That’s well after you are out of the hospital and back home. It’s also a lot longer than most people give for their bodies to show signs of milk production.
To help establish a good milk supply, a baby should be fed, on-demand, for the first 6 weeks of life. If your baby shows feeding cues, put him to the breast. Feeding your baby tells your body that it needs to make more milk. Your breasts have a built in supply and demand feature. The more your baby eats, the more they produce. Feeding your baby regularly is the best way to ensure your milk comes in.
2. “I’m not making enough milk.”
Much of the information presented on milk supply comes from a culture that doesn’t understand the dynamics of how breastfeeding actually works. Your breasts do not have to be leaking, feel full, or be engorged to indicate milk supply. A baby going through a growth spurt can cause a woman to believe she has low supply because she watches the clock instead of her baby’s hunger cues. A baby who is fussy and perceived as hungry “all the time” may cause a woman to believe she has low milk supply.
Whatever the reason for the belief, there is one, sure-fire way to know if your baby is getting plenty of milk. Check their diapers. If your baby is making 8-12 wet and 4-6 poopy diapers in a 24 hour period, then your baby is getting plenty to eat.
3. “My baby just won’t latch.”
Did you know that just a you are learning how to breastfeed, your baby is also? It’s a learning curve for both of you. Give your baby some time to figure out how things work. By time I mean more than just a few tries. This could take your team several attempts to figure out (especially if you used any type of relaxant medication during labor). Utilize your hospital’s lactation consultant or your midwife. That’s what they are there for.
Have a lactation consultant check your baby’s oral anatomy. With the discovery of lip/tongue ties, many latch issues are able to be fixed with simple revisions by a local ENT.
4. Timed feedings
“Feed your baby for 20 minutes on each side.” Why? I mean, really, why? There is no scientific evidence to back this suggestion. The best way to feed your baby is to let them guide the feedings.
Nurse your baby on one side until they appear finished. Burp them and offer the other side, if you desire. You could offer the same side again if you want and let them eat from the other side at the next feeding. It’s completely up to you.
5. Supplementing feedings in the first few days or weeks.
The first 10 weeks after birth is the crucial time to establish milk supply. Proper feedings and nursing on-demand ensure you will have good supply that will last throughout your breastfeeding goal.
6. “Breastfeeding will make my breasts sag.”
Actually breasts saggage is based on genetics and not because of breastfeeding. If saggy breasts run in your family, it wouldn’t matter if you never had children, you would still get saggy breasts when you got older. Go ahead and breastfeed. You’re breasts’ firmness isn’t based on breastfeeding.
7. “I will have to change my diet.”
The only reason your diet would need to change is if you or your babies had an allergy or sensitivity to a certain food. Certain foods causing gassiness has not been backed by scientific evidence either.
What if you are a junk food junky? Your breast milk will create and supply the nutrients your baby needs. If you want to clean up your diet because you want to feel better, that’s great. Don’t do it simply because you think you have to in order to breastfeed.
8. Breasts need time to “fill” between feedings.
This booby trap comes from the misconception that breasts are like canteens because they can feel full before feedings and empty afterward. However, your breasts are never completely without milk and as milk is removed during a feeding, more is made.
This is especially helpful to know when your baby is going through a growth spurt and wants to eat every 30 minutes to an hour.
9. If you or your baby are sick, you shouldn’t breastfeed.
If you or your baby are sick, breastfeeding is exactly what you should be doing. Breastfeeding boosts both yours and your baby’s immune system helping your body fight the illness more easily. If your baby is the only one sick, breastfeeding may actually help prevent you from getting sick. Your body will create antibodies in the breast milk to help your baby fight the illness. Those antibodies remain in your body and can prevent an infection from taking hold.
In addition, breastfeeding can provide immunity protection for future illnesses. It has also shown to protect against various forms of cancer.
10. Breastfeeding is easy.
Breastfeeding is normal, but, often, it doesn’t come natural. For many, the process of learning how to work with your baby to develop a successful breastfeeding relationship is overwhelming. Instead of seeking out support or professional help, many women give up. Thus depriving themselves and their babies of the many benefits associated with breastfeeding.
Many cities have breastfeeding support groups. Check with your hospital, birthing center, or local La Leche League [http://web.archive.org/web/20150806021442/http://www.llli.org/]. Attending a support group gives you access to a professional lactation consultant and to other women who are facing similar challenges.
Booby traps can hinder breastfeeding success, but you don’t have to let it. Take a class, talk to a counselor, and join a support group. Work with your baby as you take this journey together. Believe in yourself and your bodies ability to sustain your baby and you will meet your breastfeeding goals.