What No One Tells You about Breastfeeding
Let me guess, you’ve started breastfeeding but it’s nothing like what you were told. You weren’t prepared to be a 24 hour buffet and now you’re wondering how in the world you’re going to keep up with the demand.
Trust me, I get it! I have been breastfeeding for the past 19 months and no longer remember what it is like to have my body to myself. But, it really has been an amazing experience.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing and there have been times that I thought about giving up. Thankfully, I decided to press on.
Looking back, there was still so much I didn’t know when my daughter latched for the first time. I wish someone would have shared their little known breastfeeding tips with me. I would have been spared bloody nipples, confusion, and an oversupply.
Here’s the deal:
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. I know you want to be successful on your breastfeeding journey and I want to help you get there. I’m going to let you in on a little secret and share the breastfeeding tips that others often leave out.
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1. Breastfeeding Class
There are so many baby preparatory courses to take when you’re pregnant that it can quickly become overwhelming. Eventually you find yourself questioning which ones are truly necessary and which ones can you skip. Trust me, a breastfeeding course is at the top of the necessary list. If you were considering not taking one, please think again!
Want to know why?
Without a breastfeeding class you are more likely to make uninformed decisions that can negatively impact your breastfeeding journey. Having that foundation can make the difference between not reaching your breastfeeding goals and ultimately being in control of your breastfeeding experience.
2. Sore Nipples
Sore nipples may come up in conversations with other moms. However, they may neglect to define what sore nipples really mean. You may be expecting something along the lines of the ache you get when your monthly visitor is in route. Instead, you may get something closer to razor blades cutting through your skin!
Don’t think you are in the clear because the first latch did not hurt and the second probably won’t either. Be prepared and have nipple cream available! Use it after every nursing session, and yes, it is safe for the baby. Even if you exclusively pump, use nipple cream after your pumping sessions.
You’ll think you’re fine and out of nowhere your nipples will be on fire.
That pain is indescribable
You may want to push your baby off of you or detach from the pump, but you can’t! Try not to dread your nursing sessions because all your baby will want to do in the beginning is nurse!!!
This is great for helping your milk to come in and establishing your supply.
What about your nipples? Your poor nipples may start cracking and even bleeding (it’s still ok to continue nursing and pumping). Nipple cream will help a lot and so will rubbing colostrum on your nipples. Eventually, your nipples will “toughen” up and the pain will go away.
After the 2nd week a lot of breastfeeding moms stop putting anything on their nipples and never have a problem. There are also a lot of mothers who continue to use some type of ointment or cream until they wean.
What’s the bottom line?
Sore nipples are unavoidable for the most part. As mentioned earlier, lanolin and expressed breast milk can reduce the pain. Also, exposing the nipples to air will help them heal. Be careful, you may leave a milk trail behind you!
3. Cluster Feeding
So, what is cluster feeding? According to KellyMom cluster feeding or bunch feeding is when babies space feedings closer together, usually in the evenings. It typically occurs during the first couple of days at home and during growth spurts.
You may not remember your baby cluster feeding while you are in the hospital. There’s so much going on while you’re trying to learn how to breastfeed and your baby is learning how to latch. Once you get home and there are fewer distractions, it’s going to be on!
Some moms have no idea what is happening and may even think that something is wrong with their milk. Your milk is fine, your baby is just cluster feeding and that is completely normal.
Turns out, cluster feeding is a great thing. Especially if you want to have a long and successful breastfeeding journey.
Cluster feeding increases a mother’s milk supply.
It’s baby’s way of ensuring you have enough milk to supply their needs. Sometimes moms can mistake the constant feeding as an indicator of low milk supply. Some will even quit breastfeeding because of it. Luckily, this won’t happen to you.
If you do have concerns about low milk supply get our guide on how to increase your milk supply naturally, now!
Now, you know cluster feeding is nature’s way of making sure your body produces what your baby needs. You’re a step ahead of the game!
Remember, cluster feeding is normal and necessary
4. Mastitis and Clogged Ducts
I remember discussing mastitis during the breastfeeding class but not clogged ducts. Of course mommy brain could be to blame!
The first time you have a clogged duct (you may have several during your breastfeeding journey) you will know! Your breasts will probably be sore to the touch making it uncomfortable to even wear a bra.
You might want to scream when your baby latches.
My first clogged duct was classic.
I had already returned to work and wasn’t able to pump as frequently that day. There was a visible lump in my breast and it was tender to the touch. When I did try to pump, I didn’t get a whole lot of milk out and it was painful.
I didn’t know what was happening, but luckily one of my coworkers did.
They suggested I put a warm compress on my breast and massage it. I didn’t want to do that because it hurt too much!
What actually helped me was nursing my baby. However, It hurt the entire time! It wasn’t relieved in one session, it took several. Finally, I had relief.
The signs of a clogged duct include:
- Tender area in the breast
- Noticeable lump
If you notice any of these signs you want to address it right away. A clogged milk duct that goes untreated can lead to mastitis, a breast infection.
Treatment options for a blocked duct include:
- Nurse often on the affected breast
- Apply a warm compress or take a hot shower and massage your breasts before feeding (if you exclusively pump, do this and pump immediately after)
- Massage area while nursing or pumping
- Manually express milk or pump if necessary following nursing
Hopefully, you will never have mastitis. Just know that flu-like symptoms while breastfeeding is more than likely mastitis.
Symptoms of mastitis:
- painful, firm, red area on your breast
- flu-like symptoms
- temperature above 100.4
Treatment of mastitis
Mastitis is an infection and you will need antibiotics to clear it up. If you feel that you have mastitis, call your doctor immediately. Delaying treatment will only make it worse.
Continue to breastfeed from both breasts even with mastitis!
Take your antibiotic as described, rest, and stay hydrated.
5. Pace Feeding
This topic usually does not come up in breastfeeding classes. I had never heard of it before it was mentioned in a Breastfeeding Facebook group. Chances are, you’ve never heard of it either.
Pace Feeding is a method used to bottle feed breastfed babies. It is meant to mimic the feeding pace exhibited during nursing. Breastfed babies work really hard to get their milk. The sucking process is much more complicated than that of sucking milk from a bottle. Therefore, the flow of milk isn’t as fast.
When breastfeeding, babies are in control of how much milk they are consuming. They naturally pop-off when they have had enough. The faster flow of milk from a bottle doesn’t give baby time to recognize that they are full. This can often lead to baby being overfed.
Babies work hard for that liquid gold!
This will come into play when you start taking your baby to daycare or if anyone else feeds your baby with a bottle.
What will happen is you’ll leave the baby with extra milk but you’ll still get a call that the baby drunk all of the milk and is still hungry.
When daycare or another childcare provider keeps telling mom this day after day, she starts thinking she’s not making enough milk to satisfy her baby. This is usually not the case.
If baby is satiated when nursing with you they should also be satisfied with the milk from the bottle.
The problem is baby isn’t being pace fed.
So, how do you pace feed?
1. Hold baby in an upright position. Do not try to bottle feed baby in a reclined position. This takes away their control and can lead to ear infections.
2. Hold the bottle in a horizontal position. You want baby to work for the milk like they do when nursing.
3. Pauses frequently (every 15-20 sucks). This mimics the natural pauses that occur when nursing.
4. Make the bottle last at least 10-20 minutes (the length of a nursing session)
Without pace feeding babies will often times start preferring the bottle over the breast. It’s just easier!
You can give this handout to your childcare provider to explain pace feeding.
6. Milk Production Variations
Your milk supply will vary throughout baby’s first year. This can be really stressful on mom especially if she’s already concerned about her milk supply.
In the beginning moms get accustomed to the fullness in their breast. Although we hate having the leaky boobs, it’s a reassurance that milk is there. This dissipates around 6 weeks and breasts began to feel soft at all times. Some equate the softness with lack of milk. This is generally not the case. Your body has adjusted to the needs of your baby and your supply is established.
According to breastfeedingusa.org by the time your baby is 3 months old, milk production stops being controlled by the mother’s postpartum hormones, and starts being controlled by the information that the body has gathered during the previous weeks of breastfeeding. Your body pays attention to baby’s nursing habits and provides milk accordingly.
If you are truly concerned about your milk supply consult your lactation consultant and healthcare provider. Is your baby continuing to gain weight? Are they having adequate wet and poopy diapers? Chances are your milk supply is fine. Remember, after 6 weeks baby’s pooping patterns change.
Despite it’s natural appearance, breastfeeding is by no means a simple process. It is also not something you have to do alone. Take abreast feeding class before baby comes and have your significant other join you as well. They will be a better support person if they also know what to expect. Preparing for breastfeeding during your pregnancy is a great way to set up you up for success.
Don’t forget to also check out your local la leche league.
Remember in motherhood, you can have it all but you don’t have to do it alone. Take advantage of the power of community. Join Confessions of Professional Moms where you will gain both knowledge and friends to go through motherhood with you.
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