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If you’ve chosen to breastfeed your baby, congratulations! With so many benefits to breastfeeding for both your baby and yourself, you’ve made an awesome choice! Breastfeeding is both beautiful and natural, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always come naturally to everyone. Learning to breastfeed can be hard for some moms, and it can be hard for some babies.
One thing that makes breastfeeding even harder is well-meaning, but misguided advice from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. This advice might come from family members, friends, even nurses and doctors. It is a really sad fact that doctors, even OBGYN’s and pediatricians are not required to take a full course on breastfeeding. This isn’t to say that all breastfeeding advice you receive will be bad, but it’s important to be informed so that you can distinguish good advice from bad.
Below you’ll read 10 ways you might be told you’re failing at breastfeeding, and why each of them is just a false alarm.
1. Your baby lost some weight
A small amount of newborn weight loss is normal. This is especially true if you spent a significant amount of your baby’s birth receiving IV fluids. If your baby loses a few ounces in the first couple of days, don’t worry! If, however, your baby loses more than 10% of their birth weight or continues to lose weight after the first couple of days, it’s time to contact an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who will advise you on the best way to proceed.
2. Your baby is jaundiced
Jaundice is not a reason to quit breastfeeding, in fact, it’s a reason to breastfeed even more. In order to clear up jaundice and lower bilirubin levels, your baby needs to poop. By giving them breastmilk, the most easily digested food in the world, you’re helping them to clear the poop and the excess bilirubin from their system.
3. You can’t pump much
Pumping output is not an indicator of how much breastmilk you are producing. No pump is as thorough as a baby who nurses efficiently, so you most likely won’t be able to get as much for the pump as your baby would get on their own. Also, many women don’t respond well to pumps at all. You also need to remember that if you are pumping on top of nursing, your baby has already extracted milk, so if you are able to even pump a little bit, you know your body is producing milk.
4. You aren’t engorged and/or you don’t leak
Not all mamas become hugely engorged and not all mamas leak milk. Everyone’s breasts are different and each mom’s breasts respond to milk production in a different way.
5. Breastfeeding hurts
Breastfeeding should not hurt, there may be some discomfort as you get used to having a tiny human sucking on you, day and night, but there should not be pain and bleeding nipples should not be seen as normal. But having painful or bleeding nipples do not mean you are failing, it means you may need some extra support. Call in the IBCLC and she can check to make sure your baby is latching right, help you find a more comfortable position and suggest ways to soothe the pain while you work on those things.
6. You’re not making enough
If anyone tells you that you are not making enough milk, the first thing to do is check with an IBCLC. It is rare that a mom is not capable of producing enough milk, but unfortunately it does happen. However, not being able to produce a full milk supply does not mean you are a failure and it does not mean you have to quit. Every drop of breastmilk your baby gets will provide amazing benefits. If you are worried about not producing enough milk, talk to the IBCLC! If together, you decide that your baby needs more than you can produce, she will help you determine how best to go about supplementing and how to increase or maintain your supply if you choose to do so.
If you are determined to breastfeed, you may have to learn to ignore some advice. It will be important to be informed about what is and isn’t normal in a breastfeeding relationship so you can determine what advice is worth listening to and what isn’t. When all is said and done, the best person to take advice from is an expert on the subject and in this case, that is an IBCLC, so if you have any concerns about how breastfeeding is going, that is who you should reach out to.