How Many Ways Can You Sabotage a New Breastfeeding Relationship?

Oh let me count a few of the ways….

Only allowing the baby to nurse for a limited time. If the baby has a good latch, it does not hurt the baby to nurse for longer times.

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Watching the clock instead of the baby and her signals that she is hungry, You eat snacks and sip drinks besides eating meals- so does your baby. Scheduling early on will interfere with milk production. Nurse more and you will have more milk. Nursing more in the first days when colostrum is present helps the baby get rid of the early meconium stools and have less jaundice issues as well.

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Being given a bag full of formula from the hospital, undermining your confidence. These gifts are not gifts at all! Hospitals and pediatrician offices who offer this are not baby friendly places. Avoid them!

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Swaddling the baby and keeping them in the box at the hospital- they need to be skin to skin on the mom as much as possible and not sleeping so soundly that they do not nurse regularly.

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Don’t send your baby to the nursery. Out of sight means the nurses may offer bottles to your baby unknowingly. The studies show moms actually sleep more with the baby in the room- it is a mammal thing- they worry when the baby is away from them.

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Nurses giving lousy advice, like your baby is starving, you do not have enough to satisfy such a big baby, some women just can’t breastfeed! Ask for a lactation consultant.

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Dad’s wanting to be helpful and give the baby a bottle. That is fine once breastfeeding is well established and if you are going to be pumping when he is doing it so your supply and demand is not thrown off. Get him to help in other ways- rocking the baby, changing diapers, putting on a load of laundry!

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Grandmothers and others who mean well but give you awful advice. They should be coming to support you by helping you with all the things not related to the baby. Put the baby back in the mom’s arms please and go fix her a nice dinner!

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Too many visitors while you are in the hospital trying to learn how to nurse your baby. Every time someone comes in you have to cover up and stop nursing your baby.

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Too many visitors once you get home. Ten minutes is a visit- more than that you have worn out your welcome unless you are vacuuming, folding laundry or cooking! Leave a meal and say hello- don’t even sit down to visit. Let the mom rest please.

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Undiagnosed tongue ties. The pediatrician who says let’s wait to see if it causes speech development is the wrong pediatrician for breastfeeding support.

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A poor latch leading to sore nipples. If in doubt read this article on LATCH.

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Not realizing ahead of time you could have done something about a flat or inverted nipple. Ask your midwife to look at your nipples and evaluate them before you give birth. Read about this here. Avoid the nipple shields that seem to be handed out like candy- they too can cause huge issues.

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Attend a breastfeeding support class prior to having your baby. A couples’ class is best to get your partner on board. If you can not attend prior to having the baby, attend soon after having the baby. Attend La Leche League meetings to get that mother to mother help as well.

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Dont’ be shamed into isolating yourself to a bathroom to feed your baby. The more normalized you can begin to see breastfeeding, the easier it is to get out and about.

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Avoid unnecessary inductions. Baby’s who are not quite ready to be born have more difficulty nursing and end up with more NICU stays separating moms and babies.

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Avoid interventions that could lead to a cesarean birth. It is harder to recover from a surgical birth, takes longer to have your milk come in and a longer stay at the hospital creates more issues with getting good advice.

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Avoid IV fluids during your labor. Fluids cause edema which flattens out your nipples and can cause a baby to have difficulty latching on properly. Having IV fluids for two hours or more can inflate your baby’s weight. Weight loss should be determined based on what the baby’s weight was at 24 hours instead. Read the study here.

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Nurse the baby before the baby is weighed. A small baby or a big baby can lead to blood sugar stabs that should not be done without having the baby have an opportunity to nurse first. And the baby’s stomach is the size of a marble- regardless of his size. Colostrum is all the baby needs.

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The hearing test must be done while the baby is not crying. So if the baby is hungry and wants to nurse, they will offer a bottle instead. Always send your partner with the baby when the baby leaves the room. And tell them you do not give them consent to give your baby a bottle.

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Circumcision is painful- during the procedure and afterwards. They offer sugared pacifiers for comfort. But the real problem is afterwards the baby retreats due to the pain and does not nurse well for up to 12 hours sometimes. Consider leaving your son intact- 60% of the US is doing so now. And the higher the education and higher the income, the less likely the boys will be circumcised. Do you research. And if you decide it must be done, consider waiting until the baby is a week or so old and breastfeeding and bonding is more established

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When you register at the big box baby stores, your name is sold to the formula companies. All of  a sudden you will get gifts to sabotage your nursing relationship. Beware of FREE gifts.

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If you are returning to work, don’t be in a rush to begin offering bottles. Bottle nipples can often cause confusion to a new baby. There is a proper way to feed a bottle to a breastfed baby- note this.

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And offering a pacifer can also cause nipple confusion early on. Think about it- the baby has a desire to suck Sucking on a fake nipple does not help your breast supply and causes the baby to get a lot of air- causing stomach pain. The baby needs to be at the breasts- helping your supply and protecting your latch.

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Crying babies have more gas. You are missing the signs of early nursing desires- sucking on their hands- smacking their mouth. Try to catch the baby early on.  Baby’s cries are alarms not to be ignored for their best development.

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Putting the baby in the bed or next to the bed with you allows for easier night time needs being met and more sleep. Night time nursing is needed until the baby reaches 15 pounds or three months expect to nurse frequently. Babies begin to start sleeping for a 5 hour stretch often at this point.

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Sleep scheduling can be to the detriment of your milk supply. Be careful. Meeting your baby’s needs, especially during that fourth trimester- the first three months after birth, are essential to the well being of your baby. Read about newborn sleep and soothing techniques on the blog and by our favorite authors listed in the store site for book recommendations.

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Remember breastfeeding is not a medical advice issue usually, so your pediatrician may not be a good resource. In fact the Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me here!  Listen to your own intuitive heart, it is a good guide.

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So in summary,here are a few of the things you want to do to insure breastfeeding success are:

  • Take a breastfeeding couple’s class prior to birth. And if you can not do so, consider attending afterwards or meeting with a lactation educator or consultant for some guidance. 
  • Get the latch right early on- and if it hurts that means the latch is not correct.
  • Attend La Leche League meetings prior to the birth and get to see new mom’s nursing their nurslings. Talk to other moms about what worked well for them.
  • Buy a good breastfeeding book or two. We have suggestions on our site.
  • Have a gentle, non interventive birth if possible- set yourself up to win in this way by taking good classes and assembling a great support team. An alert baby and non medicated mom has less problems with breastfeeding from the start.
  • Leave the hospital as soon as possible- the studies indicate the longer you stay the more sabotage occurs.
  • Have your support team in place when you get home- hire a postpartum doula to help. Get in touch with a breastfeeding consultant to help if you are having issues as soon as possible to figure out what the problem is and resolve it quickly.
  • Nurse often and with a good latch- for the length that meets your baby’s needs.
  • Don’t look at the clock- look at your baby. And realize sleeping for longer stretches come in time. Rest when the baby is resting so you are not sleep deprived.
  • Interview your pediatrician about their level of support to expect but get your support mostly from other breastfeeding moms and knowledgeable professionals.
  • Avoid advice that is unwanted and ill advised. 
  • Resist using formula, bottles and pacifiers until breastfeeding is going smoothly.
  • Do your research and stay away from elective procedures that can interfere with mom and baby being bonded from the start.
  • Wear your baby and have the baby skin to skin often.
  • Involve your partner in other ways that are fun ways to meet the baby’s needs besides feeding.