Regardless of where you are in your breastfeeding journey today, it’s important to pay more attention to the things that can go wrong. To help you get past your breastfeeding journey, I’ve put together a list of breastfeeding mistakes that happen a lot with new moms and how to tackle them!
10 Breastfeeding Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Milk Supply
1. Thinking Pain is not a big deal
If feeding milk to your newborn hurts or causes any kind of pain, it’s something you need to pay attention to. “Breastfeeding like any other normal body function, like going to the bathroom or breathing, and if any of those normal functions really, really hurt and you went to your doctor they would probably want to figure out why,” says international board-certified lactation consultant Ashley Pickett.
Pain in nipples means that there’s something not okay with the latch. Though, it can be fixed by addressing the breastfeeding position you’re nursing at. Or maybe it’s caused by something of tongue-tie sort which’s stopping the baby to nurse effectively.
It truly can be anything, which is why you must take advice from your lactation consultant!
Let’s say it’s not your nipples that are hurting, pain in breasts is even more serious. If your breasts hurt rather than nipples, you may be undergoing vasospasms. Particularly, vasospasms feel like burning, throbbing sensation in your breast.
They occur due to compression caused by a tight latch which decreases the blood flow. The pain is like pins and needles after the baby is off the breast and the blood flow returns.
Make sure you’re not experiencing any kind of such pain in your breasts, and if you are, do not ignore it. Because it may mean your baby isn’t emptying milk from your breast and this could lead to blocked ducts.
Poor latch gives birth to another potential concern: Milk Flow issues
Milk Flow Issues
“The latch itself is kind of the key to unlocking that milk supply,” says Pickett. “In those early days, when there are tons of hormones working to help elevate milk supply, it’s not so much of a concern, but usually, what we’ll see is around two, three or four months, in that sort of range, what we call late-onset slow milk flow.”
When the milk flow is slow, a lot of babies become fussy and start to come off the breasts during feeding. If they come off your breasts being fussy, you’ll see your baby is not full and satisfied, plus they might not sleep as long as they’re full. Period.
2. Slacking on your Breastfeeding or Pumping Schedule
Whether you have decided to breastfeed and breast pump on a schedule OR to give your baby unlimited access to your breasts without any fixed breastfeeding schedule. It’s important to make sure that your baby is nursing often enough.
You must know that both your breasts are emptied with each feeding. If your baby is unable to empty both breasts then you can use a pump to finish the job.
It indicates and signals to your body that you need to create more milk. Breasts that are rarely to never emptied send the negative message.
When you’re close to your baby, it’s best to place no limitations on when and how long they can feed. Even if you have a schedule, keep it flexible so that you can accommodate more frequent feedings when your baby demands it. This will naturally keep your breasts stimulated for sufficient milk production.
If you’re a working mom, try to breast pump about 15 to 20 minutes on each breast every few hours as you’re away from your baby. But when you’re at home go with the unlimited breastfeeding approaches if possible. This is how you reduce the chance of breastfeeding mistakes.
If you start skipping some of that away-from-home pump session, your breast milk supply could suffer. This sends the message that your baby is feeding less often and needs less milk, which really isn’t the case.
3. Separation Immediate After-Birth
If it’s too late to change a birth plan that has already played out, this is a piece of good information for babies yet to enter a new world.
Birth plans should always include a stipulation that the baby stays with the mother if there are no medical conditions making that impossible or dangerous.
There is a substantial field of research that proves mom and newborn are made for each other and always search for one another after birth and obviously breastfeeding is most likely to succeed when mom stays with the baby and offer him skin-to-skin contact for immediate opportunities for feeding.
But if there are any medical complication and you were separated from your baby after birth for many times in a day, nothing to worry about it. Some studies have shown that breastfeeding can still be successful in those circumstances.
You can adopt some other actions to establish a healthy breastfeeding routine when you are reunited with your baby. It is best to stay with the baby, but you’re not doomed to failure if that doesn’t work out. (Elwald, 1997)
4. Supplementing with bottles too early
It is best to stay until your baby is at least 1 to 2 months old to introduce the bottle, even if it is filled with your own milk. You have to give your baby sufficient time to develop his breastfeeding skills, especially the art of latching properly.
Since bottle & nipples feel, taste, and function differently, it can cause confusion for the baby. This one is one of the main breastfeeding mistakes. So, buy nipples that closely mimic the shape and feel of the breast, but still, there is a difference that the baby will pick up on.
The big threat is that the baby will develop a preference for the bottle because these nipples are often easier to latch onto and can deliver a faster flow of milk. And this is the reason that your newborn may start to refusing the breast and demanding a bottle.
It is less likely to happen if you give your baby sufficient time to master breastfeeding and enjoy the benefits of feeding on the breasts.
When you do introduce the bottle, use a slow-flow nipple that replicates the feel of the breasts as much as possible. Make sure that you continue breastfeeding frequently so that your baby is less likely to develop a preference for the bottle.
5. Supplementing too much
Supplementing with a bottle is a convenience for some mothers but essential for others. You may take this approach if you’re returning to work or just include your spouse and other loved ones into your feeding schedule for other reasons.
Doing this occasionally shouldn’t interfere with your baby’s breastfeeding habits as long as you wait at least 2 months to begin. The main problems arise when you start filling the bottle with formula instead of breast milk or when you stop pumping regularly.
If your baby is taking more bottles and you aren’t able to stick to a routine pumping schedule, then your body will assume that your baby isn’t breastfeeding much and doesn’t need much milk. Your milk supply will diminish rather quickly.
You can avoid this by breastfeeding often enough that remains your baby’s primary feeding method. When you aren’t breastfeeding, your pumping sessions are critical.
Once you start skipping the pump, you can see a decline in the amount of milk produced. If you’re filling bottles with pumped milk and don’t want to supplement formula, those pumping sessions are more important. You can run out of milk if you skip many sessions and not keep an eye on your freezer stash.
6. Allowing Dehydration to Set In
You know your milk is more than 80% water, so what happens when you’re dehydrated? You simply don’t have enough breastmilk ingredients needed to make the milk that your baby demands. It’s no different than baking or cooking.
If you don’t have the required ingredients then you’re forced to supplements with something similar. But if you don’t want to go with formula, then try to stay well hydrated. Ensure that you have enough water in storage to help your body to make the milk that your baby needs.
Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water is a good guideline for most moms, but you can drink a bit more to be on the safe side. In addition to water, it’s beneficial to drink coconut water for the electrolytes. This can give you the taste change and you can add some fresh fruit or lemon slices to your water will work as well.
7. About Eating the Wrong Foods While Breastfeeding
Below are three reasons to pay close attention to your diet while breastfeeding:-
- A nutrient-dense food adds nutritional value to your milk and boosts your immune system. But if you’re eating, a lot of greasy or sugary foods that lack nutritional content, it impacts negatively on your health and ability of your breastfeeding.
- Some foods are believed to help boost your milk supply naturally like barley, oats, fennel, spinach, and brewer’s yeast.
- Some foods may infuse your breast milk with a stronger taste or odor like onion and garlic which impacting your baby’s reaction to the milk.
- Other foods like beans, cabbage may give your baby gas. Pay close attention to how your baby reacts after you consume certain foods, and adjust your diet accordingly.
8. Fight and Eliminate Stress
One of the most common breastfeeding mistakes that is often overlooked is excess stress! Stress can sabotage your body in devastating ways and may weaken your immune system which negatively impacts milk production.
You know breastfeeding releases the “feel good” hormones to combat depression and can help to reduce stress. It’s very important to identify the cause of your stress and take action to eliminate them.
Eliminating stress not only makes you feel good and be a calm mom but your baby will thank you for protecting his milk supply. It’s not likely that alone stress will diminish your milk supply. The danger comes when routine and excessive stress combined with other factors and interfere with your milk supply.
So, the motive is to control stress and eliminate some of the risks. Let’s start doing it now!
9. Not taking enough Sleep
Sleep is the most sensitive subject for newbie mom. No matter this is your first or fifth baby. You know your first year with a baby is going to leave you exhausted and tired. The only sleep can fight with all these hurdles of motherhood.
Perhaps more sleep-deprived than you have been in your entire life. This is something that mothers simply accept. This one is another red signal against your milk supply. Your newborn is often active at night for breastfeeding. But you should still do everything possible to prioritize sleep in your life.
Lack of sleep makes you exhausted and produces stress in life. It’s a breastfeeding mistake or factor which can be reducing the strength of your immune system and increasing the chances that you may skip feeding or pumping sessions. This could lead to a reduction in your milk supply if it happens too often.
So, how could you get more sleep in the first year after giving birth? Start by investing in a good co-sleeper for your baby. These lightweight, portable beds give your baby a safe place to rest while sleeping next to your bed. Often, training your baby into a sleep schedule for longer stretches can also give you the relief of sleep.
Also, this allows you to breastfeed without getting up and your newborn can drift off to sleep without you trying to put them into a crib. You can simply drift off along with the baby and talk to your spouse or other family members willing to help. Or arrange a young babysitter for a few hours each day, can give you enough time to take a nap.
10. About the Nursing Bra
There is a genuine reason that there are so many nursing bras & breastfeeding clothes available in the market. Many mothers think breastfeeding essentials are a waste of money at first. But it’s not long until they realize how essential those bras are for newbie moms who must get dressed and leave the home at times.
These bras that you wore prior to pregnancy and for nursing will not fit and will be too tight for comfort and can put your breasts at risk of mastitis or clogged milk ducts which cause your motherhood journey at risk and results in breastfeeding mistakes.
Selecting the right bra is like a science. Like if the back band is too thick or you select the wrong size and style, you will feel uncomfortable and increase the risk of clogged milk ducts and other issues.
The best nursing bras allow you to easily breastfeed no matter where you are and also help to accommodate expanding breasts if you can’t get to the pump at times.
11. Ask for help when Needed
It’s the last one but not a practical tip, but it really deserves to be number one. If a newbie mom experiencing problems with breastfeeding, postpartum depression, or any other aspect of parenting, you can talk with a significant other, a parent, any trustworthy adult figure in your life.
If that doesn’t work, keep searching for help through medical professionals, religious leaders, and even other moms that you meet in real life or on a social network.
It’s always a better option to ask for help, especially when your baby is concerned. So, don’t wait for the situation to grow worse which will cause you breastfeeding mistakes. The faster you receive help, the faster you can get your breastfeeding journey back on a successful track.
Hope these tips help you with the breastfeeding journey. So, enjoy your motherhood and Take Care.