Breastfeeding: the Basics
Updated: Mar 12
Almost all hospitals will encourage you to breastfeed at birth; however, the health professionals are almost always not educated about breastfeeding. Shocking, right? I remember being in the hospital and asking one of the nurses if I was doing it right, she looked at me and appeared uncomfortable, then she said “I don’t know anything about it.”
On the other hand, I also remember the Lactation consultant that worked at the hospital just grabbing my boob and pushing it into my son’s mouth, also not the best method of practice for successful breastfeeding. Along with that, she didn’t really educate me about what to look for or provide me much of anything for that matter. I left the hospital with bleeding and cracked nipples. They said it shouldn’t hurt, but it hurt. They didn’t do anything to help me fix the problem, the latch.
What we are missing is basic breastfeeding support. I don’t know if all hospitals do this, but ours made us watch a video about “Back is Best” prior to leaving the hospital, maybe they should include an informational video on breastfeeding though because it decreases your child’s chances of dying from SIDS by 50%.
The lack of breastfeeding support leaves moms feeling even more frustrated about what is going on during their breastfeeding journey. Sure, we can research our asses off, but when it comes down to it, it really helps if we have community and support surrounding this very important activity.
Think about your visits with your newborn’s pediatrician. How do those go when you are breastfeeding? I remember one of our first ones and being asked how long he was eating per/side which is totally fine to ask, but what is the measure here? He was gaining weight, but relatively slowly, looking back now that was due to an improper latch in the beginning. She recommended I pump so I know how much he is getting in a bottle at least once a day.
There are three problems with this recommendation. First, pumping is not indicative of what your baby is getting at the breast. *Fun fact: babies do not increase their intake of milk in volume between months 1 and 5. While your friends who formula feed may be caught up in ounces, you should just be caught up in your baby gaining weight. Second, offering a bottle (even once a day) can throw off your milk supply. Third, offering a bottle too soon could cause your child to grow preferential to the bottle. Why? Because the milk often flows faster and it’s less work than breastfeeding. Each of these “options” can cause your breastfeeding journey to end sooner than you want.
Here are my most basic tips to get you started on a beautiful and strong breastfeeding journey:
1. Ditch the clocks. Don’t get caught up in baby eating for 15 minutes and then switch sides. The hind-milk is full of good fat your baby needs to grow and develop. Let baby lead the way. What? Yes! This goes hand in hand with number
2. Let your baby unlatch themselves. It may seem like FOREVER, but this is going to help your supply and keep your baby growing.
3. Breastfeeding isn’t just about providing nourishment. You are also going to be a human pacifier, so don’t pull your baby off unless you ABSOLUTELY need a break (you are not a bad mom if you need a break, being touched out is a thing). With that being said, offer the boob every time your child shows interest, or cries. Sound ridiculous? Women in Africa wear their babies all day and offer the breast up to 100 times a day. Colic is nonexistent among these groups in Africa. What does that tell you? We expect a lot from a newborn.
5. Skin to skin is where it’s at! If you want to get the most natural latch. It’s called the laid back position. Try all of the breastfeeding positions to find which ones work for you two.
I promise that this will get easier, and if it doesn't there is so much support available to you.