Common Concerns Of The Breastfeeding Mother
Breastfeeding is the normal biological way to feed your baby. And while breastfeeding is a natural process, many mothers struggle with breastfeeding so getting the correct information and support can make a tremendous difference to the outcome.
It is probably the most frequently asked question I get from a breastfeeding mother. With all of the misinformation out there, it’s no wonder that breastfeeding mothers have concerns. In actuality, the percentage of mothers who cannot produce enough milk for their baby is quite low. It is the mismanagement of breastfeeding in the early days and weeks that can have a negative impact on supply.
In the first couple of days after birth, babies do not need large volume feeds. The small amount of colostrum you produce in the early days is enough for your baby. As your breasts start to make larger quantities of milk between days 3-5, then the breasts start to work like a supply and demand system. The faster the breasts are emptied, the faster you will make milk. The fuller the breasts, the slower the production.
Babies need practice to learn to breastfeed well. They need to learn they are responsible for the flow of the milk and they need to learn to use their tongue, lips, and jaw to create a good vacuum pressure to remove the milk. The more often they breastfeed, the faster they will learn and be good at it for when that big rush of milk starts being produced!
Watching the baby’s urine and stool output and knowing what to expect will reassure you that your baby is getting enough breastmilk. In the early days, the number of urine and stools will match the age of the baby.
On day 1 we expect one urine and one stool. On day 2 we expect 2 urine and 2 stools, and so on until we get to day 4. From day 4 and until the baby is between 4-6 weeks, the baby should be making at least 5-6 really wet nappies and 3-4 stools. After 4-6 weeks, some babies may start to stool less frequently, sometimes even once every 7-10 days. As long as the baby is gaining weight and is well and happy, this is normal.
Another way to know that your baby is getting enough breastmilk is to watch how they are suckling at the breast. At first, you might find it difficult to see the different types of suckle. But with time, you will learn when your baby is drinking well, when they are stimulating the breasts for a let-down, or when they are suckling for comfort.
Babies who are drinking well from the breast will have long, rhythmic suckles and you can usually hear the sound of them swallowing. Babies who are using the stimulation suckle will have very quick, short suckles that physically stimulate the nipples to send a message to your brain to the pituitary gland where oxytocin and prolactin are released. This type of suckling is stimulating your let-down which in turn will lead to that long rhythmic suckling.
Comfort suckling is a gentle, light, and random suckling which is very good for milk supply. We should see all of these suckles when a baby is feeding. Once your milk starts increasing you will start to notice more of a pattern with stimulating suckles followed by long, rhythmic suckles and then a repeat of this 2-3 times on one breast for one feed.
Breastfeeding should not be painful. That doesn’t mean you will not feel any pain with breastfeeding. In the first week, you may feel nipple stretching pain. This pain occurs when the baby latches and can last for up to 30 seconds to a minute or so during the feed. After this initial discomfort/pain you should not have any pain while feeding.
If you are feeling pain throughout a feed then check that your baby is tummy to tummy with you, has a nice, big open mouth on the breast with the lips flipped out, chin deep into the mother’s breast, and nose tilted up. When the baby comes off the breast, check the shape of the nipple. It will look stretched out, but it should not look misshaped. If you see a compression line or a lipstick tube shape, then ask for some help correcting the baby’s latch.
Breastfeeding babies should be fed on demand. There are many reasons a baby wants to breastfeed, and a normal, healthy baby will show us signs when they are hungry, thirsty, are feeding for comfort, feeding to sleep, etc. Breastfeeding is more than nutrition and so feeding on demand will assure baby is getting milk according to their needs.
A breastfeeding baby feeds anywhere from 8-12 times in a 24-hour period. In the newborn phase, a feed can last 20-30 minutes on one breast and could be another 20-30 minutes if the baby takes the second breast. Generally, as babies get older and better at feeding, they can decrease the amount of time at the breast.
Cluster feedings are common, as well. Cluster feeds are when the baby has several feeds in a short amount of time. These feeds tend to happen in the late afternoons and early evenings when your breasts are naturally producing less quantity of milk but has a higher fat concentration. These feeds are very important for the baby’s growth and development and for your milk supply.
Breastfeeding should be a wonderful experience. It is quite often very demanding, but with good education, support and a bit of confidence breastfeeding is an extremely rewarding experience for you and your baby. If you have any other questions or concerns, you can email me at [email protected]