Breastfeeding is the most natural things in the world for a new mom. However, it’s not smooth sailing for every woman right off the bat. Nursing is an education, and proper breastfeeding techniques and tricks need to be learned along the way for mom—and baby!
To help put you and your newborn on the right path, here are the ten of the most common breastfeeding mistakes…
1. Not Seeking Help When You Need It
Breastfeeding might be easy as pie for some women; while it’s difficult and frustrating for others. Sitting around stewing over problems you’re having from breastfeeding will get you nowhere. That’s why if you’re having difficulty and under a lot of stress because of it, reach out to fellow moms who are friends or family, or seek the advice of a lactation consultant on issues such as latching, increasing supply, sore nipples, and any other questions you have.
Everyone has different experiences, tips and tricks that could help you find what’s right for you and your baby. You are not the first mother to struggle and it’s important to remember that. Seeking help when you need it doesn’t make you worse at breastfeeding than others. It’s also important to note that you could have completely different experiences breastfeeding your different children – what works for your first child might not work for your second. So try to enjoy the one on one time and special bond you create with your child while breastfeeding, even if you’re having a hard time.
2. Stressing Out If Breastfeeding Isn’t Perfect
Remember, breastfeeding is a skill and you need to learn how to do it. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it isn’t easy for the first little while. After all, your baby will feel stressed if he or she picks up on your anxiety – babies are very intuitive, and if you’re on an emotional roller coaster, your baby could sense it. Having a baby and those first few months, especially if it’s your first child, is already emotional and stressful enough. And luckily, breastfeeding is something that is going to further your connection with your child, even if you have a few bumps in the road.
The best thing you can do is to push the stress away and try to stay calm and nurturing. Think of all of the things that are right – your perfect little baby that has changed your life in so many amazing ways. Keep those thoughts present when you start to go down the road to stressville.
3. Don’t Assume You Can’t Breastfeed
Breastfeeding can be so frustrating that you may be tempted to throw in the towel because you think you’re body isn’t producing enough milk, or your body just isn’t built for breastfeeding. Take comfort in the fact that women’s bodies are made for breastfeeding and for nourishing your baby. The struggles you face are more common than you think, and in most cases, you’ll find your groove and be able to really start enjoying breastfeeding.
If you need to release some of the pressure from the milk because you and your baby haven’t gotten into a good routine yet, use a pump. It can reduce the pain and help prevent leaking. And before you know it, your baby will be older and you’ll be at the stage when you start to think about stopping breastfeeding. This is another thing many mothers struggle with, so don’t give up now because soon you won’t want to!
4. Worrying About the Feelings of Others
Don’t curb to embarrassment if you need to breastfeed in public. There will always be people that will try to impose their belief that “it’s inappropriate for a woman to breastfeed in a public place!” Breastfeeding is a totally natural thing. And if you feel uncomfortable, bring a blanket to cover up in public so you can breastfeed in a pinch.
Some women find it very uncomfortable to breastfeed their baby in public. No one says you need to, but there are ways to do it more privately if you don’t want other people seeing your breasts. Many large department stores have changing areas, and some other public places like restaurants often have a chair or little sitting area in the women’s washroom. Take advantage of these to get more privacy when your baby needs to be fed. If you can go somewhere you’re comfortable or position a blanket over yourself while you’re out, there’s nothing else to worry about. How others feel is not your concern.
5. Thinking Breastfeeding Requires an ‘Ideal” Position
Babies are born hungry, which means there is no magic position that’s going to work when all others won’t. The position you cradle your baby in while breastfeeding should be comfy for you and baby. Once your baby learns how to latch on properly and starts nursing well, they’ve found their ideal position – getting the milk – so just make sure you can be comfortable too.
Feedings can take a long time, depending on how old your baby is, how much he or she drinks and how well they are latching on. Nursing shouldn’t be painful (it might be for the first week or so) but it could continue to hurt if your baby doesn’t latch on properly. Break the contact if it hurts and start again. Being uncomfortable could strain your back and arms. If you’re having a hard time finding a comfortable position, you can manipulate your setup by incorporating a nursing pillows and footstool, and even by placing a pillow behind your back for better support and posture.
6. Not Breastfeeding Due to Work
Many women believe they can’t breastfeed once they return to work, which isn’t the case. In fact, a lot of women continue to pump after returning to work for a few years. Some choose to breastfeed when they’re at home in the mornings and evenings, while others resort to just pumping for bottle feeding. There’s no right or wrong about what you decide to do when you go back to work. Whatever decision is best for you, your baby, and your situation is all that matters.
When you go back to work may also affect your decision to continue or stop. If you go back to work quickly but still want to breastfeed, don’t give it up – there’s no need to. Other women feel that the end of a year-long maternity leave is a good time to wean their baby off. It’s up to the breastfeeding mother to decide. So if you aren’t ready to stop breastfeeding, don’t stop just because you think it will get in the way of your work responsibilities—it won’t!
7. Not Including Your Hubby
Sure, men can’t actually breastfeed due to an obvious lack of certain equipment. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your partner part of the experience. It can be important to both you and your partner that they be involved in the feeding process. Dad can support the weight of baby while he or she eats and even take turns with feedings with pumped, bottled milk so he bonds with baby as well. And if your partner is in charge of the next feeding, it’s the perfect opportunity get some rest, take a bath or read a book. Babies are tiring and it’s important that mom stays healthy.
Not only could it be beneficial for your baby to experience being fed by other people – to hopefully reduce how fussy they are when you go out for an evening and someone else has to geed them – but both parents should get time to connect with the baby and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere that’s created when feeding.
8. Giving Into Bullies
Everyone—mother or no—will have their own opinion on if you should breastfeed or use formula, when you should stop breastfeeding, and what the best techniques are for successful breastfeeding. Don’t buy into the judgement of others. It’s no one’s business but your own what you do or don’t do with your baby. And this holds true for not just breastfeeding. Many parents, especially new ones, can feel overwhelmed. As your baby grows, you continue to find your own parenting style and do things that work for you as a family.
Unfortunately, as lot of the bullies that tend to butt in and tell you what to do are usually close friends and family. While many people don’t intend for their ‘advice’ to be rude or cause pressure and stress, it can be really hard to hear it from someone you love. But stick to the decisions that you and your partner make when it comes to the health of you and your baby.
9. You Don’t Have to Stick to a Schedule
Many moms time feedings or try to force baby to eat because of a feeding schedule. Believe me, baby will decide when he or she is finished and let you know when dinner time is. So don’t feel that you have to watch the clock or always stick to a strict feeding schedule. While there are averages for how long feedings take and how often your baby should feed, don’t force something that just isn’t going to work for you and your baby.
Mothers with more than one child know that no child is the same when it comes to breastfeeding. It could be simple with one but not with the other. Finding a routine that works for you and your baby is what you should focus on, not the black and white ideas in a parenting book. Of course, being informed about how to make sure your baby is healthy is important, how you get there just might not be what ‘the book’ or your loved ones say.
10. Giving Up and Switching to Formula
Once you decide to start formula feeding, your milk supply will lessen. So don’t give up or be too hard on yourself. You can start formula feeding at any time you like, but don’t give up on nursing until your sure you want to switch. You should give up breastfeeding because you feel it’s the right time, not because someone else tells you to. There’s no set age that you should or have to stop, so why bother if you aren’t ready?
When you make the decision to switch to formula, you might have to try different combinations of breast milk and formula. For example, some women slowly wean their baby by breastfeeding at night but using formula from a bottle during the day. You don’t have to stop cold turkey or feel bad if you give in and breastfeed. Again, whatever is best for you and your baby is the right decision.