So far in this series, we’ve discussed how what you do in pregnancy, labor, and immediate hours after your baby is born can affect your breastfeeding relationship. Today we’re going to discuss the sabotage you may come across in your fourth trimester (the first three months after your baby is born) and for the rest of your breastfeeding relationship.
Having a Colorado Lactation Consultant come visit you in the hospital is very important, but what if everything is fine while you’re there? If you are being told, “you guys are doing great.” “Baby nurses like a champ” then when you come across a problem at home or something changes, you don’t have someone knowledgeable standing there to help you make immediate corrections…
In this scenario, because things were going well, you may not have actually learned HOW to get a good latch so when problems arise once you’re home you don’t know how to fix them. If you have a postpartum doula, they can help you solve the problem right away, before it gets worse.
What if your postpartum doula isn’t on shift when you begin having issues? What if you haven’t hired one? What most often happens is that friends and family or others with newborns tell you to just give the baby a bottle, give yourself a rest, and give the baby a little formula to “top them off”. They genuinely think they are helping, but often times they are inadvertently causing more problems leading to a drop in your supply or nipple confusion (which is actually just a preference for the bottle) for the baby.
For every single swallow of formula you give your baby, you are telling your body it does not need to make milk. The more you do that, the more your body will NOT make milk at that time and the less supply you have, until eventually, you are giving more and more formula than breast milk.
THIS is part of the reason why SO MANY say they “didn’t make enough milk” While there are a handful of valid medical reasons that this could happen, they are very rare. It’s not that human bodies suddenly don’t know how to work and feed their babies after all these years. Misinformation and technology have gotten in the way. Too many people are being told they are broken, or that there is an “easier” way. Untrained (in breastfeeding) medical professionals, friends, and family make us all think we are the exception to the rule, and rather than help find solutions to the problems, formula feeding is given as the way to get out of the problem.
The best way to avoid this breastfeeding sabotage is to get help from trained professionals and friends and family who have succeeded in their breastfeeding goals.
Success is the key. Taking advice from someone sharing your same struggles or from someone who did not experience success in breastfeeding can cause more problems than solutions. Note that succeeding in breastfeeding goals is subjective. Success to some might mean 6 months or less. Success to you may mean full-term, toddler-lead weaning. Before you take advice about breastfeeding from anyone, ask these questions:
- Are you trained to help me learn to breastfeed?
- Do you stay current on the most up-to-date information regarding breastfeeding?
- How long did you breastfeed?
- Did you make it to a year or more?
- Was that a personal choice or was that because you stopped producing?
The nursing relationship is a complex system of hormones and nerve endings that, when interrupted can tell your body not to make milk. Ask your Doula, ask Breastfeeding Counselors, and ask Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). These are the people who have dedicated their lives and careers to educating and encouraging full-term breastfeeding. Getting help and advice from a trained professional is the most important thing you can do to avoid breastfeeding sabotage.
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