Supply and demand. Tiny tummies. Peer pressure to formula feed. Crying baby. Supply and demand. Tiny tummies. Peer pressure to formula feed. Crying baby. Screaming baby. Crying mommy. Screaming baby.
Remember this always: What matters most is WET DIAPERS, and WEIGHT GAIN in the early weeks. I want to keep this post SIMPLE because as a new mom you have enough to do. So hear me when I say:
- A crying baby is okay. It doesn’t mean you’re not making enough milk!
- A painful latch is NOT okay and you should consult with your midwife or a local La Leche League chapter to determine how to fix your problem (think positioning, tongue tie, oversupply etc).
- Nursing frequently and for short intervals is okay. Read: sometimes every 30-45 minutes from the START of your last feed…which could mean you just finished 15 minutes ago…this is OKAY!
- The more your baby stimulates your nipples, the more milk your body will produce. It’s a feedback system. If you supplement with a bottle and babe doesn’t suckle at your breast, your body is told “Okay ladies! We don’t need to make as much, the little one isn’t eating from us!”
- Soft, empty feeling breasts DO NOT indicate no milk or low milk. Your breasts may feel incredibly full when your milk comes in or they may not! What matters? WET DIAPERS and WEIGHT GAIN.
- Milk doesn’t come in on day one. At first your baby has the teeniest of tummies and eats from your breast what we call colostrum. Don’t worry, it’s small amounts and it’s enough for baby (provided good latch, wet diapers, weight gain!). It can take up to four days for your milk to come in! This is OKAY! Day 1 or 2 your babe will fill up on 2-20ml (TWO!!!! to TWENTY!!!! what a variation! Your baby’s tummy is the size of a cherry. They eat often and small amounts.
It is normal for breastfed infants to lose 10% or more of their body weight at birth and over the next few days and it may take some time (a couple weeks or more) to gain it back. Latching your infant shouldn’t be painful, it may be uncomfortable as you get the hang of it but it shouldn’t be painful!
In those early days – that constantly crying baby (or evening cryer) may make you feel like something is wrong. Check these things: Is latch pain-free? Is baby producing wet diapers? Is baby gaining weight in the first week? If the answer is yes to these questions, you are doing great and there is likely NO need to supplement with formula. If your latch is painful, your baby not gaining weight, and not producing wet diapers – you need to check in with your doctor. Dehydration can happen quickly in newborns so please if you have any concerns do not hesitate to drive to your doctor or emerge if you believe your baby is in danger. But otherwise…get topless, go skin to skin with your babe, and find support to help you through your breastfeeding journey.
Maverick and I struggled day in day out for a while until I found my support. We had a poor latch, I had oversupply large breasts and nipples that were difficult for him to handle at first, and I had no idea what to do. Luckily, a lactation nurse in the hospital helped me express colostrum and feed him from a cup (and he ate drops at first). The poor guy was so tired from our 28 hour labor he could barely stay up. My sister in law and midwife helped me with latch at home, I learned new positions to feed him in, I learned how to keep my supply from choking him (YES it was that powerful) and we worked on it. But when cluster feeding hits – it was a whole new ball game. I sat crying in my kitchen with a leaking hard breast on my left side, and a bottle of formula in my right hand wondering what was wrong with me and why he was crying. Well – cluster feeding is a whole other post and if you can’t wait for mine, please read Kelly Mom’s take on it! PS. your breast may literally be larger than your baby’s head – that’s okay
Empty breasts are good breasts – get a good latch that empties you well so your body is told “WE NEED MORE! MAKE MORE MILK!”. So many times I hated feeling by breasts were empty because I wanted them to be full like bottles. Our bodies are incredible – they can make on demand. But your breasts need to be emptied to tell your body to make more and more and MORE
#KeepOnBoobin’ my friends!