Breastfeeding: Top 8 Mistakes to Avoid
My guest article on “Breastfeeding: Top 8 Mistakes to Avoid” for Today’s Motherhood has been published! View the write-up below or in the Apr/May 2010 issue, pages 12-13.
Read these reviews on some of our favourite breastfeeding ‘tools’:
If you are a Mummy-to-be, what are your concerns regarding breastfeeding?
If you are a breastfeeding Mummy, how did you overcome the obstacles to breastfeeding in the early days?
On my son’s first birthday recently, we also celebrated the first anniversary of our breastfeeding relationship. Breastfeeding provides numerous benefits – healthy for mother and baby, saves money, saves time, is convenient during travels and more. Despite these, many mothers end up supplementing their newborn babies’ diet with formula milk or completely give up breastfeeding in the early days post-partum.
From personal observation, below are the top 8 mistakes that prevent mothers from breastfeeding successfully.
Mistake #1: Not Well-Informed
Are you able to answer these:
- What does the perfect latch-on look like?
- What are a baby’s hunger cues?
- How could you to prevent nipple confusion?
If you are clueless about the above, it is time to read up!
During pregnancy, attend a pre-natal class (preferably with your partner) conducted by a qualified lactation consultant. Learn all you can about breastfeeding and practise various breastfeeding positions. Talk to mothers who successfully breastfed and learn from their experiences. You may also join a breastfeeding support group.
Mistake #2: Not Latching On Directly and Pumping Instead
Breastfeeding baby directly provides the best stimulation for milk production, which is especially important in the first 4 to 6 weeks. During this period, it is not necessary to express the milk to see how much you are producing and determining if it is sufficient. The amount expressed is not indicative of the amount of milk that your body is able to produce.
My boy is able to suckle until the breasts are empty and if he needs more milk, he would continue suckling until milk is produced on the spot. The pump has never been able to do that for me.
Mistake #3: Not Feeding on Demand
Feeding on demand is the most important way to ensure that the milk supply is quickly established in the early days. Your newborn baby needs to be breastfed at least 8 to 12 times round the clock. Do not try to schedule her feeds or watch the clock when she is feeding. Simply latch her on once you notice her early hunger cues, and feed her until she is satisfied.
A newborn who is not crying hysterically finds it easier to learn latching on properly and wait for the let-down reflex. It is also easier to learn cradling her in the correct position.
Mistake #4: Buying a Tin of Formula Milk (Just in case)
Having a tin of formula milk on standby means you are more likely to use it upon facing obstacles or discouragement. People around you are also likely to ‘push’ you into supplementing when they see that your milk has yet to come in. Or worse, they could feed your baby supplement milk without your consent!
A full-term baby has body reserves to survive without any supplement in the first few days. In my case, my milk came in on day 4 and my boy survived well on colostrum before that.
Mistake #5: Feeding Water
A full-term newborn does not need water or any other drink unless medically-necessary. Foremilk (the first part of breastmilk) is thirst-quenching and much more nutritious than water. Water fills your newborn baby’s tiny tummy, she suckles at your breasts less and this leads to less stimulation for milk supply.
Mistake #6: Using Artificial Teats
Babies are very smart and know that it is much easier to get milk from a bottle teat than breastfeed directly. Feeding your newborn with expressed breastmilk (EBM) or water using a bottle teat could lead to nipple confusion and rejection of the real nipple. With less suckling at the breasts, there is less stimulation and less milk supply. If necessary, feed your newborn with a cup, spoon or syringe instead.
Mistake #7: Lack Family, Confinement and Professional Support
Delivery is a tiring process and it is important to have sufficient support to breastfeed successfully. You need a supportive partner who is well-informed about the do’s and don’ts of breastfeeding and help you fend off obstacles.
I personally find it important to also have a pro-breastfeeding obstetrician-gynaecologist, confinement helper, paediatrician and deliver in a pro-breastfeeding hospital.
Mistake #8: Lack Confidence and Determination
Without determination, you would find it hard to continue breastfeeding for long and waver easily when others doubt your ability to supply enough milk for your baby. My friends and I who have successfully breastfed stuck to the belief that we could produce sufficient milk and were determined to breastfeed our babies successfully, whatever it takes.
In short, focus on breastfeeding your newborn directly on demand (at least 8-12 times a day) round the clock, ignore discouragement, and seek advice from a lactation consultant if you need help. Enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding!
Summary: Breastfeeding Success Checklist
- Read up and be well-informed
- Latch on directly for the initial days and weeks, until supply is established
- Feed on demand (at least 8-12 times a day)
- Believe you can supply enough milk for baby (No need for formula milk as back-up)
- Breastmilk contains lots of water plus nutrition. Breastfed babies don’t need water, unless medically necessary
- When feeding supplementary or expressed milk, use spoon, syringe or cup to avoid nipple confusion
- Get as much family, confinement and professional support as possible
- Have confidence in yourself