"I thought breastfeeding would be easy because it's how our species has survived for like, forever. How hard could it be if a baby's survival depended on it? It didn't take me long--a day or two--to figure out how dangerous that thinking was."
Yes, breastfeeding is natural. Yes, it’s normal.
But you probably had more education on getting your period than feeding a baby. You have every month to learn about your period and nobody is going to die of starvation if you don’t. And breastfeeding? You and your baby have two or three wobbly days to figure it out before doctors start pushing supplementation and using words like "no milk', ‘failure to thrive', ‘dehydration’ and ‘brain damage’.
Most parents have heard about hind milk and the elusive “good latch”? But what are they and why are they important? Most importantly, "How do you get them?"
Many mothers stop breastfeeding in the first few months simply because they truly don't know what normal breastfeeding is like. Today's moms have all of Google and modern medicine at their fingertips, yet they still lack knowledge, experience and education in breastfeeding.
Moms mostly fear not making enough milk.
Because people don’t know how human milk is made, they get scared, and do things that tank their milk supply. They wait until their breasts fill up with milk before they feed which signals the body to make less milk. They supplement with formula. With each ounce of formula fed to the baby, the mom's breasts make one ounce less milk. They try pumping and because they've never pumped before, not much milk comes out. This leads to a panic, which decreases their milk flow, leading to a cranky baby.
Some of these mothers start to pump a lot and then find they have too much milk, along with plugged ducts and mastitis. They are uncomfortably full all the time. Their babies gag and sputter with feeds.
Babies cry for a hundred reasons
Not just because you don’t have enough milk! The sad thing is when many moms interpret all cries as "My baby is starving. I must not have enough milk."
Babies cry for hunger and thirst. They cry because they are too hot or too cold. It’s too bright or too loud. They are lonely, upset or bored and more. Breastfeeding fixes everything except an overfull tummy and a dirty diaper. But, nobody explains it that way.
How DO you know if your baby is starving? When do you need help?
There's an easy way to really know if your baby is starving. Weigh them. If your baby is staying on their growth curve, they are getting enough milk. They are crying because they need something else.
If they are not gaining enough weight, that's a solid sign that you need help with breastfeeding. You may need to supplement, but start first with figuring out why baby isn't gaining before you supplement.
Moms learn through experience that breastfeeding in the first 4-6 weeks is very different from breastfeeding at 4-6 months. You might have heard it gets faster, easier or better, but in the early weeks when you are going through non-stop feeding, you may not have a way to believe that.
When informed consent isn't informed.