For some women, it seems breastfeeding is simple, clear, and obvious. But for others, every day they make it is a victory, each drop is a struggle, and the act itself becomes fraught with images of failure, sadness, and tons of tears and frustration.
Laila Ali, new mom to her second child, a daughter, told People that she made a huge mistake with her son when she pumped a bottle early on so her husband could feed the baby. After that, he preferred bottles, so she had to pump them the whole first year.
There are a few reasons a woman can't breastfeed, but the vast majority are able to do it and succeed at it. The problem is, a lot of people don't know that much about the act, thinking it's natural and will come to them or that someone will teach them in the hospital. While they do help you learn a bit, the secrets and mistakes are all things no one teaches you unless you read a book or two.
So, here are the 10 Biggest Mistakes of Breastfeeding:
- Not asking for help: Breastfeeding is natural and the most basic way to feed your baby, but it isn't easy for many women. Lactation consultants exist for a reason. If you can't afford to pay a lactation consultant, then ask mom friends who have been through it. They will have tips on increasing supply, soothing sore nipples, making sure baby has had enough, and all the other questions you may have. They've been there, too.
- Assuming you don't have enough milk: Your breasts are designed to feed your baby. Don't get paranoid and give up because it seems like your baby is so hungry. Babies are so hungry. Their main job is to eat. And eat. And eat. And eat.
- Being scared in public: Don't worry too much about the prudes and judgy folks who don't like moms who nurse in public. If it really bothers you, buy a cover. But don't assume that they -- and their prude-y judgemental crap -- are correct. They aren't. You are. Be confident in that.
- Thinking you can't because you work: I was lucky enough to nurse both my babies for one year and 2.5 years while I was home with them, but many, many working moms are able to make breastfeeding work by pumping and bringing home bottles. It works and women everywhere are doing it.
- Wanting to "include" dad: By all means, include dad. Let him hold the baby or bring him/her to you to nurse. But only mom can make breast milk and it's the best thing for the baby. Don't fall into the formula trap because dad wants to feel "part of it all." Your milk supply will dwindle and you won't make it.
- Not teaching your husband: Just because dad can't do it himself doesn't mean he can't be part of it at all. My husband kept detailed charts of when our baby ate, slept, and pooped and they helped a lot at each of her doctor's appointments. And helped me keep track of which boob was which when I was exhausted and sleep-deprived.
- Being bullied: There are naysayers everywhere. You will be told he is too old to breastfeed (at seven months), that your daughter isn't in the 99th percentile, so she isn't getting enough food, and that it's obscene and will wreck your boobs. Don't listen. For breastfeeding to work, you need to do it and you need to do it often. Others will say what they want. Your job is to ignore them.
- Forget it's for you, too: Babies aren't the only ones who win with breastfeeding. Mom also gets the benefit of a flat tummy and some protection from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis later in life. It's a win all around!
- Relying on the clock: The clock isn't what tells you the baby is done. He or she is. I made this mistake early on and ended up with a low supply with my first. This forced me to take Fenugreek, wake up even while she was sleeping to pump, and do all kinds of things to fix the supply issues I'd set up from the beginning. It's easy to avoid. Just don't watch the clock.
- Giving formula too soon: If you give formula too early, your supply will dwindle. In those first six weeks, try not to give up on nursing too quickly. Then your supply will be strong and you can do what you choose.
What were your biggest nursing mistakes?
Image via sdminor81/Flickr