Guest Blogger Postpartum care

Five Things No one Told you about Breastfeeding: The Reality of the First Month

You’re pregnant and you’ve chosen to try breastfeeding. Good for you— it’s a great choice for you and your baby!

You probably already know that breastfeeding is the biological norm. This is how we have nourished our babies since the dawn of time. Unfortunately, in our western society, moms-to-be are often inundated with misinformation and horror stories as they prepare for breastfeeding. Alternatively, they may be the first in the family to breastfeed and therefore are told NOTHING! In both scenarios, this can derail the plans of even the most dedicated mothers and cause undue early cessation of breastfeeding. We certainly have a lot of barriers to breastfeeding.

We know knowledge is power! Education and support are the keys to a happy and healthy breastfeeding relationship. As IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) in Tampa, our goal is to give you the real scoop so you can go into breastfeeding with an open mind and optimistic view. Here’s what you may not have heard about the first and quite crucial month of breastfeeding.

What Breastfeeding Really Looks Like

There will be no flower garlands, rainbows or butterflies. There may be tears, poop (lots of poop) and likely some frustration and pain. There will be mismatched pajamas, naked time and dark circles. Y’all, this first month is tough! Think of these 4-6 weeks as breastfeeding boot camp. It’s grueling to get through, but (mostly) smooth sailing after this and SO worth it for that bundle of snuggle.

Low Milk Supply is Rare

Low milk supply does happen; don’t get us wrong. However, it is the exception not the norm. There are risk factors for low milk supply and markers for insufficient glandular tissue. A prenatal visit with an IBCLC can prepare you and set your expectations for the likelihood of your supply. Also, keep in mind that most babies will lose weight in the first days of life, but regain it by 10-14 days. After that, babies gain on average about 1 ounce per day. If your baby is gaining well, having wet and dirty diapers, and is happy and thriving, then it is likely not a supply issue. This first month lays down the foundation for breastfeeding another month or even another year.

Sleep is NOT a Milestone

Babies need to feed frequently in the first month of life. This may look like 12 times in 24 hours! If you do the math, this does not equate to a lot of sleep for you. In between diaper changes, rocking and shushing, feedings, and caring for you and your home, your sleep will likely become more of a nap routine than the uninterrupted luscious sleep of your pre-parent life. Rest assured (no pun intended) that your baby’s sleep routine is normal. There is no need from their perspective to attempt to adjust it. That being said, the literature does suggest that lack of sleep can be a risk factor for postpartum mood and anxiety disorder (PPMAD), so reach out if you need help adjusting and getting more rest. Your mental health will thank you!

Babies Don’t Nipple Feed

It’s not uncommon for new parents in Tampa to have never seen breastfeeding in action. Stop and think. Can you remember seeing breastfeeding as a child or even now as an adult? With this in mind, this behavior can be entirely foreign, which is why a new mother may attempt to breastfeed by offering her nipple instead of her areola and nipple. The milk comes from the nipple after all. It’s a quite logical thought process. Instead, offer more of your breast tissue by shaping the breast in what we call a C-hold. This allows for a more comfortable and deep latch and more milk for your baby.

We All Need Help

Maybe you need a little help from your own mother. Maybe you’ll call a volunteer La Leche League leader. The reality is none of us do this alone. During this first month, especially, we encourage you to develop and lean on your support team for everything from breastfeeding to housekeeping. Consider a postpartum doula because they are fabulous. And definitely consider an IBCLC for hands-on clinical and comprehensive lactation support. Bottom line: we want you to focus solely on your baby and let others pick up the slack everywhere else. Want to learn more about us? Ready to book your lactation consultation? Visit Tampa Breastfeeding Center’s website or call/text us at (813) 892-8990.

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