19 Most Common Breastfeeding Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Breastfeeding may look like a most natural and intuitive process but doesn’t come naturally to first time moms. Learn 19 most common breastfeeding mistakes that new moms make plus how to fix them.

19-most-common-breastfeeding-mistakes

One would assume, something that is so natural should be easy enough to do, but for many new moms, that isn’t a case. In fact, for some women, breastfeeding is the most challenging process. Despite their desire to continue, they quit prematurely due to issues that occur during their breastfeeding journey.

The most important thing to remember about breastfeeding is that it’s a learned process and doesn’t necessarily come naturally to some mom and -their babies. You can read every single book about breastfeeding available on amazon, but still your situation could be different from everybody else’s. Unfortunately, there isn’t one-size-fit-all manual for breastfeeding. You will have to rely on your own motherly instinct when breastfeeding mistake happens.

Whether it’s from a lack of an education on breastfeeding or you receive a ‘free’ advice on breastfeeding from people around you, its easy to make a mistake. However, recognizing what type of common breastfeeding mistakes can occur and how to fix them, can prepare you for a happier and successful breastfeeding journey for you and your baby.

During my breastfeeding journeys (twice- 8 years apart) I have encountered so many issues that could affect breastfeeding. With my own research, experimentation and help from a lactation consultant, I was able to successfully breastfeed both my babies for 1.5 year.

To put you and your baby on a right path of breastfeeding success, here’re 19 most common breastfeeding mistake that real moms have made and how to fix them.


 

1. Pushing through the Pain

Some amount of pain is certainly expected when you are breastfeeding in the first few days. However, after few days, you shouldn’t feel pain. If you feel actual pain, cracking, bleeding, or bruising, then its not normal. Once you find out perfect system that works for you and your baby, breastfeeding should be painless.

If breastfeeding is painful for you, then try to figure out what’s causing it to get rid of pain.

Nipple pain or soreness can indicate that your baby is not latching on correctly. Trying to breastfeed a baby “through the Pain” will only result in a still-hungry baby and a damaged nipple.

If your baby is not latched on properly, break the suction by inserting your clean finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth, remove baby from a breast and try again.

Poor latch could also be caused by baby’s tongue-tie. If you are not able to achieve good latch yourself, get a help from lactation consultant to pinpoint and correct the cause.

If you are feeling pain in your breast- throbbing, burning sensation than you may be experiencing vasospasms. It is also caused by compression due to tight latch.

Whatever reason of pain could be, but never ignore it. Pain due to poor latch indicate that your baby is not draining your breast completely and could lead to blocked milk ducts and potentially mastitis. Read here to learn about how to treat blocked milk ducts naturally.

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2. Thinking Latch is more Important than Position

Not only latch but position of your baby is also important. If your baby is poorly positioned, it will be hard to achieve a good latch. Pick the breastfeeding position that work for you and your baby, regardless of what your nurse suggested you.

Use a nursing pillow to support your baby so you don’t have to lean to bring breast to your baby’s mouth. Your comfort while breastfeeding is also important, so make sure to get a supporting pillow for your back.

Related Reading : Breastfeeding in the first few days : Make it a positive experience

3. Scheduling Feeds

Babies should be fed when hungry. The moms who thinks they have to feed on schedule are making  a mistake. Especially during first few weeks after birth, when you are building your milk supply, feed your baby whenever they are hungry without looking at the clock.

Keeping baby on a schedule can be very frustrating for your baby and it can actually decrease your milk supply and lower your milk’s fat content.

4. Not Continuing taking Prenatal Vitamins

Breastfeeding moms burns 300-500 calories a day, just by breastfeeding their babies. Your body is doing hard work to produce milk. It is very important to replenish your body with enough calories and water every day when breastfeeding. Also, taking prenatal vitamin is important too.

Ideally, you should continue taking prenatal vitamins until you breastfeed your baby. You are still growing baby outside. Breast milk is all the nutrition your babies need. The breastfeeding Coalition of Washington recommends continuing prenatal vitamins to ensure you get enough nutrients to compensate for nutrient missing in your diet.

When I was breastfeeding, I switched to this Postnatal vitamins, optimized specifically for lactating mothers. In addition to providing 100% of essential vitamins and minerals, it also contains fenugreek to help promote your milk production.

5. Thinking Baby Isn’t Getting Enough Milk

Frequent feeding usually every 1.5-2 hours or baby crying constantly may make many moms think that their baby is not getting enough milk and they start supplementing when they don’t need to.

You have to recognize that; baby’s tummy is size of a walnut and it holds amount of liquid that can only last 2 hours or less. Fussiness or crying can have so many reasons other than hunger. Trust your instinct and learn signs that your baby is getting enough milk- baby’s weight gain and 5-6 wet diapers. Rule of thumb is feed your baby when they are hungry and you will be fine.

6. Thinking Your Milk Supply is Low

This is the most common mistake breastfeeding mothers makes by thinking that their milk supply is low and start supplementing with formula. In fact, one research study showed that 60% of women who started breastfeeding, stopped within first few months. One of the reasons of not continuing breastfeeding being worry about their low milk supply.

Often time, their milk supply is just fine and introducing formula can decrease your current milk supply. If you really think your milk supply is low, there are plenty of natural remedies to increase your milk supply. If you doubt that your milk supply is low, contact your lactation consultant and they will guide you through best course of action. Read here to learn about how to increase milk supply naturally.

7. Judging Milk Supply based on Pumping Output

A lot of nursing moms judge their milk supply based on amount of milk they pump using breast pump. It is definitely a mistake.

Pumping output depends on of so many factors including type of pump used and your efficiency of using pump. Also, baby extracts milk from breast more efficiently than any breast pump. So, you’re pumping output is NOT proper indication of your milk supply.

If you think you are dealing with low milk supply, reach out to lactation consultant. If your baby is gaining weight and has 5-6 wet diapers a day, then you are making enough milk.

8. Thinking ‘No Leaking’ means ‘No Milk’

Milk leaking usually occurs when your breast milk first come in. Once your baby acquires a feeding routine around 6-12 weeks, leaking stops. This does not mean your milk supply is low, rather your body has figured out how much milk to make and when to make it.
Related Reading : Breastfeeding in the first few days : Make it a positive experience

9. Skipping Feeding or Pumping Session

Specifically, when you are building your milk supply, never miss feeding session or pumping session to replace the missed feeding. In order to make more milk, you need to remove more milk. If you skip feeding or pumping session, your body will make that much amount of milk less.

10. Extracting Too much Milk when Pumping

The amount of milk removed from the breasts is equally proportional to amount of milk produced by body. Therefore, extracting too much milk when pumping is a mistake.

This will lead to unnecessary breast fullness that baby will not be able to eat. Inadequate drainage of breast milk may lead to blocked milk duct and potentially mastitis.

11. Relying on Lactation Boosting Supplements

Relying on lactation boosting supplements to increase a milk supply is a big mistake when you are not efficiently extracting milk from your body. Reason being body gets a signal to make more milk when removal of milk is efficient and enough. If you address the milk removal issue first, then supply issue will resolve itself.

Sure, lactation booting supplements and food, do their job but first you need to address the real problem. Work with your lactation consultant to fix latch issue or pumping issue and your supply with increase in no time.

12. Introducing Pacifier or Bottle too Early

10-most- common- breastfeeding-mistake

Another common mistake that mothers make when it comes to breastfeeding is introducing bottle or a pacifier too early. You should be avoiding bottle or a pacifier until your breastfeeding is well established.

If you introduce bottle too early, your baby may prefer bottle over your breast, as milk flow in bottle is much faster than breast. Introduction of pacifier during early weeks may create a nipple confusion for baby and it may reduce your milk supply as your baby will spend less time at breast.

13. Unnecessarily Cutting things Out of Your Diet

Unless your baby has allergies or sensitivities to certain foods, there is no need to cut thing out of your diet. You can eat whatever you want. Actually, I was eating whatever I want and whenever I was hungry guiltlessly when I was breastfeeding my babies. Eating wide variety of food causes a slight change in taste of breast milk, preparing baby for diet of the family (source).

14. Avoiding Breastfeeding when Sick

Most common questions I see on breastfeeding support groups is- Should I stop breastfeeding when I am sick or have cough and cold? Mama often stops breastfeeding when they are sick, because they don’t want to pass on infection to baby. This is definitely a mistake.

You should continue breastfeeding when sick, because you will pass antibodies against your illness to your baby through breastmilk. So, even if they caught your infection, they will recover quicker with antibodies received from you.

15. Not Taking Care of Yourself

You have been through long pregnancy, labor and delivery, your body needs rest and time to recover. No matter what you do, first few months with baby is exhausting and tiring. To keep your sanity during this time, you need to rest whenever you can.

A newborn needing constant attention and postpartum body aches and pain, make some mamas so tired and overwhelmed that they ignore eating and drinking. The most common mistake of ignoring eating, drinking and rest can go against your milk supply. So find a time to eat, drink plenty of water and most importantly sleep when your baby is asleep.

To catch up on your sleep, you can practice safe co-sleeping with a baby. I used this lightweight DockATot Delux-All in one baby lounger for first 1-3 months and then switched to Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer Bassinet & Bedside Sleeper this one for 3-7 months. Both are very comfy and safe for your baby. This way, you can breastfeed your baby without getting up and you don’t need to worry about putting them into a crib.

16. Ignoring Maternal Stress

Between lack of sleep and adjusting to baby’s schedule, it can get very stressful, specially for first time mothers. Maternal stress or anxiety can interfere with the let-down and can cause less milk production.

A research study published in 2015, indicates that Stress while breastfeeding can reduce supply and reduce the IgA immunoglobulin -antibodies passed from mother to baby- affecting the immune property of breast milk.

Ignoring maternal stress is definitely a mistake. If you are experiencing a stress, talk to your loved ones, go out for a walk, take a break from baby duty or watch some TV. But do know your limit. If you are stressed for longer duration of time, you do not have to go through it alone. Talk to your health care professional. They will guide you through helpful resources.

Related Reading : Breastfeeding in the first few days : Make it a positive experience

Related Reading : The First month with newborn: How to survive emotionally and physically.

17. Thinking All Hope Is Lost

It is common for mama to make a mistake of thinking that all hope is lost just because breastfeeding didn’t go as planned and they had to supplement. Don’t lose your hope, mama! You can work through anything with right support. So reach out to a lactation consultant and they will guide you through a right path with right tools.

18. Not Asking for Help

To make milk is natural, but breastfeeding is a learned process and doesn’t come naturally to some mamas and their babies. So, If you are having a breastfeeding issues- baby not latching on, pain while breastfeeding- you do no have to figure out all by yourself.

Ask for a help from lactation consultant. They will provide valuable support to make breastfeeding easy for you and your baby.

More importantly, ask for a help with everyday task, so you can focus on breastfeeding and postpartum recovery.

19. Not Equipped with Enough Information

If you have decided that you want to breastfeed exclusively, then why not gather enough information about breastfeeding to get a head start.

The “natural” word in breastfeeding has set wrong mind set for first -time mothers. Thinking that breastfeeding is piece of cake – ‘open your button and latch on’- and not being equipped with enough information and essentials gets you in trouble when you actually breastfeed your baby. There are so many issues that can hinder your breastfeeding success.

Knowing what to expect and how to- can build your confidence and prepare you to tackle any issues that may arise during your breastfeeding journey.

19-most-common-breastfeeding-mistake

I prepared myself for my breastfeeding journey by taking this 90-minute online class taught by board certified lactation consultant. From how your milk production works to latching and breastfeeding position to how to deal with common breastfeeding issues, this course has it all. This course will prepare you to head start your breastfeeding journey to success!

What about you?

Did I miss any common breastfeeding mistake that mom makes when breastfeeding? Leave your comment below.

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3 thoughts on “19 Most Common Breastfeeding Mistakes and How to Fix Them”

  1. Thank you for the very informative article. ‘No leak no milk’ is biggy. As soon as I stopped leaking, I was doubting myself about my milk supply. Fortunately I didn’t quit and kept going. It it’s easy to fall for this one. Great list. Every breastfeeding mother should read this. Thank you

    Reply
  2. Very detailed informative article. I am 1 month postpartum. I really want to breastfeed my baby. But I am not making enough milk. I read this article to see what mistake I am making. I think my baby is latching for properly and I am pumping as well but still not working. I feel like I don’t have enough milk and about to give up. Do you have any tips for me?

    Reply

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