Breastfeeding - The Unspoken Truths

Posted by Stacey on 10/23/2012 to Breast Feeding

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my babies. What I didnít know was that the choice came with some surprises. After nursing three very different babies, consulting with 3 different lactation consultants and utilizing tons of other resources, I realized that breastfeeding education and promotion is missing some very important information. I feel like itís my duty to share some of the unspoken truths about breastfeeding in the hopes that women will be more prepared, and less likely to freak out and throw in the towel.

Look at this confident, happy and relaxed mom nursing her baby. For some women, this is what breastfeeding looks like. This image is NOT what breastfeeding is like for most women but this is what society tells us it should be. No wonder so many momís give it up or donít try it at all.

They say it wonít hurt unless you have a bad latch.

This is a lie. It hurts at first no matter how you do it and it just hurts less if your baby has a great latch. All I will say is, for the first few weeks and especially for the initial latch, brace yourself. Youíll see what I mean. Getting through the first month is the hardest part. After that, it gets SO much more comfortable.

Brand new baby = tiny mouth = tiny latch = ouch

Even a wide open newborn mouth is small. Most donít open big enough for a good latch and you will find that adjusting a latch is less painful than starting over. My oldest son had the cutest little tucked chin and dimpleÖwhich made breastfeeding very painful. He never really latched properly but I managed to ďfixĒ it enough so it was a little less torturous. I ended up breastfeeding him for 6 months and finding a nice balance between breastfeeding and supplementing.

Jaundice? Yes.

Jaundice is very common in breastfed newborns for two reasons. One, it takes a few days for milk to come in and feeding is what flushes the bilirubin out of the newborn's system. Two, breast milk has a component that makes the elimination of bilirubin happen more slowly. Most of the time, Jaundice clears up on its own once milk comes in with no medical intervention needed. In the meantime, you might be encouraged to supplement with formula or give your baby photo therapy (non-invasive light therapy for jaundice). Supplementing does not mean the end of breastfeeding so donít let it discourage you. All women who plan to breastfeed should prepare to deal with Jaundice, even in a full term infant.

Weight Gain

All babies lose about 7% of their birth weight in the first few days of life. The American Pediatric Association standard is that babies should return to their birth weight by 2 weeks. This is very possible for formula fed babies but breastfed babies usually gain their weight back a little more slowly. Babies are not robots and they are all different. Full fledged breast milk takes a few days to come in which is ok; babies just need colostrum in those first 72 hours or so. Colostrum is magical stuff but it doesnít do much for putting weight on a baby! If you are going to breastfeed exclusively, be prepared to go in for weight checks frequently during the first few weeks. Even a doctor who advocates breastfeeding will want to make sure that the baby is gaining weight, even if itís not at the formulated rate. Donít be afraid to trust your instincts and your body. There are very few cases where a mother doesnít make enough milk for their baby. It took me having 3 kids to really believe this!

What were some things that surprised you about breastfeeding?

Comments

Date 10/23/2012
Jorjie Hughes-Findley
It HURT was a big one after that I think the next biggest surprise was how much easier it got after 3 weeks. 3rd how discouraging the medical professionals were about EBFing. It is important to know your options and know what is normal so when a peds office or LC are telling you something you know what is medically necessary and what is simply their opinion. If you know you will be BF check in to delayed cord clamping. I credit it for my DD leaving the hospital at her full birth weight after 2 d
Date 10/24/2012
mommy
I breast fed my sonfor six months and am now breast feeding my daughter. she is 10 months. its true about it hurting at first, but it only lasted about a week and a half, and I had NO pain bf my daughter. But what surprised me was how two kids from the same parents could be so different. They both gained weight differently while breast feeding. Also with my daughter, I learned that bf babies dont always have regular bowel movements. My daughter went 3 weeks without pooping from 6wks to 9 wks of
Date 10/24/2012
Kate C
My biggest surprise was that it didn't come naturally to us. I knew it might not be instantly easy, but I never thought I'd find myself in horrible pain 8 weeks in. Semi-flat nipples. Baby with a small mouth and a high pallet. We used nipple shields for weeks, which made me so depressed. Washing them every time, having the baby scream while I took the extra time to get them on when she was hungry, finally getting all set only to have her flail and pull it off, dripping milk all over when I took
Date 10/24/2012
mommy
I breast fed my sonfor six months and am now breast feeding my daughter. she is 10 months. its true about it hurting at first, but it only lasted about a week and a half, and I had NO pain bf my daughter. But what surprised me was how two kids from the same parents could be so different. They both gained weight differently while breast feeding. Also with my daughter, I learned that bf babies dont always have regular bowel movements. My daughter went 3 weeks without pooping from 6wks to 9 wks of
Date 10/24/2012
Nicole Peerson
I breastfed my first until 13 months then 9 months later my daughter was born and one of my first thoughts was "her mouth is so tiny! How will she latch on?!" Haha, so it definitely hurts at first, but then gets so much easier after 2 to 3 weeks. Also, co-sleeping has made night feedings way easier and I am more well rested this second time around thanks to that.
Date 10/24/2012
Karen C.
number 4, he got photo therapy and the pediatrician pushed formula. Perhaps I am just stubborn, but I trusted that we would get through this without doing any supplementing. Yes, I had one grueling night of pumping and nursing a sleepy baby (jaundice makes babies more sleepy and less eager to feed), but with that I got my milk to come in and for his levels to stabilize. Perhaps jaundice is what is "normal" but we have a skewed view due to formula standards. I have nevr had an issue with my babi
Date 10/24/2012
Karen C.
babies not returning to birth weight, but I think that you have to trust yourself and realize that if you want to breast feed exclusively that feeding formula gets in the way of your goals. Oh and the engorgement when your milk comes in is really something...aching porn star boobs. Taking a hot shower can really help a lot.
Date 10/24/2012
Kate C
(continued from above) I took the shield off. I finally got her off it at 5 weeks, only to relearn how to latch. Finally at 8 weeks I saw a good consultant and we worked out our issues. Now it's a piece of cake. But I never, ever thought our first two months would be like that and I can see why some woman can keep it up.
Date 10/24/2012
Karen C.
Always ask in the hospital to have the lactation consultant visit you. The nurses are good at helping with breast feeding, but the lc is better. I just had my 4th child and have over 8 years breast feeding experience under my bra, but I still asked for help to make sue that we had a good latch. I may now what I am doing, but baby didn't. Also, with regard to jaundice, I am pretty sure that my first three had some jaundice, but it clearly wasn't so problematic that anything was done, but with num
Date 10/24/2012
Rachael Helwig
I breastfed our son one year with a lot of pain at first and at the end. when the twins were born I was expecting a similar experience, but I've had very little pain. They are 11months now and still nursing :) I never would have guest nursing two to be a much more enjoyable, easier, and nearly pain free then nursing one.
Date 10/25/2012
Katherine Morrissey
I think what this post offers is that, the image projects a calm and peaceful experience. The thing is it should be. Women who aren't experiencing this should qu and seek help and do as much to educate themselves on breastfeeding. you should have a support network, so that if issues arise you have somewhere to go for help so that it becomes this image. I was very fortunate to have found the La Leche League in my area as that support. If group meetings aren't your thing then they can give emai
Date 10/25/2012
Katherine Morrissey
I think what this post offers is that, the image projects a calm and peaceful experience. The thing is it should be. Women who aren't experiencing this should qu and seek help and do as much to educate themselves on breastfeeding. you should have a support network, so that if issues arise you have somewhere to go for help so that it becomes this image. I was very fortunate to have found the La Leche League in my area as that support. If group meetings aren't your thing then they can give emai
Date 9/26/2013
Mary S
We're having issues right now at 9 months. It's reassuring to hear that women have trouble.
Date 12/11/2013
Charity B
Wish I had read something like this when my daughter was born. I hated breastfeeding for the first few weeks because I thought I was doing it wrong.
Date 2/8/2014
Jennifer
Great information, thank you! I'm planning on EBF and it's nice to hear the truth.
Date 3/9/2014
Kaycie K
It's nice to hear somebody give an honest perspective. I didn't know that it always hurts and that the baby is most likely to get jaundice. This isn't deterring me from breastfeeding, but it's nice to be prepared so it isn't a shock later. Thank you :)
Date 5/25/2014
Sara Walden
I loved breastfeeding my little guys :)

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