New Delhi, Aug 10 Aug 11 : Breastfeeding is easy for some mothers difficult for others. Each mother infant breastfeeding journey is unique. As a lactation consultant I have seen many mothers making the same mistakes again and again.
They try to find solutions in a similar manner as well. Knowing some common breastfeeding mistakes and how to avoid them can give you the best chance at a happy, successful breastfeeding journey.
Mistake 1: NOT ASKING FOR HELP
It is said that breastfeeding is easy, natural and instinctive but for some it is stressful, complicated and difficult. Breastfeeding is a skill similar to cycling or swimming. It can be learned, practiced and perfected. It is normal to make mistakes while you and your baby are learning to breastfeed. But not asking for help further aggravates the situation. You may turn to your relatives and friends for suggestions and tips. They may be able to provide you some help based on their experience.
Online support groups and YouTube videos may also give you some solutions. However it is recommended to consult a lactation expert to sort out your lactation related issues. Lactation Expert will find the exact underlying cause for your problem and then will offer solution. Seek timely help. Many mothers ask for help at later stages when simple issues have become more complicated requiring more intense treatment or too late to be resolved.
MISTAKE 2: PAIN IS NORMAL
It is a common mistake to think that pain during nursing is normal and expected. Feeling some pain or discomfort initially when you started breastfeeding is absolutely normal but it should not be continuous or prolonged. Mothers must realize that breastfeeding is painless. To resolve pain first find actual cause and then find solution. It could be poor latch, breast engorgement, wrong breastfeeding position or may be a tongue tie. Also remember breastfeeding is a partnership between mother and baby. The problem could be because of either of them. So don’t feel guilty.
MISTAKE 3: NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF
It is very important to take care of yourself while breastfeeding. Lactating mothers need to understand that their health affects breastfeeding patterns. In order to have continued milk production, your body takes nutrients from the bones, blood and muscles. If mothers fail to eat right their store will start depleting. New mothers do not get the recommended 8 hours of sleep during the first year of child birth. Lack of sleep coupled with deficient nutrition and inadequate hydration will make mothers lethargic. You may also be emotionally and mentally drained and likely to fall sick which may impact the newborn care. Be a little selfish take care of yourself along with caring for baby. A healthy mother will be able to give a healthy feed to the baby.
MISTAKE 4: INTRODUCING THE BOTTLE TOO EARLY
One of the most common mistakes is giving the bottle or pacifiers to babies too early. Mothers tend to offer bottle feed under peer or family pressure. A working mother typically starts bottle early as she has to join back thinking baby may not accept bottle later. Many mothers bottle feed for convenience and comfort. Giving the bottle before successfully establishing breastfeeding is not advisable. Babies find sucking at bottle easier and may sometimes refuse to suckle the breast. This may also lead to nipple confusion. The milk supply may go down all together.
If you are planning to return to work and if you feel the need to supplement your baby with bottle feed introduce bottle at 6-8 weeks and not before that. Offer only 1 or 2 bottles each day. Give the baby your own expressed milk each time you bottle feed. Always hold the baby close to your body. Feeding times are also bonding times. Breastfeeding provides nutritional as well as emotional security to the baby since baby remains in skin to skin touch while directly feeding from mother.
MISTAKE 5: FORMULA MILK IS THE SAME AS BREAST MILK
This is the biggest mistake of all and is completely false. New mothers need to understand that breastmilk is a living and a dynamic fluid. Breastmilk keeps on changing as the baby’s needs change. It is the ideal food for babies for the first six months. It has numerous benefits for both the baby and mother. Till date, no scientist has been able to replicate the composition of breastmilk. Infant formulas do not contain the immunity boosting elements so formula milk is best used in emergencies and under the supervision of the physician.
In my view, the most important thing to remember about breastfeeding is process which can be learnt and doesn’t necessarily come naturally to some moms and -their babies. You can read books and listen to stories of varied experiences from everyone but still your situation could be different from everybody else’s. You will have to rely on your own motherly instinct when breastfeeding mistake happens. However, recognising what type of common breastfeeding mistakes can occur and how to fix them, can prepare you for a happier and successful breastfeeding journey.
(Rama Mahajan, Lactation Consultant, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chandigarh. IANSlife can be contacted at [email protected])