Tips on how to overcome the challenges during the first week of breastfeeding

It seems as if it was just yesterday that I started breastfeeding my little one. It was a critical moment for me because it can make or break my relationship with breastfeeding. But before I gave birth, I equipped myself with research and breastfeeding moms to help me with the journey. And so, I hope this blog post will help you in your breastfeeding journey. Here are the top challenges that you will encounter while breastfeeding:

1. MOTHER HAS NO MILK

First and always the concern of the mother is whether she has milk. Even I initially had this doubt. But take note, humans are mammals and mammals make milk. But while it should be a natural thing, I do agree that there are some moms who really CANNOT breastfeed. In the older times, wet nursing was prevalent. Don’t have enough milk? Send your baby to your sister or to a neighbor who is also breastfeeding. But with our current fast paced lives and urbanization we live far from family. Couple this with the creation and influence of formula milk companies that advertise their products as equal to breastmilk. As a result, more and more moms believe that they really cannot produce breastmilk.

A medical condition called “hypolasia” actually exists and it occurs when a “mother’s body does not make an adequate amount of milk for her baby, even when everything else (including but not limited to latch and positioning, breastfeeding frequency and exclusivity, mother and baby are kept together, baby’s oral anatomy is fine – no tongue tie or cleft palate) is in order.” according to Kellymom.

What are the visual markers of hypoplastic breasts? In a study of 34 mothers by Kathleen Huggins, et Al. (2000), the researchers found a correlation between the following physical characteristics and lower milk output was found:

  • widely spaced breasts (breasts are more than 1.5 inches apart)
  • breast asymmetry (one breast is significantly larger than the other)
  • presence of stretch marks on the breasts, in absence of breast growth, either during puberty or in pregnancy
  • tubular breast shape (“empty sac” appearance)

Additional characteristics that may indicate hypoplasia are:

  • disproportionately large or bulbous areolae
  • absence of breast changes in pregnancy, postpartum, or both

For more information on Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT), look into this website. and in this article from NCBI.

Also, while you are pregnant and have doubts, try to have a prenatal assessment on IGT and your physician should prompt you to start breastfeeding to the best start as possible.

But other than having an IGT, you will HAVE MILK FROM DAY 0! And this type of milk is called colostrum. This is the size of a newborn’s stomach:

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newborn-stomach-size

As seen above, the tummy of a newborn is the size of a cherry or a shooter marble. It only holds around 5-7ml. A newborn’s stomach is so small and the colostrum that you produce is sufficient enough. If you feed your little on more than this then you are predisposing your baby to obesity.

II. MY LITTLE ONE IS CONSTANTLY CRYING  EVEN AFTER I FED HER

During the first few weeks of your little one, your little one will definitely be fuzzy  because s/he is suddenly exposed to a huge, cold, bright world where Mommy’s heartbeat in an enclosed dark space is no longer there.  This is the time when your baby always wants to be close and be held by you. It’s the most vulnerable stage of their lives.

III. BREASTFEEDING FOR COMFORT WILL LEAD TO A SPOILED CHILD

According to Fleur Bickford (2009),  many mothers are concerned about spoiling their baby if they nurse for comfort and this should not be the case because babies who are held a lot and are frequently nursed turn out to be outgoing and adventurous children. When you respond to your babies’ needs quickly, consistently and with love, you teach them that the world is a safe and wonderful place.

IV. BABY IS NOT GAINING WEIGHT

If your baby is constantly at the breast, not gaining weight and still not satisfied with your milk, then check his/her latch and your breastfeeding position. An incorrect baby’s latch cannot draw out sufficient milk.  Baby won’t be able to take in enough milk and your supply can decrease if latching position is incorrect. So get in touch with your breastfeeding counselor’s or IBCLCs for help.

Due to the incorrect perception of insufficient milk supply, you will then be led to the formula milk top-up trap. Remember, once you feed your breastfeeding baby formula she will become more full than usual hence she will lessen her breastfeeding then that lesser frequency of latching to your breast will signal your body to produce less milk. Then the end state will be your baby taking formula milk.

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