An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Breastfeeding Success Tips

Monday, April 1, 2019

Breastfeeding Success Tips

I've learned a lot breastfeeding four kids, including a set of twins. Here are the best tips I've got for breastfeeding success, backed by research and industry professionals


I've can't believe I've breastfed four kids, all with various levels of success. My most successful? TWINS. They're nearly six months old and exclusively breastfed. I'm not sure when we'll stop, and we're still going strong. Four kids later, I have a good amount of breastfeeding knowledge and experience that is leading to this success. I definitely was not as successful with my first child, and only moderately more successful with the second. Here are some of the best breastfeeding success tips I've learned along the way, along with some of the research I've found to be really helpful.

- 'Pump and Dump' IS NOT A THING. 
This is what wrecked me the first time around, nursing Henry. I thought that anytime I had a glass of wine, I had to pump my supply and dump it down the drain. NOOOOOOO!!! Breast milk is like your blood; your liver, kidneys and other organs will detox it. If you want a glass (or two, or three!) of wine, go for it. If you're good to drive, you're good to nurse. If you're not good to drive, wait a few hours and your milk will be fine. Just like your BAC (blood alcohol content) will return to normal, so will your breast milk. There's also fascinating research that shows just how little alcohol is transferred to your milk as well.

First baby: covered nursing in the hospital. Like the nurses had never seen a breast before. Foolish!

- Don't join any breastfeeding support groups online outside of research backed groups 
May I repeat: do NOT join "breastfeeding support" groups that aren't backed my Le Leche League or the research of Kellymom. These groups let other moms - other INEXPERIENCED moms - comment incorrect information. I was a part of a large one, some 16,000 members, when I mom asked how many ounces of pumped milk her 5 month old should be drinking. A woman commented that she gives her baby 6-8oz of pumped milk. She also mentioned she was an over-supplier and that her son had health issues (so basically, she no business commenting on a woman's question with a full term healthy child and a normal response to a breast pump, which is closer to 2-4oz TOTAL per pump session, not 8oz). I commented that breastfed babies should be pace fed and typically not more than 4-5oz per bottle total, which is research backed and accurate information for breastfed babies. This mom overtook my comment about how her pediatrician told her she was doing great and that babies need more milk the older they get, and that 4oz bottle would starve a 5 month old baby. Ha.

In fact, breastfed babies don't keep taking more and more milk. They max out at about 4-5oz per session at 4-6 months of age, and then their milk consumption decreases as they begin solid food. Breast milk isn't formula; you don't continue to increase ounces. Breast milk is more nutrient-dense than formula, so less of it is needed. (This is all in the link I've provided, in case you want to read it straight from the source!) All of this is to say, so much of what I've read in these breastfeeding support groups have moms who are sharing not only WRONG information, but information or advice that if heeded, will ruin your ability to breastfeed. The average woman will not be able to pump and feed her baby 8oz of milk four to five times a day; you will not produce that much. That doesn't mean you didn't make enough for your baby, it means you're over-feeding your child based on legitimate, scientific research! So please, don't listen to the average internet mom (I realize the irony there...) and only join research backed groups, like Le Leche League, who have trained leaders who regularly monitor responses and chime in with science-backed, lactation consultant-backed information to help you.

- Pump as little as you can; put the baby to your breast as often as you can
The thing about pumping, even if you get a hospital grade pump and even if you enjoy pumping (which I admittedly do not), a pump is never going extract the milk as well as your baby. Babies have both the suction and a caressing motion of their tongue that extracts the milk. Pumps only have the suction. The second issue is that you want the saliva exchange between the baby's mouth and your nipple. It's that communication that "tells" your body what kind of milk to make. Fattier milk for older babies to make it more calorie-dense, more antibodies if your baby has a cold and so on. Latching your baby to your breast is key to get your body producing the correct milk. It will also ensure that your breasts are completely emptied, which helps keep your supply up. Not to mention, the more your baby feeds from the breast, the less you have to pump, so it's basically a win-win. Have issues getting the baby to latch? Contact a lactation consultant and have her help you. Those women can work wonders!

With baby Otto, I was barely covered the whole hospital stay, ha!

- Trust your body, trust the process
It's ok to not know how much or how many ounces your baby just got. It's ok to feed on demand, whether that's every hour or every four hours. It's ok to go all night long without nursing (you'll probably need to pump for your own comfort though!) and it's ok to nurse every two hours around the clock. It's ok to let your fussy baby nurse just because he's grumpy and it makes him happy. Whenever you put that baby to your breast, you maintain (or even increase) a healthy, adequate supply for your baby. Or, babies, if you're breastfeeding more than one, like I am currently. The less you worry about it, the less you think about it and the more you simply latch your baby, the better off you'll be in terms of not only supply, but your body making the correct milk for your child.

Jaelan from Making Mrs M, a Birth Doula and Certified Birth Educator (not to mention one of my dearest friends), supports my tips, too. She says one of the best ways to establish your supply is to do lots of skin to skin, feed on demand, and don't worry that you can't measure a feed at the breast like you can pumped ounces. She's got a great post about how breastfeeding didn't come easily to her - if you need encouragement, check it out!

Tips and information on how to successfully breastfeed for as long as you and baby want or need
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Breastfeeding is hard. One of the hardest parts is just blindly trusting that it's all going well, which is only second to the physical toll of latching your baby to your breast as often as you can. Latching consistently and just accepting that my body is making enough milk for TWINS, who are still exclusively breastfed six months later, has driven my success with breastfeeding this go around. While all four of my kids have been breastfed to some extent, with each child, I've learned more and gotten better (and honestly, more confident) with it. Five years and four kids later, these are my best breastfeeding success tips, backed by scientific research, industry professionals, other moms, Le Leche League and Kellymom. 

4 comments:

  1. I think these are all really great tips. And go you for making it six months feeding twins! And keeping them alive in general haha

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  2. I had such a hard time my first time around. It's such good advice to stay off the internet unless you're looking at researched backed information. It's so easy to go down the rabbit hole and add confusion and more concerns where there are none!

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  3. These a great tips! I breast feed both my kids until they turned one. Well done you for feeding your twins until 6months that’s amazing because I know it isn’t easy.

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