Because most of those products? They will do more harm than good. They will clutter up your house, drain your bank account, and the worst part? They will harm your breastfeeding relationship with your baby.

Admit it. The moment you got that positive pregnancy test, you started Googling all the things you’d need. For me, it was maternity clothes (because I’ll take ANY excuse to go shopping). Before long, you’ve got full carts all over the internet, Pinterest boards for everything from pregnancy diets to baby clothes to newborn photo ideas to nursery decor. And you’re not the only one. Any proper BFF has their own set of vision boards, for the baby shower of the century and all the best gift ideas for your new little bundle of joy. Now that we’re in the middle of this seemingly never-ending pandemic, we’ve got a whole new world of Zoom baby showers and online baby registries to sift through. The question remains, though: “What do I really need?”

When planning your registry, think about the last things you’ll want to think about when you’ve just had a baby.

Well, now. As a mom of 3 and a lactation consultant, I’ve had my own fair share of baby showers and I get to see plenty of new families with houses crammed full of new baby gear. I hate to break it to them, but they’ll probably never use half of it. So many products out there are marketed under the guise of “making your life easier”. They have new (un)expectant parents thinking they’ll be able to carry on with their lives the way they’ve always done, and now they “can’t live without” this gadget or that contraption. They come clambering into the hospital with the cutest swaddle wraps and the most gigantic breastfeeding pillows and it’s almost like I can see the future. Why? Because most of those products? They will do more harm than good. They will clutter up your house, drain your bank account, and the worst part? They will harm your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. There, I said it.

“Postpartum depression is on the rise, simply because new parents arenโ€™t getting the care they deserve.”

Ahh… felt good to get that off my chest. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a good party. This is your baby and you only get nine months to celebrate and prepare, so by all means… throw ALLLLL the parties. Have the cupcakes and the punch with the sherbet on top, and the due date pool at work and all the things. I’m just here to make sure you get what you really need when it comes time for your family and friends to choose the perfect gift. Ok, so really. What DO you need? When you create your baby registry, what SHOULD be on it?

Here it is. Let me just say that you’ll find a few affiliate links below, but I can promise you that I will never recommend a product that will interfere with breastfeeding or make your life harder. Just my little tips for you, from one tired mom to another.

  1. Grocery Delivery

Many grocery stores offer online ordering and contactless delivery. This service is even more readily available since Covid-19 came along. If they don’t deliver, they may have curbside pickup. (Why yes, yes I have nursed my screaming child while waiting for my grocery order to be loaded into my trunk and no, no the attendant did not have a single word to say about it.) Ask your friends for gift cards to your favorite grocery store, or a gift card to a delivery service like Instacart. You may even help another mom earn a little extra spending money, shopping for your groceries in her spare time!

Thanks to Covid-19, grocery delivery is more readily available than ever before. Don’t worry about carting your newborn to the grocery store. Have your groceries delivered right to your door!

2. Comfortable Postpartum Clothing

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was actually naรฏve enough to think that immediately after giving birth to my little 8 pound peanut and losing a whole belly full of amniotic fluid, that I would miraculously fit into my pre-pregnancy pajamas while still in the hospital. HA! Not a chance. (P.S. modal cotton wasn’t a thing yet and stretchy sweatpants were soooo 1990. We were still pretending elastic wasn’t cool. Honestly, we weren’t that smart.) Thankfully, a dear friend of mine had brought me a brand new set of the comfiest pajamas just a few days before, and I had had the good sense to throw them in my hospital bag. So, when you’re creating your registry, don’t forget about yourself. Ask for nursing friendly, flowy, stretchy, flattering loungewear to wear around the house during your 4th trimester. Check out Kindred Bravely for clothing so comfy and flattering, you’ll feel beautiful lounging around with Baby, running errands or taking a nap. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s stretchy enough to nurse your baby, with easy access to your boobs.

side note: dark colors do a great job of hiding milk, spitup and poop stains. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Stock up on clothes that make you feel good about yourself and provide easy access for Baby to nurse on demand.

3. A Ring Sling or Wrap

Walk through any of the big box baby stores (or visit their website) and you’ll encounter an entire aisle of baby carriers, then another aisle of strollers, infant car seat combos and every which way to transport this tiny human. They all have their place, but as a lactation specialist, I have to tell you: most of these contraptions have the potential to negatively affect your breastfeeding experience, your milk supply, the bond between you and Baby, your back, and your bank balance. “Wow, all that from a stroller?” Well, that’s a bit extreme, but yes. I’ll put it simply… the best way to increase and regulate your milk supply is to keep your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible. The best way to keep Baby skin-to-skin? BABYWEARING! Investing in a good ring sling (and finding proper education on how to use it safely and comfortably) can save your sanity in those early days and weeks. Some great slings and wraps, along with some hands-on training, can be found at my favorite local baby store, Colorado Baby. Your baby will be in their favorite place on your chest and you’ll have two free hands!

Bonus! Want to try nursing while wearing your baby?? Check out this handy tutorial featuring my dear friend, @mamawilder.

4. A Haakaa

Now, you won’t hear me endorsing many name brand products because I generally feel that we already have most of the gear we need (i.e. mammary glands). HOWEVER… that said, go add a Haakaa to your registry right this second. As we all know, human milk is pretty much liquid gold. And any chance you get to collect and save that milk? Take it. The Haakaa, or other similar brand, uses no electricity or cords. It creates its own suction and attaches to your breast to collect your letdown while you nurse your baby on the other breast. You may also want to consider a milk collector like the Milkies Milk Saver to wear inside your bra in between feedings, to collect any leaking breast milk. You can store this milk just as you would store pumped milk, and it may even cut down on pumping time!

5. A Postpartum Doula

Do you have a group of friends looking to go in together on a big gift? Consider asking for postpartum doula hours. Postpartum doulas are quite possibly the most underrated necessity for the 4th trimester, like, ever. These amazing humans provide personalized care for YOU, so that you can provide the best care for your baby. They come to your home and do whatever needs doing, whether it’s holding Baby so you can take a nap or a shower, helping you with meal prep or laundry, teaching new parents about bathing and diaper changing, making sure you have ready-to-eat snacks and a full water bottle, and a plethora of other helpful tasks. Many postpartum doulas offer hours that can be divided up over a period of time, so you can spread out the hours for when you need help the most.

Postpartum depression is on the rise, simply because new parents aren’t getting the care they deserve.

6. A Good CC Cream

Okay, maybe this one’s a given. But when you’re sleep deprived and it’s hard to find 10 minutes to shower in peace, and leaving the house is out of the question, your mental health can begin to suffer. It’s important to find tiny ways to help you feel good about yourself. While your postpartum doula is holding your baby, go take a nice hot shower, then put on your perfectly casual loungewear and quickly smooth on some tinted CC cream to give you that glowy, no-makeup, “I woke up like this” look. When you feel good, your baby will feel it too.

When you feel good, your baby will feel it too.

7. Prenatal Classes

Like many new parents, the first time I saw a flyer for a breastfeeding class, my first thought was “Why do I need to take a class on how to let a hungry baby suck on my boob? How hard can it possibly be??”. So, of course, I never made time for any class, I only read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and I thought I was all set. Spoiler alert: I was very much not all set. So do yourself a favor. Make the time for a birth and breastfeeding class. One good side effect of this pandemic is that you can now take these classes online, from the comfort of your own home! And lucky for you, I happen to teach one! Colorado Baby offers a Labor Skills Class, followed by my Hello Breastfeeding Class, on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Add both of these to your registry and make sure you’re prepared for your birth and the months to follow.

8. House Cleaning Service

Who doesn’t love a clean house?

Seriously though, this should be a gift idea for anyone, ever. But ESPECIALLY for someone who’s just pushed out a brand new human. The last thing that family wants or needs to be doing is cleaning. This is another one that can be a little pricey for one person but not outrageous for, say, a group of your co-workers ;). If everyone pitches in, they could provide you with at least one or two good house cleanings after Baby arrives, for about the same price as that fancy baby swing you don’t have room for. And trust me, the relief of not having to stare at those dust bunnies under your coffee table while you nurse your baby and drink your *hot* coffee in peace, is priceless. Check with local cleaning services, or even ask around in mom groups on Facebook. Often, you’ll find other moms who clean houses part time. I’m sure they would love to make some extra cash and put together a postpartum cleaning package just for you and your needs.

9. A Home Visit with a Lactation Consultant

Obviously. Did you really think I’d leave that off the list? When you’ve just had a baby, the expenses can add up quick… and I’ve heard some hospitals have begun presenting you with the bill before you even head home with your new little miracle. So when your family asks what you need for Baby, send them a link to purchase a gift card for a lactation consult. When you need help with breastfeeding, you’ll get a home visit with me, and get breastfeeding off to a great start. You’ll also save money on all those other “band-aids” that claim to help with nipple pain and milk production, not to mention the outrageous cost of formula!

10. A Meal Train

Whether this is your first child or your 5th, a meal train may be the number one necessity after having a baby… which is why I saved it for last! New parents need nutritious, prepared meals but they don’t have the energy *or the hands* to cook right now. It’s acceptable to initiate one of these yourself, but it may be better received if it comes from your best friend, mother, sister, or anyone else close to you. If you’ve never seen a meal train in action, it’s simply a schedule where your friends and family sign up to deliver a home cooked meal to you on a certain date, or order something from a restaurant to be delivered to your door. Ideally, the meal should be enough to feed your whole family – hopefully with leftovers to spare. Casseroles are great, as they can be frozen for later if you end up with too much food at once. If you are a member of a church or local moms’ group, this is a great program to have in place for any member expecting a new baby. A meal train is easy to set up at takethemameal.com.

The internet is full of gift ideas for new and expectant parents. Most of those gifts are for the baby. Now, I’m not ever going to tell you not to splurge on that adorable onesie or hat or baby booties or whatever cuteness you can find. Just make sure to pair it with something for the one who’s done all the heavy lifting for the last 9+ months. After all, when she birthed her baby, she became a mother. TWO new people were born that day (more if she had twins or more).

Make sure you create a registry that takes care of them, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Personalized breastfeeding support for you and your baby. Schedule your home visit or virtual consult today.

Congratulations! You made it through pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks of leaking boobs, engorgement, clogged milk ducts, blistering, tears (so. many. tears.) and all the things that may or may not have come with breastfeeding. Hopefully, you’ve begun to feel like you’re getting the hang of it. Now here you are, a brand new person on the other side of birth, preparing to share the feeding responsibilities with others. Maybe you’ll be returning to work soon, planning a date night or Moms’ night out, or maybe you’re just ready for a few solid hours of uninterrupted sleep while your partner handles a few feedings. Whatever the circumstances, this stage can present a whole new series of challenges.

Scroll down for resources, tips, and a few of my favorite products!

Choosing the Right Pump

Not all pumps are created equal. No two breasts are exactly alike. Not all bodies respond to pumping. Find a pump with various flange sizes (that’s the piece that looks like a funnel) so that you can find the best fit for you. Many pump manufacturers provide sizing guides on their websites. Generally, you’ll need about 2mm of space around your nipple on the inside of the flange (the “tunnel” that leads to the bottle). Follow the sizing guide for your pump to make sure that your flange isn’t too tight or too loose. You shouldn’t feel any rubbing or pinching, and the suction shouldn’t be painful when the pump is running. Try adjusting the suction one click at a time until you find the best setting for you.

This mother is using a hand pump, combined with massage, to stimulate milk flow. Check out this video from Stanford Medicine on maximizing milk production using a hands-on pumping technique.

Consider the amount of milk you’ll need to collect and store. If you’ll be returning to work full-time, a double electric hospital grade pump is probably your best bet. For others, a small hand pump and some gentle hand expression might do the trick.

Which Bottle is Best for Breastfeeding?

There are so many bottles out there. How do you know which one is right for you? What if you’ve tried a few and your little one wanted nothing to do with any of them?

  • Look for a bottle with a nipple that encourages a wide latch, similar to breastfeeding.
  • Choose a nipple with a slow flow. Your breast milk takes a few seconds to start flowing. We’re trying to achieve the same effect with the bottle.
  • If all else fails, just know that there are other ways to feed a baby. If yours refuses to take a bottle, try using a small cup. You might be surprised at how well they manage using a cup like a big kid!

Is Nipple Confusion Really a Thing?

Ahh, the dreaded “nipple confusion”. The bad news? It is a real thing. The good news? It can be avoided. When a baby takes a bottle while laid back, with the bottle pouring straight down into their mouth, they are forced to swallow in order to avoid choking. That means they may take in much more than they need or want, causing gas, spit-up, colic, and yep… You guessed it! Nipple confusion. Practicing paced bottle feeding can help. Paced feeding mimics the way that babies feed at the breast. They control how much milk they take in and how quickly. They take breaks, stopping when they need to rest or burp. Baby feeds at his own pace, just like he does at the breast.

Talk to your partner and caregivers about paced bottle feeding. Not only will this help prevent nipple confusion, but it will also ease your worries as you work to keep up with the demand of pumping enough milk while you’re away from Baby.

How Much Milk Do I Really Need to Pump?

We’ve all seen the Pinterest-worthy photos of the deep freezer full of frozen breast milk. It can be discouraging to see when your stash consists of just a few bags of liquid gold.

But have no fear! Those moms may have enough milk to feed a whole daycare, but they’ve got their own set of problems *cough* oversupply? *cough, cough*. You, on the other hand, have the perfect amount of milk for YOUR baby.

You don’t need a huge supply to keep your baby fed.

1) Pump when you feel most full (usually first thing in the morning).

2) Store your milk in small quantities, so you don’t end up thawing more than you need for one feeding.

3) Schedule pumping sessions when your baby usually takes a bottle.

Keeping Your Supply Up

If you’re going back to work and worried about losing your milk supply, you are not alone. But not to worry. The basic rules of milk production still apply. It truly is all about supply and demand.

  • Upon returning home, plan on relaxing for a bit. Nurse your child as soon as they are ready, and on demand throughout the night. Talk to your daycare or care provider about taking a few minutes to nurse before you head for home.
  • The laws are on your side. You have the right to a private pumping space while you’re at work. But even if you’re finding it hard to pump at work, your body will continue to keep up with the demand of nighttime feedings.
  • When pumping, try keeping pictures, videos, or a piece of baby’s clothing (with their scent) on hand to help you relax and think about nursing your baby. This will help your letdown come easier, even when Baby isn’t with you.

A Few of My Favorite Products

(Because shopping, obvi.)

  1. The Kindest Cup: This thing is genius. It collects milk, AND serves as a cup to feed milk to Baby. It suctions to your breast and collects leaking milk during letdown, fits neatly in your bag for hand expression on-the-go, and is made from 100% silicone for easy cleaning.
  2. The Milkies Milk Saver: Collect leaking breast milk while out and about by slipping this handy tool inside your bra. You can save and store that milk for later use.
  3. Lansinoh Glass Baby Bottles: These bottles come with a nipple that is great for breastfed babies, as it encourages a wide-open latch. The glass bottles are safe and easy to clean.
  4. The Tiny Cup: This little cup is perfect for feeding Baby without a bottle. Available at my favorite local baby store, Colorado Baby!
  5. Milkies Milk Trays: Trays like these make it easy to freeze small quantities of milk, so you can thaw only what you need for a feeding. Nothing goes to waste!

And remember… You’ve got this! Try to relax but don’t be afraid to ask for support. Find a lactation specialist to help you find the right fit. Know your rights when it comes to pumping at work. Talk with your care providers. Ask for help when you need it.

You are doing a wonderful job.

– Ali

If you’ve been a parent for any length of time at all, you’ve probably gone searching for advice once or twice. Or, you’ve been handed advice whether you asked for it or not. Spend a few minutes perusing a parenting group on Facebook and you’ll likely witness someone asking a question about lactation. “How can I increase my supply?” “My baby has gas. What should I do?” “How should I treat my sore nipples?” “Is my baby nursing too much?” “When will my baby sleep through the night?”

Sigh…

I can’t help but keep reading, to take in the inevitable barrage of advice from people who have undoubtedly experienced the same concern. “Lactation tea!” “Give up dairy!” “Nipple butter!” “Sleep training!” As a new, exhausted parent who only wants their baby to be happy and healthy, it’s easy to hop on social media and ask any question under the sun, and it’s even easier to scroll through the endless suggestions until you find something that resonates with you and your situation. As a mother who has been through these struggles and unfortunately given plenty of this advice myself, I now cringe at most of what I read in regards to breastfeeding tips and tricks. Our society has traveled so far from the days of passing down knowledge from one generation to the next and exchanging evidence based, time tested wisdom on the topic of feeding our babies. We have all but abandoned the practice of learning from those who came before us, feeding their infants without pain or concern for low milk supply. I believe they must have known a thing or two about overcoming the challenges of breastfeeding. Otherwise, we humans surely wouldn’t have made it this far.

Last week, I made an Instagram post that surprised a lot of people. I mentioned that everyone should stop telling nursing mothers to drink more water to increase their milk supply. My post was met by people who have nursed multiple babies, with years of experience, surprised to hear this revelation that water intake has nothing to do with milk production. Honestly, I was shocked that people were so surprised by this. Then I remembered that I, too, have not only convinced myself that water was the answer to my own milk supply woes, but I have also been guilty of telling friends to drink more water to make more milk. Then I thought, “What other advice is out there that has been passed around for so long that it has become a new accepted truth??” I set out on a mission to scope out the most commonly spread misinformation about breastfeeding and finally set the record straight. If I can help plant just a few seeds of factual information, I’ll be happy. Here, we have my own compilation of the top 10 most common myths about infant feeding, and the truth behind them.

“We are the only mammals on Earth that doubt our own ability to feed our babies.”

valley lactation

Myth #1: Breastfeeding hurts.

Let me ask you a question. If you were to go to the doctor and tell them that you were in excruciating pain, what would you expect them to tell you? “That’s completely normal. You’ll get used to it after a while.” Um, NO!

They’d likely do an exam, maybe run some tests, ask some questions and figure out what’s causing the pain, then come up with a solution! I can think of very few situations where pain is a good sign. Generally, pain is a sign that something is wrong. Breastfeeding is no exception.

If you experience nipple pain, bruising, cracked or bleeding nipples, your body is trying to tell you something. Nipple pain is usually a sign of an ineffective latch, making it harder for Baby to get enough milk and causing your milk supply to suffer. Breastfeeding should not hurt. If it does, get help now.

Many parents turn to bottle feeding when breastfeeding is too painful. Many of us are conditioned to believe this is normal.

Myth #2: You should give up dairy.

Show of hands – how many of you have been told to quit eating dairy if your baby appears gassy, spits up a lot, or won’t stop crying? Now listen, I’ll be the first to preach the fact that cow’s milk was never intended for human consumption. It’s breastmilk for baby cows. They are mammals, after all. HOWEVER… the symptoms I mentioned may have zero to do with your diet and everything to do with a breastfeeding issue. Could be Baby’s latch, could be positioning, could be your letdown. The only way to know for sure is to have a lactation specialist assess a feeding and figure out what’s really going on.

Remember, your milk is made from your blood. The food you eat is digested and the nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream before being made into milk. Jumping so quickly to a dairy intolerance could lead to more problems than it may solve. On the other hand, a forceful letdown can cause spit-up, gas, irritability and discomfort. If you have eliminated dairy or any other food from your diet and haven’t noticed a change, it probably wasn’t the dairy in the first place.

Myth #3: You pumped and didn’t get much. You must not have enough milk.

Say it with me: “Pumped milk is NOT an indicator of milk supply”. There is no pump in the world that will remove milk quite as well as a well attached baby. Many will come close. Lots of people pump and exclusively bottle feed for many months or even years. Those people are incredible, because they’re doing twice the work and more.

But I’m not talking to those people. I’m talking to the ones who pump (for any reason) and nothing comes out. Maybe they wanted a date night. Maybe they’re going back to work. Maybe they want to pump some extra milk to increase their supply or supplement between nursing sessions. Maybe Baby wouldn’t latch, so they decided to pump and give Baby a bottle instead. So much to unpack here.

Bottom line: just because you only got a few drops from a pump does not mean you have no milk. It could mean nothing at all. It could mean you’re using the wrong flange size, or the suction isn’t strong enough. It could mean you’re stressed from watching those empty bottles (which may prevent your milk from letting down, by the way). It could mean all sorts of things but it does NOT mean you’re all out of milk. Take a deep breath. Relax your shoulders. Stay calm. Remember that your baby can feel your stress and could be feeding (pardon the pun) off of your anxiety. A lactation specialist can help you look for signs that you have plenty of milk, and even help you get more out of each pumping session. This video from Stanford on maximizing milk production is another excellent resource.

Massaging your breast while pumping can help you to express more milk.

Myth #4: Drink more water to make more milk.

Ah, yes. This one, I must admit, I have shared myself. I have experienced the extreme thirst that can come from nursing but I have also convinced myself that I can make more milk if I drink more water. I’ve also told friends to drink tons and tons of water when they think their supply is dwindling. It was a sad day when I learned that hydration has very little to do with milk production.

Truth is, milk is produced on demand. When milk cells are emptied, they make more milk. When they are full, they stop making milk. The only way to make them produce more milk is to drain them. With demand, supply will follow. Keep in mind, this process works best with an effective latch or a properly fitted pump. Check with a lactation specialist to ensure your baby is well attached and transferring the milk effectively.

“What if we told you that your baby isn’t using you as a pacifier but that he’s using a pacifier as you?”

La leche league

Myth #5: Your baby is eating ALL. THE. TIME. You must not have enough milk.

If you think your baby is feeding too frequently or never seems to settle, there are many other factors to take into account. A lactation specialist will ask many questions, like how many times your baby is feeding, peeing and pooping each day. We will assess your baby’s mouth and latch to look for signs that Baby is transferring plenty of milk, or if they can’t because of a restriction like a tongue or lip tie. We may do a weighted feed to give you reassurance and know exactly how much milk she’s taken in.

Watch your baby, not the clock. Infants don’t care what time it is or how long it’s been since their last meal. They only have a few ways to communicate with you and they don’t know how to lie. When your baby tells you she’s hungry, it’s important to recognize those signs. Responding to Baby’s feeding cues quickly will keep them fed and content, and keep your milk supply up. If you’re already doing these things and still feel that your child is feeding too often or not getting enough milk, it’s time to get help from a qualified lactation professional.

Bottom line: Just because your baby is eating all the time does not mean that you don’t have any milk. Maybe they’re cluster feeding to increase your supply. Maybe you have plenty of milk but their latch is too shallow to remove the milk effectively. Maybe you’re stressed, making it more difficult for your body to release (let down) the milk. Let’s not jump to conclusions until we have all of the facts. Chances are, your milk supply is not the problem.

Paced feeding will ensure that your child isn’t taking in more milk than they want or need.

Myth #6: Spit-up is normal.

Yes, babies do spit up from time to time. If your baby is spitting up after every feeding, or even during feedings, we need to figure out why. Many babies are diagnosed with acid reflux when they spit up frequently or seem uncomfortable and fussy after feedings. However, these are common breastfeeding concerns that are often misdiagnosed or ignored. If an infant has a shallow latch, no matter the cause, they may be unable to control milk flow. If they take in too much milk too fast, they may not be able to digest it properly. Your baby needs to feed with a deep, effective latch, using their tongue to draw the milk and slow the flow when it is coming too fast. Certain nursing positions can also be helpful in giving Baby more control over the feeding.

A skilled lactation specialist will assess Baby’s sucking and swallowing patterns to see how well they are taking in the milk. Sometimes, a few simple changes can eliminate spit-up and discomfort by allowing Baby to eat at a pace they can handle. They will also check Baby’s mouth for tongue and lip ties, and help with positioning to get a deeper latch. Before turning to medicine or switching to formula, schedule a consult to rule out any of these simple breastfeeding issues. If you are bottle feeding, make sure to practice paced bottle feeding in order to give Baby the same control they have when breastfeeding. In many cases, the problem is not the milk or brand of formula, or even the bottle, but rather the technique. A lactation consultant can help with this, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

“Just because your baby isn’t getting enough, doesn’t mean you don’t have enough.”

valley lactation

Myth #7: You need to supplement until your milk comes in.

I hear it all the time. Your milk hasn’t come in yet, so how can you know if your baby is getting full? The answer? Look at your child. What do they look like while they are nursing? And after each feeding? There is a very good reason why it takes some time for your milk to “come in”, or transition from newborn milk to mature milk.

First of all, let’s redefine this idea of your milk “coming in”. You have milk. Many people have milk for a few months before Baby is even born. Right after birth, you have what’s called colostrum. It’s thick and slow, and it has SO many benefits. Think of it as the training wheels of breastfeeding. Colostrum teaches your baby how to suck and swallow food for the very first time. Think about it… they’ve never had to eat with their mouth before! As Baby digests the colostrum, it fills their tiny stomach and digests slowly so that they can rest after their long journey. Colostrum acts as a laxative to push meconium (the black, sticky newborn poop) out of Baby’s intestines.

Once Baby gets the hang of eating and peeing and pooping, your milk will begin to transition. Your body will add water to the colostrum and your milk will increase in volume. Your milk is in, but you had milk the whole time! Any sort of supplementation will only slow this process. Keep that in mind if supplementation is recommended (which should only be done out of medical necessity, recommended by your provider, not your cousin’s best friend’s brother). If you do need to supplement for medical reasons, it is important to keep your milk flowing, with a pump or hand expression, until Baby is able to latch and nurse at the breast.

Babies cry to tell us something. Learning to understand their feeding cues can make for a happier baby and a happier YOU!

Myth #8: You should toughen up your nipples while you’re pregnant.

Someone actually told me this 14 years ago and if I could track that woman down and set her straight, I would.

Repeat after me.

BREASTFEEDING SHOULD NOT HURT.

As I teach in my class, if breastfeeding hurts, your body is trying to tell you something. Usually, it’s a very easy fix. Even in more complex cases, there is usually a solution. The fact that so many women are told that breastfeeding will hurt and that they should prepare their nipples by literally sanding them (?!?) and then grinning and bearing this take-your-breath-away pain because it’s what’s best for their precious bundle of joy… well, that’s what got me into this profession in the first place.

If you are in pain while nursing, get help quickly. This is NOT supposed to hurt.

Myth #9: You need to nurse every 3 hours.

Watch your baby, not the clock. Your baby is telling you everything you need to know. How many times has she nursed in the past 24 hours? How many wet/dirty diapers has she had in 24 hours? If your infant is getting at least 8-10 feeds in 24 hours and producing lots of wet and poopy diapers, there is likely no need to wake her if she wants to sleep for a few hours. Look at the big picture before waking her up or forcing her to feed before she’s ready. Watch for feeding cues to know when she’s ready to eat. She will tell you she’s hungry by moving her lips, clenching her fists, kicking or rooting for your nipple. Responding to these cues early will keep her happy and maintain your milk supply.

Myth #10: Your baby is using you as a pacifier.

Anyone who tells you this has never thought about why pacifiers were invented in the first place. They were invented to mimic the breast!

When your baby sucks on something, whether it’s a breast or a pacifier or a finger, their Cholecystokinin level rises. That’s the hormone responsible for telling our brain that our stomach is full. The problem with sucking on a pacifier is, there isn’t any milk in it. Baby’s brain gets tricked into thinking it’s full when it’s not. Baby falls asleep without getting the milk they were asking for, and your body isn’t being told to produce that milk because Baby isn’t sucking on the breast. Supply and demand, remember?

Your baby is not using you as a pacifier. They’re using a pacifier as you. If they are showing hunger cues and a pacifier is the only way to calm them, talk to a lactation specialist. There may be a way to make sure they’re getting the milk they need and keep them satisfied without any mind games.

Nursing is about so much more than food. It is a conversation between you and your baby.

Share facts, not fiction.

It’s up to all of us to change our own expectations. Next time you see this type of misinformation being shared, speak up. Once we reframe the conversation and make sure that new parents’ expectations are accurate, they will be better prepared for what’s to come. Spreading accurate information keeps parents informed and makes for positive breastfeeding outcomes.

Take a breastfeeding class. Schedule a lactation consult. Attend a support group. If you’re not sure about the facts, send your friend to a trusted lactation specialist before spreading information that could be harmful to her feeding struggles.

We can all do our part to bring back the village that once passed down the wisdom of birth and breastfeeding. One evidence-based, helpful tip at a time.

Ahh, the age old question. I dare say, nearly every breastfeeding mother has wondered at some point if her baby was getting enough milk. Whether it’s because her baby won’t stop crying, is sleeping more than usual, not gaining weight fast enough, or maybe she thought everything was just fine until her mother in-law showed up and pointed out that Baby was nursing too much so he must not be getting enough milk. You know what I have to say about all that? Stop it. Stop it right now. Let’s shut down this narrative that gets fed to new moms by the truckload, that makes them question their every move.

If you are wondering if your baby is getting enough milk, I’m going to share with you a few basic signs that Baby is, in fact, getting plenty of that liquid gold. And what to do if they’re not. But they probably are so let’s not go there just yet. ๐Ÿ™‚ Then we’ll look at a few other possibilities for what might be the real reason your baby won’t stop crying, or cluster feeding, or gaining weight slowly, or doing any number of things that normal, healthy babies do.

Does your infant seem hungry ALL. THE. TIME?
  1. How much does Baby pee and poop?

Let’s just say you took your 2 month-old, happy, breastfed baby to the pediatrician with no prior inkling that you weren’t producing enough milk for your baby. Then out of nowhere, you are informed that your baby is not gaining enough weight and you will need to start supplementing with formula. Huh?

So now, out of the blue, you’re worried about your baby’s health, you realize you’ve been starving them this whole time, you’re googling ways to get your milk supply up, you’re researching the best formula brands, you’re buying all the bottles to find the one Baby likes best, and you’re just a hot mess all of a sudden. Hold on a second. Remember that happy baby you had this morning? They’re still there. The only thing that’s changed is that you’ve been shown a growth chart that very likely was created based on the research conducted on formula fed infants. Yes, read that again. Today’s growth charts are still based largely on formula fed babies and how they gain weight.

Let’s look at the signs. How much pee and poop do you deal with on a daily basis? Is your baby producing at least 8-10 wet and/or dirty diapers per day? Here’s a little (not so) secret: What goes in must come out! If your breastfed baby is taking in plenty of milk, they should be peeing and pooping enough to fill at least 8-10 diapers per day.

Pro Tip:

First thing in the morning, stack 10 diapers beside your changing area. If they are gone by the end of the day, then Baby is producing plenty of pee and poop.

plenty of feeding = plenty of pooping!

So, what could be another reason for slow weight gain? Well, first off, let’s stop comparing exclusively breastfed babies to formula-fed babies. Exclusively breastfed babies tend to take a little longer to get back to birth weight, especially if they took in any extra fluids during birth (IV fluids during induction, epidural or c-section). Colostrum, or “newborn milk” is very thick and takes a while for Baby to digest, so there isn’t much of it, and it doesn’t add much weight in the first few days. Once your “mature milk” comes in, Baby will begin to pee and poop a whole lot more, showing you that they are indeed getting all the milk they need. Ask your lactation specialist for a weighted feed at your consultation. From there, we can monitor your baby’s growth and make sure they’re gaining enough weight and growing well.

2. Does Baby seem satisfied after a feeding?

After a good long feeding, you should see your baby’s whole body relax. Their hands should be open and loose. They may have a hard time staying awake. They should be the one to end the feeding. If they still seem hungry, trying offering the other breast. Watch for these common feeding cues to know when it’s time to eat again:

  • tight fists
  • sucking on hands
  • rooting with mouth
  • kicking feet
  • REM sleep (movement of the eyes while asleep)
  • fussiness

If you feel that your baby is never truly satisfied after a feeding, it’s time to contact a lactation specialist to make sure he is well attached and transferring milk properly. Click here to schedule a consult with me, online or in person.

Don’t watch the clock. Watch your baby!

3) How’s the latch?

Babies need to be well attached in order to transfer enough milk and increase your milk supply. Check for these signs that your baby is latched deeply and drinking well:

  • wide open mouth
  • no bubbles, gaps or slurping sounds
  • lips flanged out
  • head tilted back
  • chin snuggled into breast
  • nose free

Check to see if Baby is swallowing after every 1-2 sucks. You should be able to see a rhythmic suck/swallow/breathe pattern, with pauses every now and then. When Baby swallows, do you see their chin move and hear a gentle “keh” sound? An effective latch should not be painful. If it hurts, or if Baby keeps popping on and off the breast, it may be time to schedule a lactation consult.

Last but certainly not least, what do YOU think? Do you feel that your child is getting plenty of milk, growing well, and generally a happy baby? Well then, that’s all I need to hear. Follow your instincts, Mama. You were made for this. You know your baby better than any of us. Trust yourself and your own judgement and know that I’ve always got your back. And your boobs.

Happy feeding!

-Ali