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Myth-Information and Booby Traps

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Moms usually have a question about breastfeeding that just doesn’t make sense. It’s easy to see how much can be misinterpreted or misunderstood. Sometimes it’s confusion, sometimes it’s just made up stuff. We call that ‘myth-information’.  If it interferes in a mom’s goal to breastfeed, we call it a ‘booby trap’. Let’s review a few things that need to be clarified.

Gaining four ounces in the first month is normal for a newborn? No.  In the first four months, a baby gains 5.5- 8.z ounces a week. That’s closer to about two pounds in the first month. Babies weight gain does slow down after four months, though that’s a different story.
Here’s the normal pattern of growth for babies.
0-4 months  5.5-8.5 oz. per week
4-6 months  3.25 – 5 oz. per week
6-12 months  1.75 -4 oz. per week.

Not pooping in the early weeks is normal? No.  Especially in the first week it’s important to count diapers and check the color of the bowel movements. At least two to three bowel movements that are yellowy and loose are normal. Breast milk is laxative, designed to help with this.

If your baby isn’t peeing and pooping enough in the first week, you need to get some help with breastfeeding.

Once your baby has regained her birth weight by two weeks, you needn’t diligently track each diaper. Babies’ bowel movements may decrease at around six weeks. That’s more normal at that age.

A baby is only getting low fat milk?  No.  As the baby actively sucks, milk is drawn down through the ducts, collecting fat along the way. It’s not that you have layers like a parfait. It’s a matter of effectively drawing the milk. When your baby has gotten enough fat in her belly, she’ll feel satiated and content.

Feedings vary throughout the day and your body provides milk in different compositions. Some babies actively suck for five minutes and are content, some feed on one side at a time. That’s fine. If you feel full then softer after a feeding, your baby is content and is gaining weight, those are good signs.

A mother is making only colostrum though no milk? Not quite.  Colostrum is sticky and in a very small quantity (teaspoons). If you’re getting an ounce of something when you pump, that’s milk. The color of milk changes with the time of day, what you’ve eaten, and other variables. It’s all good milk.

If you’re not engorged, you’re not full? No.  Fullness is when your breasts feel heavy. Feeding (or pumping) will easily relieve it. Engorgement is when your breasts are painfully full, the skin is taut and the nipple may be ‘flattened’ by the fullness.

In either case, whenever you feel full, feed your baby or express some milk. That way you avoid becoming uncomfortable. Honestly, you can figure it’s time to feed by how you feel, rather than watching the clock. Isn’t that cool?

You do not have to experience engorgement. Some women become engorged because they received a lot of IV fluids during labor or because their baby hasn’t been feeding well and ‘emptying’ the breast.

Basic breast massage and hand expression is a very useful skill. Relieving that pressure is important for your comfort and makes it easier for your baby to latch. Your body eventually regulates to a comfortable supply, this will be less noticeable.

By the way, your breasts are not ’empty’ after a feeding. Your baby gets about 2/3 of what is there and your body gets the signal to make more. There’s always a little something available.

Your baby is using you as a pacifier?  Of course.  Who else to pacify, calm, reassure your newborn? I addressed this in another blog.

As always, my colleagues and I encourage you to trust your mother’s instincts and ask for help whenever you have a question.