This post may be sponsored or contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Read the full disclosure.
Have you experienced not being able to fully breastfeed your baby? It’s painful.
And perhaps you secretly wish that it won’t happen again with your next baby.
But, have you analyzed what gone wrong? What mistakes did you make, or things that you can fix to make ‘next time’ better?
In this article, I would love to share with you 5 commons breastfeeding mistakes that I did while nursing my first born, which hinders me from exclusively breastfeeding him from the start.
Yeah, perhaps you’ll say: Don’t focus on mistakes. But I believe by identifying the mistakes, you’ll not fall into it again, and you’ll make effort on how to avoid it and how to fix it.
Let the story begins. Here’s my confession…
This post is part of BREASTFEEDING 101 series. Feel free to check other articles in this series:
- 5 Common Breastfeeding Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Milk Supply
- 5 Tips To Prepare for Breastfeeding
- 12 Actionable Tips for Preparing Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
- Should I Attend A Breastfeeding Class Before Birth? Is It Worth It?
- 10 Breastfeeding Myths and Facts That You Should Know
- How Do I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk
- Weighted Feeding for Breastfed Babies | What It Is And How It Can Help You
- 10 Tips To Breastfeed in A Baby Carrier
- Best Baby Carrier for Breastfeeding
- Top 5 Breastfeeding Books for New Moms
- Postpartum Depression and Breastfeeding | Use These 7 Practical Tips
My #1 Mistake: Not gathering enough information
I knew from the start that I wanted to breastfeed. I did my research on how to prepare for breastfeeding, but not extensive. I was lazy. I read article that breastfeeding would occur naturally and I rely on that. I thought every mother would be able to breastfeed smoothly. So I just waited for it to happen.
I didn’t research which birth method is the best for breastfeeding. I opt to use pain killer (yes, just one jab on thigh), not knowing that drug used during delivery may affect how drowsy a newborn is, and that may affect the early start of breastfeeding.
Shortly after discharged from hospital, my little boy suffered from jaundice. Being inexperience parent with little knowledge, we followed doctor’s suggestion to top up his feeding with formula to speed up jaundice recovery. Yes, the jaundice went away, but my milk supply suffered. If only I knew that formula feeding is not the only option I had for dealing with jaundice, perhaps I would be able to exclusively breastfeed my first baby right from the start.
Mistake #2: Not surrounded by supportive health care personnel
Shortly after birth, I was given my newborn baby to nurse. For 10 minutes perhaps. But the baby was fussy. You know what the nurse said, ‘your milk has not come in, that’s why baby is hungry. If it continues to be like this, we may need to give your baby formula.’
That’s not a typical comment from a pro breastfeeding health-care personnel. If I had enough knowledge about breastfeeding, I could easily reply her that newborn has enough reserves to survive up to 72 hours and colostrum ( the early phase of milk) would suffice him. So again, mistake #1 play a role too here.
My baby was put in the nursery based on nurse’s advice, so that I could get some rest. Mistake #1 and #2, because a pro-breastfeeding nurse would have advised us to room-in with baby. I was at fault too, not knowing how important it is to room in with baby. By putting baby in nursery, you miss the earliest opportunities to know your baby, her hunger cues, and chances are you’ll miss some feedings, especially if the nurses are not cooperative enough to bring the baby to you regularly.
When I came to clinic for a follow-up one day after discharge, the doctor criticized me for not eating enough, causing me not having enough milk, and again, warned me to feed my baby formula milk if my milk supply doesn’t improve.
Imagine my feeling, a first-time mother, sleep-deprived and tired, wanted to get doctor’s advice, only to get criticized.
Well, some of you may think that I’m too exaggerating the condition. But believe me, taking care of mother’s physiological aspect is as important as taking care the mother and baby physically. If not, why postpartum mother are at higher risk of having depression? Answer it yourself.
So this is why, having supportive health care personnel is very critical in your breastfeeding journey. This is especially crucial because they play a BIG role in the early days of breastfeeding.
Give your milk supply a head start!
Start preparing for breastfeeding even before your baby arrives with this FREE checklist.
Mistake #3: Separated from baby after birth
Do you know that what happened on the early days of breastfeeding may affect your milk supply on long term? This is especially true for the first hour after birth.
Spending the first hour after birth with your baby by skin-to-skin contact, cuddling, and nursing have been proven to increase the success rate of breastfeeding. With my first baby, I didn’t experience long skin-to-skin contact with my baby. Only 15 minutes and the nurse quickly placed him inside a warmer to ‘keep him warm’.
I didn’t object because I don’t have enough knowledge to begin with, so I just follow what I thought ‘a standard procedure’, which was wrong (again, mistake #1 plays a role, too). I should have gotten my ‘right’ to have skin-to-skin contact with my newborn. Other non-critical medical procedure such as weighing and such can wait.
Another important thing to do right after birth is to practice rooming-in (having your newborn always placed in the same room as yours). When a baby is placed in the nursery, you become dependent on nurses to bring your baby to you. OK, if the nurses are supportive, they may send your baby regularly for feeding. But sometimes, nurses can be very busy, you need to request many times to bring your baby in.
By placing your baby in nursery, you also miss the very first opportunity to learn about your baby’s hunger cue. If you could identify your baby’s cue early enough, you may be able to avoid the great fussiness that happens because baby already too hungry.
I learnt this the hard way. I didn’t really learn about my baby’s cue and rely too much on what the nurse said. As the result, I got shocked on the very first day we brought the baby home because he’s so attached to me all the night. So, once again, the bottom line here is avoid separating with baby right after birth.
Mistake #4 Not surrounded by supportive spouse /family OR they have no idea HOW to give correct support
Your family loves you and your baby so much. I can assure that for sure. They also respect your decision to breastfeed the baby. But without knowledge, how would they be able to support you the correct way.
Typical example would be like this. Taking care of newborn can be very exhausting. You need some rest and that’s when your family could help you by taking care of the baby while you catch some sleep. But problem occurs when the baby starts crying for hunger, but your family does not want to disturb your sleep.
Formula feeding to the rescue. You know, introducing supplementation when it is not necessary can RUIN your milk supply. And that’s the beginning how your milk supply can suffer.
Older generation -my parents included-could not stand a crying baby long enough. They associated every cry with hunger, which is incorrect. Can you believe that, I was just having my quick shower, only to find that my mom has already fed my baby because she thought the baby was hungry and could not wait until mummy finished the shower. Ridiculous!
So, you can see from the examples, how family may ‘accidentally’ make your milk supply worse by giving incorrect support.
I was at fault too, because I should sort of ‘educate’ my family member on how they can support my breastfeeding effort.
Another example – this is a real case that I read from ‘a guide to making more milk’. The husband was trying to be helpful by cooking his wife a warm soup for her meal for the first few days. And surprisingly, her milk supply starts to dwindle down quickly after that.
After investigation by lactation consultant, it turns out that the culprit was the soup, because the soup uses a generous amount of sage leaves, one of herbs known of its milk reducing effect.
Are you going to say that her husband is at fault because cooking soup for his wife? Of course not! But simply because he doesn’t know about this milk reducing herb, is what cause the milk supply issue.
So again, here we see how critical it is to make sure your family member know how to support your breastfeeding effort correctly.
Give your milk supply a head start!
Start preparing for breastfeeding even before your baby arrives with this FREE checklist.
#5 Playing a perfect housewife role and …
NOT dedicating the first two weeks solely for yourself and your baby.
I have a perfect mother (at least, in my opinion). She can do anything. I admire her so much such that I want to do things exactly like what she does. I’m so obsessed that she can do basically many things postpartum without much help from the surrounding family, like she’s been washing her baby cloth (by hand) right from day one. FYI, my father was overseas when she gave birth to my elder sister, so she was literally alone.
I know you’ll say that I’m so silly lol, but yes I was, and I was tempted to do this ‘perfect housewife’ thing. So I refused to have more rest when my baby is sleeping (insisted that I’m not tired at all) when at night I turned into swaying zombie. I still took a good amount of household chores when in fact I didn’t even need to think about it. I was so stubborn.
Only upon reflection on why my breastfeeding has become so challenging, I realize that this is one reason I didn’t get a great start. I thought I shouldn’t ‘waste’ my time the whole day only to nurse, sleep, change the diaper, bathe the baby, and all. When the truth is actually YOU SHOULD. When the truth is actually you should ignore anything else and focus on taking care of your baby and yourself.
This is especially important in the first two weeks (read here to know why). Now the baby is your priority and anything else can wait. Another thing to focus is YOURSELF. I know it is not easy to get a good rest in the early days with your newborn, but try your best. If you have totally-wreck night sleep, try to catch some naps while your baby naps.
Also, pay attention to your diet. You want to have as nutritious food as possible to nourish your body, and subsequently your baby. Stay hydrated and drink enough liquid. Water, juice, milk, whatever. A normal adult needs in average 2 liters of water to drink per day. And now your body is working hard to produce precious milk for your baby. So, drink even more! Don’t let your busy schedule of taking care of your newborn prevent you from having healthy meals (PS: healthy meals postpartum is affordable. I’ll talk about it in the future post).
RELATED: 5 Benefits of Protein Powder for Breastfeeding Moms
So here they are. Five common breastfeeding mistakes that I DID in the early days of breastfeeding my first born, which ruined my milk supply.
Wheww.. it turns out to be quite a lengthy post, but I sincerely want you to really understand how fatal each mistake could be.
Tell me, have you done the same mistake, too? Which one? Or do you want to confess some other mistakes that you did? I’d love to hear from you.
In the next part of this chronicle, I’ll tell you how I avoided and fixed these mistakes with my second baby, with some detailed tips that you may be curious about. Stay tune!
Great tips. I can’t believe some of the things people in healthcare told you about breastfeeding. They should know better. It is awful they chose to criticize you instead of educate you. Maybe if they knew all the terrible things in formula, they would not push it on mothers. I am glad you learned these things. I wish you would have had a better experience from the start.
Very true, Kristie.
We learnt better from mistake, I guess. I don’t want other mothers to experience what I had, that’s why I share my story. I agree with you that healthcare people should educate themselves more about breastfeeding. But I see and increasing positive trend about breastfeeding awareness. Now more hospital are baby-friendly, and they educate the nurse to be lactation-certified.
Jenny West says
If you are producing low breast milk out of one reason or the other, rebuild your production with the help of healthy nursing tea. I have experienced this tea with great results.
Great article on breastfeeding. Its great to see someone writing about breast feeding and promoting it. I agree with all 5 of your points. I have 4 children and breastfed them all. I did all of the 5 things that you suggested with all of my children and i still found it difficult breastfeeding. Women need to know that even if they do all 5 of the points you mentioned they still may have difficulty but they should keep going with it because it is the best for your baby……
You have a good point here. My objective here is not to make this list all inclusive. Even when you avoid these mistakes, you may still have difficulty breastfeeding, but at least the learning curve will be easier.
You may want to read my article here about 30+ tips to make breastfeeding easier for new moms. You’ll find more tips over there.
I believe another mistake is constantly nursing. The fact is, no matter what others would like to say, a mom CAN run out of sufficient milk for a short time. If she’s been pumping, that’d be a great time to feed baby from the bottle – that way, baby gets fed and her body gets the rest and time to replenish that it needs. During my first breastfeeding journey, I’d have given up within a few months if I’d listened to those who say “nurse! nurse! nurse!”. I wasn’t able to pump, so I supplemented with formula – ONLY when I deemed it necessary. Meaning, not after every feeding, not once a day, but only when it was obvious I hadn’t given her enough milk.
There IS a proper place for supplementation, ladies. There’s also a place for just nursing the baby. The point is, use your own brain to figure out which one you & your baby need and do that. By the way, that baby is now 5 years old & she’s still breastfeeding.
For the other points, I made many of those mistakes with my oldest. I didn’t do much research. I allowed him to be in the nursery (once). I also had NO support in continuing to breastfeed him. At that time, I had no idea goat milk was a viable option, so I switched him to store-bought formula at 1 month old. For what it’s worth, even if I’d done everything right, even if I’d had the support, I don’t think I could’ve fed him my milk for long. No pump and a bad sore on my nipple that needed time to heal – time that was detrimental to my supply. At least with my now 5yo daughter, I had virtual support – just not any in real life. Anyway, I also didn’t do skin to skin with my son. By the time my daughter arrived, I had learned, thankfully. I’d done enough research that I didn’t *need* familial support, though it would’ve been nice. I knew listening to my baby’s hunger cues and doing what I believed she needed was the most important thing to our journey – regardless of what others tried to tell me. Skin to skin was a constant, too; I even tried wearing her (my beginning months in the babywearing field were so pitiful, lol! Point is, I was trying).
Now that I’ve had a baby with colic, I would like to put this out there as well: try to breastfeed. But pay close attention to what your baby’s telling you! My milk hurts my baby’s tummy, even with the probiotics we now give her (DD3). I decided that the benefits of breastmilk simply didn’t outweigh the amount of pain my milk puts her in, once I knew what to look for. Since I switched to goat milk formula & started her on probiotics, things are much, MUCH better! Colic is still there (she’s 4.5 months old), but she’s not screaming at every feeding, all day long. This has enabled me to figure out the best ways to treat her, pay attention to my other kids, and do the household chores that have to be done.
I really liked this post! It was very informative, and the author and I are in total agreeance – we need to identify and learn from our mistakes, or we’re doomed to repeat them.
I really appreciate you taking time to share your experience.
We all love to hear each other breastfeeding experience, don’t we?
Having said that, what works for one mom may not work for others.
So, read as many resources as you can and learn on the go what works for you and your baby.
I had to supplement my first child because I felt he was not getting enough from me . He was constantly crying and eventually I relented to mixed feeding because of the pressure. When I had my second, I was really determined and thank God I chanced upon this blog . It has not only been helpful to prepare me, but also understanding all the pros and cons about breast feeding. I would say the biggest scarifice would be time and not be able to enjoy some things if you choose to exclusive breastfeed, which is totally OK with me. I took your advice and pointers . My baby was a gentle sucker and since I also had to tend to my 2 yr old son, I had to pump and feed her through bottle with the Medela Calma teat and so, as and when, throughout the day, I will breastfeed her. So far the trqnsaction was smooth, she did not have any nipple confusion. The bottomline for me now is, if you choose to breastfeed, DO IT, no matter what method you choose. And yes, getting SUPPORT from the people around you is IMPORTANT. I have had enough of people telling me to supplement with formula or to add nestum to my milk so that my baby will be full longer. Total BS. She is not even 6 mths yet! A baby is a baby. They will cry. Their stomach can only take so much at a time. And after a while, you as a mother, will pick up on the instincts of what she wants by the cries. Every cries does not equate to hunger all the time.
The Spectra breast pump you recommended was a heaven sent for me in aiding me to express and I was able to keep some stash whenever I travel (really helps to place me in a peaceful state of mind). I hope this blog will be read by all expectant mothers so at least they can get as much knowledge as possible and have a proper headstart. Once again, thank you!
Thank you so much for taking time to write your comment and sharing your story.
My heart feels warm reading it. It means a lot to me that other moms get benefit from reading my blog. So thank you very much for letting me know.
I do agree with you that better preparation leading to a better breastfeeding success. I also had similar story with you, my first was mixed fed, while the second was exclusively breastfed. Yes, it is not easy, but totally worth it.