Lactation Lessons From An Expert
Updated April 22nd 2022
What does “breast is best” really mean? And is it true? I recently sat down to be interviewed by Megan Pearson at The Fertile at 40 Podcast to talk all things lactation.
Megan and I quickly discovered that we shared many similarities in our breastfeeding journeys. We were both experiencing painful feedings, we both had a gut feeling that something else was going on and we both lacked the support we really needed.
We sat down to discuss:
- What I think about the saying “breast is best“
- How new parents can set themselves up for breastfeeding success
- How older women can support themselves in the breastfeeding journey
- What foods can help with milk supply
We talked about how pain isn’t normal
A big misconception around breastfeeding is that it’s supposed to be painful. Breastfeeding should be enjoyable and comfortable, not painful; no matter what your mother-in-law says. A painful latch means we can improve something.
In the first few days/week your nipples might be tender. Mild soreness or tenderness can be normal provided pain goes away after a few seconds of your baby being latched, the pain doesn’t last the entire feeding, doesn’t show up after the feeding has ended and there are no concerns over milk supply or weight gain.
If you’re dreading feeding or pumping due to pain or if you’re holding your breath while your baby latches, there’s a reason for your pain and you deserve to get skilled support. If someone tells you pain is normal or dismisses your concerns, that’s a red flag to find someone else knowledgeable in lactation.
We talked about milk supply
Removing milk could be by your baby at a feeding or by a pump or by hand expression. What’s most important to consider is that the milk removal is effective. If milk is removed ineffectively, milk will be left behind in the breast. When milk is left behind, the body adapts and slows down milk production. When your baby is effectively removing milk because they have a good latch and you’re still concerned about your supply, you may start considering galactagogues.
There are foods and supplements (and medications) that can increase milk supply. These are called galactagogues. While there’s many products out there claiming to boost milk supply, it’s important to know galactagogues are not a “quick-fix”. Galactagogues will not stimulate a let down nor will they help empty the breasts. They need to be combined with an effective latch and frequent milk removal.
Grab my free video guide to what might be hindering your supply here.
We talked about skin to skin
Enjoying time skin-to-skin with your baby releases oxytocin which is the hormone that helps your milk let-down. In addition, this provides comfort and a safe space for your little one. Skin to skin helps regulate your baby’s body temperature and reduces stress in both your baby and you. A lower level of stress helps support milk production. Your baby is biologically wired to want to be close to you.
You do skin to skin immediately following birth during the “golden hour” and can also do skin to skin in a warm bath after you’re home. This is another great environment to breastfeed your baby. Allow any attempt or opportunity your baby takes to breastfeed during skin to skin. The more often they are at the breast, the more opportunity to increase your supply.
We talked about support
This can make all the difference when it comes to reaching your breastfeeding goals. You need to be informed and supported. You deserve to work with someone skilled in lactation. The average pediatrician or nurse is not. You deserve the time and attention it takes to find the root of why you’re struggling.
You can listen to the full episode HERE
If you have questions when it comes to feeding your baby, join Breastfeeding Mavens. My free community where you can connect with other moms who are feeling just like you.
Campbell, S.H., Lauwers, J., Mannel, R., & Spencer, B. (2019). Core Curriculum for interdisciplinary lactation care. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Newman, J. & Pitman, T. (2014). Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Wilson-Clay, B., & Hoover, K. (2017). The breastfeeding atlas (6th ed.). Manchaca, Tex.: LactNews Press.