15 Biggest Mistakes Women Make While Breastfeeding

“Breast is best." It’s one of the most common slogans that expectant mothers hear. While yes, breastfeeding may offer a tremendous amount of benefits for mother and baby, sometimes, it doesn’t always come so easily.

Sure, it may seem like something that is so natural should be easy enough to do, but for many women, this isn’t the case. In fact, for so many women, breastfeeding is a real challenge. Despite their desire to breastfeed, there are a number of issues that can occur that make it difficult for women – and their babies – to succeed at breastfeeding.

For expectant moms who have never breastfed before and are feeling nervous, or for new moms who are just entering the breastfeeding world, it’s important to be aware that yes, mistakes can happen. Even more so, it’s important to know that those mistakes can be fixed. When women know what types of breastfeeding mishaps can occur and how to fix them, they have a better chance at experiencing a happy, successful breastfeeding experience.

Above all else, what’s really important to remember is that breastfeeding is different for every woman, and for every baby. It’s also important to know that mishaps can happen. Here’s a look at breastfeeding mistakes that real moms have encountered, and how to corrected them.

15 The Baby Might Be Starving (So Pay Attention To The Signs)

A lot of breastfeeding moms assume that because they are feeding their baby when he is hungry, that their baby is getting enough to eat. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

If you aren’t feeding long enough, or you aren’t producing enough milk, your little one isn’t going to get the milk that he needs, which could lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Being aware of the signs that your baby isn’t getting enough breast milk is crucial to ensure he is thriving. Signs to look out for include:

  • Lack of weight gain
  • Less than 6 wet diapers in a 24-hour period
  • His urine is dark in color, similar to the color of apple juice
  • Excessive fussiness, even after eating

14 Sticking To A Schedule Can Ruin Milk Supply

Schedules are important for moms and for their babies. It lets mom know what needs to be done, and adds some sense of normalcy to her life, and it lets baby know what to expect and can make her feel more secure. However, scheduling feedings, especially if you are breastfeeding, isn’t always the best idea. In fact, many lactation consultants say that it’s a big mistake.

When it comes to feeding, if you are sticking to a schedule, you could actually end up decreasing your milk supply. You could also reduce the fat content in your breast milk. As a result, your baby may not be getting the nutrition that she needs. Instead, it’s best to ditch the schedule and just feed your baby when she’s hungry.

13 If The Pain Gets Worst, Call The Doctor

Yes, some amount of pain is certainly to be expected, especially when a mom is first learning how to get the hang of breastfeeding. There can be some twinges of pain, especially when the baby latches on for the first few times. However, after a few days, if you are still experiencing pain, it isn’t normal. Once you get into the sync of breastfeeding, you really shouldn’t feel too much pain.

If you find that breastfeeding is painful, there are a number of factors that could be causing it. Your baby could have a poor latch, you could be engorged, or your baby may be tongue-tied. There’s also a chance that you might have an infection. If you are experiencing pain, contact a lactation consultant to try and pinpoint – and correct – the cause.

12 Remember: The Pump Isn't A Baby

Whether it’s to ensure their babies have breast milk when mom isn’t available to breastfeed, or it’s to up their supply, a lot of nursing moms pump. A lot of nursing moms also base their milk supply on the amount of milk they output when they are pumping. That’s definitely a mistake.

A pump isn’t a baby. It doesn’t remove milk from the breasts as efficiently as a baby does. Also, milk supply changes from day to day. In other words, your pumping output isn’t a proper indication of your milk supply. If your baby is gaining weight, has more than 6 wet diapers a day, and seems satisfied, than you are probably making enough milk; however, if you think that you aren’t producing enough milk, speak to a lactation consultant.

11 Breastfeeding For Too Long Can Be Dangerous

Experts recommend breastfeeding a baby for the first year of life; beyond that is considered “extended breastfeeding.” There are a lot of women who do feed past the one year mark, and some who feed until their children have reached 4 or 5 years old (which is old enough to be in kindergarten.)

Moms who breastfeed this long believe that the child benefits; however, some specialists say that it could actually stunt a child’s development. They believe that it can inhibit a child’s ability to learn how to self-soothe. Plus, a lot of people question if extended breastfeeding is appropriate and believe that it could cause psychological damage, and that it prevents a child from becoming independent.

10 There's More Than One Position

A baby crawls on his mom in bed.

A lot of moms assume that there is only one position to breastfeed in – the cradle hold. While this position is certainly the most commonly used (the baby is cradled in the arm on the side that you are feeding from,) it’s not the only position. In fact, there are a lot of breastfeeding positions, like the crossover hold (holding baby with the arm opposite the breast you are feeding from,) the football hold (baby is positions at your side with the legs tucked under your arms, just like a football,) and the side-lying position (you and baby lie on your sides, tummies facing each other).

Just because one position doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. Try different positions to find the one that works best.

9 Don't Stick To Only One Side

Another mistake that a lot of newbie breastfeeding moms make is feeding from just one breast. In order to ensure that both breasts are producing enough milk, it’s important to alternate between them during feedings. For example, allow your baby to eat for an equal amount of time from each breast during feeding sessions. If you don’t, the one your baby eats from more will produce more milk. On top of that, one breast could become engorged, which could lead to pain and even infection. Plus, you’ll look a little lopsided if you are only feeding from one side.

Experts recommend finishing a feeding session on the opposite breast you started it with. This can help ensure your milk supply is even in both breasts.

8 Don't Push The Pacifier Too Soon

Yet another common mistake that many women make when it comes to breastfeeding is introducing a bottle or a pacifier too soon.

Sure, you can give your baby a pacifier or a bottle, but avoid doing so until you have successfully established breastfeeding. Bottles and pacifiers could cause nipple confusion, which may make it difficult for your baby to latch on while breastfeeding. On top of that, it’s much easier for a baby to remove milk from a bottle than from a breast. If you introduce a bottle too soon, your little one may prefer the bottle to your breast just because it’s easier. And, pacifiers and bottles could actually reduce your milk supply, which could make things even more challenging.

7 And Don't Force The Formula Either

It goes without saying that moms want to make sure that their babies are getting enough to eat. Many breastfeeding moms are paranoid that their milk supply is low and decide to supplement with formula to ensure their little ones are getting enough to eat. However, lactation consultants say that often, what moms think is a low supply isn’t. They also say that introducing formula can actually decrease mom’s milk supply.

If you believe you aren’t producing enough breast milk, speak to a lactation consultant before you do. These professionals can determine if your milk supply is low and if your little one is getting enough to eat. If not, they can also help you figure out the best solution.

6 Consume More Calories Than Nursing Burns

Breastfeeding burns an estimated 300 to 500 calories a day. That’s because the body is working non-stop to make breast milk for the baby. If mom isn’t consuming enough calories to replace those that are lost, her body will start to draw on her calories reserves. Eventually, those reserves will dry up. When there aren’t enough calories, the quality and quantity of breast milk can definitely be affected, which could, in turn, affect the baby. On top of that, mom’s energy levels will be impacted, as will her overall health.

Experts suggest that breastfeeding women should eat about 500 more calories a day (based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet.) If you're feeling super run-down, it may be because you aren't eating enough calories.

5 But Remember: What Mom Eats, The Baby Eats

Whatever a breastfeeding mom eats, her baby eats, too. For example, if you are eating a lot of spicy food, it could affect your breast milk, making it taste spicy to your baby. Likewise, if you are eating a lot of gassy foods, your little one could also become gassy. Too much caffeine can also affect your breast milk and disrupt your baby’s sleep patterns.

If you are noticing any changes in your baby’s disposition, it might be because of the foods you are eating. Pay attention to any changes in your baby, and pay attention to your diet. You might have to lighten up on the chili powder or limit how much cabbage you are eating. Again, a lactation consultant can offer valuable advice.

4 Never EVER Skip A Session

In order to produce more milk, a breastfeeding mama needs to remove the milk that her body has already produced. The best way to do that is to feed the baby; however, if baby isn’t hungry or if mama isn’t with the baby and misses a feeding, pumping is the next best option.

Skipping pumping sessions can seriously reduce your milk supply. So, ever time your baby takes a bottle, or you aren’t with your little one for a few hours, you want to make sure that you pump. Doing so will not only allow you to add to your stock pile of breast milk in your fridge or freezer, but it will also ensure your baby is getting enough milk when you are breastfeeding her.

3 It's Natural For Breastfeeding Not To Come Naturally

Since breastfeeding is “supposed” to come naturally, many women don’t ask for help. They assume that they have to figure it out on their own. In reality, however, breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally for many moms, and issues can certainly arise.

It is going to take time for you and your baby to establish breastfeeding, and you might need help to do so. If you are having any difficulties, such as pain, your baby isn’t latching properly, or your little one doesn’t seem to want to latch, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A lactation consultant can provide valuable support that will make breastfeeding easier for you and your baby, increasing your success. Ask your spouse and anyone else you trust for support, too.

2 Don't Give In To The #Bressure

New moms face a lot of pressures. Out of all the pressures they face, however, breast feeding is perhaps one of the most intense. Many moms feel like they are scrutinized if they aren’t breastfeeding, if they are formula feeding in addition to breastfeeding, or if they are exclusively pumping.

A lot of moms are scrutinized if they use a bottle, because, as the saying goes, “breast is best.” However, it’s not best for everyone. Every mom and every baby has different needs. If bottle feeding works for you and your baby, you should never feel the need to give into “bressure”. Unfortunately, though, a lot of nursing moms do give into the pressures society puts on them, which could potentially be harmful for baby and mom.

1 Don't Feeling Ashamed For Nursing In Public

It’s funny (not ha, ha) that moms are pressured to breastfeed, yet are shamed when they do so in public. The general public tells moms that they should be breastfeeding, but only if they don’t have to witness the breastfeeding. What in the actual hell?

So many moms are made to feel ashamed for breastfeeding in public. People make rude comments, ask women to cover up or feed in the BATHROOM (gross!), and even say that it’s disgusting to watch. If you are made to feel ashamed for feeding your baby in public, remember this: it is the most natural way to feed a baby! It’s actually what your breasts are made for! Hold your head up high and feed your baby in public, mama!

More in Pregnancy