One of the greatest joys I experienced as a new mom was breastfeeding my newborn baby. I breastfed him until he was 2 and truly enjoyed most of the experience. There was a bond that was tangible during the entire journey that I feel lucky to have experienced. However, on the flip side, breastfeeding can be wrought with worry and concern that it’s not going the way that it should and the baby is actually not getting enough nutrients.
The doctors and nurses, after delivery, give you a quick rundown on how to nurse and what to look out for. But, with a new baby in the house and settling hormones, it can feel like you are going crazy and remembering everything they said to look out for can be difficult. During my time breastfeeding, I worried about my son not getting enough milk, not producing enough milk, and everything else in between.
While many times, a woman’s body knows what it’s doing and trusting that is key, there are red flags that every nursing mom should watch out for to ensure their little one is getting everything they need during each session. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing but it’s vital that these red flags are caught before they become worse.
15 Do You See White Residue?
You may notice a thick, white residue on your baby’s tongue and in her mouth. While the breast milk can actually cause a slight white residue on your baby’s tongue, this situation is quite different. Thrush is a type of yeast infection that happens with newborn babies. It is fairly common and is not due to anything the mom has done wrong. Babies are exposed to yeast on their way through the birth canal as yeast is a normal, good bacteria to have in the body when it is kept within moderation. Since the baby is given antibiotics right after birth, these too can kick start an overgrowth of yeast. The baby can pass the infection to the mom during breastfeeding and it’s important that it’s taken care of for the mom and the baby to prevent continuous spreading. While it’s harmless overall, it can make your baby and you quite uncomfortable. Baby can cry and experience discomfort during nursing or sucking on a pacifier to the point that they refuse it all together. The treatment for mom and baby is quick and simple but totally necessary.
14 The Diaper Stays Dry
Being a first time mom, it can be difficult to determine how many wet diapers is normal and when to be alarmed. However, by the time you are released from the hospital and home for a few days, the baby’s wet diapers should be consistent. Generally, professionals say that babies should be producing about 5-6 wet diapers a day. While this is definitely not a hard and fast rule, it is one that should be used to measure how much the baby is wetting a diaper. If, suddenly, the baby is not wetting about 5-6 six diapers in a day, there is a chance that the baby is not getting enough milk. It is hard to tell how much milk a baby is actually getting when nursing but if they aren’t wetting diapers, that is an indicator that they are not consuming much. It is definitely an issue that should be addressed right away as the milk is the baby’s only source of nutrients.
13 The Color Is Off
If it is your first time nursing, there are more than enough things to worry about. However, one of the lesser talked about issues is a foremilk and hindmilk imbalance. If you are nursing and not pumping any milk for your babe to have when you are away, this is less likely to be an issue. However, if you are pumping some milk to allow your partner to feed the baby or because you want to be able to do activities away from home and away from your nursing newborn, it is important to be mindful of this. Foremilk is a thin watery milk that lacks the amazing nutrients found in breast milk. It looks thinner and less rich. Hindmilk is the thick wonderful milk that is full of the antibodies that your baby needs. If your pumped milk has too much foremilk, your baby will not be receiving the necessary nutrients. Pay attention to any discoloration or pigment changes as you pump. Talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant if you notice a change.
12 Yellowing Skin, Eyes, And Nails
One of the most common ailments that newborn babies are born with is jaundice. This is especially true when it comes to babies that are born vaginally. Typically, the doctors and nurses can are able to take care of the problem before it gets out of hand and you and baby are sent home. Usually, the baby is put under blue lights that help to eat up the excess bilirubin that is circulating through the baby’s liver. However, in some cases, the heightened bilirubin levels can return once the baby gets home.
While jaundice is quite common and typically, it is not something to be overly alarmed about, it can lead to deafness, cerebral palsy, and death in extreme cases if it goes untreated. While it is rare, my son experienced this and five years later, his doctors stills remembers this situation. The baby should be able to get rid of the excess bilirubin on their own at home by eating and pooping. However, if they aren’t eating enough, they will not be able to lower their levels and their skin, nails, and eyes will become noticeably yellow. If you notice yellowing skin on your nursing baby, call your pediatrician immediately to avoid unnecessary side effects.
11 Latching And Unlatching
There are few greater feelings for a new nursing mom than feeling her baby latch on correctly. It can be a tough adjustment for mom’s body and the baby however, once you get it right, it feels encouraging. However, when the baby is latching and unlatching continuously throughout the nursing session, it is a sign that something is not right. When your little one latches onto the breast, they should be connected until the nursing session is over and the naturally let go. When the baby latches and unlatches over and over again, it is a sign that they haven’t gotten the nursing process down pact just yet. There is no need to be discouraged as many babies have issues latching on correctly. Seek help from a lactation consultant or your doctor to help your baby latch correctly for a satisfying nursing experience.
10 There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Milk
One of the immediate concerns that are associated with new breastfeeding moms is not being able to produce enough milk. When I decided to breastfeed my son, I was always worried about my supply drying up. It is not very often that women talk about the concerns of having too much milk. Oversupply can cause your baby just as much trouble as not having enough milk can. It can be difficult to determine if you are producing too much milk. Some of the signs is a forceful, painful let down and pain even after you have finished nursing. As far as your baby goes, they may experience gagging, choking, gas, and discomfort. They will unlatch often and cry during nursing. An oversupply can lead to a forceful let down that is painful for you and the baby. Your doctor can advise on how to dry up your supply a bit to fix the issue for more comfortable nursing.
9 The Nips Look Different
Some critics of formula feeding say that every women is able to breastfeed, even if it is for a short amount of time. However, for women that have flat or inverted nipples, breastfeeding can seem impossible. Contrary to what others believe, the baby does not suck on the nipple during breastfeeding. The nipple should be fixed in the back of their mouths, towards their throat. If you have flat nipples or inverted nipples, it can be very difficult for the baby to latch onto the breast and get milk through the nipples. It can be discouraging and feeding your baby can be difficult in the beginning. Having flat or inverted nipples might be something you haven’t noticed before starting your breastfeeding journey. If your baby is having consistent latching issues, seek help from a lactation consultant or your doctor to determine if flat or inverted nipples are the issue.
8 What's Lurking In The Diaper?
Like everything in life, what goes in must come out. This is the same for your baby. Whatever your little one takes in, especially when their diet consists of breast milk or formula, will have a direct effect on what you find in their diaper. In the beginning, your baby’s first poop will be almost black and is called meconium. It is normal and should lighten up as they start to enjoy breast milk. However, as your baby gets the hang of nursing, it is important to keep an eye on their diaper contents and make note of any changes. If your baby’s poops become light in color or frothy, this is a sign that they are not getting enough hindmilk and you may have an imbalance. The nutrients of breast milk lie in the nutrient dense hindmilk and not in the thin, lightly colored foremilk. If your baby is not getting enough hindmilk, they will have a hard time gaining weight and have poops that reflect the problem. It is imperative to fix the imbalance by working with your doctor.
7 Is The Baby Running The Clock?
Every baby is different and they all can nurse differently. However, your baby should nurse between 20-45 minutes during each session. That is a big enough window where most babies can fall between there. If your baby is nursing for an hour, there is an issue. It can be that your baby is not latched on correctly and is getting very little milk at a time so they have to nurse longer. It could be that your baby isn’t getting any milk at all. There could be an issue with your flow or a delayed let down. Either way, your baby should not have overly extended nursing sessions every time they nurse. There are times where your baby, as they get older especially, will nurse just for comfort. However, you will learn the difference and notice when your baby is trying to eat but is not getting enough milk at one time.
6 It's Too Quiet
When I first had my little baby boy, I decided I was going to nurse him. I had been told my fair share of horror stories when it came to nursing but no one told me how sweet it would sound to hear my baby suckling and swallowing the milk. I miss that feeling immensely now that he is a big boy. During a nursing session, you should be able to hear your baby swallowing and making soft suckling sounds. This is an indicator that they are getting milk and swallowing it. Babies do nurse for comfort so hearing them swallow is a clear way to be able to tell the difference. If your baby is quiet during their feedings and you can’t hear those sounds, there might be a latching issue and your babe might not be getting enough milk or any at all.
5 The Pain Won't Stop
Breastfeeding was one of the most difficult parts of having a new baby. It is quite painful in the beginning and can be painful for the first few weeks. However, the pain associated with the baby learning how to latch is a specific, localized pain that is external. The pain associated with engorgement, which can also occur when a mom’s milk first comes in, is also a specific type of pain that is manageable and is relieved after feedings. However, if you are dealing with pain after feedings that is continuous and difficult to manage, you may have an infection called mastitis. If not addressed, moms can suffer from incredible pain, including fevers as well as a drop in milk supply. Mastitis can be cleared up quickly, with the help of your doctor, but should not be put on the back burner.
4 The Pounds Aren't Adding Up
It is a pretty simple formula. The baby nurses often and on demand which means they should be gaining weight. While a baby’s weight is definitely dependent on the baby as some can be a bit heavier than others, every baby should be consistently gaining weight as they are get older. After the first week, it is normal for the baby to lose a pound or 2 after birth at their first check up. However, after that time, the baby should be consistently gaining weight. If the baby is not gaining weight consistently, and you are a nursing mom, there is a chance that the baby is not getting a sufficient amount of milk. Medical professionals say that the average breastfed baby should gain about 6 ounces a week. If the doctor notices the baby isn’t gaining weight or you notice that your baby isn’t progressing in the weight department, contact your pediatrician.
3 Nonstop Tears
Newborn babies cry when they are hungry, when they need a change, when they are tired, and when they need some love. It can seem like the baby is crying nonstop. However, after awhile, you will learn the differences in your baby’s cries and how to soothe them. If your baby is crying to the point of them being inconsolable, especially after nursing, it is likely that there is a problem. The problem can vary. Your baby could be dealing with pain when they are nursing which is causing them to cry out in pain. It can also be that they are not getting enough milk and the baby is still hungry. Either way, if your baby is crying excessively, and you will know through your instincts as a mom of it is excessive, then there could be an issue surrounding your nursing sessions.
2 The Gassy Behind
One of the worst symptoms a baby can have in general is gas. It disturbs their delicate digestive systems terribly and makes them cry and fuss to no end. Since the baby can tell you that they need to have a good burp to feel better, you can feel like you are going crazy trying to figure out how to help your baby feel better. When it comes to nursing, if your baby is dealing with constant gas pains every time a feeding ends, it is likely an issue with how they are nursing or the flow of your milk. When adults scarf down their food and let in too much air, we can have indigestion and gas pains. For a baby, it is a similar issue. When a baby is gulping and choking too much during a nursing session, they are letting in excessive air causing them to have built up gas and it can be painful.
1 The Delayed Let-Down
There is really no way to describe the feeling of milk being let down when you are a nursing mom. It is a distinct change and tingly feeling almost that you feel in your breasts. This can happen when your baby is nursing or when you’re in the grocery store alone and hear a baby crying 3 ailes over. Either way, you will know when the milk is on it’s way. When you are actually feeding your baby, your breast should let down within the first several second of the baby being on the boob. This allows the milk to flow freely and easily. However, if you notice that it is taking several minutes for this to happen and your baby is crying, fussing, and becoming frustrated because the milk is not coming, you might have a delayed let down. Talk to your doctor about how you can encourage your body to be on the same page as your babe’s needs.