We’re thankful when parents and their nursing babies are surrounded by supportive people: the partners, grandparents, and even sisters-in-law and friends who understand that new parents aren’t meant to breastfeed alone. These breastfeeding supporters often call us to come help their loved ones get comfortable and enjoy breastfeeding!
Because so many people today haven’t seen many babies nurse, many don’t recognize what’s “typical” and expected, and when things are “off” and professional breastfeeding support from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is needed. Attending a prenatal breastfeeding class (we offer one at the Brooklyn Birthing Center) or a parent support group like La Leche League can help parents learn what to expect from breastfeeding newborns.
The earlier a breastfeeding problem is recognized, the easier it is to fix. Sometimes, tweaking a position is all that’s needed. Other times, parents or babies may need a little more help.
How do you know when to call for breastfeeding support?
- Painful latch or pain during feedings. Pain means something needs to change; sometimes it means adjusting baby’s position or mom’s position or her breast. Other times it means baby needs to relax a tight muscle in his neck or have his tongue mobility evaluated. (If baby’s tongue can’t move properly, he may have a hard time maintaining a comfortable latch and transferring milk.)
- Lipstick nipple. After baby unlatches, your nipple should look like it did before breastfeeding, not squashed or pointed like a new tube of lipstick.
- Low diaper output. When babies are nursing well, we expect to see at least 1 dirty diaper on day 1, at least 2 on day 2, and at least 3 on day 3 through the first 6 weeks. However, once baby receives supplements or breastmilk by bottle, the diaper output doesn’t tell us anything about breastfeeding…so please call for help if supplements are suggested.
- Baby’s weight. Babies stop losing weight after the first few days, and then gain about ounce a day (for the first 4 months); call an IBCLC if that’s not happening. If supplementation is needed, IBCLCs can help you figure out how much to offer and how to protect and/or increase milk production.
- Clogged ducts or mastitis. When milk isn’t removed well (because baby isn’t nursing well or often enough), it can get clogged in milk duct. If that pea-sized clog isn’t cleared by nursing/pumping, it can become an infection called mastitis, which requires antibiotics in addition to milk removal.
As the parent of your baby, you know your baby best. If something doesn’t feel right, even if it’s not listed above, please call! A home visit from an IBCLC can reassure you that things are going well, or help you figure out any issues and create a plan to address them so you and your baby nurse comfortably and meet your breastfeeding goals.