Breastfeeding sometimes seems so complicated, especially when it’s not going well. Like Maddie, I deal with a lot of tongue-tied babies, and so a situation where either baby can’t latch, or won’t because of trauma, or mum cannot latch baby on because of pain or nipple trauma, is sadly not all that uncommon for me.
‘The Rules’ make life simple.
If a mum wants to breastfeed, the rules are:
1. Feed the damn baby*. However is necessary.
2. Protect mum’s supply. If baby is not latching or is not feeding effectively, this means regular expressing. Getting supply back later or even relactating is possible, but that’s a lot harder than establishing and maintaining supply in the early weeks when hormone levels are high.
3. Keep the dyad together as much as possible. If baby is in SCBU/NICU, that means mum staying with baby as much as possible. Wherever mum and baby are, it means as much skin2skin as possible. Don’t have helpful visitors cuddle baby all day. Baby and mum NEED to be together.
That’s it. Feed the damn baby. Protect mum’s supply. Keep the dyad together.
If baby isn’t feeding well and attempting to breastfeed is causing major stress, it isn’t an essential if ‘The Rules’ are followed. Babies who have never latched or breastfed successfully have been known to do so around 4-8 weeks if ‘The Rules’ have been followed. Babies grow, they recover from initial traumas, mothers recover strength and confidence and it’s a whole new world.
So if you’re struggling with breastfeeding in the early weeks, or are supporting someone who is, remember ‘The Rules’.
*Explaining the “damn” because Maddie thinks I should :). Breastfeeding support and advice can get so complicated and conflicted, that in the chaos and confusion, people can forget the most important thing about infant feeding. Feeding the baby! The “damn” is an expression of frustration at those who unintentionally undermine breastfeeding and highlights the vital point. Babies are, of course, never damned. They’re all just perfect.