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How do you know it’s working?

April 19, 2011

I had a new mom frantically ask me, “how do I know she’s getting enough milk??” referring to her days old baby girl. And at first, its hard to answer. because you really can’t tell, can you? She’s having wet diapers – good sign. She’s having the breastmilk poops – better sign. But she’s screaming like she’s starving. Hmm.

I think every mom goes through this. You look at the pictures in the books and think back to the breastfeeding classes that tell you how a baby’s lips are supposed to look when they’re latched on properly. But you can’t see that! How can you turn your body, while keeping that baby on and see, why yes, her lips are correctly positioned. all is good.  Nope not going to happen. And you can’t feel that “good latch” b/c your nipples are so sore and not used to this whole breastfeeding thing that all you’re feeling is hurt.

The best thing to do to avoid that awful hungry baby cry is to preempt it. Be hyper aware of the rooting a baby does – nuzzling into your arm or chest. B/c by the time she starts crying it could be too late and she’s already worked herself into such a frenzy there’s no way she’s going to settle and eat well.

Watch out for engorgement. If your breasts are too full its hard for the baby to get a good latch. If the baby doesn’t tell you she’s hungry, your boobs definitely will. It’s a symbiotic relationship between baby and boob. They make their own schedule and know each other well.

Don’t stress. It affects mama, baby, and milk production. You’re new at this and so is she! Everyone will figure it out. And if not, ask your pediatrician for help. Find a lactation consultant. Find another mom to help you. And honestly, if it’s so stressful or worrisome, pump and give the baby a bottle. establishing good breastfeeding is so important, but a healthy happy baby is even more so.

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