It’s hard not to make mistakes when you’re trying something new.
I feel like breastfeeding is one of those things where you may not see yourself making mistakes because it just looks so simple *whip boob and put breast in baby’s mouth*.
But let me tell you, for most moms it isn’t that cut and dry and you are most definitely going to make at least one of these mistakes.
And that’s ok!
No biggie. It just comes with the territory of being a rookie!
I made many of these mistakes when I was new to breastfeeding so I want to share them with you so you don’t have to deal with the same consequences I had to deal with.
Here are 6 breastfeeding mistakes that will totally ruin your milk supply!
**This post contains affiliate links. I am NOT a licensed medical professional. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional. For my full disclosure policy click here.
Not feeding on demand
If you are not feeding on demand, you are essentially telling your body that it needs to produce less milk!
Scheduled feeding as opposed to feeding on demand can hinder your breastfeeding relationship with your baby and also negatively impact his or health health and growth pattern.
I know that feeding on demand is hard. I remember telling my husband at one point that I felt like a cow. It felt like all I did all day long was breastfeed and pump. I was exhausted.
Most new mamas feel the same at some point.
You’ll feel tired, your nipples will hurt, and you may end up feeling completely “touched out” (this is actually a real thing….been there done that! Look up breastfeeding aversion!).
But it doesn’t last forever. Eventually your baby will develop an eating schedule and you will also adapt to it.
So make sure you feed your baby on demand.
Supplementing with formula instead of relying on your body as the primary sole source of nutrition will cause your breast milk supply to dwindle.
Unless you’ve been advised to supplement formula by a certified lactation consultant, continue to breastfeed exclusively.
If you’re not giving your baby your milk, your supply will drop because your body will read that as a signal that it doesn’t need to produce that much milk.
As long as your baby is producing adequate wet and dirty diapers and is thriving, there is nothing wrong with your supply.
Don’t hesitate to seek help early. If you suspect an issue or even if you’re unsure, get help right away to avoid issues with your baby’s health and your milk supply.
Not emptying breasts properly
This is also another important key to maintaining a healthy milk supply. It’s also a great way to prevent painful clogged milk ducts which can turn into mastitis!
Keep your baby on one breast until it is well drained. By doing do, you’re also ensuring that your baby is getting that richer and more calorie dense hind milk!
Massaging your breast during feeds, or better yet using a vibrating lactation massager to make sure you are efficiently emptying your breasts.
This mom-loved lactation tool makes it much easier to empty your breasts. You’ll be grateful to have it on hand especially in the earlier weeks of breastfeeding when clogged milk ducts are most common.
Keep your baby on one breast until he or she is done. You don’t absolutely to have another nursing session right away on the other breast but you should still offer it to baby.
If you’re like me and you have an abundant milk supply, you may want to express some milk from the other breast if baby doesn’t want it, to prevent engorgement.
Of course once you express that extra milk, you can refrigerate or freeze for later use. I like using the Haakaa because it comes with a cap that allows you to easily store your expressed breast milk until you get up from your feeding.
Your milk supply will be all over the place especially during the first couple of weeks. But as your baby feeds regularly, your body will adjust its milk supply accordingly.
(Need a breast pump? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get a free breast pump through insurance with Aeroflow.)
Not being patient
This is what happened to me with my first baby. I was not patient. I always thought that breastfeeding would be super easy but after a short while I decided that I was done and I resorted to formula feeding.
This is not something I wanted to do but I was worried that I wasn’t producing enough milk.
I ruined my milk supply by supplementing when I could’ve gotten help!
Not being patient especially during the first 8-12 week I’d say, can really be detrimental to your breastfeeding relationship and of course to your supply.
Many times breastfeeding is portrayed as something that is really easy but a lot of times it isn’t—at first.
Yes, it’s natural but it doesn’t always come naturally. There’s a learning curve there for both mom and baby and it takes some time to ride out those first couple of rough waves.
If you aren’t patient, you may resort to doing things like combination feeding (giving both breast milk and formula) which will negatively impact your milk supply.
Please be patient with yourself and with your baby. If something doesn’t feel right, get help right away from a qualified lactation professional so you can make the necessary adjustments.
I got help right form the beginning with my 2nd baby and Breastfed him for nearly a year.
The whole time I had an abundant milk supply. It was a totally different experience from my first time.
Who can’t relate to being stressed out as a new mother? If you can’t you must be from another planet!
After childbirth, there is a lot going on within your body and you have a whole other human being to take care of!
Although experiencing stress is normal, Dr. Patel, stress is the No. 1 killer of breast milk supply, especially in the first few weeks after delivery.
Cortisol which is also known as the stress hormone, can wreak havoc on your milk supply.
The more stressed you are, the higher the levels of cortisol in your body. An abundance of stress during the early weeks of postpartum can be caused by lack of sleep, new mom anxiety, etc…
High levels of stress can also weaken your immune system and affect the quality of your breast milk, so it’s important that you get that under control.
Making sure you are getting good sleep during pregnancy to decrease stress levels in your body before birth and during postpartum is key to maintaining both your physical and mental health.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can also pump so that other people can feed your baby while you rest.
Get as much help as possible so that you can take care of yourself.
Not eating and drinking enough
Dehydration and not eating enough can negatively impact your milk supply.
Breast milk is made up of about 90%. You don’t have to down gallons and gallons of water every day but you do need to make sure you are staying hydrated to support your supply.
This shouldn’t be too hard considering feeling extreme thirst postpartum is very common in new moms.
It is caused by the loss of fluids, through postpartum bleeding and night sweats.
I wouldn’t have been able to make it without my giant water bottle because I was constantly thirsty when I was breastfeeding.
One of these per day was enough to keep me hydrated all day along.
Make sure you get yours. You can thank me later.
When it comes to eating, focus on foods that will not only support and enrich your breast milk, but that will also support healthy bodily functions and your postpartum recovery.
Here’s a list of 50 delicious lactation boosting recipes!
Here are some nutritious foods to add to your diet (source):
***buy organic when possible:
- Fish and seafood: salmon, seaweed, shellfish, sardines
- Meat and poultry: chicken, beef, lamb, pork, organ meats (such as liver)
- Fruits and vegetables: berries, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, kale, garlic, broccoli
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds
- Healthy fats: avocados, olive oil, coconut, eggs, full-fat yogurt
- Fiber-rich starches: potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, oats, quinoa, buckwheat
- Other foods: tofu, dark chocolate, kimchi, sauerkraut