Here are three awesome facts you need to know:
- 95% of breastfeeding problems can be easily avoided and corrected.
- Less than 5% of women aren’t physically capable of making enough milk.
- Babies—and your boobs—are hard-wired for breastfeeding.
Basically, you’ve got nature on your side, Babe!
So why do so many women have breastfeeding trouble?
For some new moms, breastfeeding is as easy as rolling off a log, regardless of what kind of preparation they have. But far too many women today are having more difficulties breastfeeding than is necessary! Is it because women no longer have the ability to make enough milk for their babies? Is it because babies no longer know how to nurse? Of course not! Most new mothers are unaware of the many potential roadblocks to breastfeeding successfully that await them. The truth is that women are being pressured to breastfeed and set up to fail. They have been “BOOBY TRAPPED”™ and they don’t know it! Worse even, they often blame themselves for problems they did not cause and could probably have been avoided.
What are the “Booby Traps”? — “Booby Traps™” are the cultural and institutional barriers that keep moms from achieving their personal and recommended breastfeeding goals. Say your mother didn’t breastfeed, and thinks it’s gross or primitive, your best friend didn’t breastfeed because she was afraid it would hurt (a common myth), and everywhere you look, you see images of babies bottle-feeding . . . those are all “cultural booby traps.” Say you want to breastfeed, but your hospital is NOT one of the 3% that is designated Baby-Friendly (so it doesn’t follow key steps to ensure you succeed), your employer doesn’t offer pumping breaks or a private place to pump (other than a dirty closet or bathroom), your pediatrician handles any breastfeeding hiccups by handing you a formula sample, and baby websites you check out give contradictory information that is not evidence-based (i.e. not grounded in science, but hearsay) . . . then you have been “booby-trapped” by institutional barriers!
Some of the cultural Booby Traps touch on personal issues, involving your emotions and attitudes, and require advance thought and exploration on your part. But the bulk of them are outside of you and your control. Best for Babes is working hard to spotlight all of the barriers and to help remove them! In the meantime, we are here to get you psyched up and focused on creating the mindset and the attitude you need to navigate those obstacles and achieve your breastfeeding goals. Remember, labor lasts a day or two, but breastfeeding and its gifts, last a lifetime. You want to do all you can to be pumped up, prepped, and geared up for this experience! Breastfeeding requires you to get your best game on and hit the ground running. (And see our section “Get Your Best Game On, Girlfriend!” for a game plan that details “how-to” breastfeed from day one to help put you on the right track). Follow this evidence-based advice to help you, and your family, reap breastfeeding’s rewards from the get-go!
To provide you with the clearest roadmap possible, we have broken down the Booby Traps into the two groups in which they normally occur: Those that occur before your baby is born — underscoring the point that breastfeeding successfully in today’s world does require some advance preparation and thought, and those that involve mechanical/management issues that commonly trip women up after your little babe is born.
One last suggestion: if you’ve already been “Booby Trapped,” do something about it! Make sure that other moms don’t have to suffer unnecessarily and join us by showing your support for BFB – the only mainstream Foundation for the Mother of All Causes!
Breastfeeding Booby Traps Before Your Babe is Born
Booby Trap #1 Having Unreasonable Expectations About the Beginning
The first Booby Trap™ to avoid is believing that instinct alone will buy you automatic success. The truth is that breastfeeding is instinctive – babies born after an unmedicated birth can actually crawl to the breast by themselves and self-attach! (Lennart Righard and M. Alade, “Effect of Delivery Room Routines on Success of First Breast-feed,” The Lancet 336, no. 8723 (3 November 1990): 1105-1107.) But nursing is also a learned behavior and a skill that both you and your baby have to master over a period of time. You have to learn how to read your baby’s hunger and satiation cues and your baby needs to learn how to milk your breasts efficiently. This is what we call the learning curve of breastfeeding and generally lasts 4-6 weeks. (See our section, “The Learning Curve“) and it’s why experts recommend that you commit to breastfeed to at least that point. If that seems like too long, know that some women need to break it down even further to get past the first few days! Our game plan suggestion is to set small, attainable goals-commit to the first few days, then a week, then another week . . before you know it you’ll be at a month or 2 months. Acknowledge and reward yourself at each juncture (or better yet have your partner do that!). By the time you break the six week mark, you’ll start to have the hang of it and be glad you stuck it out.
To use a great analogy: Breastfeeding is a lot like learning to ride a bicycle. Before you ever rode one, you probably were intimidated because you had never done it before. You didn’t know how to balance yourself, or what that felt like, and you probably were frightened because you saw or heard of all the falls and skinned knees. Did that stop you? No! You knew there was a light at the end of tunnel, and you could imagine yourself flying down the street on your new banana seat bicycle with the glitter on the handles! So you mustered up your courage and a commitment to succeed. Whoever was helping you didn’t let you quit, either. Now, for almost everyone, that bike wobbled, tilted and knocked you down a few times. What was the adage almost everyone heard? “If you fall, get right back on and try again!” You didn’t quit! You brushed yourself off and mounted up again and again until you were sailing along effortlessly with the wind blowing through your hair! What’s more, whoever was helping you learn to ride a bike encouraged you, wouldn’t let you quit, and told you that you can do it. Sadly, too many well-meaning friends, family members and professionals tell expecting moms to “just try” without making sure they have the proper support.
Booby Trap #2: Not Preparing While You’re Pregnant
Breastfeeding is not an experiment to be left to “chance” after delivery! The hardest time to learn about breastfeeding for the first time is after the baby is born, when you are exhausted, vulnerable and, at least for now, at the mercy of hospital staff who often don’t have the best information or skill-set to help you breastfeed. You wouldn’t show up to the marathon in flip-flops without proper training, some coaching, and a game-plan! Knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work with breastfeeding will give you confidence and empower you, and increase your chances of having a problem-free breastfeeding experience. A recent national study proved this in its finding that a comprehensive prenatal breastfeeding class was the most effective way to prepare new parents for breastfeeding and to help mothers get to at least the three month mark (U.S. Preventive Task Force Study on Breastfeeding Interventions, 2003). Better yet, if you can afford it, have a private class with a lactation specialist-International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC)-who can focus and tailor the class for you. Many LCs will do this for you, you just need to ask. Too many moms (us included) skipped the breastfeeding class because we assumed that we would learn in the hospital, not realizing that many hospitals do not fully support breastfeeding, are sending women out the door ill-prepared, and therefore, have low breastfeeding success rates. This unfortunate fact was finally documented by the CDC in a 2008 report card in which it gave most hospitals a big thumbs-down for breastfeeding support -especially in the South. (CDC report “Breastfeeding-Related Maternity Care Practices among Hospitals and Birth Centers – United States, 2007). So start learning about breastfeeding while you are still pregnant! (Read on for more about what proactive steps you can take to help yourself prepare). Remember, the moms who succeed most at breastfeeding apply the same determination that they would to any other goal worth working toward: planning a wedding, interviewing for a job, or training for a race. They have an attitude that they are going to give it their best shot, they prepare in advance by educating themselves and by cultivating a commitment to at least some period of time, and they stay flexible and grounded. Having that commitment is especially important during those potential ups and downs of the early weeks.
Booby Trap #3: Not Surrounding Yourself with an A-Team
One of the biggest and most prevalent roadblocks to successful breastfeeding is a lack of professional support. Having doctors who understand the breastfeeding relationship, how to fix breastfeeding problems, and to whom to turn for help (if they are not able), is critical to your success. This may come as a surprise to some of you first-timers, but many physicians know very little about lactation and breastfeeding, even if they enthusiastically support it. Although medical education is starting to change to include lactation management training, previous generations still need to be brought up to speed (The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine provides such a course for physicians). We salute those doctors who understand the value and importance of human milk and have garnered this “extracurricular knowledge.” But the facts are the facts. And for now, this leaves the ball squarely in your court, Babe, to seek out a practitioner who can assist you properly with a breastfeeding baby or refer you (and just the fact that you are seeking such physicians will create more awareness and more demand for creating an infrastructure that includes physicians trained in lactation management or referral) . This is the time to line up you’re A-team support to coach and cheer you on! Would you think any differently in trying to get your best game on? Using the bike analogy again: Almost everyone had someone else who already knew how to ride a bike show them how to do it, right? Who can forget that special friend or relative holding your bike and jogging along side you until you had the hang of it? It’s the same with breastfeeding. You have got to have a knowledgeable support system lined up and ready to walk you through those early days. This is the key to nipping any early problems in the bud. It’s absolutely crucial .
See our section “The A-Team “to find out who is on your team and how to find them.
Booby Trap #4: Not Having the “Know-How” From our Mothers
Before we go any further on this one, let us be clear that we are not blaming our mothers for anything! They did the best job they could based on the information and influences they had available to them. We simply know much more science about breastfeeding now, just like we do about seatbelts and sunscreen. But we cannot overlook the fact that at some point early on in our own mothering journey many of us have relied on the wisdom of “mother knows best.” For thousands of years, women saw each other breastfeed and taught each other how to do it. The fact is that the previous two generations did not breastfeed very much. The tradition of nursing has been broken and the intergenerational circle of women that we relied on for guidance has been shattered. Today’s new mother can look up to only about 10-20% of the entire elder generation (or even the one above that) for “know-how.” What’s more, many of our mothers have conflicting feelings about breastfeeding and reflect our culture –some are uncomfortable with breastfeeding, others feel guilty about it and blame themselves unfairly. A few are angry for having been given so little choice and having the opportunity stolen from them (many got a shot that dried up their milk). Let’s just put it all in perspective and remind our mothers that plenty of things have been recommended that have turned out not to be the best for mothers and babies, and we have the capability to adjust, adapt, learn and move on. Either way, it is important to factor in our mothers’ and mothers-in-law’s own experiences and the profound influence they have on us and our choices, and, if needed, to compensate for it. Consider hiring a doula (they usually have good breastfeeding skills) to help you after the baby is born, keep a lactation consultant on “stand by,” etc.
Booby Trap #5: Not Having Peer Role-Models
Going back to the analogy of the bicycle: Imagine trying to ride a bike without having ever seen someone ride one before. So the next most important thing you should do is:
Watch someone successfully breastfeed a newborn, or even better, attend a breastfeeding group/new mother circle while pregnant. This is as important as the class. If, like most new moms in the US, you weren’t breastfed yourself, or haven’t seen a woman breastfeed, it is critical that you begin to get a sense of what this is all about. Watch other mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding. Observe their babies. Listen to what they have to say about the experience. Ask questions. Learning firsthand from other women who are succeeding is an incredibly valuable part of your education. In fact, treat it like an internship for a new career, and log some hours helping a new mom—she will be eternally grateful, and you will want to have someone do the same thing for you.
Surround yourself with other breastfeeding mothers. Don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure! A major part of your education process is gaining confidence. Surround yourself with positive role-models – women who are breastfeeding successfully and who enjoy it — who will inspire, role model, and support you. Hang with other nursing moms, start your own “coffee klatsch,” or join one, and share stories and experiences. Tune in to them and you will have an easier time deflecting any unwanted criticism or judgment from others. Be conscious that although mothers are being urged to breastfeed, they are being set up to fail, so you will meet a lot of mothers who have conflicting feelings about breastfeeding, and have not had the opportunity to heal from their experiences.
Read some great evidence-based books that will enlighten you more about what to expect while breastfeeding. There are volumes of mainstream books available on pregnancy, but many bookstores don’t even carry books on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not a parenting “philosophy”! Just like exercise is proven to be a health benefit, breastfeeding is an instinctive behavior designed to provide a human baby with all of his nutritional, emotional, and social needs, and to provide its mother with many physiologic and emotional needs as well. There are so many books about breastfeeding and parenting out there, but not all of them come from this evidence-based perspective. Here are some we recommend that do: 25 Things Every Nursing Mother Needs to Know by Huggins/Brown, The Breastfeeding Book by William Sears, MD, The Ultimate Book of Breastfeeding Answers by Dr. Jack Newman, The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD, The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff (a must-read during pregnancy for any expecting parent), there are many more new ones, let us know what you like!
Booby Trap #6: Not Having an “I can do it” Attitude
Any good coach would agree that you can’t win on the track unless you are a winner in your mind first. Breastfeeding is no different. It is very much a confidence game. Having that firm belief in your and your baby’s ability to breastfeed – is a big part of the recipe for success. The other parts are the boobs and some excellent guidance. And more than anywhere, you have the odds very much in your favor. Lean hard on the knowledge that you are likely in the 95-99% of women who can make enough milk for their babies! So, yes, chances are very excellent that you can do this, Babe, and just knowing that fact can help reduce the stress and anxiety that moms feel (and stress does not help milk production). For some it comes easy, for others it takes a little more work, but with a little effort, 95-99% of women can do it!
Booby Trap #7 Being Ambivalent or Having Unresolved Fears, Doubts or Reservations About Breastfeeding
If you are unsure about breastfeeding, we understand. Many of us have strong underlying feelings about breastfeeding and a real resistance to it. (You might want to go back and read some of our sections under “Inspire,” including “I Don’t Want to Breastfeed”) If this describes you, the main thing you need to do is to explore and resolve your reservations, fears, and doubts while you are still pregnant. Mixed feelings have a way of showing up and potentially undermining us during challenging experiences like birth and breastfeeding (they sure did for us!) Just as with anything in life, we frequently get out what we put in, and this is one of the first chances to try your wings at mothering. Ambivalence and negativity will only make it harder for you to give this your best shot. Remember, lots of mothers have regretted not breastfeeding; very few if any have regretted sticking with it.
Booby Trap #8: Not Talking to Your Employer in Advance
Talk to your employer about the accommodations you will need in advance. If you plan to return to work, have a conversation with your employer before you start your leave about the accommodations you will need. Having a clean and private place to pump (not a restroom!), extra breaks during the day to do so, a flexible work schedule, the opportunity to keep your child with you, are all reasonable requests. (Support The Breastfeeding Promotion and Protection Act moving through Congress) Companies are increasingly realizing that breastfeeding supports their workforce objectives, as it lowers absenteeism (babies are sick less often), improves morale, and lowers turnover. Many companies today even offer on-site childcare. If you are anxious about the conversation, talk to other moms (this is where that breastfeeding support group comes in handy). Also, many states and municipalities have websites where you can download ‘workplace accommodation for breastfeeding packets.’ These informational materials explain the benefit to employers of your breastfeeding, ie., less absenteeism as exclusively breastfed babies are healthier, your rights under the law, and ways they can accommodate you. The Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition has a great resource page on breastfeeding and working.
Booby Trap #9: Not Accounting For Birth’s Impact on Breastfeeding
Babies are programmed to instinctively go from the womb to the breast – as we mentioned above, if unmedicated, they can actually crawl to the breast by themselves, self-attach, and nurse! (see Lennart Righard and M. Alade, “Effect of Delivery Room Routines on Success of First Breast-feed,” The Lancet 336, no. 8723 (3 November 1990): 1105–1107) For this reason, breastfeeding has been called the “tenth month” or the “fourth trimester.” It makes perfect sense, therefore, that how babies are born can have a direct impact on breastfeeding and on how easy (or not) it goes initially. Before we go any further here, what follows is neither a judgment of your birth choices, nor a substitute for medical advice. There are absolutely situations in which medical interventions are necessary and the risk to you or your baby outweighs any ensuing breastfeeding difficulties. However, having said that, we believe that no discussion regarding the myriad ways in which women are set up to fail at breastfeeding would be complete without mentioning birth. Knowledge is power. Put simply, you need to know this stuff so that you can adjust your expectations, or even consider making some changes to your birth plan. You may be very surprised to learn that:
Babies who are born via scheduled c-sections sometimes don’t nurse well initially and are sleepier than usual because they may have not been ready to be born; ditto for babies who are induced before their due date ( Dewey et al, 2003) (Smith, 2007).
Babies who are born after an induction which resulted in a forced delivery (forceps, vacuum extraction) often have feeding difficulties initially because of the trauma involved in their birth ( Hall et al, 2002).
Babies who are born to mothers who use pain medications during labor, including epidurals, will often have poorer latches initially, can be sleepier than usual (because of the drugs), and may not latch for at least two hours (unmedicated babies will usually latch well within the first hour of birth. ( Lennart Righard and M. Alade, “Effect of Delivery Room Routines on Success of First Breast-feed,” The Lancet 336, no. 8723 (3 November 1990): 1105–1107) . The recommendation here is to keep the baby with you, skin-to-skin for the full two hours, or until you have a first feeding—nonessential tests and procedures like weights, measurements and baths can all wait or be done with the baby on your chest. By the way, its good not too wash away the remaining traces of amniotic fluid on you newborn right away– amniotic fluid resembles colostrum (the liquid gold first milk in your breasts) in scent and reminds your babe to find the breast for that first feeding.
Babies who are born between 37 and 40 weeks often look like full term babies but studies now confirm that theyare “late pre-term” babies and often have difficulty feeding because they are developmentally premature–something to consider if an induction before your due date is being recommended. ( Watchko, 2003; Sarici et al, 2004).
Mothers who have gestational diabetes are at the greatest risk for having a late pre-term baby. (Lepercq, 2004).
Does this mean you can’t breastfeed your baby in any of these situations? Of course not! It simply means that you are now informed, better prepared and ready to overcome any hurdles! It also gives you the opportunity to rethink the plus/minus scale when you are considering having a “baby-by-appointment,” for example. In all of the above, your game plan is to be sure you line up that A-Team and get them involved on Day 1 and keep the support coming.
Breastfeeding Booby Traps™ After Your Babe is Born
Booby Trap #1: Early Supplementation Can Mean Less Milk
A very common pitfall to avoid is reducing or losing your milk supply by supplementing with formula before breastfeeding is well-established (usually before 4-6 weeks). Not coincidently, a lack of confidence in her supply is the number one concern among new mothers and the number one reason they give for giving up breastfeeding before they intended. There are a lot of myths about supply even among medical professionals, and it doesn’t help that most hospitals perform poorly on breastfeeding support and are supplementing babies unnecessarily, sometimes without the parents consent. Of course, there are rare occasions when giving a supplement is medically necessary. Adding formula to your newborn’s diet, however, is a decision that should be reached only after a thorough evaluation by an LC to be sure the problem isn’t in your or your baby’s breastfeeding technique, and after options like donated, screened, pasteurized human milk have been explored. Here’s what you need to know and do to avoid the common pitfall of a diminishing milk supply:
The cardinal rule of milk production is supply and demand. Toss the timer and the rulebook out the window, Babe! Basically, your b aby drives your milk supply up or down. So, give her the keys! The more your little babe takes, the more milk your boobs make. The is true too: The less your little babe takes, the less milk mom makes. So, you will make a perfect milk supply for her if you let her nurse whenever (s)he is hungry, and you let her decide when she is finished! We all have different styles of eating; some of us are barricudas, others are loungers. Your baby is finished at the breast when the active sucking and swallowing dwindles to a flutter. (But please make sure you have been seen by an LC and your pediatrician during the first week to be sure your baby is transferring milk effectively). When you hear “nurse every two-four hours” that is a very general guideline and is better replaced with “nurse your baby on cue, but make sure to feed them at least 8-12 times per 24 hour period” Some babies go through longer stretches without nursing, only to “cluster feed” frequently in the space of an hour. This is completely normal!
Booby Trap #2: Sore Nipples
The second biggest concern/complaint among new mothers is that breastfeeding hurts. Avoid the pitfall of sore nipples by getting help getting a great latch. We’ve heard moms talk about excruciating pain when the baby latches on to the breast and we are telling you NO, this is not normal! While breastfeeding is a new experience, and may be slightly painful or uncomfortable at first, true pain during nursing is a sure-sign that the baby is not latched on correctly. GET HELP immediately if this happens to you. This is the number one problem women experience in the early days, and the easiest to correct. The problem is that most women don’t realize it’s not supposed to hurt, and that pain is a difficult thing to measure. Let’s face it, is there much else on the human body that is as sensitive as nipples? It takes very little time (less than a day) for sore nipples to deteriorate into raw nipples. So, please, we can’t say it enough: better safe than sorry, and if it hurts , GET HELP.
Avoiding bottles and pacifiers for the first 4-6 weeks also helps baby master the art of suckling and emptying the breast. Breastfeeding is an innate desire, but is also a skill that baby and mom must learn to master. Babies learn to breastfeed by breastfeeding. Suckling from the breast is nothing like sucking from a bottle (artificial nipple). Supplementing and using pacifiers interferes with baby’s mastery of the sucking technique required in breastfeeding and can cause sore nipples.
Booby Trap #3: Scheduling Feedings Means Less Breastmilk
Scheduling often reduces your milk supply and can underfeed your baby. Again, toss the timer and the rulebook out the window, Babe! The goal in the early days and weeks of nursing, is a well-established, plentiful milk supply in synch with your little babe’s needs. So, scheduling feedings can seriously mess with your milk supply. If it is baby’s suckling and hunger that drives mom’s milk supply, then feeding according to the clock (as many moms do with formula bottles) will yield a milk supply in synch with what? –-the clock, not the baby! When is she hungry? Watch your baby, not the clock. Keep her close and read her early hunger cues — like twitching eyes, squirming around, licking lips, whimpering– and putting her on the breast. Crying is actually a late feeding cue and should be avoided, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. (See our section “Get Your Best Game On, Girfriend” for more about the “how-to” and “when-to” of breastfeeding.) Breastmilk is so user-friendly, so easily and quickly digested, that babies need to eat frequently. Healthy newborns typically breastfeed 10-12 times per 24 hours. But those feedings do not necessarily occur in even intervals: for example it’s normal for a baby to nurse every 1.5 to 2 hours during the day, then go 3 hours between feedings, then go back to every hour or even more frequently for a chunk of the evening. Some of us with babies that bordered on colic found that our babes were happiest staying on the boob during the witching hour, and we just settled in and read a book. The good news is that colicky babies in general do better with breastmilk, but make sure you check with your IBCLC or breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician to ensure you are getting to the root of the issue.
Booby Trap #4: No latch in the first hour
Immediately after the birth, or as soon as possible, get baby latched on. This one is crucial, as your little babe’s reflex to breastfeed is strongest in the first hours after birth. Unmedicated babies are so hard-wired to breastfeed, that they can actually crawl to the breast and self-attach! Really, there are videos documenting this amazing feat!! ( Lennart Righard and M. Alade, “Effect of Delivery Room Routines on Success of First Breast-feed,” The Lancet 336, no. 8723 (3 November 1990): 1105–1107.) The best way to get breastfeeding off to the right start is to encourage baby to breastfeed immediately. If there are no medical complications, there should be no problem placing baby on mom’s tummy, which soothes and calms baby after her ordeal coming into this world, and allowing her to nurse. Save the bath, and the routine tests like weight and measurements for later.
Booby Trap #5: Unnecessary Separation from Baby
Practice Skin-to-Skin and stay with your baby as much as possible in the first days. As mentioned above, separating mother and baby is a known set-up for lactation problems. This is why hospitals that are truly breastfeeding-friendly encourage rooming-in. It is far easier to detect your baby’s early hunger cues, when you are holding your baby or are near her. Moreover, Babies are calmer, warmer, more content, cry less amd conserve more calories when they are skin-to-skin with their mothers, and mothers in turn are calmer and get more sleep. They also latch on better and nurse more frequently.
Booby Trap #6: Nursing on Both Sides for 15-20 minutes
Hospital nurses and doctors commonly recommend that you log exactly 15-20 minutes of nursing on each breast. While it is true that in the first day or two before your full milk supply comes in (between day 2-5 postpartum), you can nurse your newborn on both breasts at each feeding, you should think about the 15-20 minute rule as a minimum not a maximum! So, if your little one is sucking away peacefully, don’t switch just because the clock says time! Follow your baby’s lead, not the clock! Once your milk supply comes in, this is even more important. Your baby needs to breastfeed until he is finished, not because the clock says “time.” Some women can use one breast per feeding. You will know your baby is satisfied and getting enough if he/she is active at the breast, has several wet and dirty diapers each day, and is gaining weight. You will want to be in communication with your LC and pediatrician about this.
Booby Trap #7: Not Remembering the Learning Curve
Let’s face it, latching can be challenging in the beginning. What, with your giant postpartum belly, your newborn’s flailing limbs, and your voluptuous bosom, it ain’t easy to even see what you are doing! Here’s the best advice: BE PATIENT with yourself and your baby. It is NORMAL for it to take as many as 10 tries or more to latch your baby on well in the first days.This is another reason you want to keep your baby close, so you can read his early hunger cues and get to him while he is just getting hungry and not frantic. If you are truly having trouble, make sure you see an LC.
Booby Trap #8: Nipple Shields, Shells and Other Contraptions
It is a myth that all women with flat or inverted nipples can’t breastfeed or need one of these aids to breastfeed. Give the little breastfeeding expert –your little babe!—some credit! Most babies can and will learn to milk even the most challenging mammary architecture. The trick is to get your baby on the breast as soon as possible after birth so that she can accustom herself to your shape and mark that nipple as her own. Despite this fact, too many hospitals give out nipple shields, shells and everters like candy to moms who have flat or “flattish” nipples instead of facilitating an early, good, and frequent latch. By the way, many women think they have inverted nipples when they do not. A truly inverted nipple will not extend outward in response to cold or touch. If you are concerned that you may have flat or inverted nipples, you should check with an LC before birth. Sometimes a nipple shield is needed, but ask an expert first.
©The Best for Babes Foundation 2009. www.bestforbabes.org. All Rights Reserved.
The information in this document is in no way intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and is not a substitute for an in-person evaluation by a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician or qualified, independent Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).