…Lactation consultants and leading breastfeeding advocacy organizations tell new mothers that newborns who nurse frequently will get enough milk, and that a newborn doesn’t need much milk in the first few days of life. But it’s estimated that up to 15 percent of moms don’t produce enough milk, due to complex factors including genetics, and newborns who aren’t fed sufficiently can develop dehydration, low blood pressure, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can cause irreversible brain injury and, in rare cases, death. Insufficient supply in the first days after birth, before milk “comes in,” is more common in first-time mothers.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby who still seems hungry after most feedings may not be getting enough milk and should be evaluated immediately. The Fed is Best Foundation, a non-profit organization of health professionals and moms who seek to provide information on the safest, most brain-protective methods for breastfeeding, mixed-feeding, and formula-feeding mothers and families, offers extensive resources for parents, including advice on hand-expressing milk from the breast before feeding to make sure milk is present.
…Bottom line: No matter where you give birth, be prepared to advocate for yourself and your baby.
All of this isn’t to say that breastfeeding doesn’t deserve support. It’s an injustice when parents who want to breastfeed don’t get the help they need. Knowing what I know now, after giving birth twice at a BFHI hospital, I would have more compassion for myself and encourage all new moms to do the same. Breastfeeding can be a great choice, but a well-fed baby and a mom’s well-being should trump the goal of exclusive breastfeeding every time.
Read more at SELF Magazine.