Breastfeeding Essentials for Every Parent

Breastfeeding Essentials for Every Parent


Parenting is a spectrum – it’s different for everyone! Breastfeeding even more so. Some parents can, some only with assistance, and a very few aren’t able to at all. For Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we asked Pregnancy, Birth, Lactation and Postpartum Support specialist Jessica Gillan what breastfeeding parents need to know most!

– For Expectant Parents


HSThank you so much for joining us, Jessica! We have so many questions for you – but first, any advice to new expectant parents? I.E. Is there anything they can do to up their supply, ensure a better flow, BEFORE birth – etc.? 

Jessica – The best way to plan for breastfeeding while still pregnant is by absorbing all the info you can. Read Breastfeeding books! My favorite is “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”, written by La Leche League. Its like a how-to-guide for all things!

You can even join your local chapter of La Leche League (a free breastfeeding support group) and look into the side effects of birth interventions. So much of what occurs at the birth will have affects on breastfeeding initiation and initial supply. Perhaps get a Doula with Lactation credentials so when you deliver (often in the middle of the night) you don’t have to wait hours for hospital Lactation practitioners to do their rounds. You can get guidance and help from that first latch!

HSWhat are the main reasons you see mothers choose not to breastfeed?

Jessica – The most common reason Moms don’t breastfeed is a lack of support, guidance and knowledge. They don’t know where to turn for evidence based support.

I will be honest, a lot of pediatricians give out false breastfeeding advice and most pediatricians don’t have breastfeeding/lactation knowledge. The fundamentals of breastfeeding are not taught in med school. So its a perfect storm: Lack of support, lack of access to information and pediatricians making recommendations on breastfeeding without breastfeeding credentials. So much misinformation and “old wives tales”. 

So many Moms struggle and hold guilt [because of this cycle]! If I can tell any Mom one thing, it would be: It is NOT your fault. Your are NOT a failure. It’s American culture…we need change! We can do better to support Mothers in their {delicate} postpartum period. 

As per the WHO reports, 2 out of 3 children are not breastfed. Therefore, it makes it all the more crucial to mark this day. Mothers are recommended to breastfeed their children for 6 months post birth.

HSWhy do you think only 2 out of 3 children are breastfed?

Jessica – I believe this goes back to interventions in birthing- most births are in a hospital setting with interventions and hospital practices that rarely support the physiological process of birthing and breastfeeding. The standard process is not conducive to how a baby bonds and then nurses, or how Mothers establish supply. 

– For Working Parents


As you can see, Jessica is a font of information! We opened up our survey to parents in our network. This is what they asked:

HSDo you have any advice for moms going back to work only after a month or 6 weeks?

Jessica – I wish Mothers got 4-6 months paid time off. Going back to work just weeks after having a baby is hard on everyone. Bonding is critical and Moms deserve to rest, recover and fall in love with their baby. My advice would be to inquire with your employer on FMLA and maternity leave benefits. 

Parent I’m afraid if I leave my baby, she will no longer want me. What can I do so we don’t lose that connection?

Jessica – I was a working new Mom myself. My husband would wrap my baby in my shirt that wore to bed 2-3 nights in a row. It had my “Mama Smell” on it and was so calming to our daughter when he was giving her my pumped milk.

Mom can also use a baby blanket or lovey and put it in between your breasts, in your bra for a week. REALLY get your “mama smell” on it and every time your baby goes to eat, put the lovey right not to them so they can still smell you. Baby will always crave Mama first, its a bond that is unbreakable. Your baby will always want you, love you and miss you. Its ok. Makes the days off from working outside the home all the more cherished.

Parent – I want to breastfeed but I have to go back to work and I would feel awkward having to take breaks to pump. I want to provide breastmilk for my baby but it is too much to pump during the day. Can I give him formula during the day and breastfeed at night and morning only? Is that possible?

Jessica – Mothers have rights in the workplace around providing pumping time and private space. Ask your HR department for solutions so you can have time to pump. Yes, you can only nurse at night, however, your body will significantly reduce supply and you may not breastfeed for as long as you had hoped. 

ParentHow often do I need to breastfeed/pump in order to prevent drying up? 

Jessica – Breastfeeding is a continuous operation. You need to remove milk to make more milk! The more milk removed, the more milk you will produce. Every 2-3 hours, around the clock! Newborns may nurse more often and that’s ok. 

ParentIs there anything wrong or any downfalls with JUST pumping? What are the benefits of breastfeeding baby over pumping and giving baby a bottle? 

Jessica – Pumping is a great alternative if you can’t be with your baby or if baby does not latch. However, breastfeeding directly at the breast may be less time consuming, less things to wash/sanitize and less to pack. Breastmilk is still breastmilk and even pumped milk will provide 100% whole nutrition to what a baby needs for optimum brain, cell and growth development. 

– For Parents who Worry


ParentIs it true that some moms just CAN’T produce milk? What if that happens to me?! 

Jessica – Yes, some Moms cannot produce. However, it is incredibly rare! For Mothers with medical conditions like Insufficient Glandular Tissue, insulin resistance or previous surgeries – they may struggle to produce. That being said, I recommend meeting with a Lactation professional in person for proper diagnosis and direction.

For Moms with low supply, I know this can be so hard – but know that every drop is miraculous. Every day is a gift to your baby. Just 1 teaspoon of Human milk has 3 million germ killing cells. Nothing will ever compare to Human Milk – its so amazing, it cannot be duplicated. If you cannot produce, ask a (healthy) friend for donor milk. 

ParentHow do I know my milk is giving all the nutrients my baby needs? Formula seems easier. Breastfeeding Seems Too Stressful!  

Jessica – Breastmilk has been studied a great deal, but still cannot be duplicated. Even the Formula companies can’t come close. In fact, Formula is missing over 500+ nutritional composites needed for optimum brain growth and development. Breastmilk is a baby’s perfect nutritional, giving them everything they need…and then some!

Right now, Formula is hard to obtain with the formula storage. Many Mothers are stressed, driving around to multiple stories just to find a certain brand/make of formula. This alone is far more stressful than breastfeeding alone. Gas is expensive, too. Formula prices are going up to offset international shipping prices. Spending $3,000-6,000 in a baby’s first year of life on formula is a lot for new parents!

With guidance, support and information- many Moms may find breastfeeding to be easier, less stress, more affordable, less stomach discomfort and less dishes. Its also been found that Breastfed babies have less sickness/illness and recover from germs much quicker.  

ParentMy breast milk has changed colors! Is there something wrong with me?! 

Jessica – This is normal. Breastmilk can have many colors: green, blue, white, yellow (colostrum) and even pink. If its red…please reach out to a IBCLC right away. 

ParentWhat is a clogged duct?

Jessica – If your breasts were like a freeway, a clogged duct is a traffic jam. I recommend lots of heat, gentle massage, frequent nursing, dangle nursing, sitting under a hot shower and pumping to remove the clogs in the breast. Frequently removing milk is key, along with not wearing tight bras and underwires.  

ParentWhat is mastitis?

Jessica – If a clogged duct is a traffic jam, Mastitis is the car accident. I recommend Moms to remove milk often, lots of heat and if a fever presents itself- call your local IBCLC for guidance. La Leche League has many tips/tricks for healing from Mastitis. It feels like you have the flu and lots of breast pain with red patches on the breast. Make sure you are removing milk often and effectively to avoid any “traffic jams” and “car accidents”.

– A Note to Parents Everywhere


HSThank you so much for answering all of our questions! Finally – as a lactation consultant/doula/newborn care specialist/midwife, what would you like parents all over the world to know during breastfeeding awareness month? Why is it so important to bring awareness? 

Jessica – We are repairing a generation that was told by profit-driven formula companies that Breastfeeding was gross or shameful and that formula was “just as good” – but none of those things are true! Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for our babies and the benefits have shown to last a lifetime!

With breast cancer so common in women – many moms breastfeed for the simple benefit of significantly reducing the chances of breast cancer later in life. The health benefits are so vast, for Mom *and* baby. This is where Breastfeeding Month and awareness comes in; many don’t know how beneficial breastmilk is and its amazing nutritional composition.  I am happy to meet with Moms, hear of their individual goals and give them the tools to meet their goals. Every day of breastfeeding is a gift. Every drop is miraculous. 

For further information, I highly recommend watching the documentary “The Milky Way” its a wonderful, informative breastfeeding documentary. I highly recommend every woman to watch it!