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My Unexpected Journey to Empowering Breastfeeding Parents "I definitely was not going to breastfeed."

By Morgan Dixon | Photo by Thammy Leo

Morgan Dixon is Head of Community at Swehl, a Lactation Specialist and mother of two. She is running an IRL Swehl event, “How the F to Breastfeed”, on September 27th @ 5pm at the HATCH Brentwood store.

Before having kids, I knew one thing was for sure–when that time came, I definitely was not going to breastfeed. Pain and bleeding and being all-consumed? Hard pass. I had so many friends who had given birth around the same time I became pregnant with my first, and the overarching theme was judgment around breastfeeding–not only from themselves but also from the people who were supposed to be there to support and educate them.

A few months later, newly postpartum and VERY much to my surprise–I immediately fell in love with breastfeeding. It was not my typical MO to lean into self-trust, but for some reason, I leaned in and let my intuition guide me to silence the noise. We quickly fell into a rhythm and breastfeeding became a transformative experience that solidified my calling to help other parents have a more autonomous and individualized experience postpartum. That year, I went back to school to study lactation to provide judgment-free support.

Here’s the thing–breastfeeding can be intense, painful, and *a lot*, but with the right support system and education, we can avoid so many hurdles. No matter what stories you’ve heard, your breastfeeding journey will be unique to you and your baby. My goal is to give you some tools to go into it prepared, so that when things feel overwhelming–which they inevitably will–you’re able to reach into that metaphorical (and literal *Sweh’s Latch Kit*) toolkit to pull out whatever you need in that moment to tap back into your intuition and self-trust. The great news? You have total autonomy on how you choose to feed your child, whether exclusive breastfeeding, bottle feeding, combo feeding, or exclusively formula. Allowing yourself to flow with it and not tie yourself to any particular outcome is the key, and what I’ve found to be one of the most empowering parts of postpartum. 

Talking about this stuff is my jam. I’ll teach you how to do that, plus a whole lot more. Here are my top five things to know before you start your journey,

Frequency of feeding

Repeat after me– “8 or more in 24”. Within 24 hours, you want to make sure you breastfeed your newborn *at least* 8 times, ideally for 15-20 mins on each breast. Now, I believe more is more, and you cannot breastfeed your baby too much–so feed as often as you’d like! Some babies can be extra sleepy, and getting them to stay awake for 30-40 min feeds is tricky; this is when more frequent feeding, even for shorter spurts, can be helpful.

Diaper Checks

Monitoring your baby’s wet diapers is a great way to keep an eye on proper milk intake and hydration. For the first six days of life, there should be one wet pee diaper for every day of life i.e., five wet diapers on Day 5, etc. After Day 6, you should expect to see six or more a day moving forward. If you notice your baby is not peeing frequently, it’s a great time to check in with your pediatrician. 

Supply & Demand

Breastmilk is a supply and demand sitch: the more you breastfeed, the more you will produce. I am a fan of on-demand feeding in the early weeks as it allows your baby to dictate how much milk they need. Another hot tip? Never go more than 3 hours without feeding your baby or expressing milk–at least in the early days. 

Breastmilk is alive

It is a custom form of nutrition for your baby, packed with minerals, fats, antibodies, and literally everything else your baby needs. Every time your baby breastfeeds, your body will analyze their saliva and create the exact nutritional complex they need for their next feeding. If they are sick, your milk will adjust to give specific antibodies and help mend them. *mind blown*

Engorgement Happens

Around 48-72 hours postpartum, you might notice your boobs feel like they are filled with concrete. Do not be alarmed! You are engorged, i.e., your milk is transitioning from colostrum to mature milk, which is much more hydrating (cue more wet diapers). Engorgement can feel intense; if needed, hand expression is enough to feel relief between feedings. I don’t recommend pumping as it can create oversupply. Warm showers, light massage, and compresses can be helpful to relieve discomfort. The good news is that–like all things in the chapter, it is temporary!