Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms with Lorie Ochoa, RN

When preparing for the birth of a baby, it's not uncommon for new moms to have questions about breastfeeding—and even feel a little anxious. While many advisors assure it’s a natural process that just “happens,” not every woman finds that to be true.

Lorie Ochoa, RN, certified childbirth educator, and an international board-certified lactation consultant at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, offers tips and education to help make the experience as smooth as possible.

Breast Milk vs. Formula

New moms who are having trouble with breastfeeding may be tempted to abandon the effort and just turn to formula. Ochoa cautions against giving up to quickly—due to the overwhelming benefits of breast milk when compared to formula.

In fact, in 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) decided that breastfeeding should no longer be considered a “lifestyle choice.” Instead, breastfeeding is considered a major critical decision in infant welfare—meaning, breast milk is the healthiest option.

“Nutritionally, it has what babies need. Especially in these [COVID-19] times, the mother is able to pass on certain immunities to baby,” explains Ochoa. “Although we live in a country that manufactures formula, and it's safe, it is not the healthiest choice for the newborn.”

Understanding the Mechanics Behind Breastfeeding

One fear of moms is that they’re not going to produce enough milk to sufficiently sustain their baby’s growth. And, while milk production may appear “minimal” at first, Ochoa explains the biological mechanics behind breastfeeding.

“About four months into pregnancy, the body starts producing something called colostrum. We refer to this as ‘liquid gold.’ It is that valuable. It's very thick, and there's not a lot of it. But, the size of a newborn's stomach, a seven-pound newborn, is the size of a marble. As soon as the baby starts feeding at the breast, the brain understands that on a demand-and-supply basis. So, the more the baby demands, the more the mother makes. It's simple and complex all at the same time.”

Even upon understanding this process, many moms still aren’t sure whether or not their baby is “full.” Ochoa advises observing the baby’s demeanor. A baby that’s satisfied will appear very relaxed and calm; eyes closed and ready to sleep. Another clue is the weight and amount of diapers the baby is going through.

“I instruct parents to count diapers in the the beginning. The urine diapers are going to get heavier and heavier in the next two, three, four days. Each day, the baby's tummy is getting bigger and the mom is going to make more milk, so there would be more output. The baby's stool is also going to change color. Parents can really tell a lot by looking at and counting diapers.”

While it can be troubling to visit the pediatrician for the first time post-delivery and see that your baby has lost weight, this is perfectly natural. “When the mom's milk comes in, the ‘mature’ milk, that's when the baby is going to start gaining weight,” adds Ochoa. “Mom can be reassured she's doing all she can do to feed her baby.”

Strong Support Is the Key to Success

Breastfeeding isn’t necessarily “easy,” but the benefits are worth the effort—for both baby and mom. Research has shown women who breastfeed have lower incidence of breast, uterine, and cervical cancers. It also produces a hormone called prolactin, which Ochoa calls a “happy hormone.”

But, in order for breastfeeding to be the most successful, Ochoa urges a good support system. “You want people around you who understand what you're trying to do and can appreciate it, because it is a lot of work. The mom is going to get exhausted, and she's going to doubt herself at times. So, she needs people to remind her and to encourage her and support her in this journey.”

**To listen to an in-depth conversation on this topic with Lorie Ochoa, RN, certified childbirth educator, and an international board-certified lactation consultant at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, follow this link: https://radiomd.com/ridgecrest/item/45128