Breastfeeding is Confidence!

Allyson Wessells, PT, MPT, IBCLC

Breastfeeding is visual, breastfeeding is movement, but probably more than anything, breastfeeding is confidence! We see it daily in the families that call on us as lactation consultants to help them through basic to complex challenges. The look on a parent’s face is confidence as they discover how to hold their baby, help their baby move, know that their baby is getting enough, and learn about the biology that has propelled us through time.

Numerous studies show that breastfeeding confidence and newborn behavior are strong predictors of reaching breastfeeding goals. But how does this confidence form? How does this behavior form? As with anything new we learn in life, practice, support, encouragement, and often some problem solving are essential. The high frequency that comes with breastfeeding is practice. Tummy time is practice! Families, friends, healthcare providers, employers and workplaces are vital support. All help to grow maternal confidence that, in turn, positively impacts infant behavior.

If you have worked with anyone at Nurture, you know that tummy time is incorporated into most of our visits at some point. Trained in the TummyTime! Method, we teach interactive tummy time from birth. Over the years we have seen the movement a baby engages in when on belly translate to improved movement necessary for effective breastfeeding (or any type of feeding for that matter!).

What does this have to do with confidence? Eventually, we connected with researchers from Ohio University and implemented a qualitative study that revealed participation in interactive prone play/tummy time has an impact on breastfeeding confidence. Mothers reported improved ease with positioning, more comfort with technique and latch, observed infant strength gains, and a better balance of back to sleep messaging with playing on belly when awake. Movement, maternal confidence, and infant behavior all go hand in hand!

Some basics of knowing baby is getting enough and that YOU got this!

  • Active latch, sucks and swallows that are consistent for several minutes
  • Baby will lose weight initially and begin to gain once your milk comes in
  • Back up to birth weight by 2 weeks, gaining 1oz per day
  • Breasts will feel full before feeding and softer after (once milk is in)
  • Baby’s arm will be tense before feeding and relax as baby becomes full

Some basics of knowing baby is moving enough and CAN do this!

  • Reflexively moves toward breast with rooting and jaw gaping
  • Extends head to allow jaw and tongue movement as we do when drinking from a glass
  • Comfortable with head turned to both sides and not showing preference for one side over other
  • Able to easily be rolled onto belly and reflexively practice the movement necessary for effective feeding

Looking for a boost in confidence? Schedule a visit with us!

This data, anonymously collected from parents post-visit with Nurture, shows that support really does make all the difference in breastfeeding confidence!

About the author: Allyson Wessells is a physical therapist and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) with Nurture Columbus, in Columbus, Ohio.  As a PT and IBCLC, she focuses on optimizing nourishment and growth for lifelong health. Other services include presentations emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding and infant neurodevelopment as foundations for preventative healthcare.


Jesberger, C., Chertok, I. A., Wessells, A., & Schaumleffel, C. (2021). Maternal Self-Confidence and Breastfeeding after Participating in a Program about Infant Prone Positioning. MCN. The American journal of maternal child nursing46(4), 205–210.

Loke, A.Y. and Chan, L.-K.S. (2013), Maternal Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy and the Breastfeeding Behaviors of Newborns in the Practice of Exclusive Breastfeeding. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 42: 672-684.

Blyth, R., Creedy, D.K., Dennis, C.-L., Moyle, W., Pratt, J. and De Vries, S.M. (2002), Effect of Maternal Confidence on Breastfeeding Duration: An Application of Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Theory. Birth, 29: 278-284.

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