Are you pregnant and planning on breastfeeding? Or are you planning on becoming pregnant soon and want to breastfeed? This post is for you because it will give you great tips for breastfeeding!
A lot of women prepare like crazy for their birth but are not at all prepared for when it’s time to take care of the baby.
To be successful at breastfeeding, it’s better to educate yourself early on, so that there are no surprises along the way.
You’d like to think that something as natural as breastfeeding would come totally naturally to all mothers. Unfortunately, that isn’t always true.
I hate to break it to you, but breastfeeding can be HARD.
Yes, you hear stories of some babies being able to latch easily and the mothers and babies rode off into the sunset breastfeeding and smiling at each other. The end and everyone lived happily ever after.
In reality, breastfeeding is rarely that easy. Even for mothers that have a relatively easy time breastfeeding, there are almost always snags along the way.
This post will be a list of things you must know before you start breastfeeding. Hopefully, it’ll help you prepare properly for your breastfeeding journey.
Let’s dive in! These tips are in no particular order and you might find a few affiliate links along the way.
#1 When your baby is fresh and new, he or she will likely cluster feed.
Cluster feeding is when your baby wants to feed ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME.
As long as your baby is healthy and gaining weight, this is normal. Find a comfy spot to sit and binge watch your favourite show while your baby goes to town on your boobs.
Babies tend to do this more around growth spurts when they want to increase your supply.
You’re going to feel like your breasts are empty and that your baby is starving, but that is rarely the case. Let your baby feed more and you’ll see, the next day you’ll wake up with more milk than ever.
If you are ever concerned about whether your baby is thriving, talk to your baby’s healthcare provider.
Check out more from Babytalk on this topic: A Step by Step Guide To Building an Amazing Breast Milk Supply.
#2 The beginning is the hardest time.
Some say the first two weeks, others say the first 6 to 12 weeks. Either way, it will get easier! Hang in there and get all the support you need. Any snippets of extra time that you have, use for yourself. Have a shower or have a nap. Things will get better, I promise.
#3 The Haakaa pump is a lifesaver.
The Haakaa basically collects milk on one boob while you feed on the other. It not only collects the letdown, but it also suctions a bit more out without stimulating your breasts too much.
This can be a great way to build up a stash of breast milk for when you are not available to feed directly from the breast.
Get one here!
#4 Surround yourself with people who support you, including your health care professionals.
Get a GP and pediatrician that are supportive of breastfeeding and seek out a lactation consultant if you need one.
Make sure your family knows your intentions for breastfeeding and lean on those that support you in your journey.
#5 You will probably be more hungry than when you were pregnant.
While you are breastfeeding you need about 500 more calories than normal to sustain your milk supply. That means you feel constantly hungry! Try to snack on healthy things between meals. Fruit is a great option because not only will it satiate your hunger, most fruit contains a lot of fluid as well.
#6 See a lactation consultant if things aren’t going well.
Don’t hesitate to get help. As soon as you think you are running into trouble you should contact an LC.
They are a great support to have and will follow you throughout your breastfeeding journey until things are going smoothly.
Most hospitals have lactation consultants, find out who to contact once you are discharged from the hospital.
Babytalk has more on the topic of breastfeeding! Best Way to Be Successful at Breastfeeding
#7 Keep your eye on the prize.
Whatever your goal is, keep it in your mind. When you are about to give up in the middle of the night, remind yourself why you are doing this. And remember, things will get easier.
Keep reminding yourself why you started and what your goal is. Breastfeeding is hard but will totally be worth it in the end.
#8 It is not the end of the world if you have to give formula!
Sometimes you might have to supplement. It will not be the end of breastfeeding. If you are adamant about continuing, you will succeed. There are many reasons why babies might need a little formula in the beginning and that’s fine. You are not a terrible mother. Formula is perfectly ok!
Learn how to formula feed safely from Babytalk: The Best Guide to Bottle Feeding Your Baby Safely
#9 Oxytocin buzz is a thing.
Some women report a certain euphoric feeling when breastfeeding. During let down your body gets a surge of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin can make you feel happy and also sleepy. Take it all in and enjoy the buzz. Just make sure you are in a safe place in case you fall asleep.
Some women feel uncomfortable during let down and it should be something you will get used to.
#10 You don’t necessarily need a breastfeeding pillow.
See if you can borrow one and find out if it works for you. Not every woman likes them. I would recommend getting one after your little one is here, just because some women don’t need one. You can do just fine with regular couch pillows.
If you do end up wanting one, I loved this pillow from Jolly Jumper. Order it from Amazon right here!
#11 Breastfeeding can be painful in the beginning.
As long as the latch is good your nipples will toughen up with time. The latch is THE most important thing. A good latch will take you all the way. It’s normal to feel some pain at the beginning of a feed, but once your baby has sucked 2 to 5 times the pain should go away and it will feel more like pulling or tugging.
Check out this post from Babytalk about breastfeeding! More About Breastfeeding in The Beginning
#12 Use the correct flange size when pumping.
Make sure you get measured by a professional if you aren’t sure about sizing.
Basically, your nipple should fit perfectly into the tube part of the flange. If your nipple is squished the flange is too small and if there is a lot of extra space around your nipple it is too big.
Either scenario can cause pain and make it so you won’t pump effectively. The most common flange size is 24mm. If you absolutely cannot figure it out speak with a lactation consultant.
#13 Pumping/hand expressing doesn’t necessarily indicate supply.
Your baby is able to get way more milk out than the pump.
Women often worry about a drop in supply when engorgement goes away or when they stop leaking. That isn’t indicative of supply either. Wet and dirty diapers and weight gain is the best way for you to gauge whether your baby is getting enough!
#14 Cramping can be really bad during breastfeeding, especially if this isn’t your first baby.
Oxytocin is released into your system during breastfeeding and it causes your uterus to contract. This is actually a good thing, but it can be very painful while your uterus is still enlarged from pregnancy.
Cramping helps control bleeding and brings your uterus back to its normal size after pregnancy. It’s a good thing but it sucks! (no pun intended)
#15 The latch is the KEY to successful breastfeeding.
OMG, this is an extremely important tip for breastfeeding!
Make an appointment with a lactation consultant if your baby’s latch isn’t good. ASAP.
How will you know?
Painful, bleeding, cracked nipples.
Your baby might feed for an exceptionally long time and not become full after a feed. Or your baby isn’t gaining weight, etc.
If the latch isn’t good, you will have a hard time with everything else. Ideally, the latch will be close to perfect once you are discharged from the hospital. If it isn’t, insist on staying another day to work on latching with an LC.
#16 While breastfeeding you might feel the letdown.
That is when the breasts release milk from your ducts.
For some, it can be an uncomfortable, prickly feeling. Others feel it but don’t mind the way it feels.
Or you might feel nothing at all. The let down in itself is not an indicator for whether you are producing enough milk, because some women never feel it yet produce plenty of milk.
#17 Think before you pump.
This is a key tip for when you are breastfeeding. Pumping too much can increase your supply too much, which can cause oversupply.
Oversupply can be difficult for babies and might even cause a nursing strike. There is a balance of how much you should be pumping. Ideally, don’t start pumping for a stash until your supply has evened out at about 2 to 6 weeks.
Learn about this amazing tip to be successful at breastfeeding: The Magical Way to Increase Breast Milk Supply
#18 It’s normal to feel engorged in the beginning.
That feeling will go away.
If you develop a fever or any red and warm areas on your breasts try to massage that spot during feeding. If it doesn’t go away see your healthcare provider, you could be developing mastitis which is an infection in your breasts and can become a complication if it isn’t treated right away.
#19 Breastfed babies can have multiple poop diapers a day or none at all for days.
Both scenarios can be normal! Although the lack of poops can be normal, it’s usually not until breastfeeding has been established.
(In the first few weeks, make sure your baby is gaining enough and peeing and pooping enough)
#20 Breastfeeding is time-consuming.
Especially while cluster feeding and during growth spurts. Make sure you are comfortable and have plenty of fluids on hand and a snack ready to go. Make sure to pee before feeding!
Later it gets way better. Baby gets better at feeding and is done faster. Put the work in the beginning and it will be worth your while down the road.
#21 Stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of water, your milk supply will thank you! I would recommend drinking more fluids than you think you need to.
#22 Nipple shields are not for everyone.
But in some cases, they can be very helpful.
Make sure to use them while consulting a lactation specialist. You don’t want to use them forever, but you might need them in the beginning if your nipples are flat or inverted or if your baby has a hard time latching.
#23 Have patience.
Be patient with yourself and your baby. It’s a learning experience for you both. This might be the most important tip. With patience anything is possible.
#24 The Slacker boob.
You will have a slacker boob and that’s normal. For whatever reason, one breast might not make as much milk as the other. It’s something you might notice when you pump, but it really doesn’t mean anything, as long as your baby is thriving!
Alright! That’s a lot of things to consider. If you have any other tips or tricks for new moms please share them in the comments!