Breastfeeding is great for your baby, but it can be soooooo hard in the beginning! The best way to become successful at breastfeeding is to get ready for it way before your baby is here. Which is what the following breastfeeding tips are for!
If you educate yourself before the baby is here, you can anticipate what breastfeeding is going to be like before you even start. It will ease your fears and enable you to get more information if you need it.
That’s why I made up this list of the eight most important breastfeeding tips you have to read before you have your baby!
If you need any more information after reading this, feel free to peruse the breastfeeding category on Babytalk, it’s full of great information! You can find that category right here!
#1 Latch Your Baby as Soon As Possible After Birth
The first breastfeeding tip I’m going to talk about is when to latch your baby.
If you’d like to get all your hormones flowing and get your breastmilk production off to an awesome start, hold your baby skin-to-skin for at least one hour right after birth (or much much longer if you can!).
Read more about the evidence based reasons for skin-to-skin contact right here on Babytalk! Skin-to-Skin: The One Place Your Baby Wants to be After Birth
Ideally, you shouldn’t be separated from your baby at all. Sometimes right after birth, they might need to take your baby if he or she is having issues breathing, but ask them to wait if they want to measure or weigh your baby. Anything unnecessary and non-life-threatening can wait!
What happens right after the birth of your baby? Find out here! Postpartum Care: Everything You Need To Know!
While your baby is skin-to-skin, it will be easy for you to spot whether your baby is ready to start latching.
He or she will start opening their mouths and they will turn their head towards your nipples. They might even start lifting their head and “bobbing down” to your nipple!
When that starts happening, get help from your nurse or midwife to latch your baby.
Evidence has shown that lots and lots of skin-to-skin in the beginning and early latching will increase your milk supply and keep it up for the duration of breastfeeding.
#2 Hand Expressing Will Help Your Supply Forever
Ok, forever might be an exaggeration. I just mean your supply will be amazing, haha.
This breastfeeding tip is proven by science, by the way! Check out this article about Dr. Jane Morton, a leader in the science behind hand expressing and milk supply.
If you hand express early and do it often, your supply, later on, will be better.
When I say early, I mean within a couple of hours of having your baby! I’d also recommend trying to hand express after every feed. You can ask for a little spoon or syringe in the hospital and feed those extra drops to your baby.
This is probably the most important breastfeeding tip. If you remember ONE thing on this list, remember this.
THE MORE MILK YOU REMOVE FROM YOUR BREASTS, THE MORE MILK YOU WILL MAKE!
Not making enough milk is the number one fear of women who breastfeed. Hand expressing, or removing milk from your breasts with a pump regularly, will eliminate that fear!
I wrote a great article on using hand expressing for your supply: The Magical Way to Increase Breast Milk Supply
#3 You Will be Feeding All the Time in the Beginning
While you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed, you’ll need to put a lot of time into feeding.
It’s going to feel like all you do!
Make sure you have a very comfy place to sit where you have access to some entertainment and enough to eat and drink.
I mean it, you are going to feel like all you do is breastfeed. But it will get better! I promise. It’s just the first 2-6 weeks that are the hardest.
Once your body has regulated your breast milk supply and your baby gets more efficient at feeding it won’t feel as demanding.
Try to enjoy this time. Bond with your baby. If you can, sleep when the baby sleeps! It’ll help your milk supply as well.
#4 Get a Pump or Haakaa
Invest in a breast pump before your baby is here. Even if you aren’t going back to work, or think you might never want to use your expressed breast milk, get one.
If you need to pump regularly I would get an electric pump. I use the Avent single pump and it works really well!
I’d definitely recommend getting a Haaka “pump”. You can attach it to the opposite breast while your baby is feeding and it will collect and pump out a bit. Just collect a few times every day and before you know it you’ll have a little extra to give to your baby if you need it!
You’re going to want some freedom. Breastfed babies usually feed about every 2-3 hours around the clock. You might want to go out without the baby at some point, even if it’s just once a month. A pump will be the best way to get that extra amount of milk out for someone else to give.
A pump will help you maintain your supply. If you feel like it’s getting low, you can pump after every feed and increase your supply in days. I really think a pump is a helpful thing to have!
If your baby is in the NICU, read all about establishing an awesome supply right from the start! A Step by Step Guide To Building an Amazing Breast Milk Supply.
#5 Breastfeeding Will Be Painful in the Beginning
The first time your baby latches it will hurt. Babies have strong sucks and your nipples are not used to the sensation yet.
It might feel like pinching. That being said, you shouldn’t feel that all the time. As the feed goes on, the sensation will change. If your baby is latched correctly it should feel like tugging or pulling around your nipple.
Check your nipples after your baby is done. If there is any sign of redness or blistering, talk to your nurse about adjusting the latch.
It is so important that the latch is correct right from the get-go! If your nurse can’t help you and the extreme pain continues, go see a lactation consultant.
I guess the bottom line is that breastfeeding will hurt a bit in the beginning, but it shouldn’t be crazy pain with blisters and bleeding! That’s not normal.
#6 Almost All Women Have Enough Milk
Although most worry that they don’t.
Don’t go on how your breasts feel or how long your baby feeds for.
Is your baby:
- Feeding at least 8 times in 24 hours (draining the breast)?
- Pooping and peeing the normal amount for their age? Check out this post for a chart.
- Content between feedings?
- Gaining weight appropriately? (don’t forget that all babies lose weight in the beginning!)
Did you answer yes to all of these questions? You have enough milk and your body knows how to do this mama!
Learn all about breastfeeding right after the birth of your baby right here: Best Way to Be Successful at Breastfeeding
If you’re absolutely sure that you aren’t making enough, regardless of the information above, talk to a lactation consultant before supplementing. They can advise your specific case better than the internet.
Lactation consultants can do fancy things like weighing your baby before and after a feed to see how much they are getting.
They will also follow along to make sure your baby is thriving!
#7 Your Supply Levels Out at About 6 Weeks
Your breasts will be softer again but this doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk. This is often times when that worry sets in!
Again, if your baby is thriving, don’t go on the feel of your breasts alone. You are now making the perfect amount of milk for your baby. Before you might have been making a bit too much, but at around 6 weeks of age, your body knows exactly how much milk to make!
Try to avoid giving bottles to your baby before the 6-week mark. You might mess with the delicate supply and demand system!
# 8 Join a Support Group
I cannot stress this enough.
Look up La Leche League in your area (LLL) and join them BEFORE you have your baby. Not only will you make new mom friends, but you’ll also have that support available when things are tough.
This is information from the La Leche League website:
Our Mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.
You’ll be able to talk to mamas who have been through what you’re experiencing, and they’ll be able to direct you and help out! Also, they have an information session about breastfeeding, with a different topic at each meeting! I cannot recommend them enough.
If there is no LLL in your area, ask nurses or lactation consultants at your hospital about any other type of breastfeeding support groups.
That’s it for this post! If you’ve had your baby, please give me feedback in the comments below! Which breastfeeding tips were the most useful and what breastfeeding tip did not fit your story? Let’s stay in touch. 🙂