The first few weeks after baby is born can be the toughest and rockiest part to developing your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. I knew it'd be work, but didn't realize just how overwhelming it could be! With each of my babies, it took about six weeks to establish our breastfeeding routine. There was something magical about six weeks postpartum. My nipples were less sore, my milk supply was good, latching onto the breast was easier.
10 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms
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Here are my 10 tips based on my experiences breastfeeding two children to help you focus on you and your baby:
1 – Arrange for someone else to do chores and cook. You need this time to focus on establishing nursing and your milk supply. It's work in the beginning because newborns are demanding. It's true! It's not their fault though, those tiny bellies empty out fast.
2 – Set up a nursing station. Make it your space. Your throne. Have pillows, a nursing foot stool, magazines, water, snacks, your phone – whatever makes you comfortable. I primarily nursed in one location for a couple weeks, which was in the glider in the nursery. This way I could be comfortable and focus on positioning. Less distractions as well. Now I can nurse anywhere (just about!), but I was nervous at first. A designated spot helped ease my nerves.
3 – Be open to different positions/holds. Cross cradle and football holds are good for little babies. They don't have enough head and neck control for the classic cradle hold yet. Both of cross and football help guide baby to your breast. Don't feel only one should always be used though. Some positions may be more comfortable than others for plus-size breastfeeding moms.
Changing positions can also help if you have sore or cracked nipples because baby's latch will cover differently. Try side lying too, even if you don't co-sleep, it's a nice restful position. If the hold you are using doesn't perfectly match one of the established holds, it's OK as long as it is working for you and your baby.
4 – Get plenty of rest. You'll be tired. Very tired. Your body is recovering plus you are taking care of a someone that has to wake up frequently to eat. Nap when you can, limit your activity, and feed in the side lying position.
Sometimes my husband would hold and rock my daughter in the middle of the night, only waking me to nurse. This helped me get much needed sleep! If you are worried about bedsharing or endangering baby while you rest together, have someone keep an eye on both of you. Sometimes I had no choice but to snooze in the glider with my baby, but my husband would observe us.
5 – Eat well and stay hydrated. Your body worked hard to create your bundle of joy, now it's working hard to produce milk. Continue to eat healthy and expect to still consume extra calories. I felt hungry a lot in the beginning (I love snacking on Larabars!). Breastfeeding can lower your blood sugar by up to 50 points (according to the maternal fetal medicine nurse I worked with for my gestational diabetes) so don't skip meals or snacks! Eat before or during nursing. Drink to thirst.
6 – Have a nursing camisole or bra that you can sleep in and nursing pads. The girls will change sizes as your body adjusts your milk supply. I was foolish and didn't buy nursing wear ahead of time. You will want to support your breasts around the clock at first. Nursing pads are helpful because you will be quite leaky in the beginning. There are disposable breast pads and reusable cloth nursing pads to choose from. I didn't like waking up and finding my PJs and sheets wet even though breast milk is clean.
7 – Have support numbers handy and other resources (books, online, etc.). If you are struggling or in tears, you want a quick and easy way for you or someone else to reach out and get assistance. Support is so crucial! If you are looking for online support, join us in our Beauty in Breastfeeding Facebook group.
8 – Keep a breastfeeding log or journal. Don't worry if you don't mark everything down, but it can help you have a general sense of feeding frequency and dirty/wet diapers. I literally would mix up my days and have trouble remembering details about my baby's habits. Logging helped ease my concerns on “is she getting enough?”
If logging isn't right for you (and believe me, I couldn't keep it up during growth spurts!) another trick is to set out the number of diapers baby typically should go through in the day. If you reach the end of that days stack, you know you changed 6-8 dirty/wet diapers!
*Note: It's normal for breastfed babies to stool before, during, and after each feeding. My daughter was often changed 12-15 times a day in the beginning! It'll slow down as their digestive system matures. I don't recall my son pooping during feeds or as often as my daughter did during the newborn days.
9 – Have a breast pump or know how to manually express your milk. This will help relieve engorgement to make you more comfortable as well as make your breast softer and easier for baby to latch. Pumping can also help prep your nipple if baby seems to struggle with latching by making it more prominent. I thought I wouldn't need a pump until I went back to work or left her with someone, but I wish I had it right away. Plus, if baby is struggling to latch, you want to express milk to use for feedings and establish your supply. Check out our tips on how to pick a breast pump.
10 – Know that cluster feeding and growth spurts are normal. There were times Rissa wanted to nurse every hour for almost an hour at a time. This is OK and normal! The more baby nurses, the more milk is emptied, and thus the more milk your body will produce. Baby's appetite directs production! Also, like the rest of us, some babies like fewer but bigger meals, some like to eat small more frequent meals, some eat fast, and others dawdle.
Being a new mom is overwhelming and a lot of work, so I hope you find these breastfeeding tips helpful. Do you have any tips you would add?
More breastfeeding tips:
**Originally published on March 3, 2011. Updated August 3, 2016.**
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