Breastfeeding, if you choose to do it, can be a struggle. The first couple weeks are the hardest especially for first time moms. I hope that these breastfeeding tips for new moms will help each one of y’all.
As a new mom I needed all of the breastfeeding tips that I could get.
I struggled a lot for the first couple weeks and I wondered when the struggle would end. The nurses kept saying that our son was latching so well, but it hurt so dang bad! He would nurse for at least 45 minutes on each breast. My nipples were always sore because he wold use them as a pacifier.
Luckily my pediatrician and I talked about these struggles and he gave me some great tips. I should have actually used the lactation consultant while I was in the hospital, but I was too exhausted from laboring and then having an emergency c-section. I also asked several moms and added my own best breastfeeding tips (after I practiced some more) so you can have less of a struggle. Trust me though it does get better!
Just remember though that fed is best and if you decide to stop breastfeeding after you try different tips you are not a failure by any means! You need to do whats best for you and your baby.
First and the most important tip is try not to stress while you are learning to breastfeed with your baby. “When you are scared, stressed, or anxious, the adrenaline released by your system can inhibit oxytocin. And since oxytocin is what causes your milk to “let down”, or flow freely from your breasts, that adrenaline messes with your milk delivery system. Stress and breastfeeding just don’t mix well.” (Source)
Each baby is different and you will have to learn latching, even if you were a rockstar breastfeeder with your last baby.
Each baby needs to learn how to breastfeed with you. Its a learning curve for them as well. So most importantly don’t stress and give yourself some time to figure out breastfeeding with your baby.
Nurse During the Golden Hour
This is so vital with nursing! The golden hour is the hour right after birth. You should be doing skin to skin during this time because it releases oxytocin which help with your milk flow in your breasts.
Now don’t fret if your baby has to go to the NICU right away and you aren’t able to nurse within the golden hour. You will be able to nurse later, it may take a little more time to get the hang of breastfeeding, but its still possible.
I wasn’t able to nurse within the first hour because I had to have an emergency C-section. Luckily my baby was healthy so we were able to do some skin to skin as soon as we could and then we tried with latching.
He now breastfeeds really well so I know its possible to breastfeed if you don’t within the golden hour. It just makes breastfeeding go a little more smoothly.
Skin to Skin is something you want to do often and regularly. My husband and I did it often in the hospital with our son. I will also do it after I give our son a bath for some extra bonding.
Skin to skin is beneficial for bonding and breastfeeding with your baby. According to Sanford Health here are some extra benefits with skin to skin.
- Better able to absorb and digest nutrients
- Better body temperature maintenance
- Cries less often
- Demonstrate improved weight gain
- Experience more stable heartbeat and breathing
- Higher blood oxygen levels
- Long-term benefits, such as improved brain development and function as well as parental attachment
- More successful at breastfeeding immediately after birth
- Spend increased time in the very important deep sleep and quiet alert states
- Stronger immune systems
- Experience more positive breastfeeding
- Improved breast milk production
- Likely to have reduced postpartum bleeding and lower risk of postpartum depression
Utilize Your Lactation Consultant
I wish I did this! I was so ready to just get home from the hospital because we were there for 3 days and I just felt so exhausted. I was asked if I wanted the lactation consultant to come into our room, but I ultimately wanted to sleep more than have her there.
The nurses told me our son was latching well so I thought I was totally fine, but we had other problems arise.
He would latch well, but he was making my nipples bleed, sounds pleasant right!? I found out later from our pediatrician that the reasoning was because I was nursing him for too long. I would nurse about 45 minutes each side and I had no idea that was not how it was supposed to be!
My doctor told me that I should stop him after 15 to 20 minutes because ultimately he is using me as a pacifier instead of just a food source. It cut my feedings down from almost 2 hours to 30 minutes. That includes burping, feeding, and changing the diaper! It saved my life during the nighttime feedings!
Instead of just falling asleep on my breast he eats and is satisfied. He learned really quick not to use me as a pacifier and that he only had so long to get his food.
I wish I would have learned this sooner because the newborn phase would have been a little easier. I feel like if I utilized my lactation consultant I would have learned this.
So please ask your consultant lots of questions and use them to your advantage!
There are early, middle, and late feeding cues with your baby.
Early feeding cues are stirring, mouth opening, turning head, seeking, and rooting.
Mid feeding cues are stretching, increasing movement, and hand to mouth.
Late feeding cues are crying, lots of movement, and their color turning red.
If your baby gets to the late feeding cues you should calm them before you try to breastfeed. I have made the mistake of nursing while my baby is crying and he choked on my milk. That was scary and definitely could have been avoided. So please soothe your baby before you nurse so you could avoid my mistake.
Im not saying that this will happen every time, but its a good thing to avoid if you can.
I felt this one so much within the first couple weeks. My son would make my nipples bleed and breastfeeding was painful. The one item that saved my life with breastfeeding was nipple shields!
I wanted to keep breastfeeding, but I was in so much pain. My sister-in-law suggested using nipple shields and they were the best 8 dollars I spent on breastfeeding supplies. Breastfeeding didn’t hurt and it gave me the time I needed for my nipples to recover.
I stopped using them after a couple weeks when my nipples were more tough and recovered. Now I only use them on occasion like when our son is cluster feeding or I just feel a little sore.
Needless to say you will feel sore for the first couple weeks, don’t let this get to you. Use some nipple shields or you can just push through it, but I highly suggest nipple shields!
Nipple Cream or Milk
I was told by many moms to express milk from your nipples or to use nipple cream. This is so you don’t get sore or cracked nipples. Imagine having really bad chapped lips, but on your tender nipples that are getting nursed on every couple hours.
Sounds pleasant right?
I usually just let my nipples dry after my baby nurses. He’s a sloppy eater so usually there is already milk on my nipples when I unlatch him. I have never gotten chapped nipples since I started leaving the milk on and letting them air dry.
I usually don’t use the nipple cream because its sticky to me and another step added to the whole nursing process. Frankly I’m just lazy, but a lot of moms love using nipple cream. I love using my own milk.
Just try each one and see what works best for you.
I love warm and cold compresses when my boobs feel a little sore. It’s like when you get a sore muscle you use heat or cold to relieve the pain.
Lanosh has really good gel packs for your breasts that you could heat up or put in the freezer. It’s just a nice option to have when everything hurts and you would like some pain relief.
This is a critical if you want to succeed in breastfeeding. If you look at the picture below this is a proper latch.
To get a good latch make sure your babies chin isn’t to his or her chest. You want their head tilted back just a little bit. Bring your nipple to their nose and wait for them to open wide. You will want to make sure that their tongue is on the bottom of their mouth and their lips are flared out when they are latched.
If their mouth isn’t open wide don’t try to shove your nipple in, they won’t be able to latch properly. Just try again bringing nipple to nose and wait for their mouth to open wide.
The importance of getting a good latch is it helps the baby to get the amount of milk they need. Your baby will be able to suck the milk from your nipple efficiently and more quickly.
Also it helps with breastfeeding pain. Most women will feel pain nursing if the don’t manage to get a proper latch.
In the hospital practice your latching while nurses or your lactation consultant are around that way they can correct the latch early on.
This is key to breastfeeding success!
Check for Tongue Tie
If your baby has a tough time latching on properly they could have tongue tie. It is very common for babies to be tongue tied.
Tongue tie can make it more difficult for babies to breastfeed because it’s harder for them to make the sucking motion necessary for getting milk out of your nipple.
You can tell if your baby is tongue tied if they have a difficult time sticking their tongue out past their lower front gums.
If they have a difficult time lifting their tongue to their upper teeth. Or if they have a difficulty moving their tongue side to side.
If your baby sticks their tongue out and it looks notched or heart shaped they also could have tongue tie.
If you think your baby has tongue tie ask your pediatrician and have them take a look. If it’s severe enough they will just clip a little bit of the tissue under the tongue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
If you strongly believe that your baby is tongue tied and your pediatrician doesn’t believe you feel free to get a second opinion.
I’ve had several friends go to a different doctor and they strongly suggested clipping the tissue when the first doctor wouldn’t even listen to them.
This is why having a pediatrician you trust and will listen to you is important.
This is very helpful in the middle of the night! I have a recliner in the living room where I nurse my baby or just snuggle with him. Next to my chair I have a table with a basket full of goodies.
Here is a great list of things to have in your nursing basket:
- Healthy snacks
- Breast pump
- Nipple cream
- Boppy pillow
- Swaddle blankets
- Baby nail clippers (it’s easier to clip while they are busy nursing)
- Nasal aspirator
- Baby lotion (I like to rub it on him when he is nursing)
I know it sounds like a lot, most of it is there because I like to snuggle my baby in the recliner. I don’t use everything for breastfeeding it’s mainly for convenience any time I’m in the chair.
Most important things to have are snacks and water because you will start nursing and then you get super hungry or thirsty. It’s not an easy task to get up and get water while you are nursing.
Trust me I’ve tried!
Drink Lots of Water
Your body needs water to produce enough milk for your baby and also for your own health. You should drink at least half your body weight in ounces.
So if you weigh 150 pounds you should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water a day.
This is just like when you are pregnant everything you eat affects the baby. Since your baby is getting his or her nutrition from your breast milk you need to be eating healthy.
It also helps you to drop the baby weight easier, helps you have better quality breast milk, and you just feel plain good!
While you are breast feeding it feels like you need to eat all of the time so here is a great list of healthy and nutritious snacks:
- Fruit or veggies
- Yogurt with fruit and granola (this is my lunch everyday because it’s so good!)
- Apples with cheese or peanut butter
- Trail mix
- Crackers or veggies with hummus
- Homemade smoothies
- Banana and peanut butter
- Peanut butter and banana slices on toast
- Fiber bars, they help you poop!
- Tortilla chips with guacamole
- Half of a tuna sandwich
- Protein bars
- Ants on a log (celery with peanuts butter and raisins)
- Eggs with spinach on an English muffin or toast
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Grapes and Cheddar cheese cubes
- Fruit salad (cut up fruit then add a dash of lime juice and honey)
- Cucumber sandwiches (cucumbers, dill, and cream cheese)
- Frozen grapes with string cheese
- Real fruit popsicles
I just experienced this for the first time and let me tell you it is literal hell!
Our son fed for every hour for almost 24 hours. Let me tell you there was no sleeping while the baby sleeps during that time. I fell asleep while he was nursing because I was so exhausted.
Cluster feeding happens around growth spurts and they can last for up to a couple days. Growth spurts happen around 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.
They cluster feed to increase your milk supply for their growing bodies and bellies.
I wish someone even told me that there was such a thing. I was so overwhelmed and stressed. The best advice I could give you is to just push through the cluster feeding and have a major spa day after!
It’s only a short period of time, even though it feels like eternity!
Pump if You’re Engourged
“Engorgement is caused by a build-up of milk, blood and other fluids in the breast tissue. You may find that your breasts become larger and feel heavy, warmer and uncomfortable when your milk comes in, usually about 26 days after your baby is born.” (Source)
If you do feel engorged it could be difficult for your baby to latch. A great way to relieve engorgement is to pump. You’ll want to fully empty your breasts. Or you could pump a little out and have your baby eat till your breast is empty. If they don’t empty your breast you could pump afterwards as well.
Don’t Let Baby Sleep
I was so bad at this when I first started breastfeeding. I would be nursing for about 45 minutes each side and our son would eat, but then fall asleep pacifying on my nipple. I honestly didn’t know if he was getting enough so I thought that I should feed super long. So he fell asleep often on the boob.
Now I think its totally okay to nurse your baby to sleep, but keep them awake at the beginning so they are getting the amount of food that they need.
Since my doctor told me to nurse for only 15-20 minutes I will nurse on one side for 10 minutes, burp him, change his diaper, swaddle him, then nurse on the other side till he falls asleep. It helps a lot at night to nurse babies to sleep because then you can gently put them to bed and get some much needed rest.
If y’all have any other breastfeeding tips comment them below for other mammas!