Until you’ve attempted the fine art of nourishing your baby via breastfeeding, it’s impossible to really know what you’re in for. Here’s the top advice I wish someone would’ve told me..
1) It’s most likely not going to be all rainbows and unicorns.
Breastfeeding can come with its challenges (engorgement, latches gone wrong, waiting for your milk to come in, supply issues, and on and on). It’s OKAY. You aren’t failing. This is normal.
2) KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
This is what I had to tell myself with my last two babies. A new mom can get overwhelmed with all the advice.. pump after feedings, don’t pump, only feed this often, don’t eat _____, only feed x minutes per side, etc. Don’t worry about needing to pump, timing your feedings, or stressing over how much you are producing.
Baby should start off with little fists, will begin gulping after a minute (when milk lets down), will eventually relax into open hands and should be content afterwards (not screaming in frustration). If this is happening, you are most likely having successful nursing sessions. If baby is having frequent wet and dirty dipes, is gaining weight (after the initial newborn weight loss) and is (in general) happy, then keep it up and don’t over complicate things!
3) Feed often
Feed baby on demand for the first months. The best way to make more milk? Let baby suckle as often as possible. Yes, you may feel like a human pacifier, but this is temporary. Baby looks to you for comfort. This is comforting for baby and establishes a healthy milk supply.
4) If it hurts, get PROFESSIONAL help!
Find a pediatrician who is an IBCLC and specializes in breastfeeding issues. They should be very educated and supportive of nursing. If you are having any pain or bleeding, get in to see this doctor ASAP. Have baby’s lip and tongue checked by this doctor.
With my third baby, I was in PAIN. He began spitting up blood before we left the hospital. I was told he didn’t have a tongue tie from the hospital CLC. I scheduled an appointment with an IBCLC pediatrician for the following morning. And guess what? He did have one! We had it clipped in office, put him right to my boo and retrained his latch. We have had a successful breastfeeding relationship since!
*On the contrary: If you feel your healthcare professionals are not being 100% supportive of breastfeeding, find another provider! Run, don’t walk.
5) Stay hydrated
Drink lots of water… like really, lots and lots! Push the fluids, even if you don’t think you are thirsty. Increased fluid intake can help increase milk production.
6) DO wake a sleeping baby
Newborns sleep a lot. They will fall asleep at the boo often. Make sure the room is under 80 degrees. Strip baby down to a diaper. Skin to skin contact helps a lot. Make sure baby is feeding often throughout the day.
7) Have green cabbage on hand
When your milk comes in you will become engorged. Just stick a leaf of cold cabbage in your bra to help with the swelling and pain. You might stink a bit, but it can really help!
*If you are having supply issues, don’t do this. It could dry you up… only if you’re overflowing.
8) Coconut oil is fantastic
For me this worked better on my scabbed up battle wounds than the prescription stuff. Plus, baby could nurse without having to worry about washing the goods first. A bonus? Coconut oil is an anti-fungal and will keep away thrush.
9) Know your rights!
Please, do not be embarrassed to breastfeed in public. Baby has every right to eat when baby is hungry. Outdated ideas about feeding baby in a disgusting bathroom stall, or a hot car, are inconsiderate to you and your little one. Be confident in your decision to do what’s best for your sweet baby. By nursing in public, other moms will see this, and you may just spread the breastfeeding love! Each state has varying laws to protect nursing moms. To find out laws in your state click HERE
Make sure you are getting enough calories. We all want to lose that baby weight, but nursing already burns extra calories. Don’t diet too heavily, because this could dwindle your supply.
Unless you have a history of food allergies in your immediate family, eat as normal. No need to unnecessarily complicate things or deprive yourself. Women throughout history, from all cultures, have enjoyed spices, seasonings, vegetation and foods of all kinds while nursing. Unless baby is having abnormal stools, or reactions, just stick with what you like (see #2).
11) Find support
Talk to friends who have breastfed successfully. Seek other nursing moms in your area. Join Natural Parenting or Breastfeeding Support groups on Facebook. Establish a relationship with a CLC/IBCLC in your area. Join a local chapter of Le Leche League (to find a chapter in the states: HERE, Internationally: HERE).
12) It gets easier
Nursing a newborn, heck having a newborn, can be very challenging. They are accustomed to floating in dark, warm wetness. The first three months have often been called baby’s “fourth trimester.” They are still like floppy, little fetuses.. only out in the bright lights and loud noises. Try to put yourself in baby’s position. They may want to nurse more often than you’d like. They may cluster feed at certain times of the day. But, they are growing like mad! They need the calories and the comfort. After 8-12 weeks, a routine should begin to emerge. Feedings will become less frequent, and not as lengthy. Hold on to this.. you can make it!
13) When you need to pump for stored milk, a good pump is priceless!
For Electric: The Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Pump
For Manual: The Medela Harmony
Thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act, breast pumps are now covered under many insurance plans! Be sure to contact your insurance provider prior to purchasing to find out specifics.
For your entertainment, and because I could not love this more:
Questions or comments? Please, do :)