Hey, New Momma! I have been exactly where you are, scouring the internet looking for answers to anything and everything about breastfeeding. Being a new mom is tough. You feel like nothing you do is right and all you want is the best for your baby! I have been breastfeeding for the last 23 months, and I wanted to share my killer breastfeeding knowledge. Starting with the basics!
Breastfeeding for Beginners
What can I tell you about breastfeeding that you don’t already know? Most women, myself included, thought that breastfeeding was going to be easy. That it was this natural process and that there is nothing you need to learn.
But Breastfeeding is a skill. It’s a magical power that all women have. And learning to wield that power is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your baby!
LATCH IS EVERYTHING
When you bring your babe to breast, the latch is everything. It can be the difference between a successful breastfeeding journey, and one that ends abruptly.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE FOR THE PERFECT LATCH
- Take your nipple and brush it gently on your babes’ lips, this will help your baby to open their mouth wide
- Your baby’s chin should be the first thing to touch your breast. Cupping your breast, point your nipple at the tip of their nose. You want your nipple and areola to go deep in your baby’s mouth.
- Your baby’s lips should curl up and look like a fish face
Your baby will start sucking in short spurts, this helps activate your letdown and helps milk flow more freely. Soon your baby will suck more slowly and deeply. Here is a visual guide if you need it.
Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. But there might be slight discomfort in the beginning till your breasts get used to it.
Things to consider that might make latching seem impossible
- Flat or Inverted Nipples – You might look into a nipple shield
- Have your baby checked for tongue and lip ties before leaving the hospital or if you have already left the hospital make an appointment with your lactation specialist
Get Comfortable While Nursing
You should be comfortable when breastfeeding! There are many different positions that you can try. Don’t forget that you can also utilize a nursing pillow!
- Cradle Position – This one is probably the most popular. You hold your baby with your dominant arm in a sideways position, cradling him
- Cross Cradle – Exactly the same as the cradle position except using the opposite arm. Leaving your dominant hand free!
- Football – Your baby’s head is resting at your breast while his feet are pointed behind you. You’re resting his body along your forearm or using a nursing pillow
- Side-Lying – Lay down sideways on your bed, with a pillow supporting your back (you will thank me later) Then have your baby lay down next to you
- Reclined/Laid Back – This one is one of the easier ones. You lay back in a chair or on the couch. Your baby’s tummy is on your tummy and that is that.
Medela goes over 11 different breastfeeding positions!
Be on the Lookout for Hunger Cues
What are hunger Cues exactly? It’s knowing when your baby is hungry before they reach meltdown status!
Looking at your baby’s hand is a great indicator. An open hand means your baby is content, while a closed hand can mean that they are hungry. But When in doubt whip it out! This is probably the best advice that I can give to new breastfeeding mothers! Offering your breast frequently can help regulate your supply!
If for whatever reason you can’t breastfeed, remember fed is best! Also, all the information below is advice, please do your research, or better yet seek out a lactation consultant!
Breastfeeding Essentials for the New Mom
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Having a Boppy was a complete lifesaver! It made it possible to be able to breastfeed my son hands-free. My son would legit be eating away on me, and I would be playing on the phone, eating a snack, or drinking water!
You cannot imagine how many times I had to change the Boppy Cover! There are so many bodily fluids that can be expelled from your baby. Unfortunately, until you see it yourself it’s hard to imagine. If I was lucky my Boppy only had to have a new cover every few days. From Baby Spit Up to poop explosion. Then there is the odd chance that maybe you accidentally dropped some salsa on the Boppy. Which is better than on your baby’s head right?
Nipple Cream is a must for at least the first month! And longer if you plan to pump. In the beginning, your nipples will crack, they will feel like they are on fire. My only saving grace was the relief I got from nipple cream.
Also, ice packs didn’t hurt.
You will need a HUGE water bottle. Did anyone tell you how thirsty you get when you breast-feed? Well if they did not, I will be the first to tell you. You will be extremely thirsty. Think Sahara Desert Thirsty.
Imagine you have your baby positioned on the boppy all cozy like and you realize your drink is just out of reach. Your world will seem like it has ended lol
Have you heard of a Hakka? This thing was a lifesaver. My son would be eating of one breast, and this thing would be attached to the other collecting all that liquid gold.
Nursing Pads are a must! I went with the reusable, washable pads that inserted into the bra. I actually had gotten them as a baby shower gift and had no idea how much I would actually use them! One day I forgot to put these bad boys in, and had too large circles on my scrub top, while I was at work…
COMMON BREASTFEEDING QUESTIONS (FAQ’S)
WHAT ARE BREASTFEEDING BENEFITS?
Every Mother knows that there are benefits that come with breastfeeding. But what exactly are those benefits?
- The Bond You Get – Having your baby rest on your chest, and being so close to you constantly. This is the number one benefit of breastfeeding.
- Reduces the chance of your baby getting sick – viruses, urinary tract infections, pesky ear infections, icky respiratory infections and then some
- Decreases the risk of SIDS – Have you stared intensely at your baby while s/he sleeps? Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is just plain scary
- Increases Effectiveness of Vaccines – Since your breastfed baby has acquired antibodies from your breast milk, it makes sense that your baby will already have the ability to fight certain viruses. Also, breastfeeding helps decrease the stress that comes with Vaccines.
- Possibly Makes Your Baby Smarter – Studies are inconclusive BUT those studies point to breastfed babies having a higher IQ later on in life
HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT YOUR BABY IS GETTING ENOUGH MILK?
First off I want to say please trust your body! It was made for supplying your little one with delicious nutritious milk! Your Milk Supply is based on supply and demand. Empty the tank to fill it back up!
Signs that Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk
- Your baby has at least 6 wet diapers per day by day four
- Your baby has returned to birth weight by 2 weeks of age
- Your baby is content!
- And last but not least, your baby is gaining weight! Yayyy!
If you still have doubts about your baby getting enough milk go to a breastfeeding support group that does weighted feeds! Weighted feeds are super simple. You will undress your baby upon arrival and have your baby weighed. Then you will feed your baby like normal. Following the feed, you reweigh your babe to see how much was ingested. Sometimes all it takes is seeing that your baby is actually getting milk to calm the nerves.
If you are looking to increase your milk production naturally you should look into the food you are eating!
WHY DOES MY BABY KEEP EATING SO CLOSE TOGETHER?
This is called cluster feeding. It’s just part of the breastfeeding process so don’t worry! Cluster feeding helps to increase your milk supply for a coming growth spurt. Think of cluster feeding as a win for the long term goal of breastfeeding! So grab your nursing pillow, turn on Netflix, and camp out on the couch.
HOW SOON SHOULD YOU START PUMPING AFTER BIRTH?
A lot of new moms, myself included, wanted to know when to start pumping after giving birth. The recommendation is to wait at least 3-4 weeks, 6 weeks is optimal. The reason behind this is your body has not regulated milk supply yet and pumping too soon will send signals to your body to make more milk. I know that that sounds amazing BUT it can lead to an oversupply and that is something you do not want.
An oversupply can lead to mastitis and/or clogged ducts. The first and only clogged duct I ever had woke me from a deep sleep. It was super painful!
I took my electric toothbrush to my boob to try and vibrate the clogged duct out, filled one of my sons’ diapers with hot water and placed it over my breast as a hot pack, and dangle fed my son. I believe it took 24 hours to get the clog out. It was literally the worst pain in the world, and I wouldn’t wish it on my own worst enemy.
SHOULD YOU SUPPLEMENT WITH FORMULA?
One question that I see pop up everywhere I look is “Should I Supplement with Formula, I don’t think I’m making enough milk!” This will turn into an endless cycle until you have no supply. My stance on supplementing with formula is to hold your horses!
Your Milk Supply works on supply and demand remember? Let’s say you supplement with formula for a feed. You just sent your body a signal that it’s making too much milk and to stop making so much. This is the opposite of what you want! I’m not saying you can’t supplement with formula, I’m saying make sure that your body knows it still needs to make milk! You can do this by replacing the feed with…
- Hand Expressing
- Using an Electric Pump
- Using a Manual Pump
Facebook Groups and Breastfeeding
When I was just starting out I joined a ton of breastfeeding groups on Facebook. I recommend looking for some and joining! It is a wonderful thing to have a community of people to ask questions when you are just unsure. I know that we live in a world where we can type into google any question, but sometimes it’s just nice to hear from another mom going through the same things.
Here are a few of my favorite Breastfeeding Support Groups
- Pumping Mamas: breastfeeding support for working moms
- Boobin’ Ain’t Easy
- Spectra Baby USA – Pumping Mom Support
- The Breastfeeding Support Group 💕
The Reality of Breast Feeding
The first month is the hardest part of breastfeeding! I can recall crying when my husband would bring my son to me because I just knew it was going to be painful. But this passes as your nipples adjust to being sucked on. You will get through it! You are stronger than you think! ♡
There are going to be ups and downs. There will be times you want to give up and call it quits because in all honesty breastfeeding can be mentally and physically exhausting. You GOT this momma. You definitely got this! And if you ever have any questions you can always email me at [email protected] I will help you as best as I can.