Let me start by saying I am in no way a professional. I’m just an experienced, two time veteran breast feeder who is really passionate about helping moms succeed. I feel like I’ve gained enough knowledge in the past 4 years of nursing to share some breastfeeding tips with you guys!
I nursed my middle child for 29 months (she was not letting it go! Haha) and we’re 1 year in so far with my youngest.
I also want to point out that I am totally not against formula at all. I just know what it’s like to have a strong desire to breastfeed successfully. These are my top breastfeeding tips to go in prepared.
Related : Tips for Breastfeeding in Public
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My breastfeeding background
I was unsuccessful at long-term breastfeeding my first child. He and I lasted about 2 weeks…ish. I was brand new, 18 year old mom learning to care for a newborn and trying to learn to breastfeed at the same time. Which can be overwhelming for any new mom.
My son was a little jaundice after birth so the hospital had me supplement with formula. Not being educated on the subject, I did what they suggested.
I was never confident about whether or not he was eating enough. Boob first then bottle? Bottle then boob? In the same feeding? 2 hours apart? NO FREAKING CLUE how often I should be alternating.
On top of that, I had a manual Medela breast pump that would give me about 3 drops (literally) from each breast. So ya know where my anxious mind went to? “Holy crap I’m not making any milk!! I’m starving him!!”
But I didn’t know then that not everyone responds to a pump, so keep that in mind. By this time, we switched to formula completely.
Once we did that, my mama heart was put at ease!
It’s ok to switch over to formula if you feel like that change needs to happen. It’s about doing what’s best for YOU and YOUR baby. I feel proud to know that my oldest and I lasted a whole two weeks!
When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I knew I wanted to successfully breastfeed long term.
I got to work learning everything I could. I spent a ton of time on the internet reading everything I could on nursing and producing milk.
Luckily my close friend had just recently nursed her baby for a year. She was a pro in my eyes.
She was there at my delivery and thank goodness for her help. During my first nursing session, she had to hold my boob and help me with our latch! Lol that’s what friends are for right?
The very first thing you’ll need to know – how to latch baby.
In your mind, you’ll pop that kid out, do some skin to skin and then baby will latch on to the nipple perfectly and start chugging away.
I’m here to tell ya, that’s usually not how it works.
Remember that everything is a learning curve for both you and baby. It takes a minute to understand exactly how your breast should fit into your baby’s mouth and how their lips should be situated around the areola.
Your baby’s latch makes a huge difference in everything. There is a glorious technique to it and once you’ve got it down, you will be so proud!
I highly recommend that you ask to see the Lactation Nurse while still in the hospital, or ask to set up an appointment within the first few days of birth if she’s unavailable. She can show you how to properly latch your baby and do a weighed feeding so you can be confident that your baby is getting enough milk. She’ll probably even have a handful more of breastfeeding tips for you!
2. Contractions while breastfeeding will happen and they suck.
Yes, unfortunately labor won’t be the last of your contractions. For the first few days you’ll have uterine contractions each time your baby is nursing. This is a good thing though! That’s your uterus going back down to normal size. They don’t last forever, I promise.
3. Your nipples will hurt and maybe even bleed.
Keep in mind that sore nipples are going to happen, even with a proper latch. Your nipples have to build up a tolerance to being used all day every day. Mine personally are extra sensitive for the first month or so. It’s a little (ok maybe a lot) painful at the beginning of each nursing session.
But the tenderness only lasts the first few seconds of latching then typically subsides. If it doesn’t, it could be caused by an improper latch so make sure to double check that. (Youtube is great!!) I can promise you though that this sensitivity WON’T last for ever so push through it! It’s normal.
If your nipples are cracked or bleeding they make plenty of creams for that. With each of my nursing journeys, I’ve only had cracked nipples happen a few days after birth. I would plan on buying a lanolin balm before delivery just to have it on hand if needed. I personally used the Lansinoh brand. (Psst..it also makes a great chapstick for dry lips!!).
If you have nothing else on hand to use for the nips just try plain coconut oil. I like to put warm rags on my boobs for a little relief as well. Just know this is a sucky part of the beginning of your journey but as long as you get that proper latch down, the pain will subside. I promise it’s worth it.
*Also, please make sure you know what Clogged Milk Ducts are, as well as Mastitis. Both hurt like crazy and need to be dealt with accordingly!
4. What is a letdown?
You’ll hear this term often on your journey and it took me forever to realize what it was. Sometimes women don’t actually feel it happening and with my second, I didn’t start to feel my letdown until she was a few months old.
A letdown is when milk starts flowing from the breast. Your milk doesn’t automatically start coming out as soon as baby latches (unless you’re super engorged!). The baby has to suckle for a moment to get things flowing. They also use their tiny hands to gently rub the breast to bring milk down. Pretty cool right? This is another reason skin to skin is so important!
Each breast will have a letdown at the same time so it’s good to have a reusable nursing pad in your bra or a Haakaa pump attached to the opposite side. Otherwise you’ll be covered in milk.
I’ve used the Bamboobies reusable nursing pads and really like them. I always find myself reaching for the washable pads rather than the throw aways. In my opinion they’re so much easier to put in and out of your bra and much more comfy. Definitely a must have in my book. I’ll explain a little bit more about the Haakaa on down.
Letdowns usually feel like a tingling sensation. I’ve heard other women describe it as a burning feeling or a pins and needles sensation. Don’t let that scare you. It’s not so bad and you get used to it. But then again, some women don’t feel it at all!
5. Engorgement and Pumping
These two have to be in the same category because I am not a veteran pumper. I’ve only ever pumped trying to help relieve pressure or just attempting to see what I could get.
With breastfeeding you have the options of exclusively nursing, boob plus bottles, or exclusively pumping! Everyone’s journey is different. Not every one responds to a pump though and I am one of those people.
You also need to know you don’t have to build up a huge stash of frozen milk and you don’t have to give your baby a bottle if you don’t want to.
Also, please keep in mind that some breastfed babies will absolutely refuse a bottle.. more so if you introduce it later rather than sooner – and are a stay at home, nurse on demand mom. Don’t let it stress you though.
If you want or need your baby to take a bottle for childcare or other reasons, I would introduce one at about 2 weeks old. It usually helps if someone other than mom feeds them with the bottle. If they can’t smell you and the boobs, they’ll be more than happy to take the bottle usually! Make sure the milk is warm though. Remember that your milk comes out body temperature so baby isn’t going to like it cold from a bottle.
You also need to realize that how much milk you get from a pump, does not always equal how much milk you’re actually producing. Like I said before, some people just don’t respond to a pump. Babies are much more efficient at emptying the breast. Also, electric pumps are typically more efficient than manual, hand pumps.
With my second baby, I used a Medela breast pump. I only pumped in the beginning of my journey whenever I was super engorged and even then I would only get about 1-2 ozs from each breast. This did help me build up a little freezer stash but Mia was one of those babies who refused a bottle. Which was ok because I was a SAHM. We just used that stashed milk for milk baths!
If you do decide to go ahead and grab a breast pump, check out this site right here. Most of the time your insurance provider will cover a breast pump for you. This website contacts your provider for you and takes care of everything! All you have to do is choose a pump once your insurance approves!
With my third baby, I was introduced to the Haakaa silicone pump and I highly, highly recommend you grab one! You attach it to the opposite breast that baby is feeding and it catches every thing that would be leaking into a nursing pad!
I would get up to 4 ounces from one boob!! Plus it just hangs on so you’re handsfree! This was such a good way to release some extra pressure from engorgement and build up a HUGE stash.
Even after my milk was regulated and I wasn’t so engorged, I would attach it and still get about 2 ozs from each side.
It’s crazy to think that most of it would’ve gone to waste in a nursing pad or soaking my shirt! And with regular pumps I could barely get an ounce or two! Definitely grab the Haakaa.
6. You thought you were tired while pregnant?
I’m not going to sugar coat it mama. You’re going to be exhausted. You are going to be nursing anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour each feeding those first few weeks (Don’t worry they get quicker). You are going to be starting a new nursing session every 2 to 3 hours on the dot.
So that means you’re going to be nursing all day every day with about an hour break in between. You’re going to stare down your husband as he sleeps peacefully and probably say mean words in your head. You are going to feel touched out quickly. You are going to be freaking tired. Your house will be a mess and dishes will pile up.
But I promise you, it will not be like this forever. Those stretches in between feedings will get longer and longer. Your baby will be emptying your breast quicker and quicker. You will get your house back in order again. You’ll gain sleep back eventually.
After they move out to college. Just kidding 😉
7. Food is life while breastfeeding.
Ok who am I kidding. Food is life period. But when you’re breastfeeding…ha you just thought you were hungry while pregnant! I seriously feel like I can’t eat enough. You’ll probably need about 500 more calories when nursing. Your body will use it quick.
But don’t count calories, just eat when you’re hungry and try to make smart decisions. Water is super, super important too. I personally have never been a water drinker so this one right here is HARD. But you must stay hydrated.
Since I’ve been nursing this second time around, I’ve actually started to consider myself a water drinker now! I share my tips on how I learned to become (and love!) a water drinker Here.
I also have pregnancy like cravings when breastfeeding. Chocolate is my thing this time around. Haha so to feel better about my chocolate chip cookie indulgence, I try to make sure all my other snacks are healthier options like fresh fruit or celery.
My final breastfeeding tips
For my final breastfeeding tips, I’m going to do bullet point style because who doesn’t love a good list?
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Seriously! They may be quick naps but you better take advantage each time you can!
- Put your husband and his useless nipples to work! Lol he wants to help. He just may not know how! Adjusting your pillows, bringing you water, snack/pick up dinner duty, and if you have older kids, help keeping them occupied of course.
- Don’t be afraid to do NOTHING. Breastfeeding is a full time job. Heck it’s more than a full time job. The dishes can wait. Grab some snacks, put the diapers beside your bed or couch, and put on Netflix. Your body and your baby will thank you for taking it slow and healing yourself the right way. Don’t try to overdo it.
- If you have older kids, don’t feel guilty about letting them have too much screen time during the day. I’m not judging you. The best thing I ever did was let my older kids play on their iPads or watch movies while hanging out in the bed with me and baby. You can go back to your normal schedule once you feel up to it!
- Ask for help! Please, please, please don’t be as stubborn as me. Ask your BFF, your mom, a facebook mom group, or even email me! If you need help with latching, make an appointment with a Lactation nurse. If you need a chance to sleep a full 30 minutes, ask someone to sit with baby!
One of my last and final breastfeeding tips is to enjoy the journey. The beginning is so hard but in the end it’s so rewarding. The bond is undeniably the greatest. The convenience of only needing diapers, wipes, and boobs to walk out the door is pretty bomb too.
I hope these breastfeeding tips have helped you in some way. I pray that your experience is as amazing as mine has been over the last 4 years. Like I said before, please comment below or email me if you have any questions about nursing and I’ll answer the best I can. Head over to this post to read more about breastfeeding discreetly in public and follow me on Instagram! Adios mamas and good luck!