15 Tips for Breastfeeding: A Complete Guide for Nursing your Baby Successfully
Written by: Camille
Now that Jett is three months old I am starting to feel like I am coming out of the new baby zombie fog that settles in a bit with a new baby. Things are starting to feel a little normal and I am able to start a load of laundry in the morning and still have enough brain power to consider dinner…usually if it include the crock pot. 🙂 We are starting to get into a more normal routine and Jett is sleeping through the night like a champ. (At least for now…who knows when those teeth are going to start causing problems!) Thank goodness to babywise and the basic practices I’ve applied and a lot of luck with a baby that likes to sleep.
I hope you find this guide helpful as I am now onto nursing my third child I have learned a few things along the way that can make a big difference in the success of nursing your baby. I nursed Jackson for eight and a half months, Jayne for a full year, and hope to nurse Jett for a year as well. I understand while writing this that nursing is NOT the answer for every baby and/or every mother. Sometimes nursing is not a practical solution for you and your baby whether it because of work, physical limitations, or simply the desire not to. I am an advocate for nursing and know that it can be super stressful and hard especially in the beginning so hang in there and I hope this list helps you!
Most times your hospital will provide you with enough to get you started. They may offer a nursing class you can attend while you’re there or even have a lactation specialist that can visit in your room. If you are new to all of this TAKE ADVANTAGE of this opportunity. They will also give you some nipple cream but really only enough for a couple of days. So here is the list of things you may want to have so that you are prepared.
Be patient with yourself and your baby. Whether this is your first time nursing or you’ve nursed 6 babies, you and THIS baby will be brand new to the experience and it takes some getting used to. This will mean that you may need to try different positions, manipulate your boob in a way you never have done before, and pretty much get used to handling them or even have help from someone else handling them. One helpful tip is to pinch and roll your nipple so that it will be easier for your baby to latch on. Smashing your boob into a “hamburger” and rubbing your baby’s nose and cheek will cause your baby to “root” and open it’s mouth wide to latch on. Make sure your whole nipple is in their mouth and not just nibbling on the tip; this will save you a lot of pain in the future.
One other important thing to note is that it WILL be painful. I don’t know why they tell you it wont be if you’re doing it right because after a day of breastfeeding your nipples will be sore and it can take up to a month or two for your body to adjust. In the first few weeks I pretty much want to cry every time my baby latches on; but eventually it does get better.
2. Get the right Support
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the right support when nursing. First for your baby and then for yourself. A nursing pillow can be heaven sent when it comes to trying different positions and seeing what works best for you and your baby. I have really like using the Boppy pillow and have used the same one for all three babies. There are others out there that work just as well. When my baby is brand new sometimes I use even more pillows than that. You should never be hunched over or trying to pull your breast to your baby; bring your baby to you and try not to tighten your shoulders or your neck.
Support for you: Finding the right nursing bra can help so much in your ability to feel comfortable and confident in nursing. I highly suggest that you are properly fitted for the right size of bra from a professional. The person who measures you may also be able to give you an idea of what size to buy in anticipation of your size changing from pregnancy to your milk coming in. Typically a safe guess is one cup size. One of my absolute favorite nursing bras in Le Mystere. If you find a product you love in store you can buy them on Amazon for a much cheaper price. I also love this brand because you can buy larger sizes (G) and not pay over $60 which is pretty typical cost for a larger size.
It is also a great idea to have a bra to wear when you want to be a little more comfortable. When your milk comes in it can feel heavy and painful and the last thing you will want to have to deal with is an underwire. You can easily find different options for nursing bras without an under-wire even at your local Walmart, but be advised that they sell out fast! This is one that I like.
3. Take Care of your Breasts
Invest in a great pump for when you are engorged and need some initial relief. Typically it takes 3-4 days before this happens and even up to a week, but once your milk comes in you will want something to help you with the extra supply. Applying heat pads or taking warm showers can help with this transition as well. A pump also comes in handy for storing extra milk for use down the road when you need to get out of the house or when you head back to work.
Get some nipple cream that will keep moisture on your nipples but be careful not to do too much as it can lead to a yeast infection. My favorite is Lansinoh but I know that some people swear by prescription grade cream. When I asked my nurse about it she said that can actually cause your body to cause more dryness down the road, so just see what works best for you. Another great organic option is Motherlove cream.
If you find that you need some little extra care from cracked/bleeding nipples you could try using a nipple guard to take away some of the dryness and irritation.
4. Nursing pads are your friend
There are a few different benefits of nursing pads. The first is that they can be very helpful when your milk lets down and you are not in the position to be able to nurse your baby yet. This can save you some serious tell-tell embarrassment of having a soaking shirt. They are also handy for when your milk comes in on both sides while you are nursing and it protects your clothes from getting soaked while you nurse on one side. I particularly like the lily padz for the fact that they are extra thick and give an added layer of protection against the rubbing in your bra. They are also reusable and can last months if you care for them properly.
5. Water. Water. Water
I cannot tell you enough how important it is to make sure you are hydrating. You will find that once you have your baby your body will go through a lot of hormonal changes and you may find yourself waking up covered in sweat as your body adjusts to your new body. This usually happens for me the first few days after delivery and I get very thirsty. Listen to your body and replenish your fluids. It will help your body not only in producing enough milk for your baby, but also in helping your body get back to normal.
6. Settle down for Nursing with everything you may need
Get comfortable with your water, book, remote control, magazine, ipad, or whatever it is you will be using to entertain yourself as you nurse. This could be a great time to catch up on some reading or have a few minutes to yourself to watch your latest craze on Netflix. Try to prepare yourself with everything you may want before settling down to nurse so you will not have to get up with your baby still attached.
7. Reach out for Support
While you are in the hospital get all the help you may need from the lactation consultant or attend a class available to you while you are there. Once you are home you can actually talk to lactation consultants from the Le Leche League who would love to help you. I also find it is nice to talk with other moms or your own family or friends to help you with support. This also includes emotional support, because let’s face it, coming home and figuring all of this out can be hard…especially with the hormones that you will be going through as well.
8. Use phone Apps to help you remember
There are so many awesome apps that can be used for a new baby. Nursing, feeding, keeping track of wet/messy diapers. It can all become a big blur. I could write a whole post of this one topic alone. I will link to it here when I get it done!
9. Nursing Cover
There are going to be a lot of times that a nursing cover will come in handy. I promise you can get to the point that you can nurse in a public place without feeling like you are on display. Your baby may get to the point where he/she will not want to be covered and having a cover that hangs from your neck can give you some control of not showing the whole world what you have going on. Some people choose not to cover and that is fine too, but personally I like to have the option. Another thing I really like about this cover is that it rolls up into a nice little pouch that you can tuck it into with the pocket on the front.
Nursing covers allow for you to nurse in places you might not otherwise feel comfortable to do so. I had to add this funny picture of me nursing my baby on the boat a few summers ago. My Dad took a picture of it because he thought it was hilarious that I was boating, nursing, and applying sunscreen on my baby at the same time. Hey, a girls got to do what a girls got to do, right? 🙂
10. Pacifier Swap
Some people are against the idea of using pacifiers, but I have found it can be helpful when a baby is first learning to suck. I haven’t read this idea any where so you will have to take my word on it but it worked for me with my daughter. I would let her get a few good sucks going on the pacifier and then I would pull out her pacifier and stick my nipple in her mouth. It helped with her to not get frustrated and made it so that she was in the groove of sucking before I gave her the boob. I didn’t do this with my boys but it really helped her get the sucking motion down. ***PS don’t wait to feed a baby until they are super frustrated and hungry. Watch for readiness signs like sucking on their hands, getting a little restless, or looking more alert with the rooting reflex.
11.Get as much sleep as you can
Sleep does a body good and will make a difference with how you feel. Once your baby is a few weeks old you can practice nursing lying down. I don’t sleep with a baby in my bed but have found I can doze a little bit or just rest while nursing which can be a welcome relief when you are needing to rest your eyes or just relax a bit. If I am nursing in the middle of the night and am worried about dozing off too deeply I will read something on my phone or scroll social media to keep my mind engaged.
12. Take Care of your Body
Know the signs of thrush, a clogged milk duct, or a yeast infection. If you are experiencing a fever you may need to take an antibiotic to get back on track. This again is another part of nursing that I could talk about forever…so read up!
13. Eat healthy foods and take your vitamins
This is not only for the health of the baby but for you yourself. Make sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Remember to also get enough calcium! Did you know that a woman’s bone density starts to deplete once you reach the age of 30? This calcium can actually be taken from our bones while nursing so it is very important that you replenish your resources. If you aren’t a milk drinker take a supplement.
14. Don’t watch a clock
Keep your mind busy while you are nursing. Sometimes that can mean just simply staring at your beautiful baby and the wonder of their tiny little form and hands. It is such a special bonding time for you and your child that will be a sweet memory for you forever. This could also mean reading a book or watching a show. I have found that I don’t want to obsess about how long it is taking but it is also nice to try to establish a routine when your baby is around 2 weeks old (this will help with sleeping patterns as well.)
15. Decide what is best for you and your baby
When should you stop? What is best for you? What is best for your baby? This is a decision for you and you alone. It is a very personal one and a decision that we should all support other women in making. When my first baby started biting me at 8 months and wouldn’t stop I was ready to be done and I was fine with that. I also think it is fine to stop sooner or go longer. No one has the right to tell you what is right for you and your baby.
I hope you enjoyed my tips! Please share yours with me, I am no expert and would love to hear from your experience as well!