Breastfeeding for New Moms
We couldn’t let World Breastfeeding Week come to an end without sharing our best breastfeeding tips for new moms.
I know it’s hard to believe that something so natural would actually require tips. But it does!
We’ve been there and the journey hasn’t always been an easy one. 18 months later and both of our babies are still receiving breast milk. We didn’t receive a ton of help around breastfeeding for new moms. Most of it we had to learn on our own.
No sense in you having to go through the same process! So sat down and figured out everything that helped us and created breastfeeding tips for new moms just for you!
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How to Prepare to Breastfeed a Newborn
1. Take a Breastfeeding Class
At first, I wasn’t going to take a breastfeeding class.
Well, I didn’t take any of the typical pregnancy and new baby-related classes. Working in the hospital where I was giving birth and providing anesthesia to babies almost daily, I didn’t think it was necessary. But when it came to breastfeeding I was completely clueless.
I was clueless about Breastfeeding
One day a colleague of mine (who also happened to be pregnant) was telling me about her breastfeeding experience with her first child. It hadn’t gone well at all. She wasn’t able to continue past a couple of weeks. She had received tips from other moms (some of which were detrimental to her success) and thought that was enough. She wanted to try again with this baby and felt a breastfeeding class would help.
There’s so much to learn.
We took the class together and I am so glad I went. There was so much I didn’t know! I thought the only way to breastfeed a baby was to hold them in the cradle position. I had no idea there were so many other positions.
That was just the tip of the ice burg. I learned how to determine if I had a proper latch and what to do if I didn’t. And I learned how to manually express milk, the purpose of the lactation consultant, and the name of local support groups. I learned so much more but I think you get my drift.
The Lactation Consultant is Your Friend
They gave us a booklet that we could refer back to when we got home. I cannot tell you how many times I used that thing. It was very helpful.
Dads can Come Too
To my surprise, there were a lot of Dads at the class I went to. I think that was a great thing. Both of you get to hear the information. And Dad can be another resource if you start to feel overwhelmed!
If you are interested in taking a class, you can see what is offered by the hospital where you will be delivering. If you want to take a class in the comfort of your own home, you can check out Milkology. Their class goes over the breastfeeding techniques, what to expect, and how to prepare. The same information I received at my hospital class.
And for support and more great info, check out a La Leche League meeting near you.
2. Skin-to-Skin with Baby
So what is skin-to-skin contact? It’s when a baby and their mom (or dad) are in direct contact. The baby is naked, aside from a diaper and hat, and placed on mom’s naked chest between her breasts.
Ideally the baby and mom should have skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth and remain this way as long as possible. It’s not something that’s just reserved for the period immediately after birth. Skin-to-skin can be utilized throughout infancy.
Skin to Skin has actual health benefits
I always thought skin-to-skin contact was just about the mom bonding with the baby. I had no idea that it had actual benefits as well. I have discovered over 10 health benefits that this contact provides but for this post I will just discuss its role in breastfeeding.
When you meet that baby you’ve carried inside of you, you’re going to fall in love. You’ll continue to feel love whenever you hold your baby. Nature understands this and has our body respond accordingly. The love you feel causes the release of oxytocin (aka the love hormone), the hormone responsible for milk ejection.
What it looks like
Picture this, your baby is laying on your chest, your body is releasing oxytocin, and milk is “coming down”. Your baby will smell your milk, want it, and latch, creating a demand. As your baby demands more milk, your body will supply it.
I was nervous about not being able to do skin-to-skin with my baby because I was a having a planned c-section. Fortunately, we were still able to do it. They placed her naked body between my breasts while we were still in the operating room and she immediately tried to latch. It was a beautiful thing.
We continued to do skin-to-skin throughout the first couple of months. It was especially helpful once I returned to work and noticed a slight decrease in my supply. If you’re having supply or even latching issues, try skin-to-skin contact. You’ll be surprised at how your body and baby respond.
3. Nursing on Demand
I’m not sure that I was ever given the option to nurse on demand or not. My baby has always been vocal about what she wants. Nursing was no exception. She ALWAYS wanted the breast and made that demand known.
The days and nights in the hospital were a bit of a blur. But I remember the night time cluster feedings at home vividly. These babies are smart. They cluster feed to help promote milk production. I remember distinctly when my colostrum transitioned into breast milk.
Don’t let others discourage you.
I had family members tell me I was “spoiling” her because every time she cried for the breast, I gave it to her. Or they would feel like she couldn’t want the breast again because she’d just finished nursing. I’m so happy that I stuck with my guns and didn’t allow other’s opinions dictate how I fed my baby.
Milk production works off of supply and demand.
If your baby is wanting to nurse but you deny him/her, your body won’t get the message that it needs to produce more milk. Instead, your body will think you don’t need as much and slow down production.
This is a major contributor to low supply. Because I allowed my baby to feed on demand we didn’t encounter issues with supply. That’s not to say that nursing on demand will eliminate supply issues, but it can drastically decrease them.
4. Take Care of your Nipples
I underestimated just how sore my nipples were going to be. While in the hospital I was given samples of nipple cream to use before and after feedings. Within a day of having my baby, I was questioning my decision to breastfeed because of nipple soreness.
Let’s be real, soreness can be painful and it will be that way until your nipples toughen up. To help ease some of the soreness utilize a lanolin based cream before and after each feeding. Also rub a little of your expressed milk around your nipples. You can also use pure coconut oil to help with the soreness.
If you are concerned about how sore your nipples are or if the soreness continues for longer than a week or two, talk to you baby’s pediatrician to make sure the baby does not have a tongue or lip tie that is interfering with their latch.
5. Utilize a Breastfeeding Pillow
Supporting your new baby while breastfeeding can cause a lot of strain on your neck and back. I was advised to bring my Breastfeeding support pillow to the hospital and I was very happy I did so.
I ended up having to have a c-section and the pillow helped me to support my baby and protected my sensitive stomach. That pillow was my best friend for the first couple of weeks after giving birth.
It helped my daughter to have a better latch, reduced the strain on my back, and allowed me to have better use of my hands while she was feeding.
Even after I became an exclusive pumper I used the pillow to prop my daughter against me or on the couch while I pumped. Of course you should monitor your infant at all times while using a breastfeeding pillow.
6. Hydrate and Eat
Your body is working overtime to produce milk for your baby. This equates to needing additional calories to keep up with the demand of breastfeeding.
You’re still really eating for two!!!
Also as a new mom I was exhausted and found that I either had no appetite or was too tired to eat. It is extremely important to make sure you eat and replace your fluid intake. Your body needs this to keep up with your milk production.
It’s hard to avoid the new mom exhaustion!
You definitely don’t want to contribute to it by being dehydrated or hungry. I ended up having meals and snacks that didn’t take much effort to prepare. Also, whenever a friend or family member would ask if I needed anything, I would ask them to bring over something to eat.
In the beginning I was neglecting myself. I definitely had to learn the hard way to put myself first. That’s the only way I can be 100% available to my baby.
7. Be Leery of Herbal Supplements
Looking through my breastfeeding support groups, I see many new moms who are concerned about their supply. The one thing to remember is that during the first four weeks, your body is building its milk supply.
The best way to do this is to latch on demand (every 2-3 hours). If your baby is unable to latch, then you should be pumping every 2-3 hours during the first month.
Many moms swear by fenugreek, brewers yeast, oatmeal, and the pink drink to help with supply. According to my research there is no definite link between these items and milk production. I consumed many of these to help with my production. But, I would caution moms about fenugreek.
For some fenugreek was effective in increasing milk production. For others it did the opposite. So be very careful with herbal supplementation! Personally, I would stick with other food based items.
Remember, emptying your breasts is the signal for your body to produce more milk, so latch your baby or pump often in the beginning.
You Got This!
The journey to breastfeeding success is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself. Try not to stress, but I know that’s easier said then done. Ask for help if necessary. Remember, a fed baby is the best baby! You got this momma.
We hope that you have found our breastfeeding tips for new moms to be helpful.
While you are on your breastfeeding journey, come back and let us know what has worked for you!
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