I know you’re tired, mama. I know it feels like your baby always wants to feed. I know you’re wondering if you are ever going to get a hang of this breastfeeding thing! Well, I’ve got good news for you! I’ve been where you are and I have overcome! Eight months in and I feel like it’s second nature to me.
I didn’t have the easiest starts to breastfeeding but with time and patience, I have it pretty well-established now. Here are my top 10 breastfeeding tips for new moms.
1. Get a lactation consultant/breastfeeding specialist
Trust me. This is worth every cent. Doctors and nurses have standard breastfeeding knowledge and because they aren’t specifically trained to handle breastfeeding issues, you may find yourself ending your breastfeeding journey prematurely.
At her one week check-up, I mentioned to my daughter’s pediatrician that she wasn’t really going on to the breast very well. And she fed very often; every 30 minutes. She just told me to try switching breasts at every feed. The good thing is my daughter clearly was getting something because she had regained her birth weight. But, something was still very off to me.
At about two and a half weeks, I had had enough. Something was wrong and I didn’t know what it was. My daughter was feeding way too often and crying a lot. I went on a mad hunt to find a lactation consultant/breastfeeding specialist. Thankfully, the first one I found was EXCELLENT. She came and did a home visit and she was able to diagnose me with an oversupply issue; something any other doctor probably wouldn’t have suspected.
Had I not followed my mind and find someone specifically trained to deal with breastfeeding, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post today.
You wouldn’t go to a dermatologist to treat your heart problems, so why should breastfeeding be any different? Contact the experts!
2. Join a support group
It takes a village! There will be days when fatigue kicks in or even pressure from other people, and you may be tempted to give up. This is when you need the most support! You need people who will encourage you along your journey; a safe place to share your concerns.
Finding my breastfeeding specialist actually opened the door for me to meet a lot of amazing moms; some who were exclusively breastfeeding, some who were formula feeding and some who did both.
Did you know that your baby can sense if you are stressed? I didn’t know that! Before I met my breastfeeding consultant, I struggled with frustrations about my daughter not latching well and I worried about if she was getting enough to drink.
Each time I was unsettled during breastfeeding, my baby was too. She would turn away or cry. To this day, if I am not in a relaxed mood when breastfeeding, my daughter doesn’t feed well.
The more relaxed you are, the smoother things go. Sometimes, it may mean taking a walk or a shower just to release any tensions you may have. Babies feed off of our energy so be sure to let off some positivity!
I wish that someone would’ve told me how thirsty I would get while breastfeeding. Some days I felt like I was drinking gallons of water (well maybe not gallons but it was a lot) and not getting satisfied.
Your body is working overtime to make milk which is made up of water. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle of water nearby at all times so you don’t become dehydrated which is very easy to do while you’re baby taking care of a baby.
What helped me was drinking a glass off water before every feeding, two glasses during and one glass after. That way I was sure to get the water I needed.
I also find that carrying my water bottle everywhere helps me stay on track when I’m out of the house.
5. Take care of yourself
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first”– Norm Kelly.
Ok. This sounds a bit selfish but I’m slowly learning how true this is. Many days I’d go without eating properly or taking a shower all because I was “too busy” taking care of my daughter. I felt as if she would somehow perish if I took even 5 minutes to myself while she was awake.
The end result was always the same; exhausted, grumpy and lacking energy. Definitely not a good thing.
Breastfeeding can burn up to an extra 500 calories per day which means skipping meals is not ideal. Having a balanced diet is even more important since you are eating for two. Whatever you put or don’t put in your body can affect your baby just the same as it was in utero.
Taking 15 minutes to yourself is not selfish. In fact, you need it and you deserve it. Trust me, your baby won’t die if you take some time for yourself. Sometimes that 15 minute break is the difference between a happy mommy and a grumpy mommy. Which would you prefer?
Whatever you like to do, try to schedule time to do it. It’s hard taking care of a little human but it’s harder to feel like you’re losing your marbles in the process. So, take care of you!
6. Don’t skip your prenatal/postnatal vitamins
Talk with your health care provider to figure out what’s the best multivitamin for you to take. Your body will benefit from the extra vitamins and minerals.
7. Feed on demand
This may seem like a lot especially when your baby wakes at the most inconvenient hours to feed. But this will help to establish and maintain your milk supply.
Instead of timing or scheduling your feedings, allow your baby to lead. As the months go by he will begin to develop his own rhythm.
A good breastfeeding pillow offers support to your arms and baby as you feed. It takes the strain from your neck and back since you would be better able to lift your baby to your breast instead of bending over to your baby. I use a boppy pillow and it has been an absolute help for breastfeeding.
Some people also use pregnancy pillows for their own back support as well. It never hurts to have that extra support.
9. Wear a nursing bra with breast pads
A good nursing bra is essential. It makes feeding so much easier when you’re not at home. Instead of having to take off an entire bra, the nursing bra just has a section to unhook so that you can easily feed your baby without exposing your entire breast.
Not to mention they are extremely soft and comfortable. You don’t really want anything to be digging into your skin or fitting you too tightly so nursing bras are ideal.
Don’t skip the breast pads though! These safeguard against staining if your boobs decide to leak! My first accident was so embarrassing. I ran out of nursing pads but I didn’t think I would leak through the bra. Let’s just say that a milk stained shirt in public isn’t the best look!
10. Don’t compare your journey to others’
It’s easy to get overly worried if your breastfeeding journey doesn’t mirror someone else’s. Be careful not to fall into the comparison trap, though. You may end it preoccupying yourself with what someone else is doing rather than enjoying your own journey. Know that each person’s journey is different and one isn’t “ahead” of the next. If you’re not completely sure about something, ask questions and get help.
I hope these tips are useful to you. If you have anymore, feel free to drop a comment below.