As a new mom, breastfeeding tips is one of the things that I think is massively lacking. I get texts from so many new moms asking me “what if baby isn’t latching”, “how do I know if baby is getting enough”, “why is baby eating constantly?”
Breastfeeding Tips for the First Week
On day one, baby is extremely sleepy. Yes, they’ll be sleepy for two weeks or even two months after being born, but that first day after birth is extra sleepy. Birth is exhausting for them too. Don’t expect baby to eat too much on the first day, but you should try to get baby latched as often as possible so you can bring your milk in strong.
Day 2-7 is a different story. Baby starts to be more awake and wants to be on mama nursing much more often. During this time frame, baby typically loses weight and this isn’t a reason to worry! Doctors don’t expect baby to be back up to their birth weight for 2 weeks. As long as baby is gaining weight at a good rate, most doctors don’t stick to this hard and fast rule. As long as they can see that baby is thriving, satisfied and growing, you’re on the right track.
One thing you should start to work on is figuring out what is comfortable for you. Which position is most comfortable and most convenient for you to nurse? I found that while I was healing and taking my rest time post-birth, my favorite way to nurse was side-lying.
One of the best breastfeeding tips I ever received was that baby and mama should be belly to belly when feeding. Go ahead and try this for yourself. Try to turn your head all the way to the side and then swallow. Now turn your head straight and swallow. See how it’s exponentially easier to swallow when your head is facing forward? It’s much easier to swallow (and for baby to eat) when baby’s head is straight. As a rule of thumb to make sure they’re in the best position no nurse, always keep an eye on their ear. Baby’s ear should be in line with their hip. If you follow this rule of thumb, all the other breastfeeding tips will fall into place.
Breastfeeding is Supply & Demand
Remember, baby’s stomach is only as big as a cherry when they’re born and by one week old, their stomach is as big as a walnut. You don’t need to supplement! Baby is getting all that good colostrum in the first few days before your milk comes in. Typically, when we see people who have trouble nursing, so they start supplementing, it’s because they don’t realize that nursing happens on a supply and demand basis. Your body produces as much milk as baby demands. So if baby wants to cluster feed, if they want to be latched every single hour, you have to let them. This is baby’s way of bringing your milk in strong!
Your first thought shouldn’t be “baby isn’t getting enough.” It should be “ooh there’s a growth spurt coming because baby is starting to demand more milk from my body.” If you change your mindset, you can drastically improve your nursing journey.
On this note, if you are pumping, make sure you realize that what you get out of a pump is not what baby is getting. Some people’s bodies don’t respond well to a breast pump which can be deceiving and discouraging! I’ve personally fed my baby successfully to 18 months before and around 9 months or so, I couldn’t even get 1 oz out with a breast pump. Baby is much more efficient than a pump will ever be. There’s no true way to know exactly how much baby is getting when they nurse unless you weigh them right before and right after nursing sessions. This is typically not necessary unless your doctor is truly concerned about the baby’s growth trajectory (which is rare).
For more tips on pumping, visit La Leche League. I personally nursed on demand for 18 mo
Baby’s Hunger Cues
As you get to know your baby, you’ll get to know their exact hunger cues and it will be obvious when they’re hungry. Cues to look out for as you’re getting to know your baby are:
- fists in the mouth
- hands in fists
- rigid body
- rooting (or turning head from side to side with mouth open)
You’ll know your baby is satisfied when they are what is often known as “milk drunk” throughout many breastfeeding tips. Baby is limp and relaxed, sometimes they’re sleeping, and their hands are usually open, not in a fist.
Breastfeeding Tips for When Things Don’t Feel Right
For the first couple of weeks, it’s okay to feel some pain during latching, but once baby is latched, you shouldn’t have pain. This indicates a potential issue. It’s possible that baby isn’t getting a deep enough latch or that they have a tongue or lip tie that’s not allowing them to get enough of the breast in their mouth.
If you have pain when nursing, you should try to use a nipple shield until you can get the issue evaluated and resolved. Do not stop nursing or pumping during this time!! One of the most important breastfeeding tips is to just keep going! Don’t stop nursing or pumping because as we discussed, supply is based on demand. You have to keep demanding milk from your body so that it keeps producing milk.
Massage your breasts to activate the milk glands & keep clear of clogged ducts. Breast size has no indication of how much milk you can produce. If you are having pain in your breast with a hot sensation or lump in the breast, it could possibly be a clogged duct. Rest, get that clogged duct out and make sure baby nurses as often as possible. You can also apply heat via a heating pad, hot shower, hot washcloth, etc to break up that clogged duct before it becomes infected.
Lip or Tongue Tie
If you feel that baby has a lip or tongue tie, I recommend getting two opinions. Sometimes pediatricians or nurses aren’t versed in lip and tongue ties and they can go undiagnosed, which will perpetuate the issue not allowing you to continue nursing as long as you want to. I recommend an appointment with a pediatric dentist and I recommend doing it as soon as possible. Most pediatric dentists can evaluate and do the procedure on the same day. Most use a laser now that causes very little pain for your baby. The earlier you do it, the better, the less bother baby is by the procedure. Believe me, mama, I know how hard it is to have the impression that your baby is suffering and to just want to tough it out (not get the revision for ip and tongue tie).
There are so many future issues that could come up because of lip and tongue ties including teeth issues, swollen tonsils, speech issues, TMJ, food aversions and more common choking, and so much more. Something I hope you take from this breastfeeding tips article is that everything is in your control. Tongue and lip tie may be the first time that you need to advocate for your baby. Get used to it!
You May Be a Breastfeeding Mom If…
Sometimes finding the humor in things is the only way you’ll make it through. Honestly, when we had our first baby, we thought things would always be that way. She would always be crying, she would always sleep poorly, etc. This time around, it’s actually been easier because we know things won’t always be this way. We know how fun babies and kids are. And we know that he won’t always sleep poorly, I won’t always have to nurse him in the middle of the night, all the things. But for now, we are tired and we are finding the humor to get us through. I hope you enjoy!
1) You’ve forgotten breast pads while traveling and used your kids tiny clothes in your bra instead of going out to buy nursing pads
2) You’ve fallen asleep while nursing in the middle of the night.
3) You’ve brought baby into the bed with you to nurse instead of getting out of bed to nurse.
4) You’ve slept with a boob out for months on end.
5) You’ve woken up in a puddle of your own breastmilk.
6) You’ve walked around some public place with breastmilk all over your shirt
7) You’ve tried to ninja whip it out to inconspicuously nurse your little somewhere
8) You’ve hoped more than 50 times that your “girls” will go back to their original glory after nursing.
9) You’re unprepared when your letdown is so strong and baby ends up covered in milk.
10) You’ve snuck the boob out of baby’s mouth to keep him/her asleep
11) You’ve ordered and eaten two full meals while out to eat – Breastfeeding tips: that appetite is crazy! haha
12) You’ve wished that JUST ONCE your husband could wake up with the baby in the night.
13) Having your “girls” out around the house is a normal thing
14) You’ve chosen your clothing for the day solely based on how easily you can nurse in it
15) You’ve leaked through your bra and shirt at the dinner table while out on your first “date night” post baby
16) You’ve been pooped all over while nursing because the sucking motion invokes baby poop (obviously)
17) You’ve nursed in any position possible to get your baby to eat (for us, it was standing and bouncing…while nursing)
Looking to live a more natural lifestyle? Check out my blog post here on cleaning up your lifestyle and what to do first!