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It’s interesting how something as natural as breastfeeding can be so hard! I mean, humans (and animals) have been breastfeeding since the dawn of time, you’d think it would be easier.
Babies eat and eat, and then eat some more.
You may think it will be pretty easy, but you might get overwhelmed easy, have sore nipples, latch-on issues, and more. Whatever the issues are, I hope you can find some help with the items listed below.
I have shared some simple tips to help your breastfeeding journey be a bit easier. Educating yourself will truly help you have more success. Whether you are expecting now or reading this with your baby in your arms, these tips are for you!
Did you know the early milk, called colostrum, provides an important source of antibodies that helps protect your child against diseases and helps baby’s immune system develop during the first year. Even if you try breastfeeding and it doesn’t work out, that little bit of colostrum they get in the beginning is very beneficial.
Breastfeeding can be overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it, you will be so glad you did!
Ways to Help Breastfeeding Go Smoother
Good Breastfeeding Book
Before you have your baby, read a good breastfeeding book that prepares you for everything about it. Do it before your bundle of joy is here and you have a bit of time to read it and let it sink in before needing to apply this newfound knowledge.
Bring the book with you the hospital so you can refer to it if needed as well.
This is the book that I read beforehand and brought with me to the hospital. My sister used it when she had her babies and then passed it down to me. It had a lot of great information in here, but different positions you could try with your baby.
Asking for Advice/Help
When you got pregnant did you ask friends or read articles online about giving birth? Asking for advice from someone who has had a good nursing experience can really help! They might show you a method that worked for them, or recommend a nipple cream to help
with the pain!
Hospital Lactation Consultant
Most hospitals will have a lactation nurse/consultant come in and help teach you to breastfeed.
If you are getting ready to feed, hit the nurse button and have them come in and help show you how to hold the baby, and you will learn some tips this way. Most new moms ask for a lot of help when in the hospital. It is free information to really show you hands on.
It might sound weird but babies nurse so much better when their feet are touching something. This can be your arm, leg, pillow, or anything else. It makes them feel more secure.
Nurse within the First Hour of Delivery
If possible try nursing within the first hour of delivery, if you wait too long babies will be hard to rouse. At first, you will just produce drops of colostrum, and it may not seem like much.
A babies stomach is the size of a marble at a day old, so a little goes a long way.
Let Baby Call Shots
Let your baby stay latched on the first breast until he/she comes off on their own. Then you can offer the second breast. It is typical that some babies only take one breast at one feeding then both other times. Don’t feel you have to count minutes till you switch it up.
I am a big proponent of what’s called “feed on demand”. This means when your baby is hungry you feed it. There is nothing wrong with getting into a routine with your baby, but if your baby is hungry, make sure to feed him/her.
Babies nurse a LOT
Babies nurse…a LOT! They have teeny, tiny little bellies and breastmilk is absorbed pretty quickly. It isn’t unusual for a baby to nurse, then need to nurse again 1.5-2 hours later. In the first few weeks of life it may feel like all you do is breastfeed your baby, burp it, change it’s diaper, it takes a short nap, then it needs to nurse again. This is completely normal!
A good latch with your baby is so, so important to reduce the pain from nursing. I find I still have sore nipples when I am first nursing, even with a good latch, but a good latch makes it not hurt during nursing and makes the soreness go away quicker.
When you are first starting to nurse, using the football hold is great to allow you to make sure your baby has a good latch. This is a tip my nurse told me after I’d had my first baby. It made a huge difference being able to see how my baby was latching on.
A small adjustment to the positioning of your baby’s latch can make a huge impact on if you have pain when nursing or not.
Breastfeeding Pillow is Your Best Friend
My essentials for baby gear was pretty minimal, but a breastfeeding pillow is a MUST! It helps with positioning and I happen to have a long torso (freakishly long according to my husband. haha), so when nursing my babies I tend to lean over to them. When I used the breastfeeding pillow, I would also prop another pillow (bed pillow) underneath and this way I didn’t have to slouch when feeding them.
Breastfeeding pillows make it so the baby is positioned at the right level (or closer to the correct level) so their latch is better. If your baby has a bad latch, then it can be super painful to breastfeed.
This is the breastfeeding pillow I used. I actually had 3 of them. 1 from my baby shower and then my sister-in-law passed two more down to me. I used all three.
You can also get a nursing pillow for free (you do have to pay for shipping and handling) at www.nursingpillow.com and make sure to use the code “SUNNYSAV”. This will take $40 off your purchase, which makes the nursing pillow free. They have quite a large selection of pillows.
Learn the Signs of Hunger
By the time your baby is crying because he/she is hungry, it means they feel like they are starving at this point. Babies give out hunger signals before they start crying and it’s important to look for these.
I found with my first son if I waited until he was crying to eat, it was so.much.harder. to get him latched on. He would be so hungry and flailing around so upset that it would be hard for him to close his mouth around my nipple, and then when he did, it wouldn’t be with a good latch so it would hurt. So then I would unlatch him and try to get a better latch. We would both be frustrated and crying before we finally got a good latch.
So learn these hunger cues and feed before you get to this point.
- sucking on fingers or fists
- rooting (baby keeps turning his/her head and opening mouth, like he is looking for your breast)
- smacking or licking lips
Little Breastmilk on Your Nipple
If your little one is having a hard time latching on, sometimes it helps to express a little bit of breastmilk so there is some on your nipple. Your baby can smell the milk and it helps them know where to latch on to.
Heat for Engored/Blocked Ducts
Some women will experience engorged breast or blocked ducts. A heating pad or warm washcloth can help a lot. Or if you are in the shower, get the water nice and hot, and stand under the stream. This will help loosen the blockage if you have one, or help with the
pain from being engorged.
Express a Little Milk
If your breasts are too full, sometimes it’s hard for your baby to easily latch on. Express a little breastmilk before nursing. This will make it so your breasts aren’t so engorged and your baby will have an easier time latching onto your nipple.
Ice for Pain
If you have pain from breastfeeding, grab an ice pack or a bag of peas! This can really help reduce those aches and pains.
Foods to Build Up Milk Production
If you feel you are not producing enough milk, once your milk comes in, think of what you are eating. First off, make sure you are staying hydrated, breastfeeding requires a lot of water during the day!
If you still find you are not producing, make or buy lactation cookies, eat oatmeal, salmon, spinach, carrots, brown rice and more. There are so many foods out there to help build up that supply.
Sore Nipple Soothers
You can find so many different creams to apply to your breasts to help relieve pain. Motherlove nipple cream is a great one.
App for Phone
Consider downloading an app to keep track of feeding, diaper changes and more.
The doctors will ask at your appointments, and this will help! Those first few weeks are sleep deprived and you might not remember things.
Baby Nursing is a great one and it is free on iTunes.
Double Electric Pump
These are a blessing, it saves so much time. You can pump both breasts making it so much faster.
You can find so many different brands and options available, but I have heard amazing things about the Spectra S2 breastfeeding pump being the best. It is great for mommy’s who have to go back to work. This pump can be used as a double or single breast pump.
Your insurance may cover the cost of a breastfeeding pump, so make sure to check with them before purchasing one.
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