As a first-time mom or mom-to-be, you’re probably pouring over tons of information to learn how to care for your new baby. With all of the topics and resources out there one area that gets overlooked is how to breastfeed a baby. But fear not, we will be covering breastfeeding 101 tips and tricks for new mothers in this post!
While breastfeeding does happen naturally and easily for some mamas it’s not that way for everyone. Other moms expect nursing will be magical and are surprised at the work and pain involved.
Make some tea, get a snack, and let’s get started!
Fed Is Best
Before we dig in though I want to acknowledge that a fed baby is best. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding is personal and you are still a great mom no matter what you do! This post is for moms who would like to learn more about breastfeeding but it’s not an endorsement for or against either method.
Tips for Getting Started
- Take a class.
We encourage pregnant women and their partners to take a breastfeeding class before you give birth. It helps to give them a good foundation to start their breastfeeding journey. Most classes are not just about breast and baby, but how it all works, how to go back to work, how to store breastmilk, and how to include partners.
- Get close.
Being skin-to-skin during that first hour after birth – what we call the sacred hour – is very important. Newborns are sensitive to everything going on around them. Your baby is familiar with your smell and sounds. It is a comfort zone for them.
- Follow the baby’s lead.
In that first hour, babies will start to show strong cues of hunger. They will start rooting and bobbing their heads towards the breast to tell us when it is time to feed. We don’t want to disturb the baby too much and instead let it happen. Of course there are times in which we need to help guide the baby to breast sooner, one of those main reasons is low blood sugar after birth.
- Adapt and adjust.
That first feeding might not be the best. Keep in mind, you are just familiarizing yourself with each other, so don’t judge on the first feeding. It’s one of many.
- Switch it up.
Ask about different feeding positions. There are so many different holds, and you may want other options when you go home. Keep in mind you may need to adjust as you go. For example after your milk comes in, you may need to teach your baby how to latch again due to changes from engorgement.
- Take care.
If you’re having pain or discomfort, use heat before feeding, ice after feeding and Ibuprofen. A hot shower can help release milk and you can use hand expression. Be sure to watch for signs of infection – not feeling well, heat and redness and/or streaking in your breast and fever.
- Don’t rush.
If possible, wait for two weeks to start pumping. Pumping early is not always necessary and can cause oversupply.
- Share responsibility.
Partners may not be able to breastfeed but they can get up and change the baby’s diaper at night and bring the baby to you for breastfeeding. A partner can rock the baby between feedings or take charge of bath time. They’re not just helping the breastfeeding parent but they are forming a bond with their child in a different way. It is also helpful to keep the snack cupboard full of snacks, filling water cups, and making sure there is a comfy spot to breastfeed in.
- Ask for help.
If you feel like you are struggling with any portion of breastfeeding, reach out for help. Breastfeeding support groups and lactation consultants are in nearly every community and online.
- Give it time.
We encourage new breastfeeding people to allow themselves two weeks before breastfeeding will become more second nature. There are so many changes to the breasts and the baby in those weeks, it is hard to judge how breastfeeding is truly going. There will be ups and downs during the entire breastfeeding journey, but the effort is worth it.