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6 BREASTFEEDING TIPS FOR NEW MOMS
I’m not going to sugar coat it: breastfeeding is really tough. As many as 60% of new moms do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to. But with the best breastfeeding tips for new moms, you can set yourself up for breastfeeding success.
Often, new moms are unaware of just how challenging breastfeeding can be. I certainly was. Between sore nipples and the sleep deprivation, it was hard to learn everything about breastfeeding and try to teach my baby how to latch properly.
Even after 22 hours or labor and an emergency c-section, the greatest challenge I encountered with the birth of my baby was trying to breastfeed. Six weeks of tears and bleeding nipples followed before the pain stopped.
At one point of intense middle-of-the-night delirium, my husband actually begged me to stop. I was miserable.
How could something so natural be so insanely hard?!?
With much stubbornness, I managed to get through it and nurse for the next several months. And after those initial 6 weeks of hell, breastfeeding suddenly became one of the sweetest experiences of motherhood. It was heavenly.
So when I had my second child the following year, I was determined to escape the misery and go straight to the sweet bonding. And I did. I went on to successfully nurse 3 more babies learning more with each baby.
And after nursing 4 children (including two babies with tongue-ties) for a combined 4 years, I’ve learned quite a few things about what makes breastfeeding easier. So I wanted to share my top 6 breastfeeding tips for new moms so others don’t have to struggle like I did.
Learn from my mistakes and set yourself up for breastfeeding success as early as you possibly can. It will help eliminate a lot of the frustration and increase your chances of nursing as long as you desire. With both you and your baby reaping the benefits.
1.) Have a support system in place.
This is one of the most overlooked resources in this world of do-it-yourselfers, but is probably THE most important key to success. You’ve gotta have support to help you work through the difficulties.
I’ve even heard the advice to hire a lactation consultant before you even have the baby. But who can afford that!?!
For thousands and thousands of years, people have successfully breastfed without having to hire in-home help. If you can afford it and want it, then power to you. But what I’m saying is it isn’t essential.
What people have had, historically, is a knowledgeable breastfeeding support system. There is a good chance you have experienced breastfeeders in your circle somewhere.
Breastfeeding struggles are universal, but the most successful breastfeeding societies have strong breastfeeding support systems.
Consider asking relatives, friends, or close neighbors if they’d be willing to help once the baby comes. The vast majority of experienced breastfeeders would be downright thrilled to help you out.
Heck, email me if you need help!
If you are feeling modest, I’m telling you–after labor, you won’t care who sees your ta-tas.
And once you learn the ropes, be sure that you then help someone else as they learn to breastfeed.
2.) Ask for LOTS of help right off the bat
If you are afraid to ask for help, face your fears and start asking! In the hospital/birthing center use the lactation consultant and all the nurses to ask every question as it comes up. Don’t wait! When ANYTHING pops up, ask for help.
If you have a lactation consultant available, take full advantage. But if she isn’t helpful, ask for another one. Or find a nurse who is helpful. Many nurses are absolute treasure troves of breastfeeding knowledge!
With my first baby, I asked for the lactation to come to my hospital room. She made me feel stupid, so even though I was struggling, I didn’t want to ask her back and I didn’t know there were several on staff. And then I struggled for the next 6 weeks looking every video and tutorial I could find to no avail.
With baby number 2, I had an amazing nurse (the daughter of a lactation consultant) who was uh-mazing. She was so helpful and patient and taught me so many little tricks. She’d pop in during every shift (even when she wasn’t assigned to me). I experienced no pain nursing baby #2!
On baby #3, I struggled again. Little did I know, she had a serious tongue tie that no one would catch for a while. But again, I asked for help. And the lactation consultant sent to my room didn’t help. So I asked for another, who ended up being the mother of my old nurse!
So even with the tongue-tie, with the help of a great lactation consultant, I figured it out.
3.) Bring your nursing pillow to the hospital/birthing center.
This may seem obvious, but in the rush to get to the hospital, many moms don’t think about the nursing pillow. I certainly didn’t. I didn’t bring it until my 4th baby. (I’m a slow learner)
But the minute your sweetie is born, you’re going to start nursing. And you want to be surrounded by the tools you need so you can start on the right foot. The nurses will help you get everything set up and show you how to use the pillow so once you get home, you know the different ways to use it.
4.) Don’t stress out about a little formula supplementation.
I’m going to take flak for this, but it’s true. A little formula will not derail your breastfeeding endeavors.
If you’ve done much breastfeeding research, you’ve probably heard that supplementing with formula will affect your supply. And it certainly will. If you do it regularly.
But let’s say you are in so much pain from a bad latch and are basically delirious from pain and lack of sleep (been there!). A few ounces of formula isn’t going to be the end of the world.
However, it may give you the chance to get sleep, give your nipples a break, and try again a bit later with a little more sanity at your disposal. You can have breastfeeding success with a little formula.
5.) Buy nursing clothes.
Perhaps you’ve already looked, but they seemed pricey. It’s worth it, trust me (Why Breastfeeding Clothes Are Completely Worth it). You’ll thank me later when you can breastfeed discretely and with ease in a public place as opposed to pulling your dress over your head in a nasty public bathroom stall or your car.
I cannot tell you how much this completely changed my breastfeeding experience. I didn’t get breastfeeding clothes til baby number 4 and it was a different world. Breastfeeding was sooooo much easier. For more on breastfeeding clothes, check out my breastfeeding clothes guide.
6.) Get a suitable pump.
Not everyone needs a pump, but you don’t need to be a working mom to find incredible value in a good pump.
When I had extremely sore nipple, pumping gave them a break while still getting milk to my baby.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, but plan to be able to leave your child for a couple of hours, a single pump will do the job. The medela swing is perfect. I loved it until I started working part-time.
If you plan on working or being away for 3 or more hours regularly, or you are not comfortable breastfeeding in public and want to bring bottles, the Medela Pump in Style is awesome.
I’ve cooked dinners, graded papers, and even done squats–all while pumping. You wear a pumping bra and can pump both sides, hands-free. It’s awesome! I feel like if I had gotten a double pump with my 1st two kids (I didn’t get it until #3) I would have been able to nurse them longer.
And Finally: Be kind to yourself, mama.
Remember, breastfeeding is not a stick to measure yourself up to anyone else.
Your mental and physical health is the most important thing you can offer your new baby, not breastmilk. Do the best you can, and love yourself. You created human life. That’s pretty amazing, mama.
I hope you’ve found these breastfeeding tips for new moms to be helpful and I wish you great breastfeeding success! May the milk freely flow and the nipples be pain free.