Are you a new mom who longs to breastfeed? In search of all the best tips and tricks to help you be successful?
I was just like you when I was pregnant with my first. I wanted so badly to be able to breastfeed, but I was also terrified that I wouldn’t be able to make enough milk or have the knowledge or support that I needed, as no-one else in my family had breastfed. So, I set out to find as much information and resources as I could.
And, after a hard first few weeks with baby #1, we went on to have a successful breastfeeding relationship for 17 beautiful months. And, I’m currently 20 months in with breastfeeding baby #2.
So, as a first-time mom, what can you do to help conquer breastfeeding?
In this post, I’ll share 11 of my best breastfeeding tips to help new moms, like you, succeed at nursing their babies.
11 Best Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms
Follow these tips and tricks to increase your chance of breastfeeding success.
1. Hire a Doula
You might not have been expecting this to be the first tip, but a doula truly can make a big difference in your breastfeeding journey. Your doula can provide you with all the breastfeeding information you may need during your pregnancy and help you find a local lactation consultant (LC) or breastfeeding support group.
And, unlike most OBs, hospital midwives, and nurses, many doulas will stay there with you that entire first hour after birth (shall you request it) to help you with initial breastfeeding. Your doula can help you get your baby to latch on, give you tips and tricks, and let you know if your baby’s latch may need evaluated by an IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant) for tongue/lip ties.
2. Make Your Plan Known
If your goal is to exclusively breastfeed, then be sure to put it on your birth plan and make it known to your medical care team.
Ask for that golden hour after birth, and state that no pacifiers, bottles, or formula are to be given (unless absolutely necessary of course).
Have dad go with baby if she has to go to the nursery for some reason. Because, from personal experience, hospital staff will ignore your wishes. My baby came back with a pacifier in her mouth after we specifically requested for her to not have one.
3. Skin-to-Skin as Much as You Can
After your baby is born, you’ll want to do skin-to-skin as soon as you can. Request that baby be placed on your chest right away.
Keep your baby skin-to-skin and try to nurse within that first hour after birth. If they have to do any minimal procedures to you or your baby, ask that they do them with your baby in your arms.
Some babies will root around and find your breast and latch on their own, while others may have to be enticed and need a fair amount of help. It really just depends, as every baby is so different. But, having your baby close to you will encourage initial breastfeeding.
You’ll also want to keep your baby in the room with you during your entire hospital stay if you can, so you can watch for feeding cues and nurse on demand.
4. Find the Right Position
Something as simple as position can play a big role in breastfeeding. Finding the right position will help your baby latch on properly. Which, in turn, will help prevent sore nipples, poor milk transfer, and other breastfeeding problems.
Every mom and baby are different, so you’ll have to use some trial and error to find the breastfeeding position that works best for you. I found the football hold with a regular pillow underneath my baby to work best for my 5 lb. 36 weeker, while the cross-cradle position was the most comfortable for me and my 8.5 lb baby. The football hold is great for c-section mamas.
5. Use a Lactation Consultant
There are often free lactation consultants available to you if you’re having a hospital birth. Request and USE their help during your stay. If you’re having a home birth, you may want to schedule a LC visit for a day or two after birth.
A lactation consultant can help you with positioning and latch and help you determine if enough milk is being transferred to your baby. They can also check for tongue/lip ties, give you tips to help boost your supply, and answer any breastfeeding questions you may have.
6. Get Familiar with Cluster Feeding
I feel like the number one reason that most moms fail at breastfeeding is because they aren’t informed about cluster feeding and often confuse it with low milk supply. While low milk supply can happen, it’s pretty rare.
Breastfeeding is a supply and demand game. Your baby is going to want to nurse more often than usual during growth spurts and during those first few days when they’re trying to make your milk come in. This is normal!
7. Stay Hydrated and Well Fed
Staying hydrated will also help boost your breast milk supply. It’s important to drink plenty of water while breastfeeding, because it’s much easier for you to get dehydrated. This will also help prevent postpartum kidney stones and other postpartum complications.
Grab a quality water bottle with a straw, and keep it on your person at all times. Breastfeeding makes you THIRSTY!
This is also not the time to get obsessed about losing the baby weight. Breastfeeding requires about 500 extra calories from you, so don’t try and cut those out from your diet. It could harm your supply.
Instead, use these 3 smart ways to boost your supply and shed some of those postpartum pounds.
8. Get Ready for Your Milk to Come In
Most moms milk comes in around days 2-4 postpartum. Although, sometimes it can take up to a week. Until then your baby will thrive off of your colostrum.
When your milk does come in, it will come in full force. Your boobs will likely become hard and engorged, and it may be a little painful.
To get some relief, place a warm wash cloth on your breasts and pump for just a minute or two. If you do this right before feedings, it will be easier for your baby to latch as well. You don’t want to pump anymore than this though, because pumping too much, especially this early on, could cause an oversupply, which actually isn’t a good thing and can create several issues on its own.
9. Pump If Your Baby Is Having Trouble
If your baby has a poor latch or isn’t latching at all, then you’ll need to pump until nursing is well established. You’ll also need to pump each time your baby is supplemented with formula or donor or expressed breast milk.
If your baby’s latch is painful, be sure to have them checked for a lip/tounge tie. You could use a nipple shield to help the pain in the meantime, but always consult with a LC before doing so.
And, if your baby isn’t nursing at all early on, please don’t get discouraged. Many women and babies have gone on to have successful breastfeeding relationships after a hard first few weeks.
My first baby was born at 36 weeks, and she just would not nurse. So, for every feeding, I would try to nurse her, feed her a bottle, and then pump for 15-20 minutes afterwards. She got formula until my milk finally came in around day 4, because I couldn’t get more than a drop or two of colostrum out. Even with manually expressing.
After that first week, we got her to nurse with a nipple shield. Then a few weeks after that, we started each nursing session without the shield, and by the time she was a month old, she was nursing exclusively, no shield needed! We went on to breastfeed for 17 months until my milk dried up because I was pregnant with baby #2!
10. Find Your Support Circle
Support is key when it comes to breastfeeding. I mean, it’s basically a full-time job with overtime during those first few months.
Surround yourself with supportive family and friends. Make it known how important this is to you. Find a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician and join postpartum support groups and breastfeeding circles. There’s even many, many Facebook groups you can join.
You don’t even have to fork out loads of money to be successful at breastfeeding. There’s tons of FREE breastfeeding resources out there to provide you with help and information.
And, if dad is worried about missing out, don’t worry. There are several ways that dads can bond with their breastfed babies.
11. Hang in There!
Those first few weeks of breastfeeding can be extremley difficult to get through, especially if you’re a first time breastfeeding mom. But, it does get easier mama. I promise!
Breastfeeding provides many benefits for both you and your baby, but it most certainly does not come without challenges.
Those first few weeks are filled with engorgement, sore nipples, and a huge learning curve. It’ll feel like your baby wants to constantly nurse during those initial months, and it’s going to take a huge chunk of your time.
But, it’s all worth it in the end, and it gets SO MUCH EASIER after you get out of the newborn stage. So, just try and hang in there mama!
11 Steps Closer to Breastfeeding Success
Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural, but it most certainly doesn’t come easy. Especially, if you’re a first time mom.
There’s so much to learn and many obstacles to overcome during those first few weeks postpartum. But, if you use these 11 tips, you’ll be that much closer to breastfeeding success.
Be sure to utilize doulas and lactation consultants and get familiar with cluster feeding. Encourage your baby to nurse by having that golden hour after birth and doing skin-to-skin as much as possible. You’ll also need to try out different positions, stay hydrated and eat right, and get a good support system in place.
Breastfeeding is basically a full-time job when your baby is a newborn, but it’s incredibly worth it and gets so much easier as your baby gets older.
What About You?
What are some of your best breastfeeding tips? Share your secrets for success with us in the comments below and be sure to share this post with other moms-to-be.