Breastfeeding can be very difficult at times, even if it’s not your first time. That’s why today I want to share with you some of my top breastfeeding tips for new moms.
I breastfed my son exclusively for about nine months. After that, we primarily breastfed and also supplemented with formula due to a chronically low milk supply.
Some days it felt really rewarding, and other days it just felt hard.
If you’re a new mom who is or wants to breastfeed her baby, check out these fifteen breastfeeding tips that will help you on your breastfeeding journey.
Most of these breastfeeding tips I learned the hard way through experience. Hopefully by sharing these, you will be able to have an easier and more prepared breastfeeding journey!
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15 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms
Ask for a lactation consultant
One of the greatest things you can do to set yourself up for success on your breastfeeding journey is to request a lactation consultant from the start.
Even if you have breastfed before, a lactation consultant will be able to help you start breastfeeding your new baby, and give you valuable insight and assistance.
I had a lactation consultant help me while I was in the hospital with my son, and it helped so much! She understood and supported what I wanted to do, and helped us to get there by the time we left the hospital.
Get a boppy/nursing pillow
I definitely recommend getting yourself a boppy pillow. Boppy pillows are basically U-shaped pillows that you can use to support your baby while you breastfeed.
This will help prevent your arms from tiring, and help you position your baby correctly for a good latch.
Try several nipple creams
It is very likely that at some point early on in your breastfeeding journey you will find yourself with sore nipples.
To help prevent this and relieve the discomfort if it does happen, keep some nipple cream on hand and use it after every feeding from the start.
Use reusable nursing pads
At the start of your breastfeeding journey, you may find that you leak milk. The way to take care of this is to use nursing pads, which are pads that can be placed between your nipple and bra to catch any leaked milk.
Personally, I highly recommend these reusable bamboo nursing pads.
Not only are they more cost efficient, I also found that they itched less than disposable pads, and were far more comfortable.
Get a pump for emergencies
Even if you plan to nurse exclusively, I recommend getting a breast pump to use as a backup in case of emergencies.
Pumps are useful to collect extra milk for when you are away from baby or unable to nurse. Or, you can use it if for some reason your baby is having difficulty nursing.
I had to use my pump and bottle feed my son for about two weeks when he was breastfeeding, all because he was teething so bad that he couldn’t comfortably nurse. It ended up being a lifesaver!
Worried about the cost? Don’t–most health insurance will cover some or all of the cost of a breast pump, and sometimes provide extra supplies and resources too! You can find out more about this here.
Pump when baby is sick/teething
If your baby is too stuffed up to nurse, or is teething too hard to be interested, you might try pumping your breast milk and feeding it with a bottle.
This happened to us a few times while my son was breast feeding. Pumping during these times helped us so much, and allowed us to continue breast feeding even when he couldn’t nurse.
Pump extra when possible
Also, pump extra milk whenever possible! You never know when you might need a little extra milk.
Pumping extra also allows you more freedom and flexibility.
For example, pumping extra once or twice a week allowed my son to have enough bottled milk to stay in the nursery while we were at church every week. Even though church fell at a time that he normally nursed, he could have the bottle instead.
The one missed nursing session a week never hurt my milk supply, and we were all able to get out of the house and get to church.
Know your rights
Whether you have breastfed before or this is your first time, definitely take the time to find out what your rights are.
As a breastfeeding mom, you have the right to nurse in public if you need or want to.
If you plan to go back to work, also take the time to find out exactly what your rights are as far as pumping at work, and maternity leave.
Practice before nursing in public
If you plan to exercise your right to nurse in public, I do advise taking the time to practice in your own home before attempting it in public.
Practicing in the privacy of your own home will help you to be prepared and ready to nurse in public. This is especially helpful if you find yourself a little uncomfortable with the idea of nursing in public.
Have a plan for car travel
If you plan to travel with your breastfeeding baby, try to have a plan before you leave on your trip.
Will you nurse sitting in the car? Where will you make regular stops to feed and change diapers? Will you pump in the car (assuming you aren’t the one driving) and bottle feed?
Having a plan for travel will help make your trip smoother, easier, and faster.
Check out nursing locations before flying
If you plan to fly with your breastfed baby, it’s a good idea to check out what possible nursing locations will be available to you.
Even if you are comfortable nursing in public, you might find that the activity of planes and airports are too much for your little one to take in. Your baby may be too distracted or overstimulated to nurse in a busy terminal.
In these cases, more private nursing locations are a great asset. But they will only be helpful if you know where they are!
Drink lots of water
In order to breastfeed successfully, you will need to be sure to drink plenty of water.
One way to be sure you drink enough is to take a drink after every nursing/pumping session. Even if you don’t drink an entire glass, regularly drinking water will help to keep you hydrated.
Related: Basics of Prenatal Nutrition
Be patient with yourself
Breastfeeding is hard. One of the greatest breastfeeding tips I can give you is to be patient with yourself.
There will be days when you can’t seem to get it right. There will be days when you feel like you are failing.
Be patient. If you stay persistent, it will get better. Give yourself some grace on the hard days.
Give it time
Breastfeeding is an art that is not learned overnight.
Give yourself and your baby time to figure it out.
Don’t feel bad if you decide to stop
Don’t get me wrong. I definitely recommend that you do your best to stick with it and do the best you can to make it work.
But I also know that sometimes it’s just too much. Sometimes a mom’s milk just won’t increase sufficiently, no matter what she does. Sometimes, it’s just too mentally taxing to be the healthy choice for a mom and her baby.
If you reach a point where you feel you need to stop breastfeeding and formula feed instead, don’t feel bad about it.
Don’t make the decision on a whim, but don’t feel bad about doing what is best for you and your baby.
While I encourage you to try, every mom, baby, and situation is different. And the answer isn’t always the same for everyone. Don’t let mom-shamers stop you from doing what is best for your family, and don’t mom shame another mom who has made a different choice!
What’s your best breastfeeding tips?
Are you or did you breastfeed your baby? What were some of your biggest struggles? What tips would you give to other breastfeeding moms? Share with me in the comments below–I’d love to hear your thoughts!