I wish somebody told me the truth while I was still preparing for birth about how hard breastfeeding really is. That I have to research more information about it. That I have to be prepared to adjust my expectations, because during the first couple of weeks of nursing your nipples are a big sore mess. That I will have to work with low milk supply and fight for my lactation to be well established. That breastfeeding around the clock is absolutely normal and that cluster feedings actually lay a solid foundation for successful and long-term lactation in the future. That my baby won’t be hungry all the time, he will just want to be around mama and suck her breast to feel safe and smoothly go through this transitional period from getting out of the womb to getting used to new life conditions of the world we live in. That the forth trimester phenomenon (why your baby is only happy in your arms) is not a myth…
I wish somebody told me the truth about many many things that were waiting for me after delivering my baby. But the reality is, nobody really talks about them. Nobody shares this kind of information on prenatal classes. And, most likely, you won’t read about this in most books. That’s unfortunate!
Sure enough, much more knowledge is now available in the Internet with various mom blogs and special resources sharing valuable information for new mommas, which makes it easier to be better prepared for your postpartum and breastfeeding experience without the jaw-dropping effect of having NO CLUE to what’s gonna happen next.
My mistake was that I relied too much on prenatal courses alone and believed that my natural instincts would turn on shortly after birthing. So when I gave birth I was totally shocked because I realized I knew nothing about breastfeeding and was totally unprepared for this experience and that part seriously scared me.
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During the first couple of months postpartum all I did was educating myself about breastfeeding. Because I had so. many. questions. And so many fears. And so little knowledge! As I started digging in deeply into the topic and pairing the knowledge I gathered from Interned and my mom friends with my personal experience, that’s when my fears finally dissolved and breastfeeding became a pleasant journey I learned to love and enjoy.
I wrote a whole article sharing everythig I gathered about how to breastfeed successfully. I did it for myself but then I realised, I had so many helpful information there that it would have been unfair to keep it only to myself. That was how I actually started this blog!
I can say with no doubt the scariest, most stressful and unknown period of breastfeeding for new moms is the “fourth trimester” or first 2-3 months after delivery. The period when your lactation is establishing and without proper knowledge you frick out like crazy if any breastfeeding problem pops up on your way.
I am here to help. Because I’ve been there. Done that. I was scared and unsure, too. And I was craving for somebody to tell me that what I was going through was NORMAL!
I’m here to say:
EVERYTHING YOU’RE GOING THROUGH IS NORMAL AND BREASTFEEDING DOES GET BETTER OVER TIME!
In this article I gathered for you the best breastfeeding tips to help you get through the first couple of months of breastfeeding with less fears and stress, less pain, more confidence and love to the process. If I was able to do it, you can do it too!
Here’s my first and most important tip to you:
Educate yourself about breastfeeding while you are still pregnant!
Sure enough you can subscribe for an offline course in your area, but we live in the century where technologies thrive. You will save yourself a ton of time and money (and your nerves!) if you opt for Milkology Breastfeeding Class, which is online and cost just $19. Totally worth it!
You can watch it anytime, having lifetime access to the course. You will need it! I’ve stopped breastfeeding half a year ago and I already feel that my knowledge about it needs to be refreshed.
Earlier I used to igmore this type of education but I’ve realized how extremely valuable it is! When I was pregnant I learned how to breastfeed in the clinic close to my house. Well, let me just tell you, after watching Stacey’s Milkology course, I can undoubtedly say, the knowledge and assurance I acquired afterwards is so much more palpable than what I thought I had before.
So make sure to check out The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class, whether you are pregnant or already breastfeeding, you will find it super helful!
Okay, sure, attending a breastfeeding class is cool but where else can I find useful information about breastfeeding?
1. Books about breastfeeding for first time moms (experienced moms would benefit from them, too)
- The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding – the #1 best selling book about breastfeeding on Amazon. From pregnancy to weaning, the one book every mother needs by her side.
- Breastfeeding Made Simple – the definite guide to breastfeeding your baby. This book answers just about every question from finding a comfortable breastfeeding position to treating mastitis and making a smooth transition from breastfeeding to solids for your baby.
- Work. Pump. Repeat – the practical, relatable, and humorous guide to surviving the difficult, awkward, and rewarding job of being a breastfeeding and working mom.
- Latch: A Handbook for Breastfeeding with Confidence at Every stage – a judgment-free guide to breastfeeding that will teach you exactly what you need to know to meet your own personal breastfeeding goals.
2. Find your resources in the web
I’ve been browsing the web for a long time when I learned how to breastfeed and found many helpful resources that were game changers in terms of successful breastfeeding and stress-free postpartum for me. So I’m sharing the best ones with you. I’m still using all of them (although I’m neither pregnant nor breastfeeding now).
- La Leche League – The # 1 resource for breastfeeding aid and education. The information they are sharing is accurate and comprehensive. The best part about LLL is that you can find a nearby leader to come to your house and offer breastfeeding help.
- World Health Organization (WHO) – The leaders in health information for the entire world, WHO really cares about breastfeeding success.
- Kellymom – Founded by an IBCLC, Kelly Mom is covering just about any question you can think of in terms of breastfeeding, relying on the extensive list of scientific research and other trusted resources. I found this website while I was pregnant and I still use it every time I have a question. Kelly Mom is my personal favorite resource.
- The Bump – The abundance of information, videos, and stories for conceiving, pregnant and breastfeeding women makes this site a great in-dept resource for everything related to baby. What is also great about this website is that they have a baby registry. Once you register, you’ll get weekly updates straight into your mailbox covering your pregnancy week-by-week and baby development once he’s born.
- Mama Natural – Great resource for pregnant and breastfeeding mommas who want to go the natural way. You will find here tips for having an unmedicated birth, most common breastfeeding problems answered, natural remedies for pregnancy and breastfeeding, positive parenting advice and much more.
- Breastfeeding Mamas – This Facebook group is for breastfeeding moms, where you can ask any question that is bothering (even the most silly one) without being judged, and you will get feedback from many experienced moms! This is real help.
So you’ve studied these resources through and gave birth to your wonderful baby. Now what? Here are my best tips to ensure a successful breastfeeding journey from the start.
BEST BREASTFEEDING TIPS TO GET YOU THROUGH THE FIRST 48 HOURS
- Skin-to-skin as soon as possible! When a newborn is having a skin-to-skin contact with you, he gets the right microbiota he will so. much. need. to start off his digestive system and have less pain and colics while getting used to feeding on your breast milk. Skin-to-skin also encourages a newborn to start breastfeeding within an hour after delivery.
- Nurse within the first hour after delivery. “That early initiation for breastfeeding is extremely important when it comes to sending signals to the brain and body to produce breast milk,” says Susan D. Crowe, MD, an ob-gyn and clinical associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. Before you start producing milk, you have a small amount of colostrum, which is considered a liquid gold for newborns. Colostrum is the first form of milk that is higher in fat content, proteins and antibodies to protect the newborn against disease.
- The latch is crucial! Getting it right from the very start is hard. But keep trying! Use this technique to ensure a good latch.
- Ask help from a lactation consultant in your area if breastfeeding is hard and unbearable, and having a good latch is one big trouble you can’t solve by yourself.
- No formula feeding. When your baby is born, his stomach is so tiny that it doesn’t need any additional feedings except for the colostrum you produce in the first 48 hours after delivery. Nurse often. It will also help your milk to come in faster. But don’t worry if it takes up to three days. Your baby will do just fine. Don’t try to supplement him with formula. And remember, if the newborn is crying, it’s not necessarily because of hunger. There are plenty of reasons why.
- Don’t be afraid of cluster feedings. Cluster feeding is when your baby nurses almost around the clock or when the feeding session lasts for a couple of hours. Yes, you get tired but this is a smart natural mechanism to induce your milk to come in faster. So relax and learn to love cluster feedings (because you might have to do it a lot within the next 2 months of breastfeeding until your lactation is well established).
- If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be too painful. It might hurt at the beginning. Your nipples might be highly sensitive and sore because they are not used to be disturbed THAT much. But you shouldn’t feel excruciating pain every time your baby latches. It’s a red flag. Check if you baby has a tongue-tie as soon as possible. This might be the reason for the wrong latch and pain while breastfeeding.
- Massage your breasts in between the feeding sessions to prevent your not-so-ready-for-the-milk-to-come-in milk ducts from getting clogged.
BEST BREASTFEEDING TIPS TO GET YOU THROUGH THE FIRST 2 MONTHS
I remember how scared I was as a first-time mom, that my milk wouldn’t come in, that I would struggle with supply, that my baby wouldn’t get enough milk, that I would have to give up and switch to formula and that (for me!) would have meant that I was a bad mother!
Don’t get me wrong. I think the best food for the baby is whatever his mother decides to feed him with. Whether it’s breast milk or formula, as long as the baby is fed and healthy, it doesn’t matter.
It’s just that for me breastfeeding was a psychological issue. My mom didn’t make it and gave up after a month of trying to breastfeed me, switching to formula. I had a fixed idea to breastfeed no matter what. And I, thankfully, did.
So here are the best breastfeeding tips for you, new mama, to get through this scary part of breastfeeding when your lactation hasn’t been established yet and you have many questions, issues, pains and discomforts and many-many second thoughts about whether your decision to breastfeed was right or wrong.
- Rest as much as you can. Making milk is hard work that depends on hormones, so you have to sleep whenever possible to help your body adjust to new conditions.
- Eliminate stress. Stress produces an anti-lactation hormone – cortisol – that is known for blocking prolactin and oxytocin production.
- Adjust your expectations. Breastfeeding is hard, painful and stressful at the beginning. You won’t produce milk right away. You may come up with many problems. Your supply can be low. And the hormonal swings are just no fun. Nobody teaches you about that! So you have to embrace the fact that first two months of breastfeeding can be tough and know what you can do to help yourself produce more milk without additional troubles. Because becoming a new mom is already troublesome enough, right?
- Drink a lot of water. Staying hydrated is absolutely necessary in order to produce an adequate amount of milk. Just listen to your body, it will give you a clue on to how much water you need to drink.
- Eat more calories. It is a well-known fact that your body needs additional 300-500 calories daily to make milk. It’s valuable knowledge, especially if you want to lose weight postpartum. You just cut these calories. But it wouldn’t be wise to eliminate the food intake while your lactation hasn’t established yet. Instead, try eating nutritious meals and have healthy snacks in between.
- Breastfeed on demand. Milk production is a demand-supply kinda thing. If you want to produce more milk, you need to offer breast to your baby more often. The frequent nipple stimulation sends a signal to your brain that your body needs to produce more milk to satisfy your baby’s hunger.
- Consider co-sleeping. Co-sleeping is great at least for two reasons: 1. You get more sleep, because you don’t have to wake up, stand up, take you baby from the crib, breastfeed, lay your baby back to the crib, and go back to bed yourself. Plus, you won’t have to repeat this cycle 3-6 times during the night. I learned to nurse without fully waking up. So I was much more rested and had more energy in the daytime. 2. You help your body produce more milk, because prolactin, a milk producing hormone is most active during early morning hours, so if you breastfeed between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., your body releases more prolactin that ensures an adequate amount of milk produced the next day.
- Be patient! Lactation is establishing within 6-12 weeks after delivery. Mine was established by the end of month three. It was too long, seriously. But, looking back, I now can say for sure what I did wrong: I worried to much about supply and didn’t have enough rest. Maybe if I were more patient and relaxed, my lactation would have been established much earlier.
BEST BREASTFEEDING TIPS FOR LOW MILK SUPPLY
First of all, are you sure it’s really low milk supply? Read this article first to find out how you can identify low milk supply and what things may give you the wrong impression you have one whereas in reality you don’t.
- Check the latch. If the latch is incorrect, the baby sucks the milk out ineffectively, not emptying the breast enough. This may lead to a drop in milk production, since breastfeeding is a demand-supply process, a.k.a the more milk is sucked out, the more milk will come in next time. Thus, with low milk supply, the first thing to check is the latch.
- Check for the tongue tie. When there is a tongue-tie, the whole demand-supply system is not functioning well. The baby seem to latch on, but he can’t transfer milk from the breast effectively. This may result in many breastfeeding problems where low milk supply is the smallest one. The worst thing is that the baby is unable to satisfy hunger and gain enough weight. As for the mother, she may get multiple clogged ducks and mastitis.
- Sleep. Sleep deprivation is what makes you moody, more prone to stress and anxiety, and even cause a hormonal imbalance. And it certainly won’t help you make more milk.
- Drink hot fluids. It’s not so much the water that helps you produce milk, but the hot fluids in general, including hot tea (or coffee), and hot soups. Heat induces a let down. It works as well with the hot shower and compress. Everything that’s hot – give it a green light!
- Breastfeed 24/7. Sometimes it’s not about low milk supply but about your baby having a growth spurt, which means he now needs more milk than what you have already been producing. Breastfeeding around the clock is what shows your body (and brain) that you need to produce more milk. The more the nipple is stimulated, the faster your brain realizes your baby needs to be fed more. Adjusting your milk supply in case of a growth spurt takes around 2-3 days. It’s hard and demanding and really-really tempting for you to give in and supplement your baby with formula, but please don’t. Just be patient and things going to be back to normal soon.
- Nurse during the night. Nighttime feedings are so. the. key. to having enough milk to feed your baby with during the day. When you nurse at night, you body produces prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production. The more you feed at night, the more hormone is released, the more milk you’ll have next day.
- Relax. Stress is the culprit for low milk supply. It really is. Because when you stress out, your body produces cortisol, the stress hormone, which blocks the production of oxytocin, the hormone, responsible for the let down reflex and effective breast milk evacuation.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
As a first-time mom who found herself lost when she started breastfeeding, I can tell you for sure, many moms need HELP and feedback when it comes to ensuring a successful breastfeeding journey. So, I’m asking you, mama, to share your experience of nursing a newborn in comments below and tell the audience of this blog what helpful tips you came up with while learning how to breastfeed your baby.