Nursing is a special bond that only a mother and her baby can have. Nothing is quite like holding your newborn and literally feeding them nourishment with your body.
There are benefits of breastfeeding for both infants and mothers that cannot be matched with feeding formula.
There is no shame in being unable to breastfeed your baby, but if breastfeeding is your goal, it’s good to give yourself and your baby the very best shot at success. Here are our best tips to get you off on the right foot!
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- Take Advantage of the Golden Hour
- Make Sure the Baby Has a Good Latch
- Take a Class
- Avoid Soaps
- Don’t Time Yourself
- Drink Way More Water Than You Think You Need
- Don’t Get Too Engorged
- Avoid Supplementing Too Fast
- Sometimes You Just Got to Keep Trying Until You Find Something That Works
- Get a Leg up on Breastfeeding
Take Advantage of the Golden Hour
Having the baby latch within the first hour of birth a large indicator of future breastfeeding success. Many providers in the natural birth realm call this the "golden hour."
Of course, birth is unpredictable, and if you can’t breastfeeding in that first hour it won’t stop you from being successful, but it is a great thing to do for both you and the baby.
Make Sure the Baby Has a Good Latch
One of the main reasons for nursing failure has to do with the baby not latching on correctly. To help your newborn have a good latch, make sure most of the areola is inside the mouth, otherwise, you could end up with sore and painful nipples and frustration for both of you.
Take a Class
If you can take a local class in person, that's great! Try finding a local La Leche League group and see what they offer.
Or if you prefer something you can do from home, I love the Milkology course. This is the course I wish I had when I started out breastfeeding, plus it's super affordable.
It might seem strange to take a class but if you weren’t raised around nursing women this will greatly increase your chances for success.
If you do end up with sore or cracked breasts ask your doctor or a professional lactation consultant but sometimes these conditions are actually caused from washing your nipples too much or with wipes.
You have natural oils in your areola that keeps your nipples soft, and germ-free. You don’t want to mess with this natural process if you can help it.
Don’t Time Yourself
Don’t try to rush breastfeeding. It’s not a contest. It’s not just to feed your baby either. It’s a time of great bonding that you’ll never get back. Just enjoy the time with your baby and the relaxation it can bring upon you both.
Its also natures ways to get you to slow down and heal during your postpartum recovery.
Drink Way More Water Than You Think You Need
When you sit down to nurse, grab a glass of water or other beverage because you don’t want to feel uncomfortable and thirsty and have to stop to get something to drink. It’s best if you are ready at the time.
Plus if you get even a little dehydrated it can drop your milk supply, which means you could start to panic that your not making enough milk for your baby, when in fact, you just need to drink more.
Don’t Get Too Engorged
Sometimes the trouble with the baby latching on has to do with allowing your breasts to get too engorged. This is especially problematic for women with only a small amount of breast tissue, not allowing for extra space for the milk.
Get ahead of your baby's hunger, before you’re engorged and to avoid that problem. Yes, it’s okay to wake up your baby to feed it a little.
If you find yourself too engorged and your baby cannot latch well (because it's literally like trying to latch onto a ball) then pump off some of the milk then try to relatch your baby.
If you don't plan on buying an electric pump, a small inexpensive hand pump is perfect just for this. Then you can build up a small milk stash too during those first few days.
Avoid Supplementing Too Fast
If you’re having issues it’s best to avoid supplementation for a little while, instead try the plastic nipple shields, or other solutions that a professional nurse or breast feeding expert can recommend to you.
If you find that you are having latch problems and things are too painful to keep nursing, try pumping your milk and feeding your baby with a bottle while your nipples heal.
Sometimes You Just Got to Keep Trying Until You Find Something That Works
With my first, I had severely injured my nipples and it became way to painful to nurse my baby. Instead, I alternated using a nipple shield and pumping my milk. It wasn't ideal, and it did cause some nipple confusion.
We got through it though and had it not been for those interventions that bought me some time to heal, we may not have been able to continue breastfeeding. We breastfed for a whole 15 months after that!
Don’t put added pressure on yourself. Realize that most women can breastfeed and that women have been doing it since the beginning of time. If you’re one of the few women who cannot breastfeed successfully, don’t beat yourself up, be thankful that supplements do exist.
However, do give it a try, you might surprise yourself.
Get a Leg up on Breastfeeding
My friend Stacey is a certified lactation educator and created an awesome breastfeeding program for new moms! This is the program I wish I had when I first started out breastfeeding my baby.
I thought breastfeeding was just an instinctual thing that we had to learn together. By my second week in nursing became excruciatingly painful. (I knew we had a big problem when I was sobbing every time my little one woke up hungry.)
But if you want to learn how to make breastfeeding easy, Stacey is your girl! She has helped thousands of new moms have a healthy breastfeeding relationship with their baby, all while learning from the comfort of their own home. Her course is awesome and so affordable! (About the cost of a single breastfeeding book.)
Go check out all the course details!