Breastfeeding tips for new moms are all over the internet. However, breastfeeding tips for new moms that leave everything on the table without making you feel judged or pressured to breastfeed, are far in between.
Breastfeeding… the most natural and most beautiful thing in the world!”
Yeah! Until it isn’t.
Breastfeeding is hard.
It takes time and patience to develop a breastfeeding routine that works for you and your baby.
Although it comes perfectly natural for some moms, the truth is that a lot of new moms struggles through the beginning phases of the breastfeeding process.
As a result, they are more likely to give up on breastfeeding early on.
According to the CDC’s 2018 Breastfeeding Report Card, 82.3% of moms start out breastfeeding, and only 46.9% (almost half) were exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months (source).
I know how it feels, because I have been on both sides of the coin when it comes to my breastfeeding stories.
Luckily for you, I have a lot of breastfeeding tips here today that have proven to be effective. Not just by me, but by many other moms across the web.
After a lot of trial and error, late nights, crying spells and one unsuccessful and one successful breastfeeding attempt, I am hoping to save you from most of the early days struggles of breastfeeding your little one.
Here are the top 13 breastfeeding tips I have narrowed it down to. These breastfeeding tips will help keep your sanity and embark in a happy and healthy breastfeeding journey.
13 Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms
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1. Be informed!
It all begins with a good knowledge base on what to expect and what to do when the time comes.
Although it takes practice to be successful at breastfeeding, learning about the basics ensures you set out to a successful journey.
Latching, breastfeeding positions, what’s normal, what isn’t, baby cues, milk supply issues, pumping, and “troubleshooting”… are part of a good knowledgeable foundation.
Take it from me, it will save you a lot of late nights and tears.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to attend breastfeeding college to increase your odds at breastfeeding long-term.
There are many places that will teach you all you need to know about breastfeeding.
Here are a few of my favorite resources:
Milkology offers 2 incredible (and super inexpensive) eCourses for moms looking to learn all about breastfeeding from the comfort of your home.
Milkology was founded and is instructed by Stacey Stewart, a Certified Lactation Educator through CAPPA and a mom of 3.
La Leche League
La Leche League is another great resource.
They offer some local meets ups and classes with great breastfeeding tips.
Contact your birthing or neighboring hospital.
Most birthing hospitals have Lamaze (childbirth) and Breastfeeding Classes you can take. The prizes can range anywhere from $20-$200 each.
I suggest you check with your heath insurance to see if they cover any of the costs.
2. It takes time for breastmilk to comedown
Many new moms give up on breastfeeding early on because they believe that they are not making enough milk.
Rest assured that the milk production from day one postpartum won’t be the same as day five, or month three.
Your body is designed to produce exactly what your baby needs to thrive at every stage of development.
Here are some parameters to consider when it comes to the baby’s stomach size maximum capacity (source):
- 1-day-old: 5-7 ml
- 3-day-old: 22-27 ml (0.75 oz)
- 1-week-old: 45-60 ml (1.5-2 oz)
- 1 month: 80-150 ml (2.5-5 oz)
In other words, if you are only making a small amount the first few days per feeding, remember that is the exact amount the baby needs.
3. Breastfeeding Station
Although one of the best things about breastfeeding is that you can feed your baby anywhere and without anything, having a dedicated breastfeeding station makes a huge different.
That proves to be true especially in the early days when you are still trying to figure things out.
Having a designated breastfeeding station allows you to:
- Feel more comfortable
- Creates a sense of routine and confidence
- It has all the essential you need while breastfeeding
You are going to realize that as you sit down to breastfeed you need someone to reach you a million things.
The phone charger, water, a burp rag, nipple ointment, a magazine, the remote control… you name it, you will need it.
4. Use a Boppy Pillow
The Bobby Nursing Pillow is my number one recommendation when it comes to some of the things you will need while breastfeeding.
I cannot stress enough the importance and ease of good support while breastfeeding.
What I love most is that it is timeless because it serves many purposes which will allow you to take advantage of it for a long time.
Some of the uses of the Boppy Nursing Pillow include:
- Breastfeeding support
- Baby launch/recliner
- Tummy time
- Sitting support
- Pillow cushion for older kids (my kids still use their Boppy to sit on while they play with their toys)
5. Pump out breastmilk if possible
When I breastfeed my kids one of the hardest things for me was worrying that I didn’t have any milk put away in case I needed to step away.
There are many reasons as to why you would pump and create a milk stash:
- Wanting your partner to feed the baby
- If someone watches the baby part-time
- Getting ready to go back to work
- Wanting more flexibility in your schedule
- Feeding the baby in a bottle if you are going out (some women are not comfortable breastfeeding in public. Although I must add that one of the great benefits of breastfeeding is not having to worry about packing water, formula, and bottles)
On either instance, here are some pumping tips that will help you make the process easier:
- Pumping after a warm shower.
- Pump at night (your milk supply is a bit higher at nigh due to an increase in prolactin levels)
- Invest in a good breast pump (check with your health insurance: some cover the cost of your pump): this is the pump I used for bother of my kids, and is still around almost 6 years later helping family and friend feed their little ones.
In the first few days after birth, the direct contact of your baby’s mouth with your breasts is what triggers more milk production.
Although milk production it is also activated with pumping, it isn’t nearly as effective as with the baby directly sucking.
6. Finish the first breast first
Although oftentimes it is recommended you switch breasts during feedings, allowing the baby to finish one full breast is ideal.
Hindmilk is the high-fat, high calorie breast milk that provides optimal nutrition and keeps them full longer. Hindmilk is usually found at the end of the feeding of one breast.
The first, less dense breast milk is called foremilk.
Related: 5 Common Breastfeeding Problems and Practical Solutions to Fix Them ASAP!
7. Hair Tie on Wrist
Between the sleep deprivation and the continuous feedings, remembering what breast I used last was sometimes impossible.
A great trick I learned from other breastfeeding moms was to use a rubber band on my wrist. You can also use a hair tie, bracelet, or ribbon.
The rubber band represents the breast that the baby should be sucking from at the time of feeding.
All you must do is once the baby is done feeding from one particular breast, you switch the rubber band to the opposite wrist.
If the baby drank from both breasts, chances are that the second breast is the one they drank the least from, so that’s where the rubber band would go.
8. Preventing and Treating Cracked Nipples
I cannot stress this enough.
Preventing cracked nipples will save you a lot of pain and frustration.
There a lot of things you can do from your end to ensure your nipples are happy and healthy.
With that said, even when you take the best precautions, you can still end up with some nipple irritation and soreness.
This is especially true in the first few weeks as your nipples and the surrounding skin get used to the tugging and pulling.
But don’t worry! Next, we will cover great breastfeeding tips on preventing and treating sore/cracked nipples.
Ensure a proper latch
One of the best breastfeeding tips I could ever give you is to make sure the baby is latching properly.
With a proper latch your:
- nipples will be less likely to crack/bleed
- milk production will increase
- baby will drink more and be more satisfied
- breasts will feel less engorged and painful
keep them moisturized
There are plenty of options (natural, over the counter, and products) to help prevent and treat cracked nipples.
They all serve a different purpose and should be used depending on your specific need.
For instance, as it was the case for me, despite my attempts to go natural, I found myself needing some reinforcement.
Thankfully, nowadays there are many safe, and organic products that are completely chemical and toxic free for both mom and baby.
Here are some natural alternatives that can get the job done without using any over the counter nipple creams:
- Breast milk alone (around your nipple) is known to be a natural moisturizer
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Organic Coconut oil
- Organic Shae butter
As a rule of thumb, I always tried to start off with a bit of breast milk first.
However, between the constant baby feedings and pumping, I found it hard to use the breast milk alone.
That’s why I recommend having a nipple cream at your disposal, specially if you are planning on pumping.
Over the Counter Nipple Creams
My top 3 picks for over the counter nipple creams that are safe to use, toxic and chemical free are (source):
Nipple Care Products
Use one of the following if you are already experiencing cracked and irritated nipples, or if you are more susceptible due to naturally dry skin:
- Hydrogel pads: serve as a soothing and protective barrier between your nipple and your clothing, while promoting healing
- Nipple shields: are flexible silicone nipples that are worn over the mom’s nipple during a feeding (temporarily) to promote faster healing. They are also used in helping lactating moms with flat or inverted nipples
9. Alleviate breast pain and discomfort
You are more likely to give up on breastfeeding if you are in constant pain and discomfort.
Although some discomfort is part of the process, preventing it from escalating to significant pain is a good idea.
In the first few days/weeks your body will start producing more and more milk to meet the demands of your growing baby.
Until your body starts to regulate the supply your baby needs for each feeding, you might feel your breast full, warm, achy, and even tingly (during “let-down” as the baby sucks).
Here are some breastfeeding tips to help with breast discomfort and fullness:
- Take a warm shower and slowly message your breast to hand express excess milk
- After the shower feed baby or pump to decompress breasts
If your breasts become extremely engorged, painful, you are unable to feed baby, and/or you develop a fever… contact your healthcare provider.
1o. Drink plenty of water
Your breastmilk is composed of 90% water.
That is why it is crucial that you stay well hydrated throughout the day.
Drinking the recommended 6-8 glasses of water (or other fluids) a day, will ensure that you:
- are healthy and hydrated
- make and maintain a good breast milk supply
Other fluids to include in your daily hydration plan include juices, low-fat milk, lemonades, black or green tea, and soups.
Fluids to avoid include sugary drinks (soda), caffeine, and alcohol.
11. Keep a diaper count
One of the best indicators that the baby is breastfeeding successfully and sufficiently is by his/her diaper count.
This is especially true on the first few days/weeks as you establish a breastfeeding routine and are getting more comfortable with your new role.
Keeping a wet and soiled diaper log helps you track the effectiveness of your breastfeeding sessions.
Take the log with you to your first few pediatrician visits to ensure proper hydration and nourishment.
If in the first few days at home with the baby you feel your baby isn’t getting enough to drink from your breast, contact your health care provider for instructions.
12. Go with the flow
It is really hard to get overwhelm with so much information.
If you have not yet started breastfeeding while you are reading this , or if you have started but feel overwhelmed, I want you to remember this:
- Tackle one thing a time: trying to do too much at the same time can prove to be challenging
- Take it day by day: it will allow you to practice your craft and the more times you do it, the easier it should become
- You will know if baby is drinking enough: if there are sufficient number of wet and dirty diapers and your baby is gaining weight consistently between pediatric weight checks
- Priorities only: set aside anything that isn’t priority and focus on breastfeeding on demand the first few days. Breastfeeding can be very demanding and adding more things to your already full schedule can become incredibly overwhelming.
13. Ask for help
When it all fails, ask for help!
Whether from your spouse to ease the process, from your doctor for reassurance, or to a lactation consultant for personalized breastfeeding tips and strategies.
Please understand you are not alone, and that we are all in this together.
Try your best to breastfeed, it is ideal for you and baby and you.
However, understand that breastfeeding does not define you as a mother. So whether you can’t or choose not to the most important thing for your child is to have a happy, healthy, and sane momma.
So… enjoy the journey, try your best, rely on a good support system, focus on baby, and the rest will follow.
Additional Breastfeeding Resources
What breastfeeding tips helped you keep your sanity?
If you haven’t started breastfeeding, what are you looking forward to/concerned about?
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