Breastfeeding Tips for Nursing Mothers
Deciding to go with breastfeeding
is not an easy choice, but it can be amazing for both you and your newborn. It provides nutrition and gives you the opportunity for you to bond with your baby.
But it’s also something that requires planning and can be quite a challenge for some mommies out there. If you are unsure of what to do and how to start, don’t worry, we got you covered. We promise you that with the following tips, breastfeeding can be an amazing experience for both of you.
Breastfeeding Tip #1 - Breastfeeding + Formula Is An Option
There’s this whole talk about breastfeeding or formula
, as if you have to pick one and stick with it. This isn’t true. You can combine these two with no problems whatsoever.
Of course, it’s advised that you stick with breastfeeding for as long as you can, but if you feel you aren’t producing enough milk or it’s too exhausting and stressful for you, you can add formula to your baby’s diet. It’s suggested to do this after only breastfeeding for the first eight weeks, as this can affect you milk production and can lead to engorging.
Give your baby and your breasts time to adjust. The baby will need to get used to the formula, and your breasts to less milk being taken out of them. Start by introducing the formula once or twice every 2-3 days, then up the dosage to as much as you like.
Breastfeeding Tip #2 - Make Sure You’re In A Comfortable Position
Your eyes and thoughts are all around your baby while you breastfeed, making sure the baby is comfortable and that all is fine while breastfeeding., to the point you forget about you being comfortable and okay.
In order for breastfeeding to be a MUCH MORE pleasant for you, make sure you are seated in a comfortable position. Some babies eat faster, some slower, but keep in mind that you would need to be in the same position for an extended period of time a few times a day. Not being comfortable can lead to stress which can then affect the breastfeeding process and milk production.
Breastfeeding Tip #3 - Relaxation Is Key
We already mentioned that breastfeeding can be challenging, and with that, you can get stressed out and suffer from exhaustion. This isn’t good for you nor your baby, as breastfeeding is something that can last for quite a while, so keeping it chill is important.
The key is to try and get back to normal life as soon as possible. And no, we don’t mean going back to work. We mean keeping in touch with friends, filling up the bathtub, grabbing a glass of wine every now and then, chilling in front of the TV, basically do whatever you did before when you needed some alone time.
Breastfeeding Tip #4 - Leaking? It’s Totally Normal
Don’t worry about it. It’s totally normal in the beginning . It can happen during any time of the day, and can sometimes be caused by the sounds of other babies or when you get too emotional.
Without much fuss, you can just put a nursing pad in your bra to absorb it and you will be just fine. With time, as you get more and more used to your baby and the breastfeeding process, the leaking will subdue.
Breastfeeding Tip #5 - Take Care Of Your Nipples
The nipples are sensitive just as they are, and with constant breastfeeding, they tend to get even more sensitive and raw.
Whether it’s getting used to breastfeeding, or the simple fact that your baby latches on a bit stronger than usual, your nipples will suffer and you might even feel pain. You can take a look at our article on how to prevent and treat sore nipples
, or simply get yourself a nipple cream
. You can try out ones that contain purified lanolin, as applying them right after breastfeeding can help reduce dryness and irritation. If you want to try out something natural, you can use a tea bag as a warm compress. The tannins in tea can have a similar effect to purified lanolin.
Breastfeeding Tip #6 - Have A Healthy Diet
Breastfeeding your baby means you’ll need to up your intake of healthy nutrients. You will also need more calories than usual. On average, a woman that breastfeeds needs 15-20% more calories per day than usual.
This means that your diet should consist of foods from all the 5 food groups. And it’s preferable that you also look for foods that contain extra calcium. For more detailed info on what to eat while breastfeeding, you can refer to our article.
Breastfeeding Tip #7 - Watch Out For Engorgement
Some mothers produce more milk than usual, and this can lead to breast engorgement. Engorgement is a swelling of the breasts that can be painful and cause your breasts to harden.
Best way to avoid this? Nurse as often as possible. But if you’re still struggling with engorgement even with frequent nursing, you might want to try out using a pump to help get the excess milk out. You can also try massage your nipples and breasts under a warm shower, to help soothe the pain and discomfort.
Keep in mind that at some point you will stop breastfeeding, and this is a whole process called weaning
. So it’s good to prepare yourself for the weaning process, and reduce the possibility of engorgement
Breastfeeding Tip #8 - Having A Schedule Helps
No, no, we don’t mean the kind of schedule that doesn’t change under any circumstances. We’re talking about a schedule tailored to both yours and your baby’s needs.
When you start breastfeeding, you can start paying attention to how long your baby needs nursing, when to eat, when your baby sleeps, all stuff like that. These will help you learn more about your baby, and help you plan out not just breastfeeding, but your day too. And no, it’s not selfish as some may claim.
Breastfeeding Tip #9 - Give Breast Pumps A Chance
It’s totally normal to struggle with breastfeeding in the first months of breastfeeding. Your baby might be unable to latch and need more time to perfect the art of nursing. Breast pumps can really help with keeping your baby properly fed.
But pumps can help in other situations too. Whether you want to store some milk for when you’re not around (going back to work), or simply want to increase your milk production, breast pumps can be your best friends in these situations.
Breastfeeding Tip #10 - Practice Makes Perfect
It’s important to be patient and to keep on trying to get it right. There will be times when you’ll want to give up, but do know that this is also quite normal. Those happy mama faces you see on ads? Not really true! We won’t lie to you and we’ll say it here again, breastfeeding is challenging.
But putting in the effort in the short run, will make breastfeeding much easier in the long run. Starting off right and sticking to the same routine is hard, but it’s doable. You won’t figure out everything right away, so strap in and prepare yourself.
Breastfeeding Tip #11 - Don’t Worry, You Will Have Enough Milk
It’s hard to know how much milk your baby is getting or how much you have left in your breasts. The first thing any mother thinks of when she hears her toddler crying is “my baby is hungry”.
But the best way for you to know you’re producing enough milk or if you baby is getting enough, is to learn more about your baby’s behavior and his diapers. It’s got 5-7 wet diapers a day? All is fine. It stops eating a few minutes after latching on? It had enough for now and you will know when to nurse it next.
Breastfeeding Tip #12 - Make Sure You Are Hydrated
Your body will need a loooot of water to keep functioning properly AND produce milk at the same time. When you enter the postnatal phase, your body will start to change and it will take some adjusting and getting used to.
Make sure you have a glass of water with you at all times. Or you can follow the advice of many doctors who say that drinking 8 ounces of water for every breastfeeding session will be enough for you, on top of some additional 20-30 ounces in other periods of the day. Keep the daily intake around 80-90 ounces per day.
Breastfeeding Tip #13 - Ask For Help
Reading about breastfeeding and taking courses about it is not the same as actually breastfeeding your baby. It’s best to ask for advice on breastfeeding right after giving birth, while you’re still in the hospital.
Medical professionals can help guide you through the process and give you advice on any difficulties you might encounter at the start. Nurses will come and check up on you, but make sure to let them know of any struggles, otherwise they won’t know your needs and won’t help you.
Breastfeeding Tip #14 - Don’t Worry About Gaining Weight
Gaining and losing weight during breastfeeding is quite normal. You might want to get back in shape as soon as possible after giving birth, but that might not be an option while breastfeeding.
We already mentioned how important is to eat healthily and enough, and how important that is for your milk production, so be patient. If you really want to shed some pounds off, we suggest you start off with light exercise and try to lose not more than a pound a week.
Breastfeeding Tip #15 - Monitor the Baby’s Weight
There’s a reason doctors always tell you the weight of the baby after it’s born. It’s considered as a measure for health. The weight can be affected by many factors, but keeping track of it can give you better insight of how your baby is developing.
After you start breastfeeding or formula, it’s important to know what to expect related to the weight of your baby, and the gain/loss cycles that your baby might go through. It’s normal for babies to lose weight at first, but then they slowly gain more and more. Keep track of it, and for any fluctuations outside the 5-7% percent threshold (gain or loss) make sure you contact a doctor.
Breastfeeding Tip #16 - There Isn’t A Fixed Breastfeeding Duration
Some babies eat more, some less, some faster, some slower. There simply isn’t a fixed number of hours of minutes that you need to feed your baby.
There is a general rule that says that breastfeeding should last at least 10 and not more than 45 minutes. Anything outside these borders is considered to be unnatural, and you might want to pay your doctor a visit. So keep one eye on the clock, and one on the baby, at least for the first month or two. This can give you a good insight of the digestive tract of your baby.
Breastfeeding Tip #17 - Rest As Much As You Can
Life doesn’t stop or start with breastfeeding. You still need to take care of yourself and make sure you have enough energy to endure the breastfeeding. Also, lack of sleep can mess with the quality and production rate of your milk.
Sleep, nap, lay down, whatever works for you. And in order for you to be prepared and in a good mood for the unexpected hunger calls of your newborn, we suggest you sleep and nap when it does. Also, try and learn how to power-nap. Short bursts (10-30 minutes) of these can help you be alert and not get all cranky and stressed.
Breastfeeding Tip #18 - Be Prepared For Cluster Feedings
Cluster feedings happen when your baby starts demanding to be nursed every few minutes, instead of every few hours. These have more to do with rapid development and growth, and rarely something to do with your milk production.
These growth spurts are totally normal, and we suggest that you as a mother feed your baby as much as it wants. Consider these as short periods where your schedule will be way off and the breastfeeding cycle is totally different than what you are used to.