Breastfeeding is one of the best things we can do for our babies, but it definitely doesn’t come without its trials and tribulations. I struggled the first few months especially with my first, but we once I got the hang of it and sorted out any issues, we were on a roll and didn’t look back. I found it to be the ultimate in convenience and enjoyed that bonding time with him, even if those growth spurts can be REALLY tiring.
This second time around, I experienced a few hiccups in the beginning, but baby K and I developed a good pattern much sooner on than I did with my son. That’s not to say it’s been easy though. This little girl is a hungry, hungry hippo and prefers to eat small, frequent meals. Combined with that as well as looking after another child, I’m feeling really drained much more easily. Breastfeeding is hard work, mamas! And remember, those first few months are really just a learning curve (for both of you) when it comes to breastfeeding. You and the babe are getting to know each other and your main job is just to nourish him or her. Here are 10 essential breastfeeding tips to help make nursing a bit easier for you:
10 Essential Breastfeeding Tips
- Get the Right Latch. This is key! Make sure baby is properly latched as this will help prevent a huge array of problems. I know this from experience. Dr. Jack Newman has some great videos showing ideal latching positions.
- Find a Good Position. There are so many breastfeeding positions. From cradle hold to football hold to side-line (breastfeeding while lying down), figure out what works best for you and your babe and go from there. I love to breastfeed lying down during the night as it helps me get rest. This is a great resource for different positions.
- Drink Water. Lots of it. According to KellyMom.com, one of my absolute favourite breastfeeding websites, exclusively breastfed babies take in an average of 25 oz (750 mL) per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months. That is a lot of milk. So a huge amount of what you’re taking in will then be going back out to your little one. Water is the best beverage you can drink, along with herbal teas. It’s also great for increasing milk supply if needed. Try to constantly have a big glass of water next to you, especially when you’re nursing. If you’re finding it difficult, switch it up with your favourite herbal tea, or start making flavoured water. The Hippy Homemaker has some awesome homemade electrolyte recipes and Nature’s Nuture Blog has a great homemade vitamin water recipe.
- Nipple Cream can be your Best Friend. Seriously. Make sure you have a good nipple cream as your nipples can get sore at first. I love the natural ones as they absorb well and are safe for baby to ingest. Earth Mama Angel Baby makes one of my favourite ones.
- Eat Healthy. Ensure you’re getting all the essential nutrients you need, for both yourself and your baby. Increase your calorie intake with healthy foods and make sure you’re getting plenty of good fats from foods like avocados, coconut oil, and nuts. Sitting down for full meals can be difficult when you have a new baby, so make sure you always have healthy snacks on hand.
- Get a Nursing Pillow. While the baby is still small and you’re both getting the hang of things, make sure you’re feeding at the best angle and the baby is up high enough. A good nursing pillow like My Breast Friend can help ensure positioning is right.
- Invest in a Good Nursing Bra. I love a good bargain store, but when it comes to nursing bras, it’s important to make sure you have a good quality one. I’m a huge Cake Maternity fan and own two of the same styles just because I realized what a huge difference a good nursing bra makes. It will also help you when you’re out and about, making it easier to breastfeeding in public.
- Be on the Lookout for Clogged Ducts. If you’ve never had one before, clogged milk ducts can take you by surprise. They did with me. But as soon as you’ve dealt with one, you’ll normally always be on the lookout from then on. You can massage your breasts often to check for any clogs. If you notice one, take action immediately by massaging it in the direction of your nipple, applying warmth, and breastfeeding on the affected breast as much as possible.
- Ask for Help. Nursing a newborn baby can be tough; there’s no doubt about it. As soon as you think something doesn’t feel right or any pain, get some help. Whether it’s a lactation consultant or your local La Leche League, there are a lot of resources out there for breastfeeding support. The sooner you get help, the better. Even if everything seems okay at first, it can be really worth it to even stop by your local LLL group to have an expert check the latch and make sure everything is going smoothly.
- Get Someone to Cover for You. You’ll be tired regardless and add in feeding a newborn, and you can sometimes feel like a zombie. Not that it’s not worth it, of course. But don’t be afraid to ask for help. Have a family member take over for a bit while you get some rest or sit down for a good, hearty meal. Pumping can also give you a bit of a break. I love my pump as it allows me to run out if I need to, even if it’s just to grab some groceries and get a bit of solo time. Growth spurts can be a tough time as you feel like you are doing nothing by nursing (you probably aren’t!), but remember how quickly babies grow. It won’t last forever an you are doing an amazing, selfless thing for your babe:)
Here is a list of some wonderfully helpful breastfeeding sites that offer a ton of information, videos and even forums to chat with fellow breastfeeding moms:
- www.llli.org – The international La Leche League website is an incredible resource.
- www.kellymom.com – One of my go-to sites when it comes to breastfeeding. It was started by a mom of three who also happens to be a lactation consultant and there is a wealth of info on breastfeeding and parenting.
- www.breastfeedinginc.ca – Known as one of the biggest breastfeeding advocates, Dr. Jack Newman’s website has tons of great videos, articles and information on breastfeeding.