Virtually anyone can breastfeed! All you really need is the right knowledge, and support!
Here is some of that knowledge, and some of my best tips I share with my clients!
My Top 10 Tips!!
#1: Take a GOOD Breastfeeding Class
You have lots of options for breastfeeding classes these days. Look for a breastfeeding class
designed to set you up for successful breastfeeding by giving you research based, practical
information that you can really use after your baby is born AND will also fully incorporate your partner in the experience too! There is so much more to breastfeeding than learning how to latch your baby! Being prepared for what to fully expect is key!
If you haven't taken a class yet, sign up for our online class: Your Best Start to Breastfeeding. It's designed to give you everything you'll need for success and includes your partner in the experience too!!
#2: Be Determined!
I won't sugar coat it; breastfeeding is hard, especially in the beginning! You'll have moments when you feel like giving up. Being determined to have a Successful Breastfeeding experience will help get you through those moments, and I promise everyone has them, you're not alone! Lean on your partner for support, or reach out to the awesome breastfeeding moms in the Successful Breastfeeding Community on Facebook when you're having a hard time emotionally.
If you need expert support please don't hesitate to seek it out either. Reach out to your local lactation expert, or get support from us either in person or virtually within 24 hours!
#3: Toss Out Formula Samples
If you've created a baby registry- anywhere- be prepared to have your mailbox fill with samples- especially formula samples! When you're feeling overwhelmed and overtired, you may be tempted to supplement your baby with formula to give your body a break. Taking a break is great, I fully encourage you to hand your little one to your partner and take a breather for a while- you deserve it! However, I don't advise taking a break from feeding baby at the breast and offering formula. Formula companies are very aware that breastfeeding moms are likely to use their product when they feel tired. They are also fully aware that using their product may lead you to breastfeeding failure, and they are counting on it. After all, this is why they are sending you the samples. Early supplementation and bottle feeding is a fast track to a low supply. So when you are tired at 3 am, just know this too shall pass, and lean on your partner, or other breastfeeding support to help you get through it. That's why we created the Successful Breastfeeding Community.
#4: Nurse Early and Often!
Your baby will be born hungry! It is ideal to bring your baby to the breast within the first hour after birth. Your baby will need your high caloric, immune system boosting, early milk to help boost their blood sugar, and protect them from illness and infection. You should also expect to bring your baby to the breast often! Your baby will nurse at least 8 times every 24 hours, though often more. Don't worry about putting your baby on a feeding schedule. It's best to watch your baby for feeding cues and follow their lead!
If you feel your baby is ALWAYS nursing and you're feeling overwhelmed, check out our blog on this topic: Why is my baby ALWAYS nursing?!
#5: Leave Your Pump Alone!
Seriously, leave your pump alone! Even if you plan to go back to work. You'll have plenty of time to pump all the milk you'll need later on. For the first 4-6 weeks, unless you have to be away from your baby, do NOT use your breast pump. Allow your baby to establish your milk supply for you. Breast pumps used too early could create an oversupply of milk, which can lead to breastfeeding struggles. If you do need to go back to work wait until a week or two before you go back to start your milk stash. (I promise that's plenty of time!)
If you do plan to go back to work, check out our blog post: Top 7 Tips for Successful Breastfeeding Back at Work! We even have a class that will prepare you for your transition back to work when the time comes. You can sign up for our online Back to Work Workshop here.
#6: Skin to Skin Contact
When in doubt, use skin to skin! Skin to skin contact is like a super power. It will help you bond with your baby, and your partner can do it to bond with baby too. It will also help regulate baby's temperature, heart rate, breathing, and blood sugar! Skin to skin contact is also incredibly comforting to an overstimulated newborn. Skin to skin contact also helps promote and establish a healthy milk supply!! So, in the early weeks, use this tool as often as you need to. There are also many different forms of skin to skin contact. You don't just have to put your baby on your chest. You or your partner can use massage, bath time, and baby wearing with your little one to get in some skin to skin time too!
#7: What Goes In Must Come Out
There's not a meter on the breast to tell you how much your baby is drinking. So how do you know if your baby is getting enough milk? Simple; check baby's diaper! If your baby is pooping enough, then your baby is drinking enough. You also want to pay attention to the change in color of your baby's diapers too. Around the 5th day baby's poop will be yellow and seedy looking. Another way to tell baby is getting enough is to look at their weight loss and gain. Baby is expected to loose up to 10% of birth weight within the days after birth, and should be back to birth weight by their 2nd week. If you're every questioning how your baby is doing, please reach out for expert breastfeeding support or post in our online Successful Breastfeeding Community. Don't wait to get expert support, early intervention can be key to preventing or fixing any struggles you may face.
#8: Mindful Birthing
The way you birth matters when it comes to breastfeeding. Certain interventions during labor can create some roadblocks for breastfeeding. For example, IV fluids can make your breasts puffy and harder for baby to latch. Using an epidural can make baby sleepier after birth and less able to engage at the breast. Having a cesarean can make getting into a comfortable nursing position difficult. None of these interventions mean that you won't be able to breastfeed. I do recommend establishing yourself with expert breastfeeding support prenatally so you already know someone you trust to contact after baby arrives!
#9: Avoid Pacifiers
Did you know that pacifiers were invented to replace the suckling babies were NOT getting from bottle feeding? Babies need to nurse often, and breastfeeding is so much more than just food. A baby's need to suckle is just as important as food. It takes about 6 weeks for your milk supply to fully establish, and it's best to let your baby come to the breast as often as they need during that time. If you introduce a pacifier early on you're likely to miss some of your baby's feeding cues, and your milk supply may take longer to establish if baby is comfort suckling on a pacifier instead of the breast.
#10: Create a Breastfeeding Plan
Birth plans are very popular now. Breastfeeding and postpartum planning should be just as popular too! There are many things you'll need to prepare for that you may not have expected to encounter. Not just right after baby is born, but for the first few weeks home too. The Successful Breastfeeding Best Start to Breastfeeding online class will give you all the info you need to feel fully prepared, and help you create a plan too. Get your class, the plan and MORE now by clicking the button below!!
Also, check out our blog post that covers everything you'll NEED for breastfeeding, and also the things you don't need too.
Kelly Maher, CLC, CLE