Whether you’re a first time mom or having your third baby like me, you can have a successful breastfeeding journey with a few simple tips. This post is written in partnership with AdventHealth for Women. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Nursing is a natural thing but let’s be honest, it doesn’t come natural to everyone and it’s certainly not something that’s easy to do. Before we even thought about getting pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed our last child. I was set on nursing Trevor for the first year until his birthday. I was convinced that it would be easy and we would have no issues at all. Boy was I wrong. Trevor ended up coming into the world earlier than expected and since he was so tiny, nursing wasn’t an option in the beginning. The only option I had was to exclusively pump.
Exclusively pumping is tough for any mom but couple that with having a baby in the NICU and recovering from an extremely difficult c-section and it gets ten times harder. Luckily I had so much help from the lactation nurses at AdventHealth for Women Orlando. Before giving birth I made it very clear to my health team what my wishes were for feeding my baby. I wanted to breastfeed.
After my c-section I honestly wasn’t in the best shape. I was tired, in excruciating pain, and had way more going on with my body than I could handle but lactation came to visit me in my room every single day to help me figure out how to pump through it. They helped me even when I felt like I couldn’t help myself. The first few days after delivery were the hardest. I really struggled with finding the strength to pump when I was so tired. Lactation taught my husband how to support me when pumping and how to use the pump. I’m grateful that I had so much support to get me started and keep me going.
Whether you’re a new mother or having your third baby like me, you can have a successful breastfeeding journey with a few simple tips.
Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms
1. Be open with your health team
Communicating with your doctor and health team is important for a great start to breastfeeding. If you’re set on breastfeeding let your team know so that you can have skin to skin time within the first hour with your baby once they’re born. They can also help get you set up with a lactation consultant to help get you started and support you while you’re inpatient. AdventHealth for Women has an amazing team of lactation consultants that were available to me everyday that we were in the hospital and the NICU.
I communicated my concerns and challenges that I was having so they were able to help me work through them. They were able to help me figure out a pumping schedule that worked for me and baby. Once we were able to nurse, they were right there with me helping me find the best positions and the right latch.
2. Try to latch within the first hour
When initiating breastfeeding that first hour is so important. During the first hour after birth, your baby should be alert and ready to nurse. I recently read a study that stated that nursing the first two hours after birth increases the chances of exclusively breastfeeding and the longevity of nursing. If you have a high risk pregnancy and an unexpected delivery like I did, don’t worry. Do your best to nurse as soon as you’re feeling up to it.
3. Don’t stress
Avoiding as much stress as possible is important to keeping up a good milk supply. Breastfeeding isn’t a cakewalk. In the beginning you might experience some pain and discomfort but it should get better with time. Try not to worry about whether or not you’re making enough milk. In those first few days your baby only needs a few drops of colostrum/milk to feel full. Also, remember that your baby can feel your emotions and feed off of your energy. If you’re feeling stressed, your baby will more than likely be stressed too.
4. Eat a healthy diet and hydrate
The more hydrated you are the better you’ll feel while nursing. The last thing you want is to become dehydrated because you aren’t drinking enough water. Hydration can also lead to good milk production. A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water every time you nurse.
Food is an important part of nursing too. Since you’re burning extra calories breastfeeding you want to make sure that you’re giving your body what it needs. I typically like to eat something every 3 hours to keep myself going through the day. I try to eat healthy meals and incorporate as many fruits and vegetables as I can.
5. Find a support group
A good support group is key to continuing your journey. Whether you’re having trouble or not, having a group of women you can talk to about breastfeeding is comforting. They’ll understand your struggles and celebrate your wins with you. AdventHealth for Women offers a weekly meet up in four locations around Central Florida called Baby Bunch.
6. Make it fun
Breastfeeding allows for you to have an unmatched connection with your baby. I like to make feeding time fun by singing songs or reading a book during feedings. Not only will it help pass the time but it’ll make things fun for baby.
7. Try lactation snacks
Lactation snacks are really great ways to help boost your milk supply. In addition to pumping, the ingredients in the snacks are combined to help produce more milk. I love lactation cookies or even a lactation smoothie if I’m headed out the door.
8. Know your baby’s cues
It’s important to learn your baby’s cues when they’re nursing. Cues like turning their head, sticking out their tongue, and opening and closing their mouth are signs that baby is wanting to nurse.
9. Work through the hurdles
A few weeks into my breastfeeding journey my lactation consultant at AdventHealth for Women pointed out something so significant that I otherwise wouldn’t have noticed. She pointed out that Trevor had both tongue and lip ties which was causing me to experience pain while nursing. Before she pointed it out I was just going to struggle through the pain. I’m lucky she pointed it out. Once we discovered it she was able to show me new techniques to use when nursing that could help alleviate the pain.
Don’t give up on the first sign of pain whether it’s from clogged milk ducts or the baby latch. Talk to your doctor or lactation consultant and try to figure out a solution if you’d like to continue nursing. Most of the time there’s a simple solution to the issue that you’re experiencing.
10. Listen to your baby
One of the concerns I had was how would I know when my baby is full. Listening to my baby turned out to be the best thing I could do. I knew that when he turned his head that he was ready to eat. When he was full, he would fall asleep and release himself from my nipple. One of the things I love most about breastfeeding is that you can nurse on demand whenever baby wants.
11. Find a comfortable position
There are a few different positions to choose from when nursing. Try a couple of different positions to see which one works best for you. As baby gets older, it’s likely that the position you’re using will change because they weigh more and you’ll want to find something more comfortable for both of you.
12. Anticipate the leaking
Leaking is inevitable when you’re nursing. I always like to have nursing pads on hand at all times. Wear a pair and carry an extra pair or two in your baby’s diaper bag for backup. Nursing pads can help prevent breast milk stains. They’re worth the investment because the milk stains are super hard to get out.
13. Avoid engorgement
Emptying your breasts frequently can help you to avoid engorgement which can be really painful. If you find yourself engorged too many times it can begin to lead to a decrease in your milk supply. The less you empty your breasts the more your body is signaled that your baby needs to eat less.
14. Avoid nipple confusion
Try to avoid introducing a bottle for the first 4-6 weeks to avoid nipple confusion. Sometimes this is hard if you have to start your breastfeeding journey by exclusively pumping. Using a nipple shield can help make an easier transition once you’re ready to latch.
15. Stock up on helpful items
If you’re expecting, you’ve probably got a baby registry full of items already. Think about adding a few things to your list for when you’re having a really hard time with your nursing journey like snacks, audio books, etc.
16. Get some reading material
Reading up on breastfeeding can be super helpful in addition to the help you receive from lactation consultants. Grab a book or two to learn all about breastfeeding recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics before you embark on your breastfeeding journey.
17. Get comfortable with nursing in public
Once you decide your baby is old enough to go out in public, you’ll have to nurse in public. It’s inevitable unless you plan on pumping milk for when you’re out but then you’ll have to pump in public to avoid engorgement. If you’re not comfortable with nursing out in the open, you can pack a nursing cover in your baby’s diaper bag to take along with you. If your baby is a little older you can also practice nursing them while they’re in a baby carrier.
Essentials For Your Journey
- Nursing bra
- Lanolin for sore nipples
- Prenatal Vitamins
- Breast Pump
- Booby ice packs
- Nipple shields
- Breast shells
- Microwave sterilization bags
- Pump wipes
- Baby carrier for nursing in public
There’s an unlimited number of resources to help you while you’re breastfeeding. The Baby Bunch at AdventHealth is a weekly gathering for moms and their babies from newborn to 12 months old.
At The Baby Bunch you’ll get to meet other moms, enjoy lunch and even consult with a lactation consultant. It really is a great support group for nursing moms. The events take place at all four AdventHealth for Women locations. For a small fee of $8, you’ll get the support you need and be able to connect with other moms.
The Breastfeeding Center at AdventHealth for Women is available to new moms and is staffed by certified lactation consultants. To discuss breastfeeding issues, please call 407-303-7650 to speak with one of their consultants. The Breastfeeding Center is open 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Monday through Friday.
Remember that breastfeeding takes work. It’s a natural things that takes a lot of work but it creates an unbreakable bond between you and your baby. Work through the trial and error and learn what works best for you and baby.
Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, just remember that fed is best. Your job as a mom is to nurture and provide comfort to your baby. You’re doing the best you can and that’s all that matters. You’ve got this mama!
Do you have any breastfeeding tips for success? I would love to hear them!