5 Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms
Congratulations! You are a new mom. And while you are still trying to recover from childbirth, bond with your bundle of joy, and attempt to get some Z’s, you also might be breastfeeding for the very first time.
You may be surprised that it’s more work than anticipated. Fear not mama, here are some breastfeeding tips for new moms that I hope will help you on your journey:
1. Give it time
I don't think it's a secret that breastfeeding can be hard. But I do firmly believe that the first couple weeks of breastfeeding are the most difficult. This was true with both of my children; the first two weeks were the hardest.
I felt like my boobs were going to explode and that my milk-guzzling-sumo baby was never going to stop eating. Not to mention the fact that I was trying to recover from childbirth - again….not easy!
But I do feel that breastfeeding becomes more comfortable and natural. And although that's hard to believe, know that better times lay ahead.
After the first couple of weeks, you and your baby should start learning what works: the most comfortable nursing positions, your baby’s typical routine, etc. And eventually, your breasts won't feel like explodable melons.
Things do start to fall into place.
Breastfeeding is like culture shock - at first everything's new. Sometimes it's scary and confusing, but after getting used to it all, the experience can lead to something quite beautiful.
2. Find Support
When I first started breastfeeding, I knew that I needed support. There certainly is no shame in asking for this. And we live in an age where there is much more support for breastfeeding mothers than there was in the past (although we still have a long way to go).
I cannot express how thankful I was for the La Leche League in my area. This non-profit organization has a phone line available for when you are having problems.
Knowledgeable counselors answer your questions and lend a listening ear. This remains helpful when you want to vent about your daycare going through 30 ounces of pumped milk in one day (okay, personal story).
But there are also meetings that take place where you can bring your baby, ask questions, learn about breastfeeding, and meet other mothers going through very similar situations as you.
Women Infants and Children (WIC) is another program that helps lower-income families with breastfeeding through access to lactation consultants, breastfeeding support meetings, and food packages that double if you continue to breastfeed.
Furthermore, many hospitals now have lactation consultants who will willingly give you their number after you leave so that if you need any help or have further questions, don’t hesitate to give them a call.
And if you have a partner, express to him/her what breastfeeding means to you and your child. Hopefully, you can find support there as well.
3. The pump can sometimes be your friend
Before the birth of my first child, I had no idea that breastfeeding was like having another full-time job. Sometimes I just needed a break. Learning how to pump is not only crucial for working mothers, but it also can provide a nursing break for mothers who stay at home.
Every mother's situation is different, and some nursing moms would rather nurse than pump. But I found that pumping and handing my husband a bottle once in a while provided me with the break I needed; especially during my son’s growth spurts.
It's okay if you are feeling touched out. I knew when I couldn't even bear petting my cat anymore, that I needed a little break. So I pumped and handed over the bottle. Then I went to either sit alone in silence or pet Frisky - a couple of times.
After the birth of my first child, it was also crucial that I learned how to pump before I went back to work. You can read more tips about pumping and working in one of my recent posts, 5 Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mom.
4. Learn how to nurse lying down
Okay, so I admit, I have nursed in some weird positions. But when I was so tired and just wanted to lie down, I had to find a way. So, I literally researched nursing positions that you can do while lying down.
This saved so much energy! I now utilize lying down and breastfeeding while I read to my two year old. It frees up my hands, gives me some rest, and allows all three of us some bonding time.
It might look strange, like when I had the baby’s feet above my head, and I was propped up with pillows. It’s okay if you are having a hard time picturing this, but my rest was worth the wackiness.
5. Have healthy snacks on hand
I consider breastfeeding a wonderful weight loss program. Breastfeeding takes a lot out of you, and it burns almost the same amount of calories as a workout at the gym each day. Sold!
When I started breastfeeding with my first child, I could not believe how hungry I was - especially in the middle of the night when my starving night owl decided to wake up numerous times to nurse.
That's why I had to go out and buy a lot of healthy snacks. I would keep fruit and peanut butter crackers by my bedside and a tall glass filled with water.
You know how you have to replenish fluids and nutrition while exercising? The same goes for a breastfeeding marathon at 1 AM.
I wish that I had a bunch of healthy snacks in a Tupperware bin before I even came home from the hospital. Believe me; your nursing appetite will thank you if you have healthy snacks on hand.
I hope these few pieces of breastfeeding tips for the new mom help you out, but you will also find your own tricks that work for you. Now enjoy your little milk-chowing angel and keep up the great work mama!