Hey there mom! Today I wanted to write a post specifically for moms who are new to breastfeeding. I want to help you to know what’s coming your way and how to prepare!
When I was pregnant for the first time, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. That was an automatic for me. However, I didn’t have any guidance on what to do or how to do it. The main things I kept hearing from others was how painful and inconvenient it was, and how they stopped because their milk dried up too soon. Knowing nothing whatsoever about how any of it worked, I just prayed and hoped that these things wouldn’t happen to me!
I am now four nursed babies down the road and there are definitely some things I’ve learned about breastfeeding that I wish I’d known before I ever started nursing. But what I have learned I now share with you. You don’t have to leave successful breastfeeding to chance!
Make sure your baby gets a good latch
A good latch for a newborn is where the nipple is pointed to the back top of your baby’s mouth and you dig her chin in deep. It should be like she’s reaching up to feed, not looking straight on or down. This proper technique makes it easier on both you and baby!
When you first start nursing, it may be a bit painful. Just know that this does not last forever-just maybe a week or two. After that, nursing is not painful at all. I know a lot of mamas get discouraged about this and think that they must not be meant to nurse, or they feel like they could never handle this kind of pain for the duration of nursing. But if you stick it out, I promise it will get better!
Get a nursing cover
When you’re out in public and your little one needs a feeding, you’ll want to make sure you have a nursing cover that will completely cover you and the baby. I use and love this nursing cover by LeachCo. It’s thin and breathable, yet large enough to make nursing discreet. Best of all, when my little one gets old enough to try to pull the nursing cover up while he’s feeding, he won’t be able to :).
I’ve used other nursing covers before that have left me embarrassed because they were either not big enough or the style of the cover allowed my baby to accidentally pull the cover up (exposing me to the world). With my LeachCo cover, neither of these are a problem. I also love that it folds up very compactly. And best of all, it’s also designed for you to be able to wear it as a scarf to always have it handy!
You’ll need to buy nursing pads (and wear them all the time)
I think the first time I ever heard about nursing pads, I was browsing through the baby aisle at Walmart or Target. I just happened to see them and I was like, I wonder if I’ll need those. So I decided to buy some and see how they worked.
And boy am I glad I did!
I very quickly learned that without nursing pads, I would be walking around with a soaking wet shirt. And there were actually times that I forgot to wear nursing pads and was very embarrassed by two circles on my shirt (eek!).
I’ve used both disposable and washable nursing pads, and they are both great. They each have their pros and cons. I tried many nursing pads, and I’ve come to realize that they are not all created equal. Some disposable ones I used were such poor quality that they did not stay put, and I ended up with circles on my shirt anyway! So I highly recommend these washable nursing pads and these disposable nursing pads from Lansinoh.
Prepare for nursing
“Nursing feels like someone is cutting your nipples with razor blades.”
Doesn’t this just make you want to cringe and hug your chest? This is the first thing I heard about nursing, so you can imagine how it frightened me. And I wondered why any woman would want to deal with that kind of pain!
So how do you prepare for nursing? Well here’s something I learned from a very seasoned mom of six sons (who are all grown and out of the house):
You take a dry wash cloth and “rough up” your nipples. Rub your nipple between your fingers with the dry wash cloth to prepare for the force that the baby applies when sucking out milk. I did this during my third pregnancy, because it had been three years or so since I had nursed, and I’m really glad I did! The transition into nursing again was not nearly as challenging as it could have been.
Mentally prepare for cluster feeding
When you bring your baby home from the hospital, there is a good chance she will do some cluster feeding some nights. She’ll probably have already done it in the hospital, so you’ll get a taste of it before you even get home.
Cluster feeding is where your baby feeds what feels like back to back (but it’s really like, every 20-30 minutes). If I remember correctly, I think each of my children did this for at least a few nights when I first brought them home from the hospital.
The best way to prepare for this is just to make sure you are getting as much rest as you can during the day. For a new mom, this is easy because you have no other kiddos so you can sleep when the baby sleeps. Let other things go for a while and sleep when your baby sleeps (you’ll probably want to anyway!).
Invest in breastmilk tea
I had never heard of breastmilk tea in my life until a random stranger told me about it. I remember thinking, Breastmilk tea? What in the world is that? And when she told me that it increases your milk supply, I immediately knew I at least needed to try it.
I’ve tried two kinds of teas that increase breastmilk and they are both good. One of them is Yogi’s Nursing Support tea and the other one is Traditional Medicinal’s Mothers Milk tea. I drink them to this day (as I am currently nursing my fourth child)! Not only did they noticeably increase my breastmilk, but especially helped when my milk started drying out with my first child.
You can purchase these teas from my link at Ebates. I like Ebates because they give you cash back on every purchase, and you will get $10 for just giving them your email address. Not to mention that you’d be helping me write more posts like these, so thanks! 🙂
Tip: Make yourself a breastmilk tea latte! Boil some tea and add some milk or half and half, and Truvia or sugar. It’s a delicious evening drink!
Invest in a breast pump
Some insurance policies provide you with a breast pump (especially pregnancy Medicaid), so make sure you contact them for more information about that. If your insurance doesn’t help with it, then I recommend this breast pump from Spectra. It’s absolutely fabulous. It’s a quiet pump and allows you to adjust the intensity of the suction. Also, make sure you get some breastmilk storage bags to freeze your milk!
Formula is crazy expensive. Having a breast pump and using it consistently has helped me to be able to avoid going bankrupt buying formula and has allowed my husband to be able to feed my baby breastmilk when I’m gone for several hours coaching.
Tip: I’ve found that if I drink water while I’m pumping, it helps my milk to release.
Prevent your breastmilk from drying out
When my first child was about 8 months old, my milk supply severely dwindled. I could tell at one point that my daughter wasn’t getting enough milk. In fact, I couldn’t even feel my milk supply coming in anymore!
I didn’t want to stop nursing yet, so I did some research. I was able to pinpoint why my milk supply had decreased:
- I had started doing intense workouts at the gym
- I wasn’t drinking nearly enough water
I started increasing the amount of water I was drinking. I also made sure I was eating enough to offset the amount of working out I was doing. My milk came back, and I was able to nurse her until she was 14 months. 🙂
Get some nipple cream
I could tell you the full horror story of what happened the first week I ever started nursing, but it might scare you. Let’s just say it was bad and bloody 🙁
Needless to say, I invested in some nipple cream and it pretty much saved my nursing experience both for me and my baby. I highly recommend this one from Lansinoh (it pretty much put my breast back together) and this one from Motherlove (an organic one that has helped heal my cracked and sore nipples). Either cream is awesome, and you’ll be prepared to deal with any nipple pain that comes your way!
Side-lying nursing will be your new best friend
Side-lying nursing has literally been the way that I’ve survived the first several months of nursing my baby. What is side-lying nursing? It’s basically nursing your baby lying down. You lay on your side, lay your baby facing you on the bed, and let her nurse away! I’m telling you, it’s amazing.
I usually use this if I’m just too tired to keep going during the day and also in the middle of the night. Otherwise, I’ll use my super supportive Boppy pillow to nurse my baby and put her in her crib to sleep.
These are the top ten most important things I can think of off the top of my head. I learned all of these things firsthand over the past seven years, and I hope it blesses you and encourages you! If you need nursing support, you can contact the La Leche League USA Breastfeeding Helpline at 1-877-452-5324. They should be able to answer or direct any other nursing questions you have!
Happy nursing! 🙂