Tips for new moms to help you get started breastfeeding from a mom who’s been there. Create a wonderful experience for you and your baby.
As a new or expecting mom, the idea of breastfeeding can actually quite overwhelming. Even more so if you’ve never witnessed it in action or have no support. I’m here to tell you that when you get started breastfeeding, it doesn’t have to be as scary as you think it is. Take it one step at a time and learn as you go!
Today, I want to take you through the absolute basics to get started breastfeeding. I’ll be providing you with some tips to get you through the beginning stages of starting to breastfeed your sweet babe. In later days, I’ll be expanding and providing even more tips to help you out. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment below!
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Items you may need to help you get started breastfeeding
Latching baby onto your breast when you get started breastfeeding
Assuming you give birth in an environment that encourages successful breastfeeding, you’ll get help with latching from the start. A nurse and/or lactation consultant will help you out after you give birth to help you out. But if you want to be prepared in case something else happens, I’ve got some tips regarding latching baby onto your breast.
When you get started breastfeeding, the latch is one of the single most important parts of the breastfeeding puzzle. Having a great latch can not only cause a baby to become frustrated and remain hungry, but it can also cause some serious breast discomfort. A great latch will include your baby’s mouth covering both your nipple and areola so that your baby is massaging the milk out as opposed to just sucking.
In order to get such a latch, you should do the following:
- Hold your baby facing your breasts, with the front of her body facing you so that you are tummy to tummy. Her head she also be aligned with the rest of her body, so that it’s easy for her to swallow.
- To help ease the process while you both learn how to breastfeed, you can tickle baby’s lip with your niple to encourage her to open her mouth very wide, as if she were yawning. If she seems to be struggling, try to squeeze some of your colostrum out and onto her lips.
- If baby begins to turn away, stroke the side of her cheek with your breast. This will encourage your baby to turn her head back toward your breast and continue nursing.
- Bring baby towards your breast when her mouth is open wide. You want her to take the initiative to latch on and feed, not bring it to her. Also be sure to keep a hold of your breast until baby has a firm grasp and is suckling well with a nice latch.
- You know she’s latched well when baby’s chin and tip of her nose are touching your breast. Her lips will be flanges outward like a fish around your breast. Be sure to check that she isn’t sucking on her own lips or tongue by pulling her lower lip down and out while she is nursing.
- Be sure that baby is suckling, not sucking. You should see a strong and steady suck-swallow-breathe pattern. You’ll also notice a nice rhythmic pattern in their cheek, jaw, and ear. If you hear clicking noises, it means baby isn’t latched properly and needs some help to get adjusted.
Getting the perfect latch down can be a struggle, but is so very important for you and your baby to learn to do together. Remember, it’s a learning process for you both! You’ll get it down before you know it.
When your milk starts to come in when you get started breastfeeding
I’ll be honest and say your milk coming in is probably the single worst experience when you get started breastfeeding that I’ve encountered so far. If you end up like I was, it will be excruciatingly painful. It literally felt like my breasts were going to explode and even something as simple as rolling over was absolutely awful. I was lucky enough to have it subside within only a day or two, but some women experience this for up to 2 weeks. I have recommended some great products over here to help with easing the pain while your milk comes in.
Your milk will arrive in these 3 stages:
- First up is the colostrum. Your milk doesn’t arrive right away and instead you will have colostrum to feed your brand new baby. It will be a thin and yellow substance packed full of vital proteins, vitamins and minerals your baby needs for the first days of life. It helps them poop for the first time and helps prevent jaundice. You won’t produce very much, but baby is still so little that she won’t need more than a teaspoon or so per feeding. It’s very important that baby continues suckling as much as possible to stimulate your next stage of milk that you will produce in the coming days.
- Next, you’ll produce the transitional milk. This is the “in between” milk your body will produce when your milk starts to flow in. It contains lower levels of protein than your colostrum had but has more lactose, fat, and calories for your growing baby.
- Lastly, is your mature milk. This is the liquid gold stuff that arrives by day 10-14 postpartum. It’s very thin and white, but can sometimes have a blue tint to it. It’s packed full of all the fat and nutrients that your baby will need as she grows. The makeup of this milk will change as your baby grows and gets older since babies of different ages need different types of nutrients. It also will change if your baby gets sick and needs more antibodies to fight it off. (How cool is that?!)
Keeping up with your supply when you get started breastfeeding
In order to feed your baby, you need to be healthy as well. If you’re not taking care of yourself, your body will not be able to keep up with taking care of another human as well. When you get started breastfeeding, keeping up with your supply can be a mystery. I know it was for me!
To give yourself the best chance to keeping a good supply, I recommend:
- Drink plenty of water! You are ridding of lots of liquid from your body so it’s important to hydrate yourself so that you can continue to produce. I recommend a minimum of half your weight in ounces of water per day. An example being that if you are 200 pounds, you should be drinking a minimum of 100oz per day of water. The easiest way to achieve this is if you were given a hospital cup, use it! Mine shows how many ounces I am drinking and is very easy to keep track of.
- Maintain a healthy diet. You are responsible for the nutrients of your child so it’s important that you consume those nutrients. A diet high in calcium, iron, and protein is ideal for maintaining supply.
- Also, eat a lot of food throughout the day. While it’s important to eat the right foods, it’s also important to eat enough of it. Breastfeeding burns a crazy amount of calories, so it’s important that you’re making up for it by giving your body enough fuel so you don’t feel sluggish or run down. Just imagine if you were to run a marathon without eating enough food. I don’t think you’d feel too great!
Responding to your baby’s cues when you get started breastfeeding
In the early days, it’s hard to know when to feed. There are medical personnel that will instruct on a certain schedule, but I personally don’t recommend that. You want to pay attention to your baby and feed her when she is ready, not the clock. Learning your baby’s cues is very important when you get started breastfeeding.
Some signs she’s ready to eat, includes:
- Nuzzling against your breast
- Sucking on her hands like wild
- Opening her mouth
- Opens her mouth and turns when you stroke her cheek
- Hunts and pecks looking for your breast
I want to make a note here that it is very important to wake your baby to feed at least every 2 hours when she is first born. When I gave birth to my daughter, I was told this was because they didn’t want her to sleep long. (I thought that was weird.) But by making sure you wake your baby to eat often enough, you are preventing her from developing jaundice. So while I know it’s hard to wake that baby as you just want her to sleep, try your best to wake her and get her to eat very often!
After your milk comes in and the risk of jaundice is slim to none, you can calm down and feed baby on her schedule that she cues you in on.
Enjoy your journey
Lastly, I want to leave with the note of try to enjoy the journey. It’s an amazing experience and there is no need to stress about it. If you need support, I highly suggest joining groups on facebook.
By calming down to enjoy it and surrounding yourself with support if you need help or advice, you are setting yourself up for success when you get started breastfeeding.
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